Anna Calvi

Just before Christmas I was sitting in my car in the Tesco’s car park on a freezing cold night. I tuned into the Radcliffe and Maconie show on Radio 2 and one of the first things I heard was “I’ll be your man” by Anna Calvi.  It’s got an amazing intro. She certainly knows how to play a Telecaster.

Her debut album (which includes this song) is released on 17 January 2011. Here’s a review from the Guardian.

Here she is interviewed and performing on French TV (in English)

Jake Lear

This guy was playing at the bottom end of Beale Street during my recent visit to Memphis.

Jake Lear on Beale Street

Jake Lear on Beale Street

His style was quite different than Richard Johnston, but he was also very good.

He played quite a furious style of blues/R n B – much more “rock and roll”. His singing, and appearance, reminded me of a young Bob Dylan.

You can download some examples of his music from his website.

Richard Johnston, country blues guitarist

Memphis 103

No visit to Memphis is complete without a visit to Beale Street. Although geared to tourists to some extent, there is still an opportunity to see some genuinely talented blues and r’n’b musicians playing live.

This guy was my favourite. An excellent country blues musician. He plays a mean riff and can really sing. In many ways he reminded me of a younger version of Seasick Steve – similar music and he has also his own “Didley bow” guitar made from odds and ends. He was accompanied by a bassist and, on one occasion, a guy playing a harmonica.

Check out his website where you can download some tracks

Click the links below to watch some videos I shot.

video 1

video 2

video 3

EC at the MEN

We went to see Eric Clapton play at the MEN Arena in Manchester on Thursday. I’ve never been inside the MEN before (although I’ve stood outside may a time waiting to pick up my daughter) and this was also the first time I’d been to a concert in one of these huge venues. It was quite different from the gigs I’ve been to recently since the kids have grown up and we’ve started going out again. They have all been in small, more intimate venues.

Waiting for Eric

Waiting for Eric

EC was excellent and made it look so easy. I wish I could play 10% as good as him. His set was quite varied and included several less familiar songs. He also included some acoustic pieces in the middle of the set.  In total it lasted just about 2 hours (including the encore) without a break. Not bad for a 64 year old!

EC on stage

EC on stage

Although we were only about one third of the way back, on one of the side terraces, the stage was a fair distance away and it was hard to make out the band. Luckily there were big screens. Those at the back would hardly have been able to see anything other than what was on the screen.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed the gig,there were a few negatives – in particular, a lack of atmosphere. I think that this was down to three main factors

  • the setting – large arenas are not so conducive as small venues to creating a good atmosphere. Most of the audience is a long way from the stage and spread out. The high roof doesn’t help in that all the space above you makes it feel sort of empty. It felt rather sterile.
  • EC himself didn’t really try to encourage the crowd. There was very little attempt to interact with his audience. He didn’t even introduce his songs. I guess there was an assumption that we’d know what they were, even though many of them weren’t “EC standards”.
  • the audience itself – i.e. mainly older, middle class types, quite reserved and not so amenable to getting too excited and showing enthusiasm as an audience made up of teenagers.

Some people did try to make an effort. Facing us, on the other side of the arena (quite a distance away!) a couple of women stood up to dance bu this resulted in a conflict with the couple sitting behind them who made a lot of fuss to try to get them to sit down. Understandable, I suppose, when tickets cost a small fortune and someone standing in front of you makes it difficult to see. I guess unless everyone stands up this sort of conflict is inevitable.

Nevertheless, although the atmosphere could have been better, the main reason to go there was to see EC (I could make him out – mainly on the big screen!) and to soak up the music. So all in all a good night out.

Set list (from whereseric website)

  1. Going down slow
  2. Anything for your love
  3. Key to the highway
  4. Old love
  5. I shot the sheriff
  6. Layla*
  7. Lay down Sally*
  8. Not dark yet*
  9. Anytime for you*
  10. Somewhere over the rainbow*
  11. Badge
  12. Little queen of spades
  13. Before you accuse me
  14. Wonderful tonight
  15. Cocaine
  16. Crossroads (encore)

* acoustic set

Alan Price at the Tavern, Wigan

Last night we went to see Alan Price and his band perform at the Tavern in Wigan. It was a great gig !

Alan Price at the Tavern, Wigan

Alan Price at the Tavern, Wigan

He brought some excellent musicians with him including Zoot Money on keyboards – two legends for the price of one ! The guitarist was Bobby Tench who I’d never heard of before but who has plyed with a number of bands and top musicians including Jeff Beck, Van Morrison and Steve Marriot. He was an excellent guitarist and played some really good solos during the gig – as well as taking lead vocals on Moondance by Van Morrison.

For old guys (I should add that the drummer and bassist were younger than the other three) they played a long set. Ididn’t time it but it must have lasted about 90 minutes, without a break (although the rest of the band took a breather during a fairsly lengthy drum solo towards the end of the set).

Alan Price Band on stage at the Tavern, Wigan

Alan Price Band on stage at the Tavern, Wigan

They mainly played old Alan Price material together with some good old R n’ B classics.

Alan Price (he’s getting on a bit – he’s 66 I believe) made lengthy but very humorous introductions to some of the songs, displaying a very droll, deadpan, sense of humour.

All in all a great gig. Lets hope we get some more like it in Wigan.

Jan Akkerman in Liverpool

Jan Akkerman

Jan Akkerman

I went to see Jan Akkerman, one of my all time favourite guitarists, at the Baby Blue Live Lounge on the Albert Dock in Liverpool last night. It was a great show. Its the third time I’ve been to see him play live and this was probably the best concert of the three.

He played a mixture of material from his days with Focus and from his own albums. In many ways I preferred the latter, although the Focus tunes tended to get the best response from the audience of (mainly) middle aged men.

His style is very jazz influenced, which was true of Focus too.

Despite his advancing years (we’re all getting older) he is still one of the most technically accomplished guitarists around.

Jan Akkerman and his band

Jan Akkerman and his band