PAPA GEORGE BAND — Staines Riverside Show Review

A superior night of musical entertainment was had by all this Thursday at Staines Riverside Club when the PAPA GEORGE BAND came to town to play a magnificent concert to a crowded house.

The award-winning blues-man PAPA GEORGE is one of the leading British live blues artists around and he’s a regular attendee at the Staines club, often appearing in company with MICKY MOODY or friend Alan Glen (the harmonica musician and band leader who was originally with The Yardbirds.) Like Alexis Korner, GEORGE is of Greek Cypriot origin.

Papa George - @neilmach 2020 ©
Papa George – @neilmach 2020 © “razor-sharp guitar-play that feels kinda swampy ‘n’ moist and often impudent in nature…

His numbers almost always come with razor-sharp guitar-play that feels kinda swampy ‘n’ moist and often impudent in nature.

George introduced the others in his power trio quite early on: Peter J. Stroud (on drums, known for his work with Peter Green, Buddy Whittington and Bad Influence ) and the amazing Pete Rees (the session bassist who is very famous for his work with Gary Moore.)

Their interpretation of “Red House” (Hendrix) was as authentically raw as the original, with lots of inventive guitar and many incredibly tight rhythms.

Papa George photo credit: @neilmach 2020 ©
Papa George photo credit: @neilmach 2020 © His voice is the texture of worn leather with the bitterness of tobacco smoke…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And there was plenty more waka-waka chung to be enjoyed on the self-penned “Blackjack” — one of the highlights of this top-level show. Of course, as we have said before, George’s voice is a mixture of dark molasses and plum wine, with the texture of worn leather and the bitterness of tobacco smoke. You could drown in his voice of tar and syrup, you really could! But this show was surprising due to the extraordinary electric guitar work that the maestro brought to Staines.

We all knew that George was one of the best blues singers on the circuit, a brilliant composer and a master of the Amistar resonator. What we didn’t know was that, armed with his Fender Strat or Flying Finn, he’d be the Southern Area Champion electric guitarist too! As one keen club-member observed, after a particularly spirited guitar solo: “I guess George is the best guitarist we’ve had in this joint.” I think he could be right!

The evening proceeded with splendid covers of old Elmore James, a Paul Rodgers penned blues paean (Muddy Water Blues ) and an old John Hiatt number (Feels Like Rain — made famous by Buddy Guy.) The concert ended with an ingenious and totally immersive rendition of the funky-soul hit “Superstition” (Stevie Wonder) that had originally been written with Jeff Beck in mind, for his Beck, Bogert & Appice project. At Staines Riverside Club, this song was a hugely enjoyable final piece, full of intelligent rhythms, extraordinary rebound and lots of cheerful energy.

What a show! What a guy!

Words & Pictures: @neilmach 2020 ©

Link: http://www.papageorge.co.uk/papageorge.co.uk

 

SPIKEDRIVERS + FRAN MCGILLIVRAY — Saints & Sinners, Staines

What could be better — in this season of giving — than to receive a generous two-for-one deal? That was the gift they gave us at Staines Riverside Club this week when we saw the fabulous SPIKEDRIVERS play alongside the sensational FRAN MCGILLIVRAY BAND (with Mike Burke) in a special show of “Saints and Sinners”.

Ben Tyzack
Ben Tyzack – offers a “big stew-up of sounds…”

We aim to bring you our interpretations of blues and gospel...” Ben Tyzack of the Spikedrivers told the appreciative audience right at the start. “A big stew-up of sounds, if you like.

And it’s true, the gumbo of sounds that these talented musicians brought to the good people of Staines was a “holy trinity” of spirituals, sharp blues and zesty rock ‘n’ roll.

Beginning with the traditional gospel number “Gospel Plow (Hold On)” that was made notable by Odetta in 1961, the outfit brought smooth combings of guitar, delicious choral melodies, double bass lines (double, as in two of them!) and ripples of elegant rhythm.

Fran McGillivray
Fran – nuanced vocal work

Other songs, such as a smooth Marvin Gaye-ish soul version of the traditional gospel number “Up Above My Head” (rendered with an added soupçon of funk) resonated with the feeling of sweet victory over sin…

But alongside such sacred songs were more obviously turbid numbers, like “Got My Mojo Working” with its reference to Louisiana Hoodoo.

This song danced with the devil as much as the fast and urgent interpretation of the “Cross Road Blues” (Robert Johnson, 1936) that came later in the show. Here, there were glorious backing vocals, guitar howls that ripped through the night air, and an edgy feeling of hustle & bustle that would not have been out of place at Sun Studios around 1952 .

We were told that many spirituals were written in code: for example, “Wade in the Water” probably helped fugitive slaves by warning them that the dogs had been released. Or that the Jordan River would correlate with the Potomac — “once you’d crossed the “Nation’s River” you would find yourself in the promised land.” So, the evening was instructive as well as being highly enjoyable.

Fran’s nuanced vocal work reminded us of Elkie Brooks (in her Vinegar Joe days), while Mike’s expressive finger-work was skillful and inventive, Ben’s voice was firm and vigorous and Constance’s voice was silver-toned and soothing. All the while, the imaginative percussion was a joy.

The two-bands-in-one of the “Saints and Sinners” combo produced a charming iridescence and brought a sincere commitment to authenticity. This was an equanimous concert, delivered by confident and cool-headed music professionals who brought honeyed rhythmic cadences, easy-street rock ‘n’ roll highlights and dignified call-and-response verses that simply slid off the tongue.

Another exceptional night of superlative music at the Staines Riverside Club.

For lovers of the Staples Singers

Ben Tyzack: guitar, vocals & harmonica
Maurice Mcelroy : drums, vocals & percussion
Constance Redgrave: bass guitar, vocals & percussion
Fran McGillivray: bass, vocals
Mike Burke: guitar, vocals

Links:

https://www.facebook.com/franmcgillivrayband/

https://www.facebook.com/spikedriversuk/

Words: @neilmach 2019 ©

KINDRED SPIRIT — Elemental

The West London UK based five-piece band KINDRED SPIRIT — headed up by talented song-smith and singer/guitarist Elaine Samuels — have two excellent, classically trained lead players in their Folk Rock/Prog Rock line-up. Their wizard of the perfect fifths is Martin Ash (violin and viola) while their magical floutist is Catherine Cooper (flute and saxophone.) The band was formed in the late 1990s by Elaine, and now has Mike Hislop (bass) alongside Aleem Saleh or Les Binks (the Legendary Judas Priest percussionist) on drums.

We have been fans of this band for a long while (certainly, since the days of Annie Parker, Gavin Jones and Alan Barwise) and we have been enjoying their polished & meticulously presented songs since before their happy (and well deserved) recognition on the UK “Prog crcuit”. We are especially pleased to be able to review their 2019 album: “Elemental.”

Kindred Spirit Elemental Album Cover
This “protest album” has a boiling, flaming, fuming, globe on the cover…

Rain-forests once covered 14% of the earth’s land surface; now they cover only 6% and experts calculate the last remaining rain-forests will have been exhausted in 40 years. Thus, this “protest album” has a boiling, flaming, fuming, globe on the cover (also identifying, maybe, the different elemental properties of each individual band member) … and starts with “No Smoke Without Fire” and a somber ch-chang from acoustic guitar. The smouldering flute seethes fermented smoke into the melancholic blue atmosphere until an angelic vocal harmony arrives, perhaps to lift us from the fire and into an eternal firmament.

This song metamorphoses around a motif that’s very probably Ray Thomas inspired — it might almost have been found on In Search of the Lost Chord it’s that nostalgic — and into something far more radical and Jefferson Airplanish. Are we to blame for this scorching world? Do we care, while we rest in our nylons, the electric lights ablaze, with central heating exploding in our faces, while we hear the words : “Did you start the fire? Were you the one?” Ending deforestation is the probably the best opportunity we have to stabilize our damned climate, save wildlife species and protect our planet. But are you playing your part? * *

Elaine Samuels Kindred Spirit Photo Neil Mach
Elaine’s voice is benevolent & crystalline…

The softly pattering rhythms on “Pandora’s Box” — with its serpentine coils of flute and descending stepping-stones of chorus — are merciful, but instructive. Elaine’s voice is benevolent and crystalline. The legend says that Pandora (the figure of Eve, she, the first human woman) opened a jar containing disease, death and evil. When she realized what she had done, she attempted to close the container, but it was too late… everything bad had spread into the world, except one thing: hope.

The intro of “Beyond The Ninth Wave” is reminiscent of Uriah Heep‘s “Lady In Black” but then becomes much more intricate in nature, with a voice that ranges from soubrette to half soprano. The composition is hypnotic, fluid and sinuously sweet. And then the entire thing evolves into an expressive dance.

Over-population and “industrial greed” are issues close to Elaine’s heart. So, “Don’t Have More Than Two” is a significant moment on this album: and this is where Martin’s violin is allowed a reign of free-fire to make circles, snakes and spirals, before an insistent chorus breaks out. This chorus is given extra gravitas by Molly Larder and Skye with Bethany, Keira and Grace and other friends of the band.

Martin Ash Kindred Spirit Photo Neil Mach
Martin’s violin is allowed a reign of free-fire to make circles, snakes and spirals…

Daemons” is ever-fermenting and promiscuously potent and the most properly prog-rock track in substance. Although, possibly, the highest mark of the album is the percussive: “Red Red Rose” with a melancholic, melodic edge that corresponds to the band’s former haunting composition, “Run Red” — though the new track comes with wind-milling fiddle-play and consistent voices that hint of the price of devilry and the coming purification.

Elemental” is an ingenious and advanced folk-rock album with several well-favored songs and a lot of creative and wonderfully accomplished musical ornaments. Written for a species that is about to be lost in the fires.

Is it too late to save our planet? Play your part. **

Album launch: Saturday 2nd November ALL HALLOWS CHURCH HALL, Twickenham
Link: www.kindredspirtband.co.uk

Words & Pictures: Neil Mach

** Small scale deforestation was practiced by society for tens of thousands of years, and before the beginnings of civilization. With the advent of agriculture, larger areas were deforested, and fire has been the main tool for clearing land for crops for at least 7,000 years. In other words, the scorching of the earth has been going on for as long as man has existed. While the politics behind deforestation and land clearance is complicated (subsistence farming is responsible for 48% of deforestation) wildfire arson, “reckless burning” and habitat fragmentation for profit is always unacceptable HOW TO HELP? Support organizations fighting deforestation, use recycled products, reduce your meat consumption, raise awareness, and please plant a tree.

KEITH ELFORD & THE WEEKEND KINGS — Land of the Living

KEITH ELFORD AND THE WEEKEND KINGS has become the name of a project to create an album of guitarist & singer-songwriter Keith’s original songs.

Doug Lip
7 of 10 original songs that Keith wrote with his pal, the much missed local guitar-hero Doug Lipinski (Doug Lip)…

The album, “Land of the Living” launched on 28th June 2019 features 7 of 10 original songs that Keith wrote with his pal and the much missed local guitar-hero Doug Lipinski (Doug Lip) who passed away unexpectedly in 2016.

The band also includes all members of his band, Thunderhead (Russell Ayres, John Hiles, Stuart Sollors) plus Simon Davies and Stuart Picton, with the participation of Major Baldini and Mick Rogers.

The album is produced by Major Baldini and Simon Davies.

We had a listen:

The album begins with the thumping basser “Mojo Back” and perhaps a cynical acknowledgment of the stumbles and pitfalls of making music. Although the blues tone and riffwork on this number are quite simple, there is an acid guitar that cuts through the piece to bring a portion of world-weary skepticism.

KEITH ELFORD AND THE WEEKEND KINGS
KEITH ELFORD AND THE WEEKEND KINGS – dark energy and smoky genius…

Everybody’s Doing It” is a rock and roll jangler with a touch of darkness around the generous edges, although it also incorporates a lot of enthusiasm. This has a West Coast feel, like something from the Steve Miller band of the 70s.

Mr Charming” is perhaps one of the most successful songs on the album. Certainly, it contains dark energy and smoky genius. The ginger root ‘n’ cookie-glue voice is remonstrative and persuasive, while the convincing twists of guitar add drama and compulsion. This reminds us of the sad grandeur of Tom Petty’s compositions.

Keith Elford
Keith Elford – “Afghanistan” is based upon the real-life experiences of his stepson…

English rock guitarist Mick Rogers (Manfred Mann’s Earth Band) plays the guitar on “Afghanistan” a song that’s based upon the real-life experiences of Keith’s stepson James’ first tour.

With its hearty and cheerful choral introduction, this is like a good bar song that’s overheard as you pass a tavern, but in reality it is a study about the futility of a war that can’t be won and, ultimately, the denunciation of unfathomable junkets.

Guitars froth and boil and the percussion is punctilious. This swings like a Bagram incense burner in an exedra. But when the smoulder dies away — it leaves a bitter taste.

It may not be surprising that there are consignment songs on this album that sound reconciled. So, aptly, “Dust and Water” spirals  earthbound and is suitably melancholic. The voice is poignant and dark as walnut smoke. There is a persuasive guitar solo and finesse  achieved in the detailed composition. This song symbolizes the mortality and elevation of this fine album.

Thank you to Keith and pals for their continued stewardship of Doug’s memory — this is an album to be proud of and it deserves a place alongside your collection that probably already includes discs from: The Traveling Wilburys, The Cars and Jackson Browne.

Land of the Living by Keith Elford and the Weekend Kings is OUT NOW

Link: https://www.facebook.com/KeithElfordWeekendKings/

THE NASHVILLE TEENS — Live in Staines

What to say about the NASHVILLE TEENS? They had a top ten hit in 1964 with Tobacco Road. They backed Jerry Lee Lewis when he went live in Hamburg that same year. They toured with Chuck Berry. They were picked-up by Mickie Most and produced by Andrew Loog Oldham [The Rolling Stones] and Shel Talmy [the Who].

And, probably, they’re the most famous band you’ve never heard of…

The “youngster” of the group Ken Osborn [he joined late 1980s] playing stunning lead guitar in Staines… Picture @neilmach 2019 ©
We saw their live show in Staines this week at the excellent Riverside Club. The place was filled to capacity for what was probably the most anticipated concert in a long time.

With the original vocalist Ray Phillips still in the front, the lineup now includes the Manfred Mann Earth band musician, Colin Pattenden on bass, the “youngster” of the group Ken Osborn [he joined late 1980s] playing stunning lead guitar, with Adrian “Spud” Metcalfe on thumping percussion and Simon Spratley on liquid keys [both these joined the Teens in 1983].

In Staines the band played a great selection of loud rhythm & blues numbers, rock ‘n’ roll hits and garage-rock/blues-rock wonders.

Right from their launch number, “Let It Rock/Rocking On The Railroad” with furious keys and intoxicating bass-stomp plus those unmistakable shake-rattle-and-roll rhythms, we knew we were in for a mega-dance party of epic proportions.

Their version of Wille Dixon’sHoochie Coochie Man” was stuffed with hoodoo sex-appeal as Ray provided vivid vocals, his arm often extended over the microphone, thus bestowing drama and intrigue. This was when we realized what a musical powerhouse Ken could be: his guitar yielded a furious tangle of oxidized notes and harmonics in a constant state of expansion.

Each recognizable hit hotfooting it after the other… Photo @neilmach 2019 ©

Their neatest trick was to run headlong into a motley medley of well-connected numbers, with each recognizable hit hotfooting it after the other: So, in the first half we had Keep on Running / Somebody Help Me / Gimme Me Some Lovin.  And in the second half we had a similar set of overlapping rock ‘n’ roll numbers. It’s a pity that the keyboards were not stronger in the first medley, but the sound was soon sorted out.

During the sensational Staines show we had Rolling Stones favorites, Chuck Berry sing-alongs, and songs taken from a back catalogue which, to be fair, comes from 1964-1969. Yet these durable songs have been energetically played and re-played by these genuinely talented musicians for over fifty years.

Tobacco Road” starts with a tribal thumping that is said to have inspired Sweet’s “Blockbuster.” And although the song began as an unpretentious folkloric number [written by John D. Loudermilk, 1960] the Teens interpret it as an elaborate, yet unrestrained, blues-rock spectacular. The curious mythology of this song is that it was the last number to be recorded by Jimi Hendrix. He laid it down at Ronnie Scotts, on the 16th September, 1970. He died in Lansdowne Crescent, Notting Hill early on September 18th.

Although the band finished their show with the famous “Tobacco Road” their encore was Steppenwolf‘s “Born to Be Wild” — a curious choice, with lyrics about “heavy metal thunder…” and an association with biker gangs and Easy Rider.

But that’s the best thing about this fine band. They play exactly what you want, when you want it. And when they play — their renditions are thunderous and thrilling. In fact, this was the most perfect end-piece to the “Wild Angels” spirit of the early songs on the set: it was unswerving, with robust guitar riffs, aerated vocals and rough rhythms …

Yes, the place was on fire…. we’re so glad [we] made it!

Link: http://www.nashville-teens.com/
Words & Pictures: @neilmach 2019 ©

METROPOLIS BLUE Launch

Last night, in the precious and incomparable BOILEROOM music venue in Guildford, Surrey a brand new record label was launched in style. The famous Metropolis Studios have joined the The Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM) to launch an exclusive record label named METROPOLIS BLUE. It is a project led by ACM students for ACM students, with guidance from industry professionals with experience in ACM and Metropolis

LKJ – a deep and bold song style & sharp confidence…

By joining ACM’s unrivaled creative industry education with the world-class status of Metropolis, ACM students will gain the exclusive experience that they need to get ahead in this competitive industry.

Chairman of ACM and Owner of Metropolis Studios Kainne Clements said: “We promised more industry-based learning and connected opportunity than any other provider and I am both excited and proud to deliver on this by launching the new record label, specific to ACM, powered by Metropolis.

And Richard Connell CEO at Metropolis Studios said: “Metropolis is renowned for sonic excellence, customer service and placing the artist at the centre of everything. We don’t just represent what the industry does, we are what the industry is doing, here and now, and I see it as a privilege to share this with the emerging talent that are the ACM students, from day 1.

The launch-night on Monday 4th March 2019 was enthusiastically attended — not solely because the first few punters through the door were promised free headphones (if they decided to join a long line) — but largely because of the incredible musical talent on offer.

Bethany – energetic…

After a wholehearted introduction from Neon Islands front-man Carlos de los Santos we heard from the amazingly talented indie singer/songwriter Leoni Jane Kennedy [LKJ] — the ACM Freddie Mercury Scholarship Recipient of 2018 — whose combinations of folk, pop, power balladry and blues united with her deep and bold song style and sharp confidence reminded us of Jefferson Starship era Grace Slick.

If you can imagine a finger-picking Melissa Etheridge, young and passionate, playing songs of desire and deception, you will be close to understanding the phenomenal talent of LKJ.

We also enjoyed Bethany Davey – whose “No Time To Lose” [shared below] is an energetic RnB number with work-rhythm patterns and massive wobbles slung around its waist… suggesting this is destined for dance-floor’s around Europe. File alongside Kele Le Roc.

Big queue for headphones…
Congratulations to all the recording artists who venture onto this exciting new student-inspired label. Wishing everyone success and achievement!

The event was sponsored by Monster.

Main Image: Presenter Carlos de los Santos of Neon Islands

Photos by @neilmach 2019 ©

Link: https://www.facebook.com/metropolisblue/

Notes: Since its opening in 1995, ACM has represented every corner of the creative industries. Metropolis Blue will act not only as a springboard for ACM students’ careers as artists, producers, managers, and entrepreneurs, but will also teach them the vital skills they need to make informed decisions about their futures.

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HAIRSPRAY — The Magna Carta Arts Centre

The successful Broadway musical HAIRSPRAY — with music by Marc Shaiman, the lyrics of Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman, and book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan — came to the Magna Carta Arts Centre this week.

It was presented by The Performance Academy. The dance school that was established more than 35 years ago as the Lynne Davis dance school. In 2001, Lynne’s daughter, Annelly [James] took over the school and it became officially known as “The Performance Academy.” The show was directed by the talented local actor TJ Lloyd with lighting by Andy James, sound by Dave Gates and stage management by Nigel Martin.

We saw the show at the exceptional Magna Carta theater on Thursday.

The story follows the curvy teenager Tracy Turnblad’s dream to dance on The Corny Collins Show, and is based on the true history of the “Buddy Deane Show” broadcast by WJZ-TV Baltimore, and taken off-air mid-season due to problems relating to integrating black and white dancers. The theatrical show addresses issues of size and racism, as well as focusing on the love-life of adolescents and living in the big city in the 1960s.

Liezel Abrahams played the upbeat, pollyannaish principal female Tracey with style and gusto. The drag-role of mother Edna was played by George Hedges in the show we saw, and we thought George perfectly captured the part’s self-effacing and diffident nature. Callum Reynolds as the optimistic joke-store Dad/Husband was also noteworthy.

With an ensemble of more than forty talented showsters, often all on stage at the same time, this presentation was a hugely exciting event from start to finish. The cast handled the numbers with aplomb, style and spirit.

impressive drama, extravagant costumes, enthusiastic dances & sincere vocal performances…

Villainess Velma (played by Neve Crossley) and daughter Amber (played by the Cilla-esque Fay Etson on Thursday) had some of the most ambitious songs to perform … but they pulled them off successfully. Aaron Hutton — wearing his Dad’s drapes & drainpipes as Corny Collins and Daniel Hann (Link Larkin) played the dapper male heart-throbs.

Worthy of special mention were: the the mega-talented and much-in-demand Helen Roper (who played by Penny Pingleton in the show we saw on Thursday with dynamic and zippy energy.) We were also captivated by the prepossessing Kola-Olukotan girls: Aliyyah (Motormouth) Ameerah (a member of the singing group “The Dynamites” alongside Leah Warmington and Katerina Saragoudas) and little dancer  Aishah (ensemble).

The show was full of impressive drama, extravagant costumes, enthusiastic dances and sincere vocal performances.

The Magna Carta Hairspray Show was exhilarating from start to finish with enthusiastic support from all … and let’s not forget: You can’t stop the beat once it starts!

Tickets are still available for Hairspray The Broadway Musical at the Magna Carta Arts Centre Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd February (inc matinée on Sat.)

Music & Leisure in Staines UK