Last Friday the Hereford Blues Club hosted a benefit as a means to raise funds for the club so that it may continue to bring a cast of musical characters to Hereford whose influences are predominantly blues. Continue reading “Talkin’ the dirty business of Blues, Music Promotion & Teletubbies with John Steven Hales”
Last Saturday resulted in hanging around and taking in the acts playing the acoustic stage at the Left Bank’s Hereford Rocks event put on by John Steven Hales, Founder of Porkbelly Promotions and Clare Foster who is one of the founders of Clear Cut Promotions.
The weather showed little mercy as onlookers sat around the fire pits lit up in the vast beer garden between The Left Bank and De Koffie Pot where the acts were playing. Yet everyone seemed happy to be there, as if the sun were shining, and it most certainly warmed up my mood when I met up with the Raptor boys for a bit of banter inside De Koffie Pot before they played the Hereford Rocks Stage.
It was Adam Fletcher’s birthday – Let’s just say his wit was certainly in good form. Why not? It was his special day and his brother Kurt, Front man of the band, was up from Bristol where he is a student at Bristol Institute of Modern Music, and his band was playing a really cool gig with a pretty cool line up that included head liners, Mick Ralphs Blues Band. Hope it ended well Adam, and I do hope shenanigans ensued.
ATTILA THE STOCKBROKER – The Booth Hall Sunday 21/2/16
Punk Poet and Performance Artiste Extraordinaire
Having seen him in my old home town of Brighton where he lives, I was very keen on seeing him again. Attila read extracts from his autobiography ‘Arguments Yard’ chronicling his early years, and painful details of the death of his father when he was only ten years old.
He also talked about seeing the early punk bands- notably The Clash and at The Finsbury Park Rainbow Theatre, which he said changed his life. He shared stories about the punk scene in Brighton and described how most bands couldn’t play but it was the enthusiasm and energy that impressed him about them.
In one tale, he described his involvement with the political campaigns of the seventies and eighties, including Rock Against Racism and the Miners’ Strike to name some. He even went into lurid detail about his ‘flexible cystoscopy’ humourosly named the ‘trans urethe express’ and how he got the through the ordeal and praised the NHS, which is now under attack from the present government.
Additionally, he read some of his poems in the familiar ‘angry young man’ style, as well as, playing some songs on the mandola.
He also had a scatological anecdote about a ‘shit gig’ which really was. Another amusing anecdote was when he was asked to replace Donny Osmond at a gig. Apparently half the audience walked out and the other half loved it.
The audience were very appreciative of the set, and Attila himself seemed very pleased with the evening . At the end, he chatted with people at the bar, signed autographs and made himself generally available.
To sum up a great night, lots of interesting material, and thanks to Rich Lovell and Michelle Cuadra of The Underground Revolution for promoting the gig and bringing something alternative to town.
Review by John Hales who established Pork Belly Promotions, Hereford Blues Club and many wonderful live music events in the city of Hereford.
Photography done by Rich Lovell.
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…….
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’?