Sunday, July 12, 2015

Jack J. Hutchinson - Blues Kitchen, London, 6 July 2015

Down in London on business last week I thought I'd check out the Blues Kitchen in Camden High Street, a venue that has live music nightly, and offers up food and drink with a Deep South vibe.  And I have to say that although it inevitably charges London prices, it's a decent place, with a good buzz about it, enjoyable grub, and friendly staff.
The Blues Kitchen - suitably down to earth
Monday night is Rib Night, so I decided to go with the flow and have the special of 2 smoked pork ribs and a smoked beef rib, which turned out to be a daunting plateful even for a trencherman like me.  The place has a lengthy list of bottled craft beers, as well as a selection on draft, and I went for a pint of Samuel Adams to wash down the grub.  It took a while to get through that lot, and to be honest I didn't go the whole hog with the ribs, if you'll pardon the pun.  But after a bit of a break for a rest it was time for some blues.
Jack J Hutchinson had been drafted in at relatively short notice, to replace the billed Niall Kelly.  Hutchinson has an electric band that have apparently attracted some positive noises in the last year or two, but on this occasion he was doing an acoustic set, opening up with 'Heart Beat Like A Hammer', which revealed a good, raw voice in the manner of Rod Stewart, or perhaps more Phil Campbell from The Temperance Movement.  He was accompanied by a fella called Marc Bougerra (no guarantees about the spelling - and I did ask!) playing lead guitar with a good feel and a nice sense of restraint.  They went on to mix together Hutchinson originals such as 'Long Time Coming', which had pleasing if distant echoes of Sam Cooke's 'A Change Is Gonna Come', with covers such as BB King's 'How Blue Can You Get?'.  The latter wasn't an obvious choice, and on the whole wasn't bad, though Hutchinson's rhythm guitar began to seem a bit percussive, and his vocals could have offered more light and shade.  The following 'Hey Hey Hey'
Jack J Hutchinson and chum Marc
was another original, and possibly the best of Hutchinson's material on this evidence - slower, subtle, and a little bit folky, embellished by some neat Latin-styled lead guitar work from Bougerra.  Before taking a break they rattle through a decent turn of Elmore James' 'Shake Your Money Maker', and even if it didn't include a stab at some Elmore-ish slide it did get some young things up and dancing around their table.  An invitation to spilt drinks if you ask me, but good luck to them!
Hutchinson comes back on his own for a while, and though his own song 'Boom' makes interesting use of the title in its chorus it also shows up the tendency to a lack of dynamics.  On this and the following 'Get It Back' it seems that Jack needs to recognise that vocally, less is sometimes more, and that dialling down the power can make it all the more effective when you then choose to punch it home.
Bougerra returns for the more impressive 'Love Is Gonna Bring You Home', which demonstrates more sensitivity, before unfortunately some technical problems with Hutchinson's guitar amplification get in the way.  By the time they get it fixed it's time for me to hit the road, but at least having had a good night all round.

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