The Jed Thomas Band from Harrogate in Yorkshire deep in Emmerdale land, got the August Bank Holiday weekend of to an excellent start in JJ Smyths Friday night with their own tight brand of high energy British Rockin’ Blues with crying bottleneck squeals, amazing fretwork, plenty of crunch n bite and relentless rhythm attack.
What makes Jed Thomas so enjoyable on this side of the water is his dedication and celebration of the guitar style and approach of our own Rory Gallagher, capturing the atmosphere and mood of Rory’s trademark techniques and blending them seamlessly into his own fluent interpretation of the blues.
The Jed Thomas performance is a direct descendant of the history of British Blues and Rock and contains all the essence, exciting sounds and potent influences of progressive blues.The evolution of the blues in the hands and hearts of musicians like Rory Gallagher, Tony McPhee Groundhogs, Alvin Lee Ten Years After and Jed Thomas has been first not to treat it as a museum piece, to be stifled over, but to give it a contemporary modern living experience and impetus so that despite the assault of time, the music of the Hooker, Wolf, Muddy and Sonny Boy that inspired them to pick up that lump of wood and wire in the first place has ongoing vitality. Music like life itself is about growth and motion, a fixed point of view constrains anyone who has one.
It’s an emotional experience for the awe-diance, makes you feel glad inside, makes the crowd holler with enthusiasm, makes life surge as each song builds up to a delayed explosion, makes the shapely Rebecca dance elatedly around the pounding relentless beat all the way up to the stage and back.
The performance of this three piece turbo charged outfit live from Leeds, was brilliant and well balanced in every respect, with superb support on Bass from Nibb and Paul flailing like an octopus with an itch on Drums.
From the minute Jed lets rip, his amazing speed and accuracy are captivating, this guy is matchfit and capable of mastering the fretboard workout from hell, as is evidenced by the paint worn edges of his battered Cherry Red Strat through his confusing but highly effective customised effects unit. Jed’s tools of expression are a varied range of right hand and left hand perfectly played fast blues rock guitar techniques that would take me several lifetimes to master.
The Jed Thomas Band grooves along like a locomotion trying to out run Sitting Bull who is emblazoned on Jed’s Strat, across the wild primitive plains of Boom Boom Boom Boom, fast and furious SRV and Chuck Berry shuffles, topped off with tone and phrasing that reflects a wealth of delightful influences blended together to create his own signature sound.It’s evident watching these guys play, that the collective honed skills are the result of years of hard work and demanding schedules demonstrated with that fluent familiarity with each other’s technical vernacular.
Anto from JJ’s House Band joined the band on Blues Harp for a Mystery Train style jam in place of their own Harp player who missed the flight or as Jed remarked later on when he did arrive, travelled over via Spain. Tony Poland from Parchman Farm also got up for another call and response jam with Jed on guitar.The repertoire is diverse and versatile Jed producing three different guitars in various tunings for forays into blistering Rock Blues and Bottleneck with a piece of copper pipe on a hollow bodied Epiphone and finishing the night off on a Fender Telecaster as sharp as a crosscut saw.
Statesboro Blues, Shake Your Money Maker, Rollin n Tumblin, all given a hard driving facial along with originals such as Devils Been Blowing In Your Ear all played at breathtaking speed as Jed coaxing amazing sounds from his armoury of influences displayed balls out riffing and furious chordal changing stamina.
The buzz was Canned Heat, John Lee Hooker, Bo Diddley, ACDC, George Thorogood to Live At Leeds but the icing on the cake for me is that I felt I was back 30 years watching the similar intensity and chemistry of our own local hero Rory Gallagher in the Carlton Cinema or on the boards in the National Stadium.
Jed is a devoted fan of Rory as demonstrated in two stellar workouts on Laundromat and Messing With The Kid telling us that if it weren’t for Rory he would not be standing on the stage tonight.Thankfully a Jed Thomas gig will ensure that Rory’s music and technique which opened up my own universe with Taste and the subsequent pilgrimages to witness our white hot guitarist in action, will always be just a memory away and serve to remind us just how brilliant Rory was and the tragedy that his contribution to the traditions of Blues guitar ended so prematurely.
Apart from being great commemorators of Rory Gallagher, what grabbed my attention most about the Jed Thomas Band are their focus, attention, sheer authority, control, and confidence in their repertoire, combining all the elements of blues past with high energy dynamic modern techniques including a rapid fire devastating drum solo.
Without the slightest hesitation I have now added Jed Thomas to my favourites list as one of the most exciting guitarists on the planet, with a style that combines traditional blues, blazing progressive blues, touch, tone, speed, energy and stamina in a very creative, fertile, testosterone laden style uniquely his own.
” Well Mama killed a chicken,
She thought it was a duck
She put it on the table
With his legs sticking up
You’ve got to bottle it up and go
You’ve got to bottle it up and go
Yes them high-powered women
Sure got to bottle it up and go”
Mick Kenny aka MTW