Half Deaf Clatch - The Blues Continuum

Half Deaf Clatch has a new record, listeners to UK blues radio may have heard it teased with tracks turning up here and there, but to many he’s still going to be a brand new name, despite his prolific output. If you’re one of the uninitiated, Clatch is Andrew McClatchie, a UK resident with a solid line in delta influenced solo acoustic blues, and if you want an introduction to him you could do no better than this new disc.

The Blues Continuum, as that’s what the disc is titled, is mainly one man and a guitar, a single voice and a single instrument augmented only by the sound of a stomping foot for percussion. It’s something that has been done many times before, from folks like Robert Johnson, through John Lee Hooker, John Hammond and now to Clatch. While it may not be bringing anything radically new to the world in terms of sound, it’s a completely honest way of delivering music and one very telling in terms of the artist’s talent and the quality of the material. If you don’t have good songs, and the ability to deliver them in an engaging and moving manner, any attempt at an album of this ilk will fall flat on it’s face.

There’s no need to worry about that here, because Clatch has all the talent and songwriting chops to deliver a record that entertains with no need for extraneous augmentation. Occasionally a second guitar crops up in the mix, along with some judicious doubling of vocal lines, but it’s nothing that distracts from the simplicity of the presentation and there are less production tricks used here than on early John Lee Hooker records. 

There are strong songs here too, with lyrics that scan and aren’t shoehorned into place in unnatural ways. They cover a gamut of typical subjects; love, loss, death, along with the heroes of the genre. There’s nothing here that hasn’t been discussed by other artists, but Clatch does it with an individual approach. Deathly Blue is a highlight, with it’s touch of female backing vocals providing a great contrast to Clatch’s own Tom Wait’s-y rasp, and marking it out as the least ‘solo effort’ on the whole album.

What we have in Blues Continuum is a record that proves that solo acoustic blues can still connect to an audience and that it doesn’t require a massive band or a raft of production tricks to produce music that entertains and moves the listener. This is easily Clatch’s best effort to date, the songs and the performances are powerful and tight, and the lack of fuss makes for a refreshing experience.


Blues is the Truth 242

Blues is the Truth this week has a smattering of both the old and the new with tracks from Half Deaf Clatch lining up with Otis Rush, BB King with Robbie Hill, Chad Strentz with Lightnin’ Hopkins, Buddy Whittington and Will Johns, Otis Grand and Dale Storr. It’s packed so don’t miss it, from 9pm on www.jazzandbossaradio.com tomorrow!


Show 241

Tomorrow night’s show is packed to the rafters with awesome! With me being lucky enough to go out on the day after the 2014 British Blues Awards are announced, I’m going to be one of the first places where you can hear who won. I’m going to be playing tracks from all of the award winners, along with new tunes from Ronnie Earl, Devon Allman, The Ruf Records 20th Anniversary CD, Long John Baldry and Phil Bee. It’s packed and it’s on from 9pm on www.jazzandbossaradio.com


Show 240

This weeks Blues is the truth has it all, well, as much of it all as you can for into two hours anyway. Turns out you can fit the brand new single from Joanne Shaw Taylor along with tracks from David FerraChad StrentzTim AvesRichard TownendTrevor Sewell, Philip Sayce, Monkey Paw Finger, Danny Bryant, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Mike Zito, Ginger St James and much more. You can hear exactly what by tuning in to www.jazzandbossaradio.com from 9pm UK time tomorrow.


Joanne Shaw Taylor - The Dirty Truth

Joanne Shaw Taylor has been around for a long time, signed to Dave Stewart’s record label at an early age, before throwing herself wholeheartedly into making kick-ass blues rock on records like Diamonds in the Dirt and Almost Always Never. Her career has even seen her join Annie Lennox on stage during the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Concert.

It’s therefore no surprise that expectations are high for her latest release, entitled The Dirty Truth

The album opens with the single Mud Honey and everything is business as usual, raspy vocals mated to high voltage guitar playing, a hefty riff and punchy solos. It’s the style she’s been polishing since her debut, and the work shows, it’s crisp, tight and exciting, and more importantly everything an existing fan could want. 

However, no artist is at their best unless they’re pushing and trying something new. Resting on your laurels is no recipe for creative forward motion, and it’s not long before Joanne shows us that she has no intention of standing still. The record’s second song, title track The Dirty Truth, adds an almost traditional blues boogie, an insistent rhythm and produces something that is identifiably JST, but is brilliantly fresh and new. Moments like this are all over the record, Fool In Love has a slight country lilt while making me think a little of John Mayer, Wrecking Ball has some funky guitar and almost sounds as if a mad scientist has taken some old school soul and dropped in some hard rock DNA in a genetically modified hybrid of doom.

It’s things like this that make this a special record. It’s not going to alienate anyone who already likes Jo, but it hasn’t stood still, it isn’t to formula, and it offers new sounds and feels. It’s almost like putting on a pair of glasses and seeing the world for the first time in colour, the shapes and textures are instantly familiar, but theres a greater excitement, a richer experience.

In common with other Joanne Shaw Taylor albums this has a thickness, a density, in its sound. Things are heavily layered and while on prior records this left things sounding confused, here a better job has been done on the mix. There are layers to explore and threads to follow, and spaces that you can explore. It’s fresher and a lighter load to bear than in the past and this, combined with the new styles Joanne is exploring will make for an easier ride for new listeners.

Here we have a great record, the best Joanne has produced thus far. Equal parts magic and skill, she’s beginning to show us exactly what she’s capable of. The thing is I can only see her getting better!


Blues is the Truth 239

This weeks show will be on as usual from 9pm UK time tomorrow. It’s packed with new tunes from the likes of Andy Gunn, Dave Raphael, BB King, Kilborn Alley, Mighty Sam McLean, Tim Aves, The Delta Generators, Muddy Waters, James Brown and Robert Nighthawk. Tune in on www.jazzandbossaradio.com


Some rather fine pictures of my band in action at the Richmond Riverside Festival. Organised by the Crawdaddy Club of legendary repute it was two days of great music in the sun by the river. I had myself a great time and even look slightly professional!

Photos (c) Ian Dubbelman


Show 238

Tomorrow night’s show has some great tunes. Soul from Wilson Picket and Donny Hathaway. Blues from Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Ian Siegal, Kat and Co (with Kathleen Pearson and Francesco Accurso), Magic Sam, The Snyders and the Delta Generators. All from 9pm on www.jazzandbossaradio.com tomorrow.


Show 237

This week’s Blues is the Truth is packed with a father and son Muddy Waters and Mud Morganfield, Laura Cheadle, Freddie King, Robert Cray, Buddy Guy, Hans Theessink and Terry Evans, Poplar Jake, Jo Harman, Danny Bryant, Katie Bradley and much more. All from 9pm UK time tomorrow on www.jazzandbossaradio.com


Ruby Tiger - Vistas

Ruby Tiger may not, as yet, be a familiar name, at least outside of their local scene on the south coast. However their release of a debut EP, entitled Vistas, could see all that change, as more people will get to discover their individual blend of roots, blues and jazz.

It’s always difficult to describe something that so effectively straddles so many musical niches. Here it’s clear that the core is old school swing blues of the kind you’s associate with Dinah Washington or Bessie Smith, but that there’s a blend between that and some old school jazz and traditional songwriting. It’s a blend that feels instantly familiar, you’re at home listening to this record, it feels natural and organic, as if it has always been around around. 

Most of the songs are originals, and they show off an adept and intelligent lyricist. There’s a poetry here, with words that flow with the rhythm of the piece rather than being shoe-horned into place. Each track is a  carefully considered piece of storytelling, there are little plot twists and surprises and it all makes for something rather different to the massed ranks of modern music.

Performance wise the musicians fit the material like a glove. Intelligently performed and underrated, it’s  a perfect foil for Ruby’s vocals. I get the sense she’s holding back a lot from what she could do technically and the subsequent benefit to the emotional content is high. Somehow she seems to reach out to the listener and find a shared perspective on the subjects on which her songs dwell. Her regular musical foil, King Rollo, also turns in a hugely involving performance on guitar, resisting the urge to splurge notes to fill every gap and providing tasteful solos only where they will have the most impact.

This is a stunning debut, understated and moving, but without relying on flash to deliver it’s impact. It’s layered and rich, and a great showcase for an emerging talent. On this evidence Ruby is going to be gaining some serious attention, even if it’s only for the beautiful way she introduces vibrato to the final note of Best Friend which ranks as one of 2014’s most magical musical moments.


Blues is the Truth show 236

Tomorrow night’s show has, as you’d expect a fair amount of music from the late, great Johnny Winter. Along with him there are tunes from Olivia Stevens Ruby Tiger, Muddy Waters, Nick Curran, Candy Kayne, BB and the Blues Shacks, Wily Bo Walker, Greg Alman, Back Pack Jones and much more. Tune in from 9pm tomorrow on www.jazzandbossaradio.com


Johnny Winter RIP.

Johnny Winter is dead. The world is a darker place.

Any time someone like him passes it gets a little darker, a little smaller, a little less special. He created something new, a hi-octane take on blues guitar, and most notably slide, that begat many great players. Derek Trucks acknowledged his importance when they played together at crossroads, and rightly so. There was an excitement and fire to his playing that nobody duplicated.

I’m going to miss that sound.


Cathy Lemons - Black Crow

Blues is anything but a single style of music, it’s infinitely varied and diverse if only you take the time to explore what’s on offer. There are some artists who do the exploring for you, and one such act is Cathy Lemons who’s latest disc is called Black Crow. I hadn’t heard of Cathy until I came across this disc, but on this evidence I think she has a fan.

While she does have a hugely varied smorgasbord of styles on the disc, from Texas shuffles to JJ Cale roots songs, it’s a remarkably consistent listen. If many acts attempted this kind of diversity it would fall apart but with the universally high standard of material and Cathy’s rich, velvet voice as a centrepiece, the threads that hold the disc together are strong. That voice is sensuous and expressive, with lyrics delivered with clear enunciation and a minimum of extraneous filigree, she forms an immediate and lasting emotional connection. Her delivery is one that many acts could, and should, be envious of.

Musically the picture that’s built up around her is funky and driving, moving the feet as much as it moves the heart. This is a group of musicians that understand their job is the groove, and not to show off. Even when they have they chance to lay it all down and go for a no holds barred, flat out solo, they hold back and deliver subtlety and real emotion. This restrained performance suits Cathy’s diverse music superbly and stands as a reminder that much modern blues has become a vehicle for showing off.

What all this means is we have an album here that is far closer to the genuine blues than many of it’s contemporaries. The focus is on emotion and not on spectacle, which means it may not grab people who are used to the latter on first listen. However, if you stick with it, as you definitely should, you’ll be rewarded with a depth and richness that eludes the masses. This is a record that deserves repeated listens, that gives you something new on every pass. Each time it hits your record player you’ll love it just a little bit more.


Show 235

Like Blues? You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t, so why not tune in to tomorrow night’s show on www.jazzandbossaradio.com at 9pm to listen to the likes of the Hoax, Coco Montoya, Rick Lollar, 24 Pesos, Red Butler, The Black Keys and so much more. Remember folks, Blues is the Truth!


Walter Trout - The Blues Came Calling

When Walter Trout planned out 2014 it was as a year of celebration. He had overcome addiction and ended up with one of the most successful careers in music and this year marks the 25th anniversary of his debut. Little did he think he would be spending his time fighting for his life, needing a liver transplant and facing death head on. 

When news of his health condition reached the public it worked as a unifying force, bringing the community together to rally around a man who had done so much for the music, but no-one expected that Walter would end up releasing one of the most powerful albums of his entire career. He did, in the form of The Blues Came Calling, a rich and heady disc that’s emotional impact belies the fact that Walter was extremely il during it’s inception and recording.

The album is the third side Walter reunited with his former record company, Provogue, and a continuation of the hot streak that started with Blues for the Modern Daze. In a way it’s typical Walter, erring on the side of blues rock rather than the purely traditional, and packed with big, belting songs, and bigger and even more belting guitars. Where it really shines is in the moments where Walter shares his fragility with the audience, whether it is the breaking of his voice where it used to be rock solid or the lyrical honesty with which he deals with the spectre of potential death that he obviously felt during the sessions. That spectre hangs over a number of the songs, lending a certain darkness to the material. However dark it may be there is a glimmer of hope at the core of every song, as even in the lyrics of the tunes Walter is a fighter.

Walter is joined on a couple of tracks by his old boss, John Mayall, who contributes piano and vocals two the two tracks that buck the trend of the album with their lightness and jaunty feel. While Mayall’s reputation is still a bigger draw that that of his former guitar slinger, his presence does not distract from the fact that this record is Walter through and through. 

Guitars are to the fore, the feel is driving and the intensity is high. If it was anyone but Walter we wouldn’t be talking of fragility, as it’s only in comparison to his past work that you notice those rare moments. It is however this fragility that gives the record it’s greatest asset, Walter is human and this record shows it in all of the power and weakness, form it’s emotional highs and lows, from the sheer fact that it was completed. Walter has made his greatest record at a time when many would give up, close doors and go away. This is music as therapy, as a friend and as catharsis. 

It’s also undeniably brilliant.