Hereford Blues Club opening night at the Booth Hall, Hereford
Saturday 13th February 2016
Blues….who needs it? Is it decades past its time? Is it relevant, or does it even have any context (given its cultural roots) in a city like Hereford? What do you wear to a Blues gig? Does any of that matter?
Well it matters to some, and that “some” have set up a Blues club here. Not only that, but this opening night drew a damned fine crowd. Now I admit, I have dabbled, but…..well……I’ve always seen it as one of those “guilty pleasures”, so it was with mixed emotions that I waited as opening band Sweet Talk climbed on to the stage in that great hall at the Booth – what happens if someone sees me, or I enjoy it, or someone sees me enjoying it?
Sweet Talk are way too young to play the Blues aren’t they? Err no they aren’t. A talented trio fronted by singer/ guitarist Owen Whittall, Sweet Talk were a great choice to open the opening night. They were bright, they smiled, they looked like they were having a damned fine time and life is good for them – this isn’t what Blues set out to be was it? And that is what made them a great choice in my eyes – this is a new club and Sweet Talk don’t represent the traditional.
They are absolutely influenced by Stevie Ray Vaughan and did a great version of his ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb’ mid-set along with a fine cover of Freddie King’s ‘Big Legged Woman’ – I know! I actually recognised those two tunes – no help from anyone. A fine set.
We know that Troy Redfern has played quite a few times in Hereford, and for all those that disapprove of this, well, he attracts attention, good sized crowds, consistently so why not, really.
He’s proved his worth to the genre locally, as far as most are concerned (more about that later), and he’s written and recorded enough material to shake off the detractors. I’m in a bit of a bad mood writing this because I bought Troy’s albums a while ago via download and then my laptop went bang and I’ve lost them, which means I need to buy again – guilty pleasures are bloody expensive.
“And although, as I think is obvious now, I’m not a student of the Blues, I know music and this was a bloody good night of it”
Yes, I have seen the Troy Redfern Band play quite a few times, including when I booked him for the Down on the Farm festival, but tonight there was a spark, a fire that shone – they were up for it big time. Whether it was the change of bassist, or that they wanted to lay a marker for the Club, I don’t know, but the performance was electric, loud, rocking, interactive, angry and passionate. ‘Salvation’ was spat out through gritted teeth and ‘The Other Side’ was beaten out with more of that fire. He chucked in a reworking of Muddy Waters’ ‘I Just Want To Make Love To You’ ,and then…to add to the glory of it all, Will Killeen was invited up to jam – I had, before tonight, no idea who Will Killeen was. I do now. See, I’m learning!
A fitting start to this model of the Hereford Blues Club – I’ll watch with interest as it develops.
To answer some of those initial questions, yes Blues is relevant, yes it can still be contemporary and relevant to today and my Blues-wear was my Anarchy leather jacket, UK Subs shirt and DMs – always guarantees a place at the bar.
As an aside – people are strange – I overheard a conversation between songs from someone who said he’d seen the bands before and there are better ones out there. So what the hell he was doing there is beyond me, other than to be seen. And although, as I think is obvious now, I’m not a student of the Blues, I know music and this was a bloody good night of it.
Another aside – there were more photographers than you could shake a Fender Strat at the gig, but they failed to get a shot of the only Punk in the village *sulks*…..
Just one more aside…..go on, please…..shouldn’t Blues Clubs be excluded from the no smoking laws? The air in there was just too clean for that music…….