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 Promotionsand 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.
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’?
A gig to “Give Peace a chance” at the Victory has a certain irony about it when it has a line up including one Metal, two charged Blues bands and some angry Punks. Let’s face it, who expects to get any peace from such musical intensity.
Onwards…..the night started off with Sweet Talk, who make the southern, shuffling blues that was a trademark of the great Stevie Ray Vaughan look very easy. They flew through a set that mixed light with shade, subtlety with machine-gun-palm-muting-speed-freakery, their own youth with a musical maturity that surely should have belonged to headliners The Troy Redfern Band. Sound engineering is easy when a band makes themselves sound this good, so good that I didn’t really know who I should be watching, I’m naturally drawn to the guitar work, but with each musician adding to the collective meant it messed with my brain. No painting by numbers here, just passion for their art.
Sounds like: SRV met Dave Mustaine “down the Crossroads” before passing out in a Texas Flood of their own making.
As soon as Terminal Rage began their set, they were greeted by a sea of bobbing heads in the crowd. You couldn’t help but appreciate the raw, punk energy that fuelled the atmosphere. The buzz was high, especially as it was new bassist Raph’s first gig….for thirty years! Lead singer/guitarist Rich spits out the lyrics, often directed at those smarmy politician types, whilst thrashing his guitar with genuine, vein popping anger, with self-penned songs like “Casual Racist” and “Guilty” letting you know they are no friends of the current Government.
Terminal Rage’s highlights were definitely a cover of Anti-Nowhere League’s ‘So What?’, which is a personal favourite of mine, as well as a cover of The Old Firm Casuals, ‘A Gang Like Us’. Bob bashes on the drums, and while he may be hiding at the back, he’s certainly not forgotten, as he sang an impressive version of The Clashes, ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go’. Over all, it’s always amazing to be at a gig and have the crowd singing (which was more like shouting) along, whilst strangers acknowledge each others appreciation. Some may say that ‘punk is dead’, but Terminal Rage proved that term obsolete demonstrating that it is very much alive, angry and kicking. More gigs please, fellas!
Sounds like: David Cameron got run over by a Sex Pistols truck whilst Hard Skin walked over him wearing their DM’s, then they all went for dinner with Anti Flag, Lagwagon and Propoghandi.
A Hundred Suns
A Hundred Suns Absorbing Front Woman Claire Perkins
Richard Gardner, Guitarist for A Hundred Suns
As the seething Punks cleared off-stage, A Hundred Sunsstrode in to replace them. This band has grown so much over the year, each performance has been a step forward from the previous one. What do I love about them? They look like a band, they fit together, despite being very different stage animals. Claire takes centre stage and oozes excitement – her love of performing shines and fronts up some masterful Metal groovy tunes – it’s like The Almighty bred with Pantera’s hate gene and Sepultura’s ginger dreads with a slice of………well no, actually, they are way too much of their own to give clever comparisons. They groove, undoubtedly: Richard’s guitar kicks out the big, ear-catching riffs and Claire’s vocal style and bounce deliver for me equal amounts of convention and invention. I know, I know…..sounds confusing, but they deliver energy, controlled, beautiful power and I can’t wait to hear their new album they are recording. They belong – big venue, small venue – who cares, they belong!
Quick change of equipment on stage and one of Herefordshire’s “most respected” take up the baton. The Troy Redfern band have been gigging their faces off this year, even managing some dates in dark and spooky Scandinavia. Masses of experience shown in an instant with the sound check – hit a chord, check the mic – “bit more top end please, Rich” bang, job done, ready to go. They play the sort of Blues I love – dirty, edgy, loud and electric, a mix of their own and covers they have made their own. I’ve not seen a bad show from them, each one is full of passion and just as Sweet Talk did, they blend the dark and light of the Blues with aplomb. And just to highlight how much of a Bluesman Troy is, he dragged Sweet Talk’s guitarist up for a jam, trading lead breaks, encouraging each other with nothing more than a nod. All this talent, Hereford should thank its lucky stars.
Sounds like: Jim Morrison bopped in a club with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, then decided to party back at Cream’s house with Fleetwood Mac
The event was put on by Rich Lovell and John Hales with profits going to Hope Not Hate and Greenpeace.
Music review by Rich Lovell, Terminal Rage Frontman, Music Writer for Hereford City Centric
Terminal Rage music review by Claire Perkins, Frontwoman for A Hundred Suns and Music and Food Writer for Hereford City Centric