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Charlie Wood – ‘The Memphis Music Story’ at the Edinburgh Fringe

Charlie Wood – The Memphis Music Story

(Argyle Cellar Bar, Edinburgh Fringe. 9 August 2022. Concert review by Mark McKergow)

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Charlie Wood. Phone snap by Mark McKergow

Singer/pianist Charlie Wood takes the Edinburgh Fringe audience on a rockingly enjoyable tour of the music of Memphis, Tennessee in this atmospheric show.

In the packed agenda of the fringe it can be hard to stand out, particularly for those without a Radio 4 comedy background. However there’s more to the fringe than funnies, and this show stands out in the music section for being an international performer playing in a small intimate venue for a good run of shows.

The state of Tennessee is fortunate to have two iconic music cities. There’s Nashville, mostly associated with country music, and Memphis, known for blues, jump, gospel and rock & roll. There’s plenty to explore and who better to take us on the journey then Memphis-born Charlie Wood. Raised in the city, touring with guitarist Albert King and playing a 16-year residency at King’s Palace Café on the famous Beale Street, Wood really knows Memphis’ musical heritage inside out.

The hour-long show stops off at many Memphis high points, some well-known and others good to discover. Wood opens with two different takes on the blues, WC Handy’s Beale Street Blues and Robert Johnson’s Walking Blues. The latter is, of course, originally a guitar accompaniment and Wood pulls off some outstanding piano work to do justice to Johnson’s impassioned picking.  We then slide through the rock of Elvis Presley and the jump of BB King, with a jaunty version of Let The Good Times Roll allowing for audience participation.

The music moves in a soulful direction with Otis Redding and Al Green, leading on to Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland before a nod to Wood’s old ‘guvnor’ Albert King. We end up back at Otis Redding, Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay with Wood carrying off the whistling coda with great aplomb.  This is a great show performed by someone who was there, gets it and knows how to show it off.

The Argyle Cellar Bar in Marchmont is an increasingly important jazz spot in Scotland’s capital – although smaller than the Jazz Bar it has a higher ratio of seats to spaces and hosts a popular monthly jazz jam night. The jazz-themed murals and posters add to the friendly atmosphere. It has a full fringe programme of good-time jazz and blues through the festival, including local favourites the Tenement Jazz Band and Scottish violinist Matt Holborn’s Latchepen tribute to gypsy jazz.

Visitors to the festival will find that this show sets up the day or the evening very nicely.  Edinburgh locals might recognize a music star…who now happens to live here.  Whatever, this is a musical experience not to be missed.

The Memphis Music Story continues 20– 28 August 2022 at the Argyle Cellar Bar – times vary.


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