Against the Grain; Ruzz Guitar at Thirty

South West’s resident Johnny B Goode, Ruzz Evans celebrates his thirtieth birthday with the release of a live album, Against the Grain. I caught up with him for a quick reminisce, and chinwag about the album……

As suggested, it was recorded at Frome’s Cheese & Grain on 19th June 2021, postponed due to lockdown. Such dynamic and regenerating conditions really breath atmosphere into this album, and it captures the mood of a band excited to re-emerge from isolation. Though by now, we’ve come to expect excellence from Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue as standard.

Featuring tracks from the band’s previous releases it also includes tracks from Ruzz Guitar’s recent video series “RG Sessions.” It’s uniquely delivered blues, RnB, rock n roll fusion with feelgood big band vibes, often frenzied and danceable, lengthy moments of extraordinarily proficient jamming, yet, like Longing to See You on this album, there’s always time for a concentrated ballad.

And oh my, if there isn’t Ruzz doing a sublime guitar solo of Louis Armstrong’s Wonderful World, then joking about breaking a fingernail, but the complimenting talent behind the man is second to none. Blues Revue drummer Mike Hoddinott, bassist Richie Blake and Graham Nicholls on rhythm guitar, with a horns section of Michael Gavaghan on sax, Jack Jowers on trumpet and trombonist Will Jones, and special guests’ incredible vocalist and pianist Pete Gage, who is fast becoming part of the furniture, and breathes real gritty delta blues ambience into the collective, along with sublime harmonica by Jerry Tremaine, who simply wows on Baby, Scratch My Back.

Seriously, this is eight hard-earned pounds well spent. I’d say it’s better than the previous live album, Live at the Louisiana, we fondly reviewed a couple of years ago; Ruzz agrees, a quietly proud perfectionist, I figure.

But I want to get deeper into the psyche of the frontman, find out what drives him, when and how he first picked up that instrument. Firstly though, on this new release, I had to compliment the aforementioned Wonderful World solo. “That reaction is what I was aiming for,” he replied, “I wanted to bring something new to the table and challenge myself. I’m really happy that it came across as I wanted!”

Just checking this recording at the Cheese & Grain was the first live show they did after lockdown, Ruzz confirmed it was, “we had done an online set back in August 2020, and one small gig before all the lockdowns came back in heavier. That show was our first, full band show since the Devizes Rugby Club gig in March.” Ah, yes, what a way to go out that was!

Treated of a number of streams during lockdown, I asked if they considered continuing them. “Definitely. I’ve been trying to think of the right events to live stream to anyone who can’t make it in person (I.e., my international audience). I want the streams to be more than just me sat at home with my guitar all the time,” Ruzz chuckled. “I want it to be as much an experience for people watching the stream as for the people at the live event.”

Jogged my memory of a great stream from his garden, and though it was strange at first, seeing musicians in their home, on their sofas, some even with washing on a clotheshorse in the background, some made an effort to avert from the standard; I recalled Jon Amor climbing out onto his roof like a 5th Beatle! Ruzz laughed, “Jon had some great ones!”

Jon Amor. Image: Nick Padmore

This is Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue’s seven album, and out of them there’s three live ones, including Visual Radio Arts in 2018. Does he think he projects best when live, rather than a studio?

“I love working on music in the studio, but yes, I think this sort of music is best experienced live,” Ruzz answered, though I suspected as much. “It wasn’t a conscious plan to do three live recordings but I can honestly say that this new one is my favourite by far. I feel the band is playing better than ever. I’m always trying to capture that magic on our recordings, whether it’s in the studio or live.”

I wished him a happy birthday and counted it an ideal opportunity to trace his past and discover the very beginnings of Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue.

“My dad and youngest brother play music,” he answered my family connection to music question. “I got my start into live guitar playing through my dad. Back when I was 16, he put a band together to feature me on guitar; I haven’t looked back since!”

The first time he picked up a guitar? “When I was 15. I had started on bass and drums, around 14, but was shown a George Thorogood DVD and then taken to see him live. After that I decided to learn slide guitar, then Jimmie Vaughan and Brian Setzer came along, and the rest is history.”

Ruzz at 20!

I wondered if they commonly had requests for cliché rock n roll hits, imagining drunk punters asking for Heartbreak Hotel or That’ll be the Day, but would Ruzz appease such appeals, and in that, did it start out this way. “I have played all of those in various rockabilly bands over the years; great tunes, but maybe not quite right for the current band!”

Originals is what you get with Ruzz Guitar, outstanding ones, yet he cites the blues, RnB artists as influences; Dr Feelgood, The Fabulous Thunderbirds. “I try to take from many places,” he laughed, “Wilko Johnson, BB King, Reverend Horton Heat, Steve Cropper; to name a few.”

Anticipated responses, so I thought I’d throw a curveball for the finale. I use the urban myth of Hendrix taking his guitar everywhere, to my kids, as a testament to dedication, and how hard you must strive to perfect something, any goal you might have. It was reported Hendrix took it to the toilet. I asked Ruzz what drives that dedication in him, but not before inquiring if he too, took his guitar to the loo!

He chuckled at this, and for the record answered, “I haven’t gone that far!”

“In all honesty I don’t know. It’s just something that’s felt right since I started learning. It’s been the one constant in my life since I was 15. There’s nothing more enjoyable to me than learning more with it, writing my own music and standing up in front of a group of people and taking them on a musical journey with me… it’s just what I was meant to do with my life.”

Well, at just thirty he’s certainly achieved it, this album is proof. He signed off with “hope to catch up in Devizes in March!” And there’s a thing, 12th March the Wiltshire Blues and Soul Club are indeed at the Corn Exchange with Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue headlining, which we’ve already previewed, here.

The live performance from the Cheese & Grain can be seen on YouTube for a limited time, here.


And Yes, Ruzz Guitar does feature on our compilation album, all in aid of Julia’s House; please download a copy here

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Rock n Roll Lives; in Melksham!

Found myself in the Sham last night, hail hailing rock n roll at the Assembly Hall, something I’ve been meaning to witness for ages; and I’m pleased to report, they do it with bells on……

Passing through Swindon’s GWR works prior to the Steam Museum, I perchance to natter to an aged engineer prepping a locomotive for display. He frustrated his vocation was fading, and with no apprenticeship, the knowledge would be a lost trade. Art is different from a trade; it lives beyond the creators’ years naturally; it is only hope it inspires enough to attract devotees from future generations.

Creative types rarely contemplate this, tending to live for the moment. Rock n Roll was perhaps the first youth culture to transcend social and political barriers into mainstream. Generations of segregation had worn-out the connection of railroad slaves, mimicking four-beat folk of their masters, and white youths of the 1950s reunited it by blending blues into country, much to the outrage of traditionists. But would those early, wide-eyed rock n rollers have stopped to consider seventy years later their voices would still be ringing out, their fashion would be epitomised and their dances displayed with such enthusiasm, in a market town hall in South-West England?!

Geoff and his wife proudly sit on the door of the Melksham Assembly Hall and welcome me. They have been the backbone of The Melksham Rock N Roll Club since its formation, twenty years ago. Recently two clubs opened in Bristol, he expressed, but prior he’s had free reign of the niche market for a few years. Coupled with winter’s chill and the resistance to head back out post-lockdown, he shrugs, unruffled attendance is slightly down. I pulled up a chair for a chat of all things Buddy Holly to Shakin’ Stevens, then popped inside to see for myself.

Despite his reservations and taking into account the hall is wonderfully spacious, it feels suitably packed in there, if this is an evening of lesser ticket sales it certainly doesn’t show. Devotees of rock n roll have come from afar to attend; Geoff cites members trek from Bristol, and even as far as Essex.

The closest we have here in the ‘Vizes is the Long Street Blues Club, which while spectacular can be a library-like appreciation society; I was shushed in there while thanking Ian for inviting me! Here appreciation is displayed rather differently, events aptly referred to as “dances,” while hold factors akin to many clubs, a live band, DJ and a raffle, the most astounding part was the dancing. There was no way I dare step onto that dancefloor to be showed up, as matured and authentically attired regulars would put upcoming generations to shame with their astounding moves! Trade in your gym membership, come here instead for a rock n roll workout!

With poodle skirts whirling around refined gents in double-breasted Chesterfields and winklepickers, it’s an impressive spectacle. I was interested to observe the age demographic, concerned, like the steam engineer, for his disappearing trade. I’d spoken to Geoff about diversity, for what is considered “rock n roll” is altered by later age-groups, through Zeppelin to punk. But acceptance of progression felt like a no-go zone; this was traditional, fifties fashioned rock n roll, like it or lump it.

I thoroughly enjoyed the band, hailing from various locations from Hungerford to the Cotswolds, this five-piece ensemble called Haney’s Big House had the classic arrangement; bona-fide frontman on lead, bassist, drummer, harmonica and an outstanding upright double-bass player. It proficiently spelled rock n roll to me, they played their own awesome compositions, and relished in covering Bill Haley and Chuck Berry, to name a few. Yet conversing outside, nick-picking gossip circulated it was too blues, whilst others suggested too rockabilly.

True, but the band don’t hide this blues influence on their own website, and inside the crowd danced on seemingly unconcerned. I huffed at a minority of grouches, they revelled in nights of yore through rose-tinted specs, when unfortunately, that era has passed. Haney’s Big House made for an excellent evening, seemed to love the spotlight and were a perfect match for a rock n roll club.

Akin to the contemporary scooter scene, subgenres have to merge back into one another in hope of survival, as Northern Soul mods meet ska-led skinheads, so rockabilly, RnB and blues should be accepted as fair game by fundamentalist rock n rollers, otherwise the scene risks fragmentation over time.

A heartfelt concern, because I’m with Joan Jett, loving rock n roll, put it every time on the jukebox baby; I grew up listening to Elvis, Buddy et al, via parents. There’s nothing like the authenticity of original rock n roll, with an epoch to match, The Melksham Rock N Roll Club is an institution upholding this ethos and they do so with matchless effort.

It was a brilliant evening of beguiling retrospection and long may it continue for another twenty years plus. My demographic observations came up trumps, while a palpable majority were retirement age diehards, a sprinkling was younger, equally excited about the scene. Though that number has to be upped, so I urge anyone affectionate of old timey rock n roll, try this affordable club for size; it’s reelin’ and a rockin’ to the point age is just a number, folk of all ages twirling the night away; absolutely wonderful!

Next dance is Saturday 26th February with Jive Street….

Stay updated via their Facebook page.


Check out other forthcoming events at Melksham Assembly Hall Here, from Abba and Carpenters tributes to Madness and Led Zeppelin…and erm, “ladies” nights!


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Old Habits of Treetop Flyers

Mega-retrospective bliss, this album from London’s Treetop Flyers, got me reminiscing…..

An expression of mixed emotions hung on my dad’s face as he sauntered past my bedroom. “What you listening to?” he grumbly enquired. He’s joined the dots between my music listening habits and his diminishing record collection, “yeah? I used to have that album….”

Property is theft for the anarchist, least this isn’t even theft, just relocated within the same household, and I’d like to think, flattery and the notion his records were getting revitalised befell my father. Not my fault this was the mid-eighties, a void between creative post-punk electronica and house, when we, the youth, were fully aware the hit factories was mugging us off with a monotonous catalogue of samey bullshit. Finding good music prior to my own days was a must, and we hadn’t YouTube, we just had these treasure chests of hand-me-down records.

Everything about Treetop Flyers’ new album, Old Habits suggests I should despise it, yet nothing could be further from the truth. The divine retrospection delivered the aforementioned fond memory; close your eyes and you can see the Ronco logo revolving at 33rpm on a mahogany music centre. My mind even sees the autochanger arm hinged aside. The only gender neutrality in the seventies was hair length; ladies played singles, men albums, big, hairy men with chest rugs you could lose a prawn cocktail in. And Old Habits could’ve nested between those long-players, not looking out of place.

This is Old Habits’ follow-up to 2018’s critically acclaimed eponymous album, which held a distinct American West Coast vibe, yet Old Habits moves away from this, guiding into the wonderous era of seventies British rock n roll pop; absorbing late mod soul, subtly hinting at psychedelia, but wallowing in Carnaby Street cool. Just like its influences, the Faces, Van Morrison, George Harrison, The Who, Ronnie Lane and Traffic, Treetop Flyers has produced a mellowed masterpiece now, which if it was recorded back then, would remain equally classic.

You will tingle akin to the saxophone riff of Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street throughout this absolutely spellbinding journey, that much I guarantee. Treetop Flyers were formed in 2013 by frontman Reid Morrison, Laurie Sherman and Sam Beer, who met whilst playing in other projects as part of the West London folk scene. I went in blind, this is their fourth studio album, I was unaware of them, I came out the other side overwhelmed with a sense bliss.

From the off, Golden Hour, the opening track sets the scene; drumbeat retrospectively sublime, the piano and guitar combo marries, vocals enchantingly cool, and the tempo of each following tune blends into another; you’ll be tingling by the second tune, Dancing Figurines, hooked by the third.

If the horn-blowing Cool Your Jets is the most upbeat and beguiling, with essences of scooter culture, Castlewood Road calibrates the whole album and brings it to an apex. It’s dripping of Curtis Mayfield, or how you’d like a later Weller song. The theme is a street on Stoke Newington which the band’s lead guitarist Laurie Sherman lives, and the accompanying video was shot in Laurie’s house. “There have been many a British song about places where people lived or grew up and this is our kinda take on that,” explains Morrison. “We spent a lot of time there over the years writing and chatting, drinking coffee listening to records etc and Laurie actually mixed the new album (Old Habits) in that house too. So, I guess it’s a love song and thank you to those walls really.”

After a couple of listens I’m determine to dive deeper into this, and come out singing the songs; if you need me, I’ll be in a beige flowery shirt flowing across an oversized belt buckle, slouching in the corner of the front-room of a house party in 1976, next to the lava lamp, bellbottoms swishing, with headphones fit for Godzilla affixed, paying attention to nothing other than this absolutely gorgeous album.


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Sonny Vincent’s Snake Pit Therapy

Here’s me doubting using the phrase “traditional punk rock,” because wouldn’t punk castoff anything deemed traditional? Yet I feel the term punk is loosely thrown about these days, compared to its original ethos. Much of the sneaker and drainpipe crowd-surfing youngsters barely relates to the sound and attitude of the Pistols or Ramones.  

While I’m a little behind, and smell like one too, Svart Records released Snake Pit Therapy on 17th of September, legendary NYC rocker Sonny Vincent is something we have to mention, because it’s loud, dangerous and pretty much nails the aforementioned oxymoron, “traditional punk rock.”

Born in New York City and raised on its streets and in its clubs, Sonny Vincent is infamous from NYC punk early fire-starters Testors, who from ‘75 to ’79 were attitude-laden fixtures on the CBGB and Max’s Kansas City scenes. An extraordinarily prolific artist, active since the late 60s, Sonny has released numerous albums collaborating with members of the Stooges, Dead Boys, The Damned, Husker Du, The Replacements, Rocket From The Crypt and releasing four albums with the Velvet Underground’s Moe Tucker. He recently collaborated with Pentagram’s Bobby Liebling in the new supergroup The Limit, whose Caveman Logic album was released in the spring.

Snake Pit Therapy maintains the rawness of real-deal blazing protopunk with heaps of psychedelia and hard rock, all taken to the edge with Vincent’s naked aggression, passionate voice and his trademark caustic guitar. Yet scrupulousness rides this razor-sharp rock n roll testament, because Vincent’s life and antics are more than legend; they are real, as documented in his recent memoirs, bearing the same title as this very album.

In and out of homes for bad kids, committed to the psych ward for observation and forcibly conscripted into a tour of duty in Vietnam courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corp, Vincent’s experience of wild and tough living has awarded his songs hardness with humanity. Sincerity without mawkishness, Snake Pit Therapy is glorious rock ‘n’ roll with an edge that’ll slice your finger clean off.

For this, I’ll say, at first it was a hard pill to swallow, blasting it straight in your face when I was in somewhat of a laidback mood, rather Snake Pit Therapy grows on me like a wart with each listen, and if you’re looking for rage without cliché or irrationality, you’ve come to right album.

It was ten tracks into this fifteen-track indestructible primal scream when I was smitten, Japan Mofo, has the start stop of blues-riffed rock n roll, while retaining the ferociousness of previous tracks. Yet it’s the earlier driving rock tune, The End of Light which is the first single released, Never Tired follows, which a heart-ripped-open chorus, is having it.

Note, if you’re expecting it calm down, you’ll be disappointed until the final song, Forest offers a slightly mellowed psychedelic tenet, in comparison with the rest, still though this is verging on metal at times, inline with his recently formed heavy punk-metal band The Limit, featuring Bobby Liebling of Pentagram, and garnering glowing reviews worldwide.

So yeah, while a tad weighty for me, I still see it’s quality and know there’s a lot of people who are going locally who’ll love this, and I do too, when I’m in the raging like of mood, which has been known to happen for anything as long as thirty seconds! In the past, I reached for Iggy Pop, he now will have competition.


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PREVIEW – White Horse Opera’s Production of Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amour”@ Lavington School, Devizes – Wednesday 26th, Friday 28th, and Saturday 29th October 2022

Opera Is Back! – The Elixir Of Love! – Go See This Show! by Andy Fawthrop We’ve said it before, and we feel no shame … Continue readingPREVIEW – White Horse Opera’s Production of Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amour”@ Lavington School, Devizes – Wednesday 26th, Friday 28th, and Saturday 29th October 2022

The Great Rock N Roll Swindon; Anarchist Artists Unite

October at The Post-Modern Gallery, on Swindon’s Theatre Square, sees an irresistible exhibition for punks, general music or art aficionados, and devotees of the curious and unusual, The Great Rock N Roll Swindon. Running from the 2nd – 10th, it’s a free art show, the name of which was inspired by the Sex Pistols film and song, The Great Rock N Roll Swindle, and is part of a touring group exhibition organised by punk artist, David Apps.….

From 2012 over a six-year period he had staged six exhibitions a year, always with his artwork dominating the exhibition. From London, Essex and Cambridge to Newcastle and Berlin, he staged exhibitions, built up a large following and returned the following year, until opening his own successful gallery in the summer of 2017.

With Brexit and then the world closing down shortly after, sadly David had to close his beloved gallery in December 2020. “Lost and not knowing what to do,” he explains, “I decided to book an exhibition a month and go back to how I started out, booking venues and art galleries and taking the artwork on tour.”

The exhibition is made up of a plethora of artists from the original punk movement, alongside some extremely interesting artists and friends who David has worked with over the past seven years, including legendary singer of punk band the U.K Subs, Charlie Harper. Two Brixton based artists, Dalis & Angel, aka DnA Factory, who produce provocative and slightly wrong bright pinks!

British punk icon Gaye Black, AKA Gaye Advert exhibits too, a bassist with the Adverts, who hated being the female icon of the band. Her work has dark themes as well as the use of press images of herself and the band in her work.

Others include renowned artist in his own right and son of the artist Lucian Freud, David Freud, Mr Ben Art from Worthing with music-related and punk icon images made from old magazines, papers and paint under a thick resin; sounds real punk-paste. London based T-shirt designer, Sexy Hooligans, specialising in duplicate original Malcolm McLaren & Vivianne Westwood’s SEX design T-shirts and the Anarchy shirts worn by the Sex Pistols.

Two of the artists are originally from Swindon, Michelle Mildenhall, a Latex artist now based in Hastings, who’s work contains themes of bondage, face-gags and iconic faces, and Hammer Horror influenced gothic, Saffron Reichenbacker, with fun but angelic designs, Brighton based.

There’s also Northampton based artist, Monet Shot, with limited edition prints using consumerism themed products as his influence. World renowned mosaic slogan artist, Carrie Reichardt, of whom we’re advised it’s “well worth taking a look at her mosaic house in West London on Google.” Carrie will only be showing small works in the exhibition. Plus, a second mosaic artist, CuriousiTeas, who’s thought-provoking and humorous slogans are put onto custom-made teapots.

But the most interesting and topical sounding of all this bizarre collective, just when you think you’ve heard it all, must be Linda King, who creates large, decorative flat wooden Crows, of beautiful design, to hang in windows to stop birds flying into them. And Hastings based artist, Sassy Luke, who uses religious icons with a twist, and has a wide range of both religious and Covid design knickers.

And with the thought of religious and Covid design knickers I believe it’s best to leave it there. If you’re intrigued by any of this, such as the aforementioned Covid designed knickers, as much as I, you really need to take a peek into this, more works on display can be seen by following David’s Instagram account. I mean, who hasn’t tried wearing their facemask as undergarments for some light relief during lockdown? …. oh, just me then!


Win 2 tickets HERE

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Signs and Wonders of The Burner Band

Popping immediately into your head with fun songs you’ll be singing for the rest of the week, while breaking out in denims, Leeds’ The Burner Band kick off their debut album, last week, Signs and Wonders with a rock n roll blinder, but that’s not all they’ve got in them.….

The subsequent tune to Blues Came In, though, Block out the Sun, suggests, rather than mellowed blues, the blue is here cowboy-boot-tapping bluegrass, with spurs. A fast-moving fashion which continues throughout the album, fusing all Americana influences, and yeah, it sure is above snakes catchy.

As a solo artist, vocalist and guitarist Lewis Burner has supported the likes of Bob Log III, The Coal Porters and The Legendary Shack Shakers, appearing at Broadstairs Folk Week, Orwell Bluegrass Festival and Strummer Camp, and released two albums. Here he collaborates with Ian, absent surname, to create the duo The Burner Band, and it certainly does burn!

Company Man is acoustic goodness, nods towards Simon Garfunkel’s more upbeat moments; deep-rooted Celia, for if as their PR document suggests punk is an influence as well as bluegrass, and rock ‘n’ roll, it’s coming through remarkably subtle, typically folky. I say this because there’s a professional feelgood factor to The Burner Burner, rather than the rawness and unskilled tenet of punk; the simple country pop sound of it Takes Two, four tracks in, is enticingly gratifying, yet afterwards, this album takes serious themes, without losing the appeal.

You, the Devil and Me deals with grief, Search Deep, Find Out assesses morals and judgements. There’s subjects of mental health and murder, but it retains, above all else, it’s catchy charm and slither of flippancy, just by the upbeat nature.

Voodoo Queen, seven tunes in, being the most diverse with its Latino undertones, whereas with Pray for the Light, the folk-punk is now coming across, and it’s welcome to. Thing is, even suggestions of blues, as in Too Much Blues, is only in topic, sound-wise it’s rock n roll, leaving one to ponder if The Burner Band are capable of mellow! Though maybe they just held out for the memorable title track at the very end, with its Springsteen-esque narrative.

It’s certainly lively, filled with exhilaration and excitedness. It also sounds sincere Americana, even when dealing with satirical themes; Liverpool’s campaign to rid the city of The Sun, being most poignant. Penned wise, though, I loved Don’t Have To Listen the most, reflecting on teenage ignorance against the face of authority, for secretly in my own mind, I’m still a adolescent tearaway, and maybe, in a nutshell, that’s the appeal here; forget skin cream, this entertaining, quality toe-tapping bluegrass rock n roll merger will knock years off you!

Like the Burner Band on Facebook

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Song of the Day 37: Beaux Gris Gris & The Apocalypse

At least I think it’s number 37, sorta spaced on the song of the day for a while there.

So what better time to reintroduce this quick feature where I generally waffle some crap and share a music video then when our friends Beaux Gris Gris & The Apocalypse knock out an awesomely catchy rock n roll belter like this one?

Any objections and I’m not listening to ya, look; it’s even got a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it clip of them at our lovely Cellar Bar; nice!

And that’s my song of the day!! Very good, carry on…..


The Ruzz Guitar Sessions; Going to the City

Driving home through Devizes last week, it’s only 10pm but I contemplate, it could be three in the morning it’s deathly silent. Our once lively little market town, like everywhere else, has lost a sparkle due to the pandemic; hope it can rekindle is all that is left. And now, the Facebook memories fires a bittersweet reminder at me, for even if you paint only a rose-tinted view of your life on the social media giant, a memory still pops up which is kind of sad on reflection.

Musically, blues is apt.

Thought was fairly stable that evening proved wrong. That memory was a wobbly video of the absolutely blinding night when Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue blew, or blue, perhaps, the roof off the Sports Club, aided by a supergroup of Innes Sibun, Jon Amor and Pete Gage. It was in a word, treasured. The sadness being, at the time it was only speculation it could be the final night of live music, and I didn’t want or care to digest that notion at the time, but it was; way to go out with style, though!

Now we’ve come around to the anniversary of that moment, with a prospective reopening light at the end of tunnel, primarily being only a possibility. Yet the world turns on its axis, and music has, like so many other arts, been forced to change methods of distribution. The live stream, the Zoom recording session, and, for an extremely short summer stint, an afternoon solo session in a socially distanced pub when we were disillusioned into believing the virus was on its way out, have become the norm.

As many others, Ruzz Guitar has adapted, and a Facebook group called the RG Sessions aims to launch a new style of assemblies, producing the exceptionally high-quality electric blues we’ve come to expect from the Blues Revue. You can buy them a virtual pint, and you can grab this gorgeous name-your-price single, which features all the musicians as on that fateful night. And in a way, it’s so good it near makes up for the depressing notion of this live music loss.

With the expert gritty vocals of keyboardist Pete Gage, “If You’re Going To The City,” also features our homegrown guitarists Innes Sibun and Jon Amor, with Ruzz’s proficient Blues Revue members, drummer Mike Hoddinott, bassist Richie Blake and Michael Gavaghan on sax. And with that said, I don’t feel the need to review it, take it as red, they’re the ingredients for perfection.

After the previous spellbinding single with Peter, Ain’t Nobody’s Business, we live in hope this faultless coupling will be retained for more of the same. But what surprises these Sessions will magically pull from their sleeves next will keep us guessing; I’d advise you follow the page for updates.


Tankus the Henge’s Luna Park

London’s Tankus the Henge’s third studio album is released today (4th Dec.) Tis a quixotic rock’n’roll fable, a utopian realm of wonderment with ingenious prose and the composition of a variety performance….

Picked on this new release to scribe a few words about based upon Devizes Arts Festival organiser Margaret Bryant’s thrilled expression when she leaked booking Tankus the Henge for the 2020 line-up, that sadly never was. Yet, sadder is the reality of the era, where so other many events didn’t happen either, and the decline of live music venues. Such is the subject of this inimitable London-based group’s Luna Park, an album out today.

If the pandemic has been a catalyst for music production, and often the theme too, from all I’ve heard it generally focuses on the virus itself. Although Luna Park centres around the decline of music venues, an allegory for what is happening on London’s Denmark Street and all across the UK, one should note while it may resonate of lockdown fever, it was actually recorded during the winter of 2019.

Though nothing comes across melancholic with Tankus, it’s all clouts of glam-rock and funk wrapped in a showy, big top magnificence. They describe their sound as “five-wheeled, funk fuelled, open top, custom paint job, rock ‘n’ roll jalopy that comes careering around the corner on a tranquil summer’s day, ruining the silence and disturbing the bats.” While rock n rolling songs blast, there’s refined moments, as with The only Thing that Passes Here is Time, but it’s gawdy big band fashioned horn-blowing. Picking it apart there’s so much on offer here, like a variety performance in one album, and for this, despite I’m grinch for glam, it’s ingeniously composed and addictive.

Glitterlung, is borderline downtempo “Portishead” triphop, for example, while the incredible Susie Sidewinder comes across as if Lloyd Cole and the Commotions wrote Sgt Pepper. Of course, it relies heavily on the glam side of rock n roll, but there’s rudiments of everything; Deacon Blue to Zappa is showing a bit shoulder here. Each influence it throws into the melting pot is taken with a pinch and is wholly fun. Particularly noted for the amusing element, Staying on the Side of the Dirt was the tune which swayed me, it’s terribly Dennis Waterman theme tune fun, and I mean this is a good way! Chas n Dave are legends, given electric guitars and told to work with Noddy Holder, you might get something along similar lines.

During listening I pondered if this rock opera, and decided more on rock circus. I usually reserve that fairground comparison for the two-tone sound of groups akin to Madness, but it applies here too. It’s not a concept album as such, more a vision. A fantasy of a realm where creativity is celebrated and live music thrives. A place where venue closures are a thing of the past, and corporate gentrification is a non-entity. A refuge from greed and capitalism, and the salvation of independent music, free thought and good-times, packaged in dark, wry satire with a neon glow.

Speaking about the underlying themes at play, frontman Jaz Delorean said, “I don’t think the public knows the entire truth when it comes to the hardships and thin margins of running a venue, and most of the time we don’t want them to. They go out to have a good time and forget about life for a while. Thousands of people work all hours to keep venues, and festivals alive, and at the moment all of it is under threat. The ripples will be felt in every household eventually… We learned and started honing our skill in Denmark Street, in clubs like 12 Bar Club and Alleycat, both of which have closed. Jamboree, Passing Clouds, The Peel, 14 Bacon Street, Madame Jojo’s. All these venues were haunts of ours and are now closed permanently too.  We need to support these small venues so much more.”

Yet Luna Park is more then the sum of its parts, there’s gorgeous portrayals and the well-grafted, thoughtful characters of a novel, in disordered or decisive situations. If anything twisted my opinion on flares and glitter it’d be this very entertaining scrapbook of sounds.

https://www.tankusthehenge.com


The Instrumental Sounds Of Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue, While Washing Up!

Who says men can’t multitask? I’m washing up and reviewing this forthcoming musical extravaganza…..

Ruling in my household, being the better-half does the majority of cooking, I therefore wash-up. And on sporadic occasions I cook, I still do the washing up. I know what you’re thinking; under the thumb, Worrow. I beg to differ, family are watching some revamped eighties game show; squeamishly sickening the first time around, or else a bronze lady of all teeth and earrings, in a buttery summer dress is assisting affluent chavs to relocate to a Mediterranean costa.

Meanwhile, I’m preparing my chore. First task is not to clear the drainer of previously cleaned utensils, that comes after I Bluetooth my phone to the soundbar. Firmly of the belief washing up should be done to music, and such a law should be implemented nationally.

Those completed, time to fill the sink with hot water and Fairy. Cheaper varieties a no-brainer, you use twice as much for the same effect. Much like my choice of music, others don’t have the same clout. For retrospective genres, such as rock n roll, today largely consists of wishy-washy tributes and anodyne honours of a once dicey outrageous bravura. Else there’s a disturbing scene fusing techno with swing to revamp classics which really don’t need or desire the wonky attention.

Let me be the first, I suspect, to compare Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue to Fairy washing-up liquid. But if you want the job of recreating the true spirit of bygone blues styles done properly, accept no substitute. Add equal amount of Fairy as needed with a cheaper alternative and you’ve got an Ibiza foam party in your kitchen.

I’ve got an advance copy of their instrumental album, ‘The Instrumental Sounds Of…’ not due for release until 6th December, but ready for pre-order; I strongly suggest you do. Because here’s a Bristol-based rockabilly/blues trio, with three-piece horn section, who encompass everything once rousing and electrifying about musical styles ranging from jazz to rock n roll, originally, and with a benchmark of contemporary quality.

While Ruzz’s singing is passable, the guitar is his true calling; Gretsch agrees and endorses this, if you don’t take someone chained to the kitchen sink’s word for it. In genres such as these, where one imagines and perceives the vocals to hold a deep Mississippi accent, to hear his Bristol enunciation is novel, but unusual. Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue have the astounding ability to stretch a song to the proportions of a space-rock band like Pink Floyd, but retain the frenzy of traditional rock n roll, which would once be over within three minutes. At that point, though, it’s nice to simmer it with occasional vocals, but it’s not their forte.

Here then, is what they do best; concentrated instrumentals, a collection of musical styles, based within the blues, that have influenced Ruzz throughout his career. A project Ruzz has been wanting to do, and lockdown has provided the time. I’m strutting across the kitchen, shoving plates and utensils roughly back in the cupboards they belong in, while contemplating how I didn’t fully appreciate my dad’s obsession with the Shadows. For their instrumental goodness may’ve gone over my adolescent head, at the time. But this is a blinding upbeat opening tune, Hold Fast, with remnants of The Shadows’ slide-guitar. Yet it’s blaring horns make it like Hank, et al were in a big band.

Now to the main task, wrist-deep in foamy water I’m timely scrubbing with brillo-pad, like the ivory of a boogie-woogie piano. Swing Thing maintains big band, but slides neatly into swing. It’s spectacularly captivating.

Three tunes in and it’s mellowed to a sax ballad with Hawaiian guitar riff. Longing to See You drifts, as I causally dip dinner plates into their foam bath, and caress them as if they’re sun-kissed skin of a beautiful señorita! The Instrumentals Of album strides jazzily, continuing with a slight nod to that tropical guitar on the fourth track. But this is shrewdly quirky and experimental, Ruffled Up is as if Miles Davis joined a big band.

So many influences but so meshed it’s hard to pick it apart and balance washed up items on the draining board. Men can multitask, believe it. Now I’m striding, Clint Eastwood style, to obtain a tea towel dumped on the breadbin like it was a six shooter. Duel at High Noon is as perceived by title; Ennio Morricone influenced Shadows.

Heating up back at the sink with some fiery jump blues to make Louis Jordan blush. Jump In does what it says on the tin; I’m doing Chuck Berry legs, rattling those pots and pans like glam rock never happened.

Mambo takes a hit next, Ruzz-style, added funk. Spag Mambo is like Starsky & Hutch doing the Charleston on a Cuban vacation. Gotta go barehand; I’d look stupid doing jazz hands with marigolds, but Swing G-String is swing firing on all cylinders. Dishes done; I’m jitterbugging the sides down, soggy J-cloth in hand.

Opportunity to clear waste from the plug hole, never an appealing part of the process, nevertheless I’m cool; Soulful Blues made it so. It’s equably soul-blues, Ruby Turner could drop vocals, but it never strays from its ethos, yet saunters wonderfully between the variety of jazz and blues from 1940 to 60. There’s one more tune, but the job is completed.

Hammer Down polishes with dirty, deep Mississippi jump blues with a clunky rock n roll double bass. Like the rest of this sublime album, it’s irresistible and beguiling. It can’t end early; have to extend the task for five minutes. The floor may look wooden, but it’s lino really; ask Turbo B, or any break-dancer the value of lino; the kitchen is my dancefloor. Time to watusi with broom; the Mrs will be delighted. Even bending to get every last fallen crumb into the dustpan was a pleasure with this album playing in the background; blooming marvellous stuff.

Click to pre-order; gorgeous Christmas pressie!

Neeld Hall pays Tribute to Eddie Cochran

Following the plane crash which killed his friends, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, along with the Big Bopper, just a year prior to his own tragic death, rebellious rocker Eddie Cochran was said, by his friends and family, to be emotionally disturbed by the incident, and had an unsettled premonition that he would also die young.

On 16th April 1960, on route to London to catch a flight after a show at the Bristol Hippodrome from an extended tour, his taxi crashed into a lamppost on Rowden Hill in Chippenham, a plaque there marks the disaster. The other rock n roller touring, Gene Vincent met with a broken leg which would see him walk with a limp. Other passengers, American singer Sharon Sheeley and theatrical agent Patrick Tompkins suffered minor injuries. But Eddie was thrown from the car, sustaining a major head injury, and died, aged just 21, in Bath RUH in the early hours of the following morning.

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The taxi driver, George Martin, was convicted of dangerous driving, fined £50, disqualified from driving for 15 years, and sent to prison for six months. The taxi and other items from the crash were impounded by local police waiting for a coroner’s inquest. David Harman, a police cadet at the station, who would later become known as Dave Dee of the band Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, taught himself to play guitar on Cochran’s impounded Gretsch. The band’s success was slight, but the world had lost a rock n roll legend.

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Eddie Cochran may never have played a gig in the town, but Chippenham has become a shrine to the legend, and many rock n roll-styled celebrations have taken place in his memory. 2020 sees the sixty-year anniversary of this tragic event, and the Neeld Hall will mark the occasion aptly: Geoff Endacott Presents: A Tribute to Eddie Cochran Featuring The Bluejays on Thursday 9th April.

They tell that “The Bluejays will be keeping his memory and his music alive with this special evening of music. The show will celebrate the music of Eddie Cochran and many other 1950s Rock ‘n’ Roll stars.”

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The Bluejays formed in 2013, after years of performing together in West End rock ‘n’ roll theatre shows such as Buddy; The Buddy Holly Story, Million Dollar Quartet and Dreamboats & Petticoats and have since toured all over the world. The band created the show Rock and Roll Revolution which is touring UK theatres throughout 2019. In 2017, The Bluejays were invited out to Lubbock, Texas to play for Buddy Holly’s family. They were joined on stage by Buddy’s wife María Elena Holly who sang backing vocals during a cover of Not Fade Away. Other ‘Part-time Bluejays’ include Brian May of Queen who joined the band for a cover of Johnny B. Goode when they played at his daughter’s wedding.

Tickets for this seated event are £23, available now, here.


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Live Album at the Louisiana with Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue

A cheetah can achieve motorway speeds, but not long enough to get off the slip road; worthless trivia, unless you’re an antelope. I like to think cheetahs listen to rock n roll; no, hear me out. Akin to this feline fact, those RnB and rock n roll classics are one short burst of energy. Fortunately for the artists the 78rpm record lasted a maximum of five minutes, and for radio play they’d cut it to little over three, any longer they surely risk congestive heart failure.

As the era passed to late sixties, psychedelia stretched recorded music to live and extended dimensions Little Richard could never maintain. Mellowing tendency matured rock, but arguably robbed its dynamism. Ah, come the eighties twelve inch single and the mega-mix, prompting the question; why didn’t Glenn Close choose the Jive Bunny to boil?

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Image by 
Jerry Tremaine Photography

Rare then it is, to hear a frenzied traditional rock n roll sound encompass ten minutes; welcome to Ruzz Evans’ world. Embodiment of Johnny B Goode, Ruzz can pick guitar like he’s ringing a bell, for an astounding period too. Due for release on 10th February, but available for pre-order from December 1st, I’ve been adoring this album recorded live at the Louisiana in Ruzz’s hometown of Bristol.

Forgive me for sustaining the rock n roll pigeonhole, for Ruzz has the quiff and is photographed in a teddy boy drape jacket. With backing from an incredible band including drummer Mike Hoddinott and upright bassist Joe Allen, the panache of Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue straddles rock and its namesake blues. Since 2016, when they added an awesome horn trio to the roster, we can add big band jazz to their style. That’s my thoughts while absorbed in this, of what Miles Davis did to jazz, or Pink Floyd to prog rock, Ruzz does to traditional rhythm and blues come rock n roll; the result is breath-taking.

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Bearing in mind his voice isn’t growling Tennessean, yet neither was Gene Vincent’s, rather quirky Bristolian, the vocals are sporadic, instruments reign. There’s an amusing conclusion to “Under Your Spell,” where 10 minutes of detonating electric blues is broken by a genuinely surprised thank you from Ruzz in said accent. This often amuses me, pondering, no, thank you, mate, I just clapped, you’ve just held me spellbound for ten minutes, the pleasure is all mine!

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In this instance I’m not even there, merely listening on my headphones, but still entranced. While they’re Bristol based Ruzz and his Guitar’s Blues Revue are no strangers here, and you can catch them at the Southgate (Nov 30th), White Swan Trowbridge (tonight 9th Nov) at the R&B bar in March at Devizes Sports Club. I’m quivering, ashamed after hearing this that I’ve not caught them live yet; an offence I will rectify, you would too if you hear this.

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Live at the Louisiana explodes from the off; the two, Hold It and Baby Please Come Home, for starters envelope all I’ve said, lively jump blues come big band rock n roll. Catchy, you’ll be lindy hopping before your first sip. Yet if Movin On groovily notches to allegro moderato, Back Home to Stay boogie-woogies again, and Sleepwalk is as dreamy as it suggests. The last two tunes, Sweet as Honey and the aforementioned Under You Spell embrace all we’ve so far said, making this release, I reckon, a treasure; fantastic!

With two self-released studios albums already under their big rockabilly buckles, and opening for Dr Feelgood, The BlockHeads, Kirk Fletcher and Bill Kirchen and Darrel Higham, they’re stamping an authority of quality worldwide. Ruzz has been honoured by being officially endorsed by Gretsch Guitars, and that’s what I perceive of him, the kind of obsessive guy who will turn any conversation to his labour of love, but when it’s this proficient, you cannot help but take heed. I’m off to find out what they can do in the studio, but with such a formula I think this live album captures the spirit perfectly.


© 2017-2019 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.


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Empty Chairs and Devil’s Music

The warden said, “hey, buddy, don’t you be no square, if you can’t find a partner, use a wooden chair.” Least Elvis tells it as thus, I wasn’t in the whole cell block at the time.

Ah, not always a wooden chair around though; availability of seating at many a gig I’ve attended slight, the act pleading to the shied audience to dance. Why I like the name of this Wiltshire, The Empty Chairs. It suggests everybody’s boogying, better than C+C and their music factory!

“We’re often asked why the band chose the empty chairs as a band name, it can sound negative, but when we’re faced with a room of empty chairs,” they explain, “it’s a positive thing because we know we’ve got the audience up and dancing.” For if you really do have to sit while listening to this rock n roll four-piece, you’re going to at least be toe-tapping.

While the Empty Chair’s provides an assortment of covers ranging from Imelda May, JD McPherson to rock n roll classics like Elvis and Chuck Berry, and lead singer Carmen also heads function band The Casual Ties with a plethora of pop hits spanning all eras, The Easy Chairs have released a debut EP of original material called “Devil’s Music,” very worthy of our attention.

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Sure, it’s rock n roll, essentially, but carries a tint of acceptable post punk pop; think Blondie particularly, given the accomplished gritty female vocals, delivered wonderfully by Carman Hyde. Yet, while the genre of yore may have lost its roots since Elvis was doing bird in the big house, the twangy pentatonic guitar licks, and archetypical composition of these original tunes are homage to the true spirit of rock n roll’s golden era, with nods to both its blues and country influences.

Throw away thoughts of seventies reconditioned rockabilly though, there’s nothing Matchbox, The Darts or gaudy suits and spongy platform shoes about this steady tempo rock n roll, for which I’d confess I troubled putting my finger on comparisons to the Empty Chairs, without cliché or discrepancies. Need to say more, it has to be heard, because while it retains these influences, it doesn’t feel retro revival in any fashion, rather strangely fresh and contemporary.

Neither, I suspect will it be the next big thing, to be brutal about it, it’s not bonkers as the title track, Devils Music, might suggest. It’s not high-energy rawness, taking you to new forms, but feels like some proficient musicians, drummer Dom, guitarists Daniel and Darren, and singer Carmen, having fun putting their four years of experience to the test, and for which, it works and is a fabulously catchy and bouncy beat, in line with their cater-for-all ethos.

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The opening tune, Preacher informs just how it’s going to go down, beguiling and rocking. The writing is virtuous, the title track which follows is a love-knows-no-rules subject, with an impenetrable rhythmic groove, which flows throughout. Southern fried it progresses through an eloquently melancholic account of a girl called Jodie, through to the feelgood Brand-New Day.

 
I know the bread-and-butter scenario for singers, a function band like The Causal  Ties requires you strum through timeworn anthems, and for which I’d suspect The Empty Chairs would produce a most memorable evening too. Yet I’d like to see these guys booked at a venue keen to promote original music, like the Vic, Southgate, or Shoes, as this showcase EP is skilful and moreish. In fact, guitarist Darren Arthurs just let it slip they’re at our trusty Southgate next year!

EP on Bandcamp here – and give them a Facebook Like here!


© 2017-2019 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.


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Mod R&B Legend, Georgie Fame Coming to Devizes!

Update:

Tickets for Friday 8th November are Here!

 

I’ll probably get told off by my mum for adding this photo, but I love it. My parents and friends at a dance in Shoreditch Town Hall, 1964. Dad captioned the bands were Screaming Lord Such and The Rockin’ Berries. How cool those mods looked!

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Zip forward to 2004 and tired of taking my mum to see mod legend, Georgie Fame, my dad dropped us off in Camberley. It was an awesome night, he played a homage to Ray Charles who had passed that week, and told some great stories. One about Mitch Mitchell, the drummer in his band, the Blue Fames. After checking out an American guy in a club nearby their gig in 1966, Mitch ran back to tell the band how awesome he was, and was soon signed to The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Georgie’s son played guitar at the event, did an amazing solo of Hendrix’s Red House. And of course, Mr Fame, aged sixty-one at the time and still looked cooler than the mods in this photo, played his plethora of hits, “Yeah Yeah,” “Do the Dog,” and “The Ballad of Bonnie & Clyde.” Though I don’t recall my personal favourite, “Somebody Stole my Thunder,” a mod classic which still gets people up today; I know, played at the Scooter Club’s family fun day.

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With my mum, incessantly inquiring if I thought he’d remember a club in the East End he used to play at, regularly in my earlobe becoming somewhat irritating, after the gig and standing waiting for my Dad to pick us up, I noted Georgie gathered with just a handful of people by a car. “I don’t know!” I huffed, pointing the figure of this senior chap out to her, “why don’t you go ask him?!”

My mum quivered like a star-struck teenager, “oh no, I couldn’t possibly do that!”

“Ahk! He’s standing right there!!” But alas, anxiety got the better of her. It pushed into my mind, that we were all young and impressable once, we all idolised heroes. Yet, though I may shudder to recall some of my own lax, eighties idolisations, I have to admit, Georgie Fame would’ve been one cool one to follow, if I lived in that era.

But time is an illusion my friend, for just when you thought we’d seen the end of The Devizes Arts Festival for the year, they today whack us with the announcement Georgie Fame is coming to Devizes on Friday 8th November, playing a one off at the Corn Exchange. I knew this, Margaret whispered her secret some weeks ago, been aching to announce it since!

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I will let you know when tickets are out, but this fantastic news. This Lancashire lad is a legend on the rhythm and blues scene, played alongside rock n roll heroes like Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran, and an idol to mod/soul aficionados as one of the first British Caucasians to be influenced by ska. Whether you lived through the sixties or not, this is an absolute teaser to forthcoming Arts Festival events, and I thought I was done praising them for the year!


 

© 2017-2019 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.


 

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Buddy Holly Lived, Last Night at the Corn Exchange

I love the way BBC Radio Merseyside presenter, Asa Murphy says “Devizes,” in his Facebook video-diaries. The rich scouse accent feels almost alien against the usual Wiltshire enunciation. In fact, there was a scouse tinge amidst the customary folk chatter in the Corn Exchange last night, as it prepared for the hit show, Buddy Holly Lives.

Asa had messaged me early in the week, asking to give the event a push; he still had sixty tickets left. We did what we could, but I had to forewarn him Devizine’s demographic doesn’t trend to an older age group, generally. Also, it was perhaps the wrong weekend to stage anything rock n roll in town, both the Long Street Blues Club and the Melksham Rock n Roll Club had events, popularly enticing loyal target audiences the show would surely attract too.

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Yet my only inane grumble about last night was that we crammed into the Corn Exchange like sardines, the seats adjoined with paper-depth separation, left barely the leg-room of an Easy-Jet flight, as this massive hall was brimming to bursting point; seems virtually every remining ticket at the beginning of the week had been snapped up. While a younger crowd could cope with this, the nature of the show bound to attract an older crowd, who surely need just a little space to move, particularly being the show was absolutely spellbinding and enticingly danceable. You could feel the audience, of an average middle-age, being there were a few younger, itching to jump off their seat but fearful in their morals that they’d be shoving elderly neighbours to the floor.

Although the last thing I wanted to do was injure a kindly old lady with my frenzied twist, when Asa finally suggested we get up and dance, by pronouncing “we are still teenagers!” the crowd needed no more encouragement, and the finale saw old and young throwing away cares, qualms and perhaps, any medical advice against excursion, to dance wildly in the aisles and manage best they could in their space.

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If Asa also suggesting continuing the party into the Exchange’s basement nightclub in jest, had become reality, I’d wager this generation would show the younger a move or two! For rock n roll, agree or deny, doesn’t care, it doesn’t care if you reject its influence on every brand of pop which followed, and even if after this aged generation the songs of Buddy Holly was to fade away, his and his peer’s daring experimentation, hedonism and desire to fuse cultures will be the blueprint for everything which ever follows.

But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, for Buddy Holly Lives is not a ground-breaking turning point for rock n roll, rather a homage to those that was, and for which was sublimely performed and thoroughly entertaining. Its narrative separated the show into four sections, recreating historic moments in Buddy’s career; his beginnings at KDAV radio which demanded he abstained current trends in rock n roll gave us a country intro, with a need to break the rules. Again, the resistance against shying away from playing the majority Afro-American Harlem Apollo and in doing so, giving Caucasians acceptance here, made an explosive second section leading to the interval.

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An inspiring third section a recreation of Buddy in the studio, enlightened his desire to experiment with strings and orchestral accompaniment, whereas the final section, though rather predictable, took the audience to the Winter Dance tour which saw the tragic end to this young prodigy’s life. Combined, Asa, backing group and associates acting the parts, gave us a comprehensive catalogue of Buddy’s songs and covers which Buddy would’ve approved, with panache and precision.

Rarely done with a “tribute act,” Asa tugged off trademark glasses and leapt out of character, to explain his reasoning for creating the show, the importance of bringing it to Devizes, and in doing so, not only introduced his charming charisma which has labelled him the “king of swing,” but paid a moving ode to Bruce Hopkins. It indicted the originality in this show, for though it had enough narrative to combine the songs, unlike a theatrical production, there was not enough to distract from the music, but more-so, this was not a tribute act, but a homage to Asa’s influence. It also stated the charitable donation the show made.

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In conclusion then, the combination of the show’s charitable cause, the reasoning for producing it, the subtle but significant narrative, the band and Asa’s realistic, vivid and skilful recreation of the legend of Buddy Holly and the Crickets, made this show absolutely brilliant.

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April Warming with Asa Murphy as Buddy Holly

The Corn Exchange, Devizes most prestigious and largest venue, sets to rock n roll on April 6th when Asa Murphy and gang brings his hit Liverpool show, Buddy Holly Lives to town.

Posting a rehearsal video on Facebook this week proved a plan, it sounds marvellous. Asa also made an appearance at Devizes Books last week. Yet, the weekend may not have been the most carefully selected, the popular Long Street Blues Club hosts the Billy Walton Band, while The Melksham Rock n Roll Club are bound to pull a crowd for the Hurricanes, all on the same night. With rock n rollers spoiled it’s just to express why Buddy Holly Lives is my personal choice for the most unmissable event this April, hopeful to reach to an audience beyond rock n roll aficionados, and I base it upon the simple fact Buddy’s music was such it transcends its genre.

Timeless performers of Buddy’s level of talent and prolific drive come around one in a generation, if we’re lucky. Above all of their peers, Buddy Holly and the Crickets were the experimentalists, the pioneers who avoided rock n roll crashing out of fashion with their diverseness in musical formats. The unpretentious, simplest formulas are the backbone of every pop classic, take the ease which Buddy mastered this notion in a tune like “It’s Raining in my Heart,” or “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore.”

 
But if we are to strip down a song for analysis, take “Everyday” as a prime example of what I’m attempting to get at. An out of studio rehearsal of the song, where without drums Jerry Allison tapped the rhythm with his hands on his thighs, it is Buddy’s immediate eureka moment to keep it as that, rather than use drums which represents the genius in simplicity which the Beatles borrowed, the same cognitive creative virtuoso producers like Quincy Jones, Lee Scratch Perry, Giorgio Moroder, or William Orbit would adopt to make a song into a hit, in their respective eras.

 

Do you see where I’m coming from? It is why I’d recommend any contemporary aspiring musician to take heed of Buddy’s catalogue, and also why I’d advise, if there’s one show this month you need to be at locally, it’s this homage to the utmost pioneer of pop, aside being a fan rock n roll, or not.

 
This is without the added detail it’s a celebration of the life of Bruce Hopkins, who through his music raised substantial amounts for Cancer Research, a donation will be made to charity, and Asa’s professionalism and dynamic charisma. Bought to together with Buddy’s music, with narrative, I’m not only looking forward to this, but dragging my mum halfway across the country to come see it! As a Buddy fan since early teenage, she will be a far harsher critic than me, Asa!

 
Tickets are £20, available now from Devizes Books.

 

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