This was the final winter blues night for the year and the first anniversary of the Lightwood Bottom Blues Club.
It was a thoroughly entertaining night which started with a familiar soloist, Gary McKay, who once again delighted us with his ownership of an old popular Fats Waller standard, Aint Misbehavin’ by carefully re-arranging the chords of the song to fit more with the expectations of a blues appreciation mob. It worked, - and combined with his sense of the dramatic, not only was I amused and entertained, but I also loved it!
Gary followed up with an eclectic set ranging from the Tennessee Ten’s Aint Nobody’s Business if I Do, Taj Mahal’s Honey Bee, and a song from the late John Martyn. He finished off his set with Kansas City and St James Infirmary with assistance from Andy Koppleman on drums and me on the red keyboard.
Next up we had Peter Thompson, following up from his Geeveston debut last month with an even more dazzling set. Peter’s set contrasts from the previous act, because while Gary uses his guitar as a prop to his stories, Peter utilises his well-crafted technique to accompany his vocals as a one-man band.
His set included Mississippi Fred McDowell’s Kokomo Blues, and the rhythm ‘n’ blues of St Louis Jimmy Oden’s Going Down Slow. Highlights for me were Leadbelly’s You Don’t Know My Mind, where Peter played mandolin. His playing was crisp and clear. Those two adjectives may seem a bit bland, but believe me, Peter’s mandolin work was exactly that, and it kept me spellbound.
The other highlight was Rag Bag written by a chap named Bob “Frizz” Fuller, a songwriter who attracts musicians such as Dave Lindley. The song was quirky, especially with lines such as “the seat of my pants looks like al-foil, If you look close enough you can see the soil”. Reminded me of my days in the public service many years ago.
Peter finished his set with Barbeque Bob’s Yo-Yo Blues which I can testify as being toe-tappingly good.
The next act for the night was from Kate Meehan, accompanied by piano, harmonica, drums, and sax. – A stringless quartet.
She sang four of her own songs that were written for her first mainland CD, released over twenty years ago. For this show, she wanted to replicate the sound that she had while living in Queensland when she performed as Miss Katy and the Wise Fools. Apart from me on piano, Kate had regular Lightwooders Andy Koppelman and Robert Jackson on drums and sax.
I don’t know if last month’s challenge was the catalyst, but we had Peter Hicks come on board to play harmonica for the evening. And what a welcome sound that was! High pitched, fast, furious, and frenzied blues harp solos and rhythmic accompaniment. Peter’s playing gave us a dimension that Kate and I have missed for nearly a decade. Thanks Peter.
Kate’s set was followed with a short interlude from another newcomer harmonicist, Chris. He took his chance with a couple of soulful minor blues and acquitted himself very well considering the spontaneity of the situation. Thankyou Chris.
Another debutante was Brendan Wakely, a multi-skilled soloist, songwriter, and bluesman from Ireland, (and maybe a fellow Pastafarian). Brendan started off with his own Love for Sale (not at all like Cole Porter’s), and then got the audience interacting with the entertaining Get off Your Arse… while playing some mean slide. Following this, Brendan called up Peter Hicks, and they performed a delightful I’m Walkin’. It is during these ad hoc moments that good things happen.
To finish off his set Brendan retained Peter on harp, and also in-sourced a drummer, Gary, to play a song that I’m not familiar with, but might be called Down, Down, Down.
The final act for the night, was the Cygnet based Hogwash Blues Band, led by guitarist Alan Thorne. This is a guitar, bass, drums trio, but unfortunately at the very last minute, their bass player became unavailable. Fortunately, Lightwood regular Manny, was able to step in unrehearsed and retrieve the situation. Muchas gracias Manny!
They started off with JJ Cale’s Crazy Mama from his inaugural album Naturally, and then moved onto Tony Joe White’s first and biggest hit Polk Salad Annie. These were followed up with Alvin Lee’s Hear Me Calling, but I did notice that the Hogwash version was modified to a 12-bar structure instead of the original’s 18 bars.
Next up was Wilbert Harrison’s Let’s Work Together, and the Hogwashers really got the groove happening. All they needed was some harmonica and maybe Brian Ferry, or better still Jerry Murdoch-Hall (haha). I loved it.
By the way, there is a connection between opener Gary McKay’s Kansas City and the Hogwash Blues Band’s Let’s Work Together. Not only did Wilbert Harrison record Kansas City in 1959, but he also wrote Let’s Stick Together in 1962. So, who was Wilbert Harrison? Google him. He was multi-talented.
The jammers (Andy-drums, Manny-bass, Robert-sax, Peter electric guitar, and Brendan-acoustic guitar) got straight into the groove with BB King’s Rock Me Baby. Led by Kate, then with responses by Paul, the band ebbed and flowed as the two vocalists traded verses. Very entertaining.
They changed gear to the higher-octane version of Slow Down by Larry Williams, followed by David Linley’s version of the 1948 classic Mercury Blues, finally slowing down a little for Peter Green’s Fool No More, and then concluding with Slippin’ and Slidin’.
I take my hat off to Robert because every key was guitar friendly (read and sax un-friendly). But he blew his arse off, and it was good! Thank you, Robert!
I was totally impressed with the cohesiveness of the jammers, the grooves they set up, and the quality of the solos.
I’m looking forward to the next twelve months, as the club progresses. I’m also hoping for more diversity along the way. Spread the word, tell your friends about what is happening in Geeveston once a month. And remember, we have pizza too. Thank you Marlowe and Kirk.
Patron of the Lightwood Bottom Blues Club