Ray Wrights Portrait Of The Blues Exhibition @ Blue Note, Dublin. April 2007

Portrait Of The Blues Exhibition @ Bleu Note, Capel Street Dublin 18th April until 29th  April 2007

Every picture tells a story and Ray Wright’s collection on display in the Blue  Note is the story of theDublin Blues Scene.

Ray Wright a big fan and supporter of the music assembled thirty musicians who have been stalwarts of live music in Dublin over the years to sit for portraits in a city centre studio.

The fruits of that project were unveiled last night with an opening reception in the Blue Note Blues Soul & Jazz venue on the corner of Capel & Parnell Street.

Among the 30 images on display are all my favourite local guitarists all of them present and chilling out and appreciative of this gesture of recognition such as Pat Farrell, The Business, Pete  Mc Gowan, Parchman Farm, Junior Hynes,  Hollywood Slim & The Fat Cats, Gerry Hendricks, Don Baker Band, Peter Moore & Johnny Reynolds, International Blues Band, Ben Prevo, Dermot Byrne and Brian Meakin.

The portraits on display all around the walls of the Blue Note are wonderful and capture not only the personality, spirit, emotion and energy of each individual performer but also reflects a portraiture of the passionate endeavour each brings to their music on the stage.

What you see is a labour of love for the musicians and the music and is a glimpse into this distinct and powerful mode of music and a rich soup of talented musicians who give
expression to the deeply emotional content of the blues on the stages around Dublin and abroad over the years.

Derived and distilled from traditions of Gospel, European and African music and rhythm the Blues is appreciated the world over for its hard truths, collective soul, humour and
depth of spirit often referred to as the premier musical format of the disenfranchised and downhearted but also a joybringer for audience and musician alike within the small, tight knit and supportive community very similar to our own Irish traditional music community.

Its extremely difficult to solve the commercial nature of playing blues music and as such it becomes obvious to fans and observers that these musicians are driven by a passionate
motivation, an earthiness, honesty and desire to play sing and participate with other musicians and the audience with the likelihood that they won’t get their reward in this life.

From a fans point of view it’s a much more accessible environment with none of the ego and pretence that unfortunately surrounds the more commercial mainstream formats.

At a blues gig you can join together with the band, meet and greet the musicians and support the musicians directly by buying CD’s from the band itself.

Ray Wright has done an excellent job of using the subjects in his large portraits to tell his thoughts by bringing together the diverse talents of these local heroes and masters of
the craft.

On the walls of the Bleu Noteand as well as the guys I mentioned earlier for the next two weeks you can see Mary Stokes, Bree Harris, Nigel Mooney, Jimmy Faulkner, Kevin Morrow, Deko Kennedy, Pat Kilty, Tommy Carney, Steven Mc Loughlin and Tommy Grimes, Drummers Brian Downey and Shane Atlas, Bass Players Brendan Priestley, Bill Bergin and Neil Partridge, horn player Karl O Byrne, harmonica players such as Tony Poland and Brian Palm who also has some of his own creative talents on the walls of the Blue  Note.

Music for the occasion was provided by Pat Farrell on Guitar, Tommy Moore on Bass and Fran Breen on Drums. Pat  Farrell playing a hollow bodied Gibson 335 through a Fender
amp revealing his versatility offering up excellent biting guitar solos and chord phrasing to the assembled roomful of his peers.

Tommy Moore is an impressive musician who performs with colour and variety on Bass & Vocals supported by Fran Breen’s propulsive percussive style but its Pat Farrell’s scintillating fretwork that bursts into pants on fire boogie and is marked by an experienced inventiveness.

Happy Birthday Blues, Barefooting, Red House, Further On Up The Road and Need Your Love So Bad were sure fire winners, loaded with solid blues feeling and golden age  tradition.

Bree Harris a top class entertainer joined the band on stage for Stormy Monday and Talk To Me Baby for a swinging energetic top flight performance assisted by Dermot Byrne and Tony Poland on harps demonstrating a musical portrait from these Irish Ambassadors of the Blues.

It was a night of celebration and collaboration and the Blue Note laid on food and a  supportive party atmosphere that makes it all worthwhile for the fans and especially for the musicians and as long as we have artists like Ray Wright and our local Blues
Musicians helping each other project their mutual talents we will keep the music alive.

Ray also has some great pictures on his site www.raymondwright.org  particularly of Thin Lizzy and Philomena Lynott was in the Blue Note to support the launch.

I walked down the street with my body still vibrating to the wonderful version of Willie Cobbs You Don’t Love Me, a song I have worn out playing on many albums over the years from the Allman Brothers to Ike & Tina Turner and such is the catchy indelible nature of these tunes I never grow tired listening to alternative interpretations.

“You don’t love me pretty baby

You don’t love me yes I know

You don’t love me pretty baby

You don’t love me yes I know

Well if you leave me pretty baby

Don’t you know your gonna hurt me so”


John Primer @ Bleu Note, Dublin 20/04/2007

Legendary Chicago Blues Guitarist John Primer was in top form in the Bleu Note on Capel Street for the first of two shows in Dublin.

John Primer earned his stripes riding shotgun with Willie Dixons All Stars, Muddy Waters Band filling the lead guitar spot until Muddy passed away in 1983, and moving on to a huge favourite of mine Magic Slim & The Teardrops before enjoying well-deserved front man status himself in the 90s, releasing hit albums like The Stuff You Got To Watch and The Real Deal among ten of his solo albums.

John who I’d seen for the first time play in the Madison Bar in Rathmines last year last year came originally from Mississippi moved to Chicago in 1963 cutting his teeth in the West Side Clubs of Chicago by the side of Junior Wells, Sammy Lawhorn and Buddy Guy and has evolved as a superb electric Blues troubadour with his own clean, uncluttered and ever reliable traditional blues solo phrasing and fast bottleneck signature sound.

The atmosphere was warmed up for us by local Rhythm ‘N’ Blues Band The Blue Notes fronted by the hard working Stephen Mc Loughlin with Bass, Drums, Guitar and Saxophone weaving a tight warm sound around Van The Man’s Moonlight and Domino, Bone’s Shuffle and an indispensable repertoire of classic Chicago Mustang and Texas ZZ Blues.

John Primers backing band for his Irish tour was The Lee Hedley Band who took to the stage and warmed up the main phase of the show for about 20 minutes with some of their regular crowd favourites like The Fabulous Thunderbirds Tuff Enuff.

The thermometer exploded when John Primer joined Lee, Lou Campbell guitar, Aaron Loughran Bass and Bobby Dyer Drums on stage with his trusted hollow bodied Epiphone Riviera.John Primer has a legendary charisma on stage, tall, confident and immaculately dressed for the occasion just like a seasoned entertainer who is known as the genuine article, the real deal.

On songs like The Stuff You Got To Watch one of John’s own compositions to The Things That I Use To Do, my own favourite all time song from Guitar Slim, the tone, energy and original spirit is old school and sublime on John’s fretboard.

John Primers seasoned guitar genius prevails from the start in a warn confident and unpretentious style show, that brings the band, the crowd and each song rumbling along like a latent volcano that climaxes with his trademark emotive, stinging axe work.

His voice is confident and soulful and his bottleneck technique is pure traditional fifties Chicago blues producing pointedly wicked guitar solo after solo that serves tradition well but unfortunately he had to abandon his Epiphone and strap on Lou Campbell’s Fender Telecaster deluxe when one of the strings broke.

John’s set was a mix of original songs and traditional classics that dip deeply into his roots like I’m A Man, Hoochie Coochie Man and Got My Mojo Working all performed with no flash just plain craftsmanship from this legendary musician turning the Bleu Note audience into another generation of blues fans.

He is a very likable guy and humoured us all for a chat and to have pictures taken before and after the show his face broadened and beaming with a smile throughout.John covers a lot of territory on his tours heading off to Greece next and then back to the States but the most important journey this man makes is showing us all the breath, depth, confidence and charisma of a blues man who plays top notch blues.John Primer is a man with secrets worth sharing and this was a gig that revealed a journeyman with a venerable career making top shelf blues music and entertainment memories.

There is a quote from John Primer on his album Stuff You Got To Watch that puts it all into focus;

“ The feelin of the music, its got to come from your heart . It’s got to. You’ve got to play it with a feelin’, from your heart. And make every word mean something…”

It’s a real treat for Chicago electric and bottleneck blues fans in Ireland to have the opportunity to witness a master of the craft like John Primer and great credit must go to the management of the Bleu Note for taking the commercial risks and promoting gigs of this high calibre.