On 27th. November John O'Leary, Tim Aves & WOLFPACK, Mike 'Dr Blue' McKeon, Paul Garner & Friends, The Untouchables and Ian McCann all gave us an experience I will always remember. They played in our first British Blues Archive Festival. Thank you so much - it was a very special day.
Irish born, JOHN O'LEARY began playing the blues in 1962 after listening to Cyril Davies in London at The legendary Ealing Jazz Club. He is one of the earliest blues harmonica players in Britain. Initally influenced by the great American harmonica players Sonny Boy Williamson, James Cotton, Little Walter and Junior Wells he has now established his own style.
In 1965 he co-founded the group Savoy Brown Blues Band and in 1968 joined the John Dummer Blues Band. He has recorded with the New Orleans blues singer and pianist Champion Jack Dupree (1968) with The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation.
In the late 70's, he led The Famous Blues Blasters and in the early 80's the jazz/blues fusion group Mainsqueeze with whom he recorded a live album at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club.
He has accompanied many American artists during their European tours before forming his own band in 2002. In 2011, John was voted No 2 in the harmonica poll conducted by writers in Blues Matters magazine.
John has a new album out 'Two For The Show' and a re-release in November of 'Mainsqueeze Live At Ronnie Scott's' on Trapeze Records"
Paul Garner & Friends
Since arriving in London in 2005, Paul Garner has found himself much in demand as a guitarist for his mastery of authentic Chicago and West Coast blues styles. His own group, The Paul Garner Band , bring a new twist to the blues with original songs and radical arrangements of classic blues standards.
For the Blues Legacy Festival, Paul will be joined by his regular drummer, Jason Ribeiro, along with blues-piano maestro, Eric Ranzoni, and Costa Tancredi on electric bass.
Paul Garner has: in 2010 recorded an album with Louisiana blues legend, Lazy Lester, for veteran record producer Mike Vernon and has opened for artists such as Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Jools Holland
Eric Ranzoni is the first-call pianist for artists such as Mud Morganfield (the eldest son of Muddy Waters), Big Joe Louis, Bill Hurley ('The Inmates') and guitar ace Otis Grand.
Costa Tancredi has performed with Eric Clapton and Guy Tortora, The Incredible Blues Puppies and many more acts on the London blues scene.
What they say about Paul Garner……..
"It's always a pleasure when you hit upon a CD that takes you by total surprise, especially when it's home grown talent. The Paul Garner Band are a young band from London, and, on this, their debut release, they show an incredible maturity, with a unique and refreshing approach to the Blues. The quality of musicianship is mightily apparent from the off, with heavy doses of fantastic Hammond organ interspersed with Paul Garner's excellent stinging lead guitar breaks."
"Arguably the most talented guitarist in London. Paul's sound is completely unique and fuses a number of genres to create his very own version of the Blues."
(Ain't Nothin' But blues bar)
"...his debt to blues men like Albert King, Albert Collins and Johnny 'Guitar' Watson is evident, but his influences become drawn into a style all his own as he alternates between plectrum and finger-picking, mixing fluid runs with staccato stabs and searing, soaring licks... There is no doubt that this young man's a talented musician with style, energy and originality. He posses the kind of humility and sense of humour that puts an audience at its ease and allows him to do what he does best - play some killer blues guitar!"
Blues In Britain
Ian McCann discovered the blues at the age of 12 when his dad brought home some records he'd bought from a man in a pub, most of which were by Hank Snow, but one was by BB King. Unfortunately, lots of other people had already discovered the blues, so Ian's attempts to spread the word about this amazing music were misguided. Undeterred, he set about collecting all the blues records he could find.
After playing guitar in some teenage bands in the 70s - The Bungalows, The Five Wallpapers, Jerk Wimbies' Allstars - Ian began DJing at parties and developed a huge reputation. In 1984 he began writing about music, working for Black Echoes, Melody Maker, NME, The Face, i-D, The Telegraph, The Independent … and Sindy comic. Oh, and the News Of The World . During the 1990s he was a regular reporter for the Radio 1 show Soundbite and has also worked for Radio 2 and Five Live. His DJ slots include the Twilight Festival, the Wag Club during its 80s heyday, and the acclaimed Talking Musical Revolutions in London.
A fan of reggae, soul, jazz, funk and, grimly, West Ham United, Ian is now the editor of Record Collector magazine. He has compiled and/or written sleevenotes for around 300 albums yet would gladly swap them all to be able to play at least one decent blues guitar solo. His favourite musicians are Bobby Bland, Ernest Ranglin, Grant Green and Jackie Mittoo. The favourite requests Ian has received as a DJ include "play something meaningful - I don't know what, but it must be meaningful", "put on the best record you ever heard", and best of all, "Why are you playing all this Michael Jackson?" at a Michael Jackson tribute event. Most requests he has had as a guitarist have suggested that he should go forth and multiply and he wishes he had taken up the Hammond organ instead. He plays a Gibson Barney Kessel and Technics SL 1200s. His ideal DJ gig would be one that mixes all forms of black American and Jamaican music with some mid-60s rock.
True to his roots in the blues, Ian is an unrepentant alcoholic and spends his days on a stoop in the south (of England) with a skulking dog, his woman done left him for the ice man, and he even woke up this morning - a deeply overrated activity. He awaits the day when Marshall Chess pulls up in a black sedan and suggests he makes a comeback with some hot session players. But he may have a long wait…
Tim Aves and WOLFPACK
HOWLIN' Wolf was the biggest, baddest, evilest bluesman ever to stalk a stage on planet earth... there'll never be another like him... simple as that.
Tim Aves & WOLFPACK (yes, their name is always spelled out in capital letters!) are NOT a tribute band. They play the music of Wolf and other blues greats with reverence and passion - and a large dollop of 21st-century Essex attitude.
WOLFPACK was founded by award-winning frontman, writer and broadcaster TIM AVES (Rockin' Armadillos, Automatic Slim). He is joined by erstwhile Armadillos bandmates, ROB "Tank" BARRY (bass) and PAUL LESTER (drums), plus the hottest young guitar talent on the British scene, 25-year-old JOEL FISK. Joel was Best Guitarist in the 2009 Digital Blues Awards and also performs with acclaimed British Blues Award-nominated Cool Buzz Records artistes HOKIE JOINT.
As the band's name suggests, the tough, scary blues of Howlin' Wolf is central to the WOLFPACK repertoire, though it touches all points in between Wolf and artistes from Hound Dog Taylor and Muddy Waters, to The Red Devils, ZZ Top and the ARC Angels...
The foursome made their debut opening for jazz-blues guitar star Matt Schofield in late 2009, first appearing as WOLFPACK in January 2010. Since then, regular gigs all over the UK, including talking-point performances at consecutive Ealing Blues Festivals in 2010 and 2011 and headline slots at the STOWblues and Newark festivals (at the latter they were joined onstage by top Brit bluesman Ian Siegal) have cemented WOLFPACK's reputation as one of the most exciting attractions on the circuit.
The band's debut CD, "The WOLFPACK Burnham Sessions", (Square One Records Cat No Square 034) is now enjoying worldwide airplay and rave reviews. It is available online via the band's website and to download on iTunes.
Frontman Tim Aves says: "I was first captivated by Wolf's music as a teenager in the Seventies. It just sounded so raw, elemental and powerful. For me, I supposed it all started when another hero of mine, my friend, the late, great Lee Brilleaux, of Dr Feelgood, turned me on to him.
"We have about ten WOLF songs in our set, but my favourite is probably "Tail Dragger"… It is just so full of power and menace. As with a lot of our set, we've given the song a very different treatment from the original, which has a horn section and piano on it. Ours probably owes more to those wonderful electrified country blues things Muddy did, like "Rollin' Stone". It's a great live number - full of tension, to the point where I often stop the song at the end of second verse and just let it hang in the air for several seconds.
It all began in 2005 when Keith Parker and Pete Ellison became regulars at The Bishops Blues Club weekly jam sessions. They found that their musical styles seemed to mesh and decided to work together to form an acoustic duo, specialising in early blues and folk music of the 20s and 30s. Pete bought a ukulele and a resonator guitar - and Keith invested in a kazoo. Double Trouble was born and became successful on the folk club and festival circuit.
Before long Keith and Pete longed to form a blues band that took as its inspiration the sound and feel of early Chess and Excello recordings. That meant lower volume, jazzy music that swung; a world away from the rock-influenced playing of many British blues bands. So, they set off in search of a string bass player and a swinging drummer to complete the package. The idea of Untouchables was born.
After running a few unsuccessful auditions, they approached Malcolm Buckland, the drummer with the house band at Bishops Blues. He was the perfect choice but was he ready to commit? As a member of a successful soul band, would he want to join the Untouchables?
At the same time, Pete put a few ads on blues and musicians' websites for a jazz-influenced double bass player. When Paul Green answered an ad, a rehearsal was set up.
It only took that one rehearsal for the four musicians to be convinced that this was a combination that would work. Paul's bass swung and growled, Malcolm's percussion provided driving rhythm and subtle colour, Pete's big-toned guitar gave the music its raw edge, and it was all topped by Keith's easily soulful vocals and harp. Everything felt right. They agreed that the aim was to take their brand of vintage blues to the people and make them dance. The music would be dynamic, subtle and responsive, giving equal space to all four instruments and leaving plenty of room for improvisation and happy accidents.
Over the next five years, the band developed into one of the most exciting and joyous experiences in blues music. Luckily, their rise coincided with a resurgence of interest amongst young music-lovers in the sounds of vintage blues. New clubs opened up and welcomed The Untouchables. They had found their audience and they continue to give them shows to remember.
Currently you can catch them once a month at The Blues Kitchen in Camden Town and 'Round Midnight' in Islington North London as well as other London clubs and at festivals further afield.
Mike 'Dr Blue'McKeon
I am very excited and proud, to be able to support the recently formed British Blues Archive. I embrace the principals of collecting and celebrating a genre of music that has been a part of my life, since I was a child. The music is vibrant and alive. It is primarily a grass- roots movement, accessible and democratic. It is available to anyone who wants to play or listen, supported and loved as it is, by its loyal fans. Blues is found in small clubs like Round Midnight or St Harmonicas and in pubs. When Seasick Steve was asked what it was like, playing in the Royal Albert Hall? He said: "We turned it into a bar!".
You only have to look up any of the listings pages, to see how many blues jams, gigs and festivals there are. My own particular favorite is the brilliant Ian Siegal, known to some as the 'Gov'nor. Ian's albums are reputed to have outsold Eric Clapton in some parts of Europe recently, yet he is still relatively unknown here in the UK.
Many fans are aware of the American Blues greats like Robert Johnson, Bessie Smith , and Koko Taylor . However it took bands like the Rolling Stones to go over to the U.S.A. and seek out their musical hero's in the 1960's, to bring the likes of Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and Jimmy Reed to the attention of the American mainstream and over to Europe in person. This tradition started by Jazz greats like Ella Fitzgerald and Lois Armstrong, is still carried on today with the yearly visit of Buddy Guy.
Blues is a genre that can be accessed, played and enjoyed by anyone. It seems to resonate somewhere very deeply in many of us. Blues celebrates life, applauding many joys, like love, sex and partying. At the same time as chronicling: sadness, heart- ache and loss.
My own interest in the Blues goes back to my father playing jazz and swing records to me when I was a kid. He came back from a trip to New Orleans carrying two albums by Pete Fountain, once I heard St Louis Blues I was hooked. My father also taught me to play the harmonica, playing it and singing to my sister and I, when he came home from work sometimes. It was this experience that is the inspiration for the track Rocking Chair, on my album Heaven Bound.
I have over the years performed in many different types of bands including a Country Rock Duo with Dave 'guitar' Piggott as well as in Doctor Blue and The Prescription. I have always enjoyed writing my own material. It is more than wanting to add my own creative mark, it's like an itch I have to scratch!
Heaven Bound, my latest album, was written in Kashmir in India during the summer of 2010. It was to a backdrop of birdsong, civil unrest and gunfire that I finished writing the title track. No sooner had I completed arranging Heaven Bound, I got a call to say Ray Bartrip had died. He was a typical British Blues Man. He started the Coach and Horses Blues Jam for example. He performed regularly across London and Essex, hauling his Hammond into the back of his battered old Volvo. His life, summed up in a way, my love for the music, a passion that gets me out of the house to hang out and play with friends, but also to write and record the music I love. It is to Ray that Heaven Bound is dedicated.