Tag Archives: Mike Burke

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 ©

FRAN MGILLIVRAY BAND — Live in Staines

This week — still celebrating a “Month Montage of Blues” in STAINES — we went to the RIVERSIDE CLUB to see the FRAN MGILLIVRAY band (with Mike Burke.)

Fran is the bassist with the colourful and expressive voice who adds energizing structure to the blues-tunes she performs. Fran plays alongside the great talent of Mike Burke, on guitar.

Fran started playing folk, roots and blues music in the late 1970s with Mike Burke, and appeared at the Cambridge Folk Festival in 1977 following the release of the album “Into the Light.”

Fran McGillivray curative simplicity and subtle reflection. Photo Credit: @neilmach 2016 ©
Fran McGillivray curative simplicity and subtle reflection. Photo Credit: @neilmach 2016 ©

The band have recently been mixing their new album [Riverside Club favorite Alan Glen is a guest on the recording) so we were pleased they chose to play a couple of songs from the upcoming release including “When, when, when.”

This is a song about looking back to a time before gadgets and smart-phones. When forming and maintaining relationships was perhaps easier (who knows?) This was a cool number, full of expression and a touch of yearning.

We loved the choppiness of numbers like “Hard Working Woman.”

Fran’s vocals on this song reminded us of Elkie Brooks during her Vinegar Joe days. We also enjoyed the fluency on tracks like the ‘Little Walter‘ standard “Blues with a Feeling” — although we could have done with harmonica for this one.

In the 1990s Fran and Mike formed the urban blues band “So Long Angel” and they played us the showy and vibrant “Ecstasy” from that period. It was filled with a fusion of jazz and psychedelia and was our favorite number.

In amongst the jazz-tinged songs and country-blues offerings — all played with nuanced voice and robust bass lines from Fran and expressive finger style from Mike — was a handful of rhythm and blues numbers, such as Rufus Thomas danceable “Walking the Dog” with sexy bass notes and flames of guitar.

We also loved the Fran McGillivray version of “Not Fade Away” with its rough sharpness, Bo Diddley beat (enriched by percussionist Roger Nunn) and very pleasant, languid voice.

This was a positive, upbeat and mellow show full of curative simplicity and subtle reflection.

An outstanding evening of quality musicianship.

Next to Staines Riverside Club: Case Hardin Thursday September 22
Words & Pictures: Neil Mach 2016 ©
https://www.facebook.com/franmcgillivrayband/