Elles Bailey & Brave Rival at Sunderland Fire Station

Elles Bailey & Brave Rival
Sunderland Fire Station

March 11th 2023

Without naming names I’d not had a particularly good week, gig wise seeing three other acts in 7 days that had me non-plussed on the way out. Nothing wrong with the shows; as 99% of their audiences would testify, they just didn’t appeal to me.
Which all put extra pressure on as Mrs Magpie was stepping out with me to see Elles Bailey (who she’d never heard of.)
Opening act were Brave Rival; an apparent Blues Rock band; who were playing an acoustic-ish set as the ‘warm up.’
I say acoustic-ish, as they had an electric bass alongside two acoustic guitars and the tiniest drum set up in the world, while fronted by two young ladies with astonishing voices and harmonies.
After being introduced to the Sold Out audience by none other than Elles Bailey herself; they slid into opening song Guilty Love which was full of soaring vocals and lush harmonies; as were most of the songs that followed in the next 45 minutes.
While I appreciate hearing where songs come from, tonight the singers perhaps lingered on these tales a tad too much?
Again; probably that’s just me judging from the smiling faces I could see following all of these intros.
I’m not sure what these songs will be like when fleshed out with the full-on band in their electric guise; as I thought the stripped back arrangements really suited the material; not least Run & Hide; about being stalked and For The Ones (I think ) which was written in the early days of lockdown but can also be interpreted as a song about fighting to make relationships work.
It appeared that a couple of very personal sounding songs were written by the self-depreciating singer Lindsey Bonnick most noticeably Secrets; about an ex-boyfriend who had cheated on her for three years.
As is my won’t, I wasn’t keen on the cabaret style request for the audience to join in on the chorus of What’s Your Name Again; about a ‘one night stand’ that Lindsay had one time.
On the other hand; it featured some sweet bottleneck guitar playing and smoky harmonies from Lindsay and Chloe. This was followed by Chloe explaining the story behind the rather fabulous and emotional All I Can Think About (oddly enough … anther sad song about a relationship that ended badly for Lindsay!)
I was really surprised by their choice of finale; but today I found out that it was their latest single; Simon & Garfunkel’s Sounds Of Silence; which was actually perfect for their individual voices and those delicious harmonies.

After the required ‘toilet/smoke’ break there wasn’t an empty seat in the hall when the lights went down and the stage was swathed in red lights as the band and Ms Bailey made their entrance, before they opened up with The Game, which went down well with the appreciative audience.
The set was a clever mix of songs from Elle’s latest album SHINING IN THE HALF LIGHT, and her two previous albums plus a couple of fabulous and surprising cover versions towards the end.
I particularly liked the second song, which went unnamed and featured some particularly greasy guitar riffs from Joe Wilkins.
While it doesn’t make much difference to the audience when an act doesn’t name their songs; but it’s a nightmare for a reviewer! Elles told a heartwarming story about first time motherhood; then went into a gorgeous song supplemented by some atmospheric drumming and bass; but can I find a song of hers with the lyrics I scribbled down! This happened another three or four times; which is a shame for fans who weren’t there tonight.
Of the songs I can name; Halfway House was absolutely stunning; and as Elles said in the intro, was meant to be a heartbreaker of the ‘love’ type but ended up being about Brexit!!!
This was followed by a song I did recognise; the heavy, heavy rocker Cheats & Liars which I presumed was about ‘men who had done her wrong‘ … but it was actually written following the 2022 Budget which left the self-employed (esp musicians) on their uppers.
The next couple of songs have highly excited notes scribbled alongside them and both get three stars each; the first being the soulful Hole In My Pocket, which had a false ending that morphed into a thrash metal ending with requisite light show too.
This was followed by the first of her highly surprising choices of songs to cover; John Martyn’s beauteous Over The Hill was a rare treat and had Elles giving it the deference it deserves; and as I noted … “Her voice is perfect for expressing sentiments like these.’
What I haven’t mentioned yet is how important Jonny Henderson’s Hammond playing was to the overall sound in these songs; giving them a bit of a 60’s R&B ‘vibe’ at times.
As the time to curfew rattled along, a song Elles wrote in 2017; Help Somebody is still, if not more relevant today in 2023 …. and is well worth hunting out if you haven’t played it in a while.
Oh; as Henderson embarked on a keyboard solo, Elles went ‘walkabout’ wandering around the hall, much to the fans delight.
Following on from that and closing the show was Beautiful Mess, which was as soulful as it was thoughtful; and the melody swung like a pendulum do; and had Elles skipping and dancing around the stage when her band performed their magic.
While it was never in any doubt; the band only had time to count back from 5, before they re-entered the stage for two really special encore songs.
The first of which was a really surprising cover; Mary Gauthier’s Mercy Me (which I love too) and while she knelt on the edge of the stage while singing with the lights turned down way low, as the glitterball spun and swathed the audience in little diamonds.
Then standing up without the aid of a helper (which impressed out friend Faye!) Elles Bailey and band rocked the bejasus out of this fantastic building with Sunshine City …. and after all the heartbreak that had preceded it; the audience left with a smile on their collective faces.

Alan Harrison

PHOTOS: https://www.harrisonaphotos.co.uk/Music/Elles-Bailey-and-Brave-Rival/i-CnwnH3s

Connor Selby CONNOR SELBY Deluxe Edition)

Connor Selby
Connor Selby

A Fully Formed Debut Sizzling Blues Album From Essex to Memphis via Dubai.

This album arrived alongside 8 others one day a few weeks ago; and as usual it was immediatly ripped to my hard drive, and then I had a quick listen to the first minute of Track #1 I Can’t Let You Go to make sure the quality was passable.
Yippee Why Aye Music Lovers!
Originally self released in 2021, which led to Selby being picked up to support Big Leaguers like The Who,  and kick start a bill with Pearl Jam, Stereophonics and Johnny Marr in the summer of 2022. 
Everything was put on hold until I’d played the whole album; and even then I was only removed; kicking and screaming by Mrs Magpie to spend quality time at a supermarket; or else I’d have just kicked back and played it all day!
I stand great stead by an album’s opening track; and the fulsome ballad I Can’t Let You Go ticks every box I have, the drum beat is joined by a majestic organ…. then a brass section fill your musical senses….. all before Selby and guitar even enter the fray; and when he does. it’s kick back, relax and listen time!
Apart from some Prog I dabbled with in the 1970’s I can’t think of another song that comes in just shy of 7 minutes long that opens an album? And …. the time absolutely flies by; and like everything that follows neither a word or note is wasted.
Those of us of a ‘certain vintage’ will play ‘spot the influence’ as the songs come and go; but why should it matter that there are elements of BB King, Peter Green, Eric Clapton and even Joe Bonamassa in the way Connor Selby plays and creates his songs ….. but he does it all in a way that will eventually become his own distinctive signature.
It’s all too easy to just immerse yourself in the overall ‘sound’ that Selby creates; but if you listen properly …. and I urge you to do so; his songs are quite exceptional for a young man and his debut album.
The delicately beautiful The Man I Ought To Be will ring a tear to a glass eye; whereas the heartbreaking Anyhow with its female harmonies and piano that sounds like it could be Ray Charles playing alongside the acoustic Hear My Prayer, take us to some truly unexpected Bluesy places with the youngster as our guide.
There’s even a cover song here from Ray Charles’ back catalogue and I’d wager nobody would know that if you hadn’t read it first and (the bonus track) My Baby Don’t Dig Me virtually sizzles from start to finish.
Speaking of the Bonus Tracks that close the album; all four are quite exceptional and show a maturity in his writing; although there’s absolutely nothing wrong with anything that precedes I Shouldn’t Care or Love Letter To The Blues which simply sashays along as the sentiment in his words will have you nodding your head and thinking “Ain’t that the truth Brother Connor!
By the time you reach the sparkling the Hammond drenched, The Deep End which closes business; I swear you will be like me that first day and be desperate to play it all again, just to prove that your ears were right after all.
There are certainly a couple of the songs I’ve already mentioned that are contenders for Favourite Track status; but I’m slipping back to two of the earlier tracks to compete for the title …. Track #2, Falling In Love Again is probably the one track that kind of symbolises the album and something I can point you to as a ‘sampler’; beautiful and thoughtful lyrics wrapped up in a blanket of sweet guitar, chunky bass lines, a Hammond of The Gods and girly backing singers worthy of the Stax days!
Then there’s Emily; the ‘heaviest’ song here and a ‘dirty love song’ that stands out mostly for the guitar work that compliments Selby’s velvety smooth vocals that draw you in like a siren on the rocks.
I feel that I’ve ‘missed out’ over the last three or four years by not knowing about Connor Selby; but obviously the cognoscenti did as he has already been voted “Young Artist of the Year” at the UK Blues Awards for the last three consecutive years (2020, 2021, 2022); and this re-released album will ensure he’s on the Top Table in 2023.

Released March 3rd 2023



The 2.19
We Will Get Through This

Timeless Punchy British Style Rhythm and Blues With the Emphasis on The Blues But with Plenty of Rhythm Too.

Bloody serendipity!!
On my radio show last week I played a track from the Revelator album and said something about “where are they now?” then three days later this arrived …. come on; is there a Greater Force at work somewhere?
Oooohhheeee! Opening track, No Smoke, No Fire starts where The Revelator left off; deep down and durty Blues with a crystalised Rock spine. Singer/guitarist Chris Chalmers sounds like an illegitimate offspring of a one night stand between Stevie Marriott and Maggie Bell, while his guitar playing, alongside drummer Monty Sneddon, guitarist Paul Wilkinson, guitarist Ady Young and bassist Marty Young sound like they’ve been listening to a lot of early Groundhogs.
As I said in the Revelator review; I love The Blues and get sent a lot of albums in this vein; but the majority are actually RAWK bands masquerading as Blues Bands; The 2.19 are the real deal though; listen to second track Turn Out the Lights with it’s guitar playing that is so tense it sounds like a coiled spring and when harmonica player Andrei Marinescu swoops in; you’d swear you were back in the Club -a-Go-Go circa 1964, or somewhere sweaty on the outskirts of Memphis only last week! Timeless, my friend …. timeless!
I’m sure you will read elsewhere that these songs will be ‘best played live’ …. which may be true; but that takes nothing away from the recorded version here ….. the bodacious Ready To Go will be the perfect soundtrack to a late night car trip to work; or early morning via headphones on a bus; whereas the melody on the Blues lament, Radio Smiles alongside Marinescu’s sultry harp playing will be a ‘go to’ when you’re doing household chores.
It’s Chalmers use of words and imagery on songs not just like that one; but the Rocking and Reeling Seven Wonders that raises The 2.19 high above the bar set for 21st Century Blues Bands; and on and in The Reach he and the band go way beyond the call of duty; again hinting at the Groundhogs but with a smattering of Humble Pie and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion too …. especially the funky-ass Hammond riffs that are littered throughout.
On the most obvious level, this album ‘sounds great’ ….. mostly because the band aren’t afraid to use a melody and a bouncy beat when it suits; unlike most of their contemporaries who seem to owe more The Damned and Ramones than they do Muddy and Wolf!
As I allude to; there are plenty of nods to the past here; and why not use your influences for a greater good; but be under no illusion, when The 2.19 can write songs like the brittle, beautiful and introspective ballad, Broken Harmony Blues which features a stunning duet between Chalmers and Amy Montgomery as well as the swamp infused and Exile on Main St influenced; Hey Carolina and neither come close to being my Favourite Song; you know you must be listening to someone very special indeed.
Two songs have constantly drawn me back time and time in the last week ….. the title Best Suit intrigued me; even before I’d played it; as I’m a lover of a suit myself; but in this case the singer tells us that he is wearing his ‘Best Suit’ for an appearance at the courthouse! If I didn’t know, I’d sweat that this was a Muddy Waters or more up to date, Lew Jetton or Paul Lamb song re-jigged; but it ain’t ….. this is straight outta Belfast in 2023!
The other song; and probable winner of the Favourite Track is the claustrophobic finale;We Will Get Through This; a much gentler song than everything that has preceded it as the acoustic guitar (with occasional bottleneck) and could be about the ‘greater problems’ facing us all politically and socially; or it may be about a relationship teetering on the brink of a possible closure; or in my care … and that of several other sufferers; far more personal and telling himself that the clouds will disappear soon…. definitely soon.
The 2.19 cover a lot of ground here, and for a band stuck on ‘a local circuit’ and ‘waiting for the big break’ …. sound like they are making music that they want to hear themselves and damn the ‘decision makers’; ‘ in their stuffy offices.
I agree wholeheartedly with that philosophy, as there definitely is an audience out there just waiting to hear them.
These kids are as good as I have heard in the last twenty years or more; and probably as good as most before that too….. Timeless Rhythm and Blues with the emphasis on The Blues but with plenty of Rhythm too.

Released 23rd January 2023


RMHQ Radio Show Ep32 @NovaRadioNE

RMHQ Radio Show
Nova Radio NE

11th December 2022

The end of the year is closing in on us all; and I’m still not giving in to all of the false Christmas bonhomie!
Episode 32 may be the last radio broadcast for either all time or at least until February …. who knows at this stage.
There a few reasons for this decision; the lack of actual listeners hasn’t helped of course; but there are things going on at home health wise for both Mrs Magpie and myself that means I should take a break …. I wish it was for a month in the Maldives, but it will actually be reading books; doing some painting, walking up and down hills and taking lots of photos of course.
There are less than subtle clues dotted around the playlist as to my current state of mind; and the show finishes with two incredible songs fro my friend and musical hero …. Bap Kennedy.
Until next week when I give you my Top, or at least ‘most interesting’ 25 albums of 2022 that didn’t make the Readers’ Top 25 which goes out on Christmas Night!

Samantha FishBulletproof
Little River BandHelp Is On its Way
5 Points GangThe Secret
Emily DuffKnuckle Sandwich
Jimmie VaughanTeardrop Blues
Massy FergusonFire of Life
Nanci GriffithI Fought the Law
Grant Lee BuffaloJupitor & Teardrop
Briana CorriganLove Me Now (Acoustic)
Rob VincentDancing With the Devil
Matt OwensAnother Song About the Devil
Annie KeatingKindness of Strangers
Luke James WilliamsOne More Bottle of Wine
Hector GannettBlack Rainbows
Lucinda WilliamsCar Wheels on a Gravel Road
Neil Young & Crazy HorseThis Land is Your Land
Steve EarleHarlem River Blues
Justin Townes EarleChampagne Corrolla
Prinz GrizzlyI Keep on Searching
Uncle Brent & NostoneTequila Nights
My Girl The RiverNeedy
1957 Tail Fin FiascoHere All Week
The PopravinasFlat Side of Low
Ashley McBrydeVoo Doo Doll
Rory GallagherLearnt My Lesson
Bap KennedyPlease Return to Jesus (Acoustic)
Bap KennedyI’m So Lonesome I Could Cry

Rick Berthod TRIBUTE TO PETER GREEN (The Fleetwood Mac Years)

Rick Berthod
Tribute to Peter Green (The Fleetwood Mac Years)
Self Release

A Beautiful and Thoughtful Homage to a Forgotten Master Blues Guitarist.

Rick Berthod appears to have been around the American Blues scene forever, playing alongside and/or supporting most of the Legends in a career that has also produced 8 previous albums; and today he finds himself fronting the house band at The House of Blues in Las Vegas.
A couple of nights ago I was out with some ex-colleagues; all younger than me and mostly music fans. After a couple of pints I got mischievous; asking “who was the guitarist in Fleetwood Mac?”
To a man they agreed on Lindsay Buckingham; and when I asked the follow up; “Not Peter Green?” Their faces were left scrunched up, as they didn’t know who I was talking about …. although they had heard (of) Albatross.
Which is why this album is a) an oddity and b) essential listening for the younger generation.
OK there probably is a version of the legendary Fleetwood Mac Greatest Hits floating around e-Bay; but Rick Berthod’s song selection and beautiful homage to a Master Guitarist is well worth checking out; and/or giving as a Christmas present.
Although the opening track, If You Be My Baby isn’t one of the better known tracks from this period; but the guitar playing is simply ‘liquid gold’ …. no; scrub that ….. ‘liquid platinum’ and it never leaves that trajectory all the way through to the finale Loved Another Woman.
The other thing about that opening song; is Berthod’s voice; beautiful yet melancholic and simply aching with the longing that these songs all conjure up.
When I was at senior school in the 70’s selecting and then defending your selection of Favourite Guitarist was a key part of the day; and while I was always a Rory Gallagher fan; Peter Green was always a great back up.
Coming back to the album and it’s contents; when I first scanned the track list my first thoughts were “does the world need another version of Black Magic Woman?”
Well; in this case … yes. Berthod slows it down to a feisty shuffle and after a minute or so you forget that Carlos Santana ever recorded his version; as this is short, sharp and timeless; with a vocal performance worthy of a Chicago speakeasy in the mid 60’s.
There a few songs here that I either can’t remember or have not heard before; but the sting in the tail that Rattlesnake Shake left me was staggering; and if I’d heard Stop Messing Around in a ‘blind tasting’ I’d have sworn it was from John Mayall’s ‘Beano’ album, featuring the best guitar playing Eric Clapton ever managed.
The Peter Green Classics are all here of course; and are all played with loving care and not a note out of place; most notably on the sublime Need Your Love So Bad (with additional Prof Longhairesue piano interludes) and Oh Well; which both benefit from Berthod’s distinctive world weary vocals; which puts a new spin on them; as they now sound like the original youngster, looking back on life in 2022.
Albatross is …. well…. Albatross; spellbinding of course; and had to be included, but no one is ever, ever going to compete with Green on his Masterwork, will there?
On an album like this I always look for something unexpected as a Favourite Track; and here there are another two songs that I have no memory of and both stopped me dead in my tracks as I tried to do some paperwork.
Jumpin’ At Shadows is heartbreakingly beautiful and with hindsight; sounds as if it was written many years after Green left The Mac, as it sounds like a love story to the man himself; and there are times the guitar playing brought tears to my eyes the first time I played it.
The other, in the tie; is the majestic Driftin’ … which fits in somewhere between Hank B Marvin, Clapton and Joe Bonamassa in the guitar stakes (remember what I said about ‘liquid platinum’ …. but here it’s the actual song; Blues so dark it’s almost black that I’ve fallen in love with!
It’s a Peter Green ‘original’ but I’m pretty damn sure he was immersing himself in BB Kings older albums before writing it.
So; my overall thoughts? I like it …. a lot; mostly because of Berthold’s lovely and ‘lived in’ vocals sufficiently different from Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac’s ‘originals’ to make it well worth recommending … esp if you know a young person (under 50 hahaha) who doesn’t know who Peter Green was.

Released October 29th 2022


RMHQ Radio Show Ep28 @NovaRadioNE

RMHQ Radio Show
Episode 28
Nova Radio NE

13th November 2022

The ‘theory’ behind my radio show is meant to be like when we were teenagers, sitting in bedrooms or schoolyards talking about and sharing music.
I could reasonably easily do a weekly two hour show made up of solely New Music from across the Roots Music world; but I like mixing it up with Classic tracks and older songs you may or may not know from the past too.

Pete MolinariLest We Forget
Beth Neilsen ChapmanWalk You To Heaven
Dave ArcariTexicali Waltz
Liz JonesBounty
Daniel MeadeGood Heart Gone Astray
West on ColfaxThe Desert Lives Outside The City
Marianne FaithfulTower of Song
Amelia WhiteSaid It Like a King
David OlneyTwo Bit Hood
Larkin PoeGeorgia Off My Mind
Holy Moly and The CrackersHot Red
Jeffrey FoucaultOne Red Rose
Errol LintonStressed Out
Jason IsbellTour of Duty
Peach & QuietCalgary Skyline
Kenny FosterPoor Kids
Anna LavigneFoolish Heart
Fred HostetlerHe’s Gone Rogue
Giant SandChange Is Now
The Williams BrothersDeath of a Clown
Dr FeelgoodPut your money where your mouth is
Rolling StonesRoute 66
Twangtown TroubadoursWhoa Nellie
Mary GauthierI Drink
Terra Spencer & Ben CaplanGood Friends
Malcolm HolcombeMisery Loves Company
Leonard CohenBird on a Wire
Hurray For the Riff RaffWhat’s Wrong With Me?
Jay and the CooksFrontline Worker Blues
Kris KristoffersonYou Don’t Tell Me What To Do.

Dr Feelgood DAMN RIGHT

Dr Feelgood
Damn Right
Proper Records

A Primo Legacy Well Worthy of Their Canvey Island Originators

I have a dichotomy here.
I was a huge fan of the original Dr. Feelgood …. the one with Lee Brilleaux, Wilko Johnson, Big Figure and John B Sparks; buying LP’s, singles and even a Bootleg cassette or two. Even after Wilko left and was replaced by Gypie Mayo; they were second to none on stage … although the albums weren’t that memorable.
In fairness, they were still a formidable force Live when only Lee from the original band was left; although it was apparent the last time I saw him/them all was not well health wise.
Sadly Lee died in 1995 …. which should have been the end of Dr. Feelgood as a brand; but various incarnations have continued thrilling and pleasing fans all over Europe in the last 25 years; although not me … until now.
With all that in mind I certainly had mixed emotions a month ago when this album of ‘self-penned original songs’ arrived at RMHQ.
I left it where I could see it on my desk for 4 or 5 days; then in a moment of weakness or should that be intrigue; I slid it into the CD Player and waited expectantly ….. I don’t know what for exactly? On principal I think I wanted to hate it; but hey …. do you know what? Don’t Pull Your Punches, which opens the album was far, far better than I’d ever dared hope!

Singer, Robert Kane makes no pretence at sounding like Lee; nope …. he’s certainly comfortable in his own talents and fair play to him; he’s a cracking British R&B singer (in the mould of a young Michael Phillip Jagger!) and the band can all hold their heads high too.
The band stick to the tried and trusted British R&B template; and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that at all; as you will find when you hear the fizzing Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, Inside Out and the horny as hell; Mary Ann too.
You don’t have to forget the band’s name to enjoy DAMN RIGHT!, as all the constituent parts are here; Gordon Russell’s feisty guitar playing is as good as Gypie Mayo in full flight, while drummer Kevin Morris and bas-player deluxe Phil H Mitchell keep time like a military band; never allowing the other two the opportunity to get carried away …. this is Classic R&B at its best!
Speaking of which the band even have the audacity to add a fabulous instrumental , Last Call as a finale …. with a subtle call and response HEY! chorus which I’ve accidentally found myself joining in with on recent car journeys.
While I don’t own all of the Lee Brilleaux era latter day releases (stopping with the less than fabulous Brilleaux) this incarnations songs are written constructed and arranged a lot stronger in every department; which no doubt comes from so many years on the road as a touring unit.

While there are no obvious singles here; there are still plenty to get your teeth into; and you wouldn’t feel short changed if they play this album from start to finish as a ‘first set’ then follow it with an hour or more of the Classics.
With that in mind; there are three songs that have really lodged themselves in my brain; so I’m torn between the Chicago infused Blues Me, Damn Right I Do! and the rolling and tumbling, I Need a Doctor as my Favourite Song here; and probably because I’m in the mood for some rambunctious and danceable R&B this morning I’m plumping for Dam Right I Do which I think Lee Brilleaux would have been plenty proud to belt out in the 100 Club.
I can’t think of a more vain accolade than I will be going to see Dr Feelgood for the first time since the mid 1980’s and it’s all because I want to here the band play these songs in concert.

Released November 4th 2022


Simeon Hammond Dallas MAKE IT ROMANTIC

Simeon Hammond Dallas
Make It Romantic
Camden Alive

Smoky, Sensual and Even Angsty British Blues For Broken Hearts Everywhere.

I’ve always made it a rule that I get in early at gigs to see the support act and give them the reverence that their trade deserves.
In my 50 years I’ve seen some household names who went on to Superstardom (Queen and Chris de Burgh), although most are forgettable and never got any bigger than that support slot in a pub; but good on them for having the nerve to get up on stage and sing their own songs.
Last week I went to see Lady Nade in Newcastle who had two support acts; the first was a duo and obviously at the start of their career; but the second was a petite young woman from London Town; with a big smile and even bigger acoustic guitar, called Simeon Hammond Dallas.
To say she blew me and many others ‘away’ would be a huge understatement; and I raced her to the merch desk to buy her second EP (not having enough cash to buy both I’m afraid).
She sang four of these five songs during her all too brief set and here with a very professional production making them sound even more spellbinding than when sung a matter of feet away from me.
The opening gambit; The Blues Is a Game; is as smoky and sexy as you’d hope from the title; and even though I loved it with just an acoustic guitar accompaniment; here it get the full on bass/drums/guitar/piano and trumpet voluntary treatment which forces Ms. Dallas to bring out the very best in his gorgeous voice to not just match this excellent band; but put them in their place too.
I now know the story behind the ‘tongue in cheek‘ feminist anthem (?) A Hundred Lovers; but even if you don’t; it’s still a story that will resonate with many ladies who have ‘kissed a lot of frogs‘ and hopefully sting a lot of said ‘frogs‘ into upping their game when it comes to relationships.
Similarly Simeon regaled us with the story behind the brittle and deeply personal; Betting On You too; but you don’t really need that information when you have the opening line:
I fell in love with two dozen white boys playing sad songs on guitars”
to know where the song and story is going. It’s a tale well told; and one still all to present in the music industry I’m afraid.
This is followed by the non-radio friendly angsty Blues Rocker, F*CKING HER; which is a heart wrenching tale of a lover with a wandering eye; who she loves with all her heart; but ….. it’s not requited.
The finale and titular Make It Romantic, is another late night smoky ballad that is my Favourite here and was on Thursday night too; telling another story of love that isn’t quite as good (?) as at least match the love she has for her lover.
Simeon doesn’t just ask; but tearfully begs:
I’m alive and I’m free
The wild flowers in bloom ain’t got nothing on me
Sing of the girl always running
Trying to find some truth
Make it romantic
Don’t let them know that
I’m out of my mind
Here the song is a Bluesy heartbreaker with jazzy undertones; but on stage was as raw as an open wound and I love both equally.
Don’t let Simeon Hammond Dallas’s stature or disarming smile fool you ….. this young woman has talent unbounded and won’t stay on the support ladder for much longer; she has STAR written across every single song; and it ain’t gonna take much to be headlining much bigger venues than the Globe in Newcastle.

Released September 2022



Meeting Paul Jones
05th October 2022

Paul doesn’t know me, obviously.
But I know him!
In my early twenties I used to work long hours and drive home to his famous Monday night blues radio show on BBC Radio 2. Over five years, he introduced me to several of my favourites today, and hundreds more.
He was my antidote to The Monday Blues.

I’m going to start with the end of our conversation, at the beginning.
People think I’m an actor or pop singer, and Blues DJ-ing is my hobby.
But blues is my life!

In case you don’t know him, Paul Jones is a singer and a harmonica player. You would recognise him from a few Sky Arts music documentaries, and if you like the blues, you’ll probably know him from some of his 32 years on Radio 2. Also, he’s a songwriter: Paul has just released ‘The Blues’; a 21 track compilation of songs that he wrote or co-wrote and recorded, spanning his multi decade career. It’s a personal expression of himself and his life, triggered by lockdown.
“It came about because of Coronavirus. I found myself in March of that year with no gigs, all cancelled, and thought, there must be something productive I can do with the time. I started, out of curiosity, to make a list of all the songs I had written/co-written and recorded [within the blues genre] in my lifetime. There’s quite a variety of sounds ‘within the blues’ and I had a long list. I thought, ‘there’s an album in here’, and eventually whittled it down to 21 tracks,
which is about half the original list.”
So, like many of us, Paul found a worthy lockdown project. It’s quite fitting to turn to the blues at times like these!
The compilation contains songs recorded by Paul’s various bands and line-ups, Manfred
Mann, The Blues Band, Paul Jones (solo of course) and additions with Guido Toffoletti and Mick Pini.
The earliest recordings are from 1963 and the latest, 2011.
Yep, that’s 6 decades! A life of Blues. And there’s enough Jones penned tracks for a volume two!
The liner notes are excellent, for me, for a few reasons: First and foremost, they are written by ‘the musician’. Inspirations, emulations, shortcomings and honest feelings from the both time they were made and from the position of hindsight.
It’s not a PR piece, but an insight into snippets of a musician’s life. If you get your hands on a copy, do read these. They match his humble, appreciative character.
Secondly, (apologies to Paul) some enviable name-dropping!
Paul McCartney, Jack Bruce, Mike Vernon. All there!
A point of humour; a song titled ‘The Blues Band’ which Paul describes as ‘bragging in a
song’, a tongue and cheek method he tips to the likes of Bo Diddley.
It contains the lyric
“I see all these kids playing the blues, think it all began with Clapton and Beck”
Later playing in this album compilation, Clapton and Beck!
My favourite from the record is a duet by Paul Jones (harp & vocal) and Jack Bruce (double bass), a tribute to Sonny Boy Williamson, and named after him.
After that, a song that was inspired by both Paul Butterfield and an episode of Inspector
Morse!, ‘Down by the River’.
A songwriters’ muse medley!
Questions from the Rocking Magpie HQ:

  1. Why the harmonica?
    Me: “… I know, big question! Can you answer?”
    Oh yes he could.
    Paul: “I used to go to a record shop in Plymouth [as a youngster] called Pete Russell’s Hot Record Store.
    One day he said, ‘You like the blues, what do you think of this?’.
    It was a T Bone Walker record called ‘T-Bone Blues’.
    T-Bone recorded thousands of things with no harmonica, but Atlantic [Records] got him to record in Chicago with a bunch of musicians, and on this track [Play on Little Girl] the harp player was Junior wells.
    Well, THAT track made me want to pick up a harmonica, learn it and play it for the rest of my life.”
    And he did/does.
    Paul had never played harmonica before that day, went out to buy his first, a Honer Blues Harp, recalling them to be ‘6 Shillings and 8 pence, about three for the pound!’
  2. Have you guested with anyone, tracks or albums that we may not know about?
    “Oh my, too many to recall and list!”
    “Well, lets see… Memphis Slim, Henry Grey, Katie Melua, Andrew Lloyd Webber & Marti Webb, Van Morrison, Elaine Page. Oh, and Billy Connolly!
    On a record called QUARANTINE which is about a dog; that you can’t say ‘quarantine’ out loud in front of a dog!”
    Let’s respect that for a moment.
    Regardless of your music preferences, here is man who has worked with Memphis Slim, Elaine Page and Billy Connolly. Range!
    I asked Paul about where he’s at now. What’s he up to, what he wants to do for the next years. He’s playing a big collection of dates around the UK from now to the end of winter and the best place to find them is http://www.themanfreds.com
    And what about recording, anything planned?
    “No definite plans but they are becoming more and more definite!
    It’s been about 3 years which is too long. There was never any time to be in the studio, but with the final farewell of The Blues Band this summer, there may now be.”
    Originals or covers?
    “Most of the hits that we’ve had, and still happily play, are covers.
    The future [for recording] has got to be originals, we [The Manfreds] have a lot of writing ability in the band right now.
    Back to the end of our conversation.
    What Paul is hoping people take from this release: That he is a Blues Man, that Blues is his life.
    I’m paraphrasing here as I typed shorthand as Paul spoke fluidly:
    He recalls when he was acting, “Here I am doing Shakespeare and the works of other wonderful playwriters’, and people ask me about Do Wah Diddy Diddy!.
    I’d get publicity for it as an actor! It’s like you do one thing people remember, [maybe not your finest thing] and then that’s ALL they remember.
    Same situation with the Blues, I’ve done some more ‘pop’ things and so maybe people think of me as a pop singer or maybe a broadcaster.
    But Blues is a bigger part of me. The Blues Band was actually formed as a hobby because I was acting a lot and seriously missed playing, we set up just to play together and enjoy it once or so a week [to fill that void] and thankfully that took off a bit and returned me to blues as a focus, what I wanted.”
    Paul Jones picked up a harp off the back of one T-Bone record in his teens.
    He learned and played it across 6 decades and counting, and has over 40 original recorded Blues songs to his name. His knowledge of the blues and catalogue of involvement in other’s music is huge.
    He’s a Blues man, and this compilation is a taste of the side of him he wants you to know.

    Keep in the know at http://www.themanfreds.com and through Paul’s facebook page:

Interview by Liz Jones
October 2022

RMHQ Radio Show Ep:21 @NovaRadioNE

RMHQ Radio Show
Episode 21
Nova Radio NE
September 25th 2022

Another week – another radio show.
Half way through tonight I questioned ‘what is Roots Music’? I’m certainly not sure; it’s the same with ‘Americana’ …. define it if you can.
So as usual the RMHQ Radio Show was a head eclectic mic of Country, Blues, Folk and all points in between.
While we play a lot of album tracks; this episode includes a couple of bonafide EXCLUSIVE First Plays of singles by Steve Pledger and Don Gordon’s Bandolier; plus a song sung last Sunday night in a North Shields pub that turned up on YouTube on Monday, which prompted an e-mail to the singer; and on Thursday a ‘polished up’ version appeared by e-mail; and it’s really quite magical.

Ep 21Buffalo SpringfieldFor What it’s Worth
James Edwyn & The Broken BandNever in Her Eyes
Buddy & Julie MillerStorm of Kisses
Steve PledgerSalt From the Sea
Annie KeatingKissed the Wrong Guy’s Girl
Rose’s Pawn ShopOld Time Pugilist
Roy BuchananYou Can’t Judge a Book By the Cover
Erja LyytinenBad Seed
Albert CollinsI Ain’t Drunk
Paul JonesIt’s got to be the Blues
Joanne Shaw TaylorJust No Getting Over You
Don Gordon’s BandolierCryin’ Out
James ‘Super Chikan’ JohnsonFred’s Dollar Store
Allan CaswellSometimes It’s Your Job
Jesse Malin (ft Bruce Springsteen)Broken Radio
Laurie BiaginiHey Mr DJ
Lady NadeSweet Honey Bee
Tommy WomackJob Hunting While Depressed
The MagpiesSweet Dreams (are made of this)
The Louvin Bros.Let her go; God Bless her
Bridie Jackson & the ArbourAll You Love, Is All You Are
Luke James Williams (Hector Gannett,ONE MORE BOTTLE OF WINE
Jasmine Weatherill & Aaron Duff
HerrickSunderland Road
Howlin’ Wilf & The VeejaysI Got My Eyes On You
Hokum HotshotsGuitar Swing
The Sadies & Garth HudsonThe Shape I’m In
Buffy St MarieUniversal Soldier
Rob Heron & Tea Pad OrchestraThe Horse You Rode In On
Ceitdh MacFreetime