Jumpin’ Hot Club
Feb 15th 2019
Because of our respective shifts at work I’ve hardly seen Mrs Magpie this week; but still I had to go to see Cedric Burnside at the JHC in the recently re-aligned basement of the Cluny Newcastle.
Opening the show where Scott Taylor and Michael Littlefield from The King Bees performing an all too rare acoustic set of Blues standards with a few rarities thrown in for good measure.
They opened their set with Sonny Boy Williamson’s Good Gravy and closed it with the great man’s Keep It To Yourself; and in between Scott huffed and puffed his way through 7 different sounding harmonicas and Michael gave the guitarists in the packed room a free lesson in sweet….. no, sublime acoustic guitar playing on songs and tunes from Sonny Terry & Brownie McGee, Magic Sam and Big Bill Broonzy too.
They alternated lead vocals, and it’s fair to say Scott has now ‘grown into’ a charmed voice that belies his young age.
With no break to speak of, Cedric Burnside too a minute to tune his acoustic guitar and simply nodded for the houselights to be turned down and away he went with Love Her Til I Die.
I’m not aux fait with his music so guessed at the titles of songs; so don’t get mad if I get them wrong; but tonight obviously wasn’t just about hearing his songs, it was about taking part in the ‘experience’ of seeing Cedric Burnside live on stage where he makes the Blues exciting again.
“Well! Well! Well!” Can this guy play a guitar? His fingers are lightning fast across and along the strings and he looks like he’s having a spasm as he inhabits many of his songs too.
This certainly felt like everything I’d heard about his performances from friends; Burnside is not just charismatic on stage but hypnotic too….. you can’t take your eyes off him; even though for the first few acoustic songs he just sits on a chair.
With a big smile of thanks and his catchphrase “Well, well, well!” when the appreciative audience went ballistic as each song ended, Burnside hardly spoke all night, save retelling one of his Dad’s favourite jokes.
But we weren’t here for chit-chat, we wanted to hear music and oohhee…. did he deliver!
His short solo acoustic set ended with the slow and sultry Feel Like Going Home, on which he gave us some sublime bottleneck guitar solos.
Side kick Brian Jay appeared from behind a curtain and strapped on a Les Paul for a ghostly rendition of Hard To Stay Cool, from his latest album of the same name.
Then Jay got behind the drums and the night took a completely new direction, starting with a Blues Chant of Voodoo ethnicity and followed that with a song full of staccato guitar and pounding drumming, which actually moved the bass drum 6 or 7 inches and (with hindsight) started the disintegration of the bass pedal!
From my vantage point I could see Jay doing quick running repairs on the pedal during the next two songs, a mighty shuffle followed by a sexy and seductive version of Give It To You, which was less than subtle in tone.
After this one the duo switched instruments with Cedric taking over on drums, much to his fans delight.
*My notes say ‘a very technical drummer with a knockout punch’ on Don’t Leave Me Girl; which proved very apt as the bass drum moved forward again and the drummer actually snapped the pedal, much to his and our amusement.
As he tried to fix it Brian Jay watched like a hawk, but regaled us with some mesmerising work on his Les Paul. After a few minutes, Michael Littlefield from the support act mysteriously produced a spare drum pedal that he keeps in his bag for such occasions (eh?) just as Venue manager produced a second pedal from a store cupboard above the stage!
A quick adjustment from Cedric and just by making eye contact….. WOOMPH! The duo roared into whatever song it was they were meant to play (Ain’t Gonna Take No Mess?) ; and the drummer took out his frustrations in the only way possible…. boom, bang, pow….. but always on time and in tune.
This, dear reader is why Live Music is the way forward; you don’t get this on Spotify!
I guess they were originally meant to finish the set at the end of that song; but the ‘band just played on’ for well over half an hour, and way past the curfew; and by this stage I had to put my notepad away and just immerse myself in the magic music that this duo were emitting from the stage a couple of feet away from me.
I’ve told my regular readers that I lost my ‘mojo’ over a year ago, and had virtually stopped going to gigs; but tonight Cedric Burnside (and the King Bees lads) revived whatever was lying dormant in my Soul. Two amazing Blues duos ripped ‘a new one’ into what can sometimes be a dusty and reverential genre, in a packed and sweaty basement…… plus there was even 10 or 12 people ‘idiot dancing’ at the front by the end of the evening.
…….. what’s not to like?
FULL PHOTO-SET https://www.harrisonaphotos.co.uk/Music/Cedric-Burnside/