Jeanie Barton attended the recording of the 25th anniversary broadcast of Paul Jones’ BBC Radio 2 Rhythm and Blues show, and reports:
I was happy to be invited to be invited to this recording, made within the hallowed walls of the legendary Maida Vale studios. I am not a regular audience member at blues gigs, and although the blues might very well be jazz’s more popular cousin, personally, I have always found it wanting, being somewhat repetitive with not enough chords or keys involved. I was about to have my opinion changed.
Paul Jones of Manfred Mann fame was co-composer of the signature tune for Ready, Steady, Go! He was at the forefront of the 60s pop revolution. His admirable passion for new upcoming blues artists goes a long way to help shake off it’s hairy old biker image and he had handpicked four superb and very different acts for this special occasion.
The opening band were 24 Pesos lead by guitarist, singer and songwriter Julian Burdock with Silas Maitland on electric bass, Moz Gamble on Hammond and Mike Connolly on drums. These guys had fabulous energy and really rocked the room; Moz was particularly lively on the Hammond (he was clearly ecstatic to play the gorgeous instrument in the studio which all of the greats must have played). Never Saw the Devil featured electric guitar cutting through the squeal and whoomph of the Hammond but I really digged Julian’s Mississippi style guitar which he employed on Maxwell Street from their most recent release Busted Broken and Blue. I also liked their Blues Brothers-esque hats.
The next act were the duo of Kyla Brox with musical and real life partner Danny Blomeley, this pair exuded natural warmth and intensity, Danny’s claw hand guitar style was superbly dextrous and rhythmic with Kyla’s soulful yet ethereal voice packing such power and richness; her stage presence was enhanced further by her fabulous long brown curly hair. They were joined by Paul Jones on his harmonica for several songs which added another emotional level; their performance of songs from the album Grey Sky Blue was breathtaking.
Solo performer Marcus Bonfanti had the unenviable job of following Kyla and Danny, I felt concerned as to how he could compete but was again dazzled by another very distinctive personality and sound to have found a home in Blues. He cut a slim young eccentric figure with a slightly Russell Brand-ish (pre Hollywood makeover) look. His self deprecating and childlike observational humour had us laughing and we liked him. The final trick up his sleeve was his singing voice which did not seem to come from him and bared no relation to his speaking voice; a gruff drawl and God-like baritone boom which he employed to amazing effect. His guitar sound is Deep South but his songs are very modern English, a delectable combination. Aside comic numbers like Give Me Your Cash was the tender love song Sweet Louise which unexpectedly had me in tears. I predict and hope this guy will become very big commercially.
The closing act was the Oli Brown Band who were more like what I had been expecting to hear in a Blues concert. They were excellent musicians and drummer Wayne Proctor in particular stood out to me. Singer and lead guitarist Oli is just 21 and already has many impressive accolades and quotes on his site. He also collaborates with producer, Mike Vernon (Fleetwood Mac, Eric Clapton, David Bowie etc.) He and Wayne were joined by Ron Sayer on electric bass.
The live show will be broadcast at 6pm on Easter Monday April 25th on BBC Radio 2