Phil Guy @ Bleu Note, Dublin 24/08/2007

Phil Guy younger brother of the legendary Buddy has been wrapped up in blues music since he arrived on the planet back in 1940 four years after Buddy. Just like Stevie Ray Vaughan and his brother Jimmy, the Guy brothers have their own individual musical personality and approach to playing the blues and although Phil has stood in his brothers legendary shadow over the years he has also carved out a respectable niche for himself as a guitarist and performer.

Phil was consistently good from start to finish in this Bleu Note performance and much of the credit for this lies in the truly wonderful support provided by the Lee Hedley Band with the empathetic and marvellously inventive guitarist Blue Lou Campbell providing perfect guitar power accompaniment for this master post war Chicago Bluesman.

Lee on Vocals and Harp, Aaron on Bass, Bobby on Drums and Blue Lou on Guitar created a winning atmosphere to pave the way for Phil Guy’s arrival on stage with frighteningly good versions of Treat Her Right, On The Road Again, Tuff Enuff and Hoochie Coochie Man.

Phil makes it look easy sliding into the notes on his Fender Telecaster on classics like The Things That I Use To Do, Last Time, Sky Is Crying and Little By Little and when he settled into a slow and easy blues groove you could close your eyes and find your ears digging the same vibe as some pure Junior Wells Hoodoo Man Chicago Blues my favourite recording featuring Phil’s brother Buddy with Junior Wells , Jack Myers on Bass and Billy Warren on Drums.

The Lee Hedley Band rhythm section, Bobby Dyer on drums and Aaron Loughran on bass were at their magnificent best converting every signal from Phil into solid chunks of genuine roadhouse electric blues with the star of the previous weeks show Bobby Dixon sitting in on keyboards and taking some well executed solos.

Each song sounded fresh and vital reminding me how good the blues can be and how it should be with an appealing performer, a good time atmosphere bunch of musicians on the stage ,with a sound that is rich and full bodied, making, shaking and sharing good blues music live in Dublin.

Phil Guy’s stage persona is much different than that of his brother Buddy, whose high energy moves on stage primarily influenced a young Jimi Hendrix, whereas Phil employs a no effect’s approach to his stage demeanour preferring to let his fingers do the talking with his killing floor riffs on his Fender Telecaster.

Phil has got an experienced funkier side to his craft and its no problem for him to take it to the bridge on a James Brown tribute or Rolling Stones Miss You vibe and diversify into some ZZ Hill and Little Walter seamlessly for some down home blues shuffles.

When older brother Buddy left the family home in Lettsworth Louisiana at seventeen, the then thirteen year old Phil took down Buddy’s old acoustic and started teaching himself to play. After a few years as Buddy made his way from band to band from Baton Rouge to Chicago, younger brother Phil would fill the vacancy left behind by his talented brother, honing his skills in outfits like The Raful Neal Band and Slim Harpo and eventually joining Buddy’s Band in Chicago in 1969.

Pretty soon the Guy Brothers were opening for The Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton on European Tours and Janis Joplin, Grateful Dead and The Band back on the American circuits.

Phil has backed up many of his contemporary blues cohorts on guitar from Koko Taylor, Big Mama Thornton, Son Seals and Albert Collins as well as deviating into soul and funk and disco outfits over the years in order to solve the commercial nature of his craft.

Phil Guy never gets to fancy and never forgets the importance of the groove and keeps the time honoured standards surprisingly fresh with plenty of stride and stomp and a real solid backbone to each tune.

Phil initially cut his teeth on Jimmy Reed and the funkier James Brown tunes and when he gets an irresistible groove going he fills the dance floor with his blend of soulful Chicago blues with gyrating hips and flailing air guitarists bouncing out of their seats including two veteran live blues supporters on the scene Southside Eddie and Southside Pat nodding on in approval.

Each song was elevated to a sublime level of intensity by the guitar, bass & drums of the Lee Hedley Band with charismatic front man Phil blowing up a storm on his solid Blues Harp measures all the way. Phil Guy’s stinging concise style along with his rough plaintive vocal style delivered a pants on fire hard driving pace on top of the Lee Hedley chassis and four wheel rollicking roadhouse tinged rhythm & soulful blues backdrop.

The time just flew in and before I knew it we were walking out the door of the Bleu Note at 3am exhausted and elated by another great live Chicago Blues performance on Capel Street, Dublin shining a well deserved light on the scintillating talents of Phil Guy and the dazzling support of the Lee Hedley Band.

“The sky is crying can’t you see the tears roll down the street”

The Rolling Stones @ Slane, Meath. 18/08/2007

The Rolling Stones have been bringing their own brand of raunchy blues based rock & roll to stages around the planet since 1962 turning up in Slane Castle for the first time on a sunshine blessed  day back in 1982. If you are a long time fan and collector of the bands music you will have 55 albums in your collection at present and also at least 37 top ten singles making up your contribution to the 200 million albums the band have sold over the years.

The current tour has been going for two years and is now the highest grossing tour of all time expected to bring in €500 million when the remaining gigs have been completed on this leg. Going back to Slane 25 years later the first difference was this time I was wrapped up like a North Sea Fisherman to combat the challenges presented by cold squally showers and ankle deep muck in the car parks and on the concert site itself.

The support acts were virtually a non event in the miserable conditions prevailing and on a daylight stage that reduced their physical presence to ant like proportions in the distance. Without the lights and screens all blazing away the 7 storey stage looked like ashopping mall under construction. Then at 9pm the reason that makes it all worthwhile, The Rolling Stones strolled onto the stage to an explosion of fireworks and dazzling screens and light beams, ripping through the cold night atmosphere with the chainsaw buzz of Keith Richard’s Start Me Up chords.

The Rolling Stones have established supremacy as the ultimate live Rock experience blasting out their well crafted repertoire of classics hits like father figures to anyone wanting to know how to achieve world wide rock & roll dominance.

The iconic original members of The Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards move about the stage demonstrating a wealth of professional experience, their forceful trenchant delivery being hammered down by Charlie Watt’s and being relayed across the Slane audience on the giant screens to a captivated 70,000 fans cheering them on from the cold muddy concert field.

Ron Wood now a recognised full time Rolling Stone since taking over after Mick Taylor left in the early 70s complemented Keith Richards trademark rhythms with fiery leads and bottleneck phrasing on new and old songs from Rough Justice from the current Bigger Bang album to Dead Flowers, Can’t Always Get What You Want, Midnight Rambler, Tumbling Dice, Honky Tonk Woman, Satisfaction, Sympathy For The Devil, Paint It Black, Jumping Jack Flash, Its Only Rock & Roll as well as tributes to James Brown.

Mick Jagger struts and skips from one side of the massive stage to the other greeting the audience with a few words of Irish and leading by example keeping the pace fast and furious for the two hour performance. Then one of the most spectacular moments was to watch  Mick, Keith, Ron,Charlie and the rest of the Band move out into the middle of the crowd on their mobile stage moving on an extended runway as they blasted out tunes like Its Only Rock N Roll as they travelled along the catwalk.

Keith Richard took over the vocals on a few of the songs adding a change of dynamic and pace before Mick Jagger bounced back on the stage and climbed up on the various secondary stages keeping everyone enthralled in his every move.

Keith and Ron strapped on a different guitar for each number displaying their personal favourites from Fender Telecasters, Fender Stratocasters, Gibson’s and various other magnificent, 6 string and 12 strings axe’s all finely tuned and roaring into the night. The rest of the musicians on stage were equally impressive in their passion and delivery from Bobby Keyes on Keyboards, Darryl Jones on Bass, back up vocalists Bernard and the Amazonian Lisa strutting out to groove with Mick Jagger in her slit skirt and high heels reminiscent of Tina Turners stage presence back in her Ike and Tina support slots on the early Rolling Stones tours.

The Rolling Stones are all about human contact, raw rock n roll energy and excitement and the keep it simple open chord magic of Keith Richards is still as potent today as it was four decades ago and continues to inspire guitarists all over the planet. Their sound is identifiable by its cohesive locked down bass and Charlie Watt’s drum sound followed by Keith’s momentarily delayed open chords and lead lines that have gone on to become the template for that raunchy southern rock sound that has been associated with the Stones since the late 60’s.

Keith Richard guitar style is loose but incredibly powerful and catchy with its sense of rhythm and dynamic’s. Very few people have been able to emulate the guitar style of one of rock music’s greatest showmen often just down to trying to hard to capture the slashing mean sound Keith produces as he wanders about off handed on the stage with his jacket sleeves rolled up and a fag hanging from the corner of his millennium featured face.

Keith’s loose limbed pendular right arm flailing across the Delta influence opened G tuning has produced the trademark Keef Riff for the past four decades always reappearing refreshed and full of relentless energy driven along like an locomotive by Charlie Watts drumming from Honky Tonk Woman to Brown Sugar to Start Me Up to Tumbling Dice all rolling off the Slane stage like a runaway steamroller.

There is no doubt that after all these years these musicians still need to play and hopefully that need will continue because the sheer joy and excitement evident around me on the faces of young and old was that of being in the presence of living legends who can still exceed the expectations.

The sound mix was excellent for anyone in the central bowl of the site but the lack of speakers within range of the D Block of seating meant the visuals were hugely diminished by a weak-kneed and wavy sound percolating from the stage speakers hopelessly out of range for fans in that location. The performance ended with a massive fireworks display as the crowd started slipping and sliding back up the hill towards the exits to make their way home with the treasured memory of having seen the legendary Rolling Stones live on stage.

Will they be back, well the Stones have built their reputation on setting fashion and not following it over the years so anything is possible, I just hope I don’t end up hosing an inch of top soil off my boots and trousers over the front garden when I get home the next time.

“And they go on rocking, goin round and round
Yeah reeling and rocking what a crazy sound
And they never stopped rocking
Till the moon went down”

Bobby Dixon & All Star Band @ Bleu Note. 17/08/2007

Willie Dixon was a legendary songwriter, bass player, record producer and influence on the development of Chicago Blues Music as it has evolved to the present, through his work with Chess Records and artists like Muddy Waters, Otis Rush, Chuck Berry and contemporary modern interpreters of the blues like Led Zeppelin.

Willie Dixon’s songs appear on every blues rock set list on the planet from Jimmy Reed’s, Big Boss Man, Close To You, Muddy Waters, Shake for Me, Stevie Ray Vaughan, My Babe, Little Walter, Spoonful, Howling Wolf to I Just Want To Make Love To You, Etta James and countless more fantastic tunes. Willie Dixon’s son Bobby came to the Bleu Note with a top notch group of musicians to pay tribute to the music of his father and share some memories on Friday night in what turned out to be a spinechilling demonstration of passion and musical talent from the assemble musicians on stage.Bobby Dixon was on Keyboards flanked by Larry Taylor son of another legendary bluesman Eddie Taylor on superb drumming duties, Nathanial Peterson 5 string electric bass and smokey soulful vocals, Bobby Fields bluesy funk trumpet and the amazing Johnny O on tube screaming soul blues magic.

All the old standards provided a vehicle for each of these talents to display their ample wares, I’m Ready, The Thing’s That I Use To Do, I Should Have Quit You Baby, Let The Good Times Roll, Sex Machine as well as selections from their own individual recorded material.This was the children of the blues paying homage to their parents and heroes with a groove that represents everything that is good about contemporary blues when in the hands of a talented group of musicians. Johnny O is an exciting and talented guitarist comfortable with tradition and the connections with its neighbours Soul Avenue and Funky Rock Crescent proving his dexterity throughout with his well timed contributions.

All of these experienced musicians possess a natural entertainer’s flair with a confident warm and appealing air infusing the atmosphere, and the collective was sheer joy for the full house dancing out of their seats from the minute these guys walked on to the stage in the Bleu Note on Capel St in Dublin’s fair city. Johnny O’s blistering blues rock rhythm delivered with a proficient soul side salad was a joy blending forceful Albert King snarling bends with some wailing Albert Collins style squeals that had notes ricocheting off every wall in the Bleu Note.

Each song when handed over to the band by Bobby was constructed with controlled brilliance, fire and fury, each band member contributing his share with efficiency and class and never overstaying their welcome with spicy intense solo’s only constrained in its potential by Bobby’s rambling intro’s.The fleet precise rhythm section provided by Larry Taylor, the towering Nathaniel Peterson and Johnny O was a potent back drop for Bonie Fields walkabout trumpet solo’s through the delighted crowd which included Southside Eddie and Bluestrain 103.2 FM presenter Charlie Hussey.

This was a sturdy presentation from the Bleu Note who have brought some great music to the Northside of the Liffey over the past year with multiple attractions on offer on the main stage upstairs as well as offering a showcase to a new generation of talented musicians emerging from music colleges and studies in the jazzier downstairs lounge.

During the break I dropped downstairs to hear some laid back jazz from the charming Edel Meade Band featuring some fine fretwork from Scott Kohlmann who reminded me of a young Dixie Dreg Steve Morse supported by Steve Kohlmann on Drums and Bass Man Kevin Higgins physically countenancing each note as Edel seduced us all with her impassioned vocals on tunes like Black Coffee, You Don’t Know What Love Is and appealing lines like “softly as in the morning sunrise, as in the evening sunset”.

Although the technical proficiencies of Jazz is a slippery slope for my ears the genuine warmth and youthful energy of the Edel Meade Band permeate and it’s a delightful pleasure to relax in the comfortable lounge in the Bleu Note and chill out to groovy vibe while these young guns of the future cut their teeth. Back upstairs we finished the night off with Bobby Dixon’s All Stars with a real party atmosphere in the air on the eve of the Rolling Stones Slane Concert with two tickets raffled by the Bleu Note for local charity. Johnny O unleashed some wicked solo’s and guitar genius as the groove turned into a party and the front of the stage was cooking to a musigasm of excitement and dance and camera phones capturing the magic from this truly breathless funky Chicago Blues tour de force live in Dublin.

“The things that I used to do, Lord I won’t do no more
The things that I used to do Lord I won’t do no more
I use to sit and hold your hand baby
Cry baby do not go”