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The Blues Band

St Mary In The Castle, Hastings - 16th June, 2018

Written By Darren Johnson

  • Photograph by Jill Darkk,

Still Got The Blues

Vocalist and harmonica player, Paul Jones, departed pop/r&b group Manfred Mann for a solo career in the mid 1960s but in the event said career ended up being more about acting than about singing.

However, in 1979 he and some friends got together The Blues Band and, almost forty years later, they are still gigging and recording.

The first half of their set at St Mary In The Castle tonight is heavily dominated by songs from the brand new album which the band are completely shameless in endlessly plugging tonight, so much so that it becomes something of a running joke between each song.

(For this most civilised bunch of blues hellraisers there is also a plug for the band’s roadie’s art exhibition which comes to Hastings this summer, too.)

The relentless plugging seems to have done the trick, however, and there is a very healthy queue to buy the album and get it signed by the five band members during the interval.

Indeed, with the quality of songs on offer tonight it is easy to see why the band are understandably very proud of the album.

Comprising nine original tracks and three arrangements of old traditional songs ‘The Rooster Crowed’ is released this month.

When we think of the Blues musicians we tend to think of the guitar first and foremost, and there is some excellent blues guitar tonight, but the harmonica is as much a signature sound of traditional blues as the guitar and I was struck by how central Jones’ harmonica-playing is to the performance tonight and, moreover, what a brilliantly emotive player he is.

The second half sees the band delve back into some earlier material.

However, unlike Jones’ other outfit, The Manfreds (who guitarist, Tom McGuinness, and drummer, Gary Fletcher, also tour with) it’s less about rattling through a back catalogue of top ten hits and more about celebrating the history of the Blues over many, many decades.

Accordingly, band material is interspersed with renowned classics like Fats Domino’s ‘Let The Four Winds Blow’ and Big Joe Turner’s ‘Shake Rattle and Roll’.

Seeing The Blues Band live was a first for me, although I do remember my dad buying their debut album not longer after it came out.

However, it is clear the band are able to deliver seemingly effortless musicianship without ever losing that all-important ability to really connect with an audience on an emotional level.

A highly enjoyable gig.

 

Editor:

I first saw The Blues Band at the old Marquee club, in London, around the time of that debut album. They were a good band then, and they still are today.

Paul Jones doesn't look any different from the days of that Marquee gig, and I can't help wondering if he has a portrait up in his attic.

A highlight of this gig for me was the different styles of Blues music that the band played during the evening, some of which even verged on the edge of Gospel at times.

The inclusion of Curtis Mayfield's 'People Get Ready' during the encore was an indication of this, and a real delight too.

For more info about The Blues Band visit their website at: thebluesband.net

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