Blue to the Bone – Name Checks

Blues club here in Perth, 174 James Street, Northbridge. Blue To The Bone. Hope they make a success, ‘cos they have some talented acts. Every band I’ve seen there plays a version of Dylan’s Watchtower – some after Dylan, some after Hendrix – should make it their signature tune. Hope they draw in newer rock acts with blues roots in their souls.

Paul Felton and Pete Romano – The Gators – lead guitar and rhythm/vocals/harp respectively, years together – four-piece, with drum / bass pair / combo varying the times I’ve seen them. Relaxed, improvised links, wide range of electric blues, more than competent professionals also slotting in around guest jams with ease, humour ever present. Paul is a natural, a real unsung hero. Another guitarist who lubes his strings and neck before kicking off – no gap too short for a casual lick – and all styles of bridges and solos, slow sustains and blistering arpeggios, bottlenecking with standard and open tunings, retuning one Strat all night. Pretty well all effects from fingering / pinching / bending / tapping, strings and whole body / neck bends, both hands, airborne feedback sustain control. Stunning without flash, emotion without fuss. A real joy. Particularly memorable covers – Chris Rea’s “Working On It”, Animals “Misunderstood”, Fleetwood Mac (Peter Green’s) “Oh Well”, and a drivin’ version of Mercury Blues, not to mention Heaven’s Door, I Left My Woman, Cocaine and more. Must see – currently Thursday (later) residency.

Rick Steele, blues acoutsic, vocals and harp with assorted supporting cast, including euphonium – Marc on lead, Travis on ivories, Ace on drums and assorted guests (All hail to Kenji – you’ll believe a Jap can play the blues – knockout natural). Originals and standards, Rick in particular a great interpreter of his repertoire of Dylan, plus two faves of mine, Dixie and Big Yellow Taxi. Mark’s piece de resistance is the Allmans’ Jessica, Travis does a great line in Donald Fagen-esque electric piano riffs and jazzy vocals that give upstart Jamie Cullum a run for his money. Must see – curently Wednesday all night, guest night, and Thursday early set.

John Meyer’s Blues Express – three-piece with John on Lead, Pete(?) frontman on bass, and Ric on skins. I like John almost, but not quite, as much as Paul (Felton). I guess the difference is John is holding a three-piece together with less space for improvised licks and frills. John’s signature is the tremelo arm deep bends controlling feedback, releasing at solo ends to drop ringing into the next or final chord, plus all the fingering skills. Set is purer blues rock style, and a large proportion of the material is original – on their 100% original CD – full price too, nice touch. Crowd pleasers include the ubiquitous Watchtower as well as Little Wing. Definitely worth catching – currently Saturday (early) residency.

Lindsay Wells – another three-piece with Lindsay on lead. Blues rock ? Well yes, but a different kettle of fish. Technically very competent, but altogether more flash, centre of attention vocals and lead. Don’t get me wrong, good at it and entertaining. Hear all your favourite heavy rock on request, dominated by Hendrix, extending from the obvious favourites to Fire, but sadly not to Izabella, complete with picking behind the head and with teeth. (For sheer quality of interpretation, without the flash, check out Slim Hamster) Entertaining – currently Saturday late set. [Talking of Phish (Chris) this Saturday was Freo band The Fish – four-piece, bassist frontman plus keyboards – straight in with Bad to the Bone, Honky Tonk Women, and Louie Louie.]

Forgot to mention Fridays ? – Rockabilly night. Good quality musicians, just not my scene. Ted’s, bobby-sox and jiving – like stumbling into the set of Grease.

All together now ..

There must be some (kinda) way out of here, said the joker to the thief
There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief
Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth.

No reason to get excited, the thief he kindly spoke
There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke
But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.

All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too.

Outside in the (cold) distance a wildcat did growl
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.

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