Hereford Rocks with Turquoise Llama, Mexicola and Freeborn Rising @ The Booth Hall 4 November 2016
The Autumn chill is briskly creeping upon us and the inclination to hibernate is the backlash wanting to keep us behind closed doors in cosy slipper socks drinking tea and turning us into social lepers. Meanwhile, there is gig after gig filling the musical void that once plagued Hereford’s sluggish pubs and music venues.
Say no to hibernation!! Last Friday November 4th was an exceptionally chilly evening and the Tropic of Cancer blood that flows through my veins was rebelling against the elements. The brick and mortar was at the ready for me to put up that winter wall, not to mention that extra winter layer…after all we know that “Winter is Coming”.
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 Killeenwas 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…….
Last Saturday, on a most anticipated Saturday evening, The Hereford Blues Club launched at Hereford’s new venue for live music and performance The Booth Hall. Press gathered, musicians warmed up and promoters chit chatted excitedly, and then the purple velvet curtain swung open as the buzzing public arrived for the amazing night that lay ahead of them.
“These young, local musicians captured the essence of blues that night for me, as well as adding their own musical stamp to the blues style”
John Steven Hales, who established and runs Pork Belly Promotions, with the assistance of his faithful sidekick Clare Foster, who always has a sunny demeanor and runs her own successful promotions entity, Clear Cut Productions, has done Hereford a great service by launching this smokin’ hot Blues Night, a regular occurrence in the city, putting Hereford on the map as a Saturday night destination for live music and blues lovers from afar.
Who doesn’t love a bit of blues? Rock ‘n’ Roll wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the blues – many blues chord progressions are still used in rock today. John, brought two excellent bands to the venue, baby-faced Sweet Talk, who never cease to blow me away, and already signed Troy Redfern. He has many more esteemed acts booked for the Hereford Blues Club bill that are worthy of anticipating. All very exciting for this city indeed.
As I stood there among the crowd, who were in a hypnotic trance taking in the musical vibes the slide guitar style was eminating throughout the venue, I was taken back to a time when I took a road trip through Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, a place where Blues has made a very special home, and a trip in which I was fortunate to pass the Louisiana bayou at dawn, witnessing the craw fishing boats, with their lanterns illuminating the darkeness – then once again reality transported me back to the realization that I was standing in a medieval pub in good ol’ Hereford, England.
These young, local musicians captured the essence of blues that night for me, as well as adding their own musical stamp to the blues style. I suddenly had a warm fuzzy feeling, and a very proud smile on my face knowing these were local Hereford boys.
On 27 March, The Hereford Blues Club brings The Luke Doherty Band, prestigiously nominated for Best Young Blues Artist, to the Booth Hall once again for another crackin’ night. I have seen this band play previously, you don’t want to miss them. They will be supported by The Tetrachords. Can you hear the blues a comin’?