Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Blues Enthused Christmas Stocking, Part 1

Blues Enthused is just over a year old now, and has had nearly 6400 views for its 76 posts in that time – though to be honest, I’m still a bit sceptical about the 850 views from Israel that occurred in the space of one night!
Anyway, with the festive season upon us, I reckoned it would be good to say thanks to all those who’ve taken the time to read the blog, and to all the artists who’ve inspired it.  So here’s the first part of the Blues Enthused Christmas Stocking, where I’ve pulled together some videos of acts who caught my attention one way or another over the last year.  Enjoy!
First up, in more ways than one, is Marcus Malone – who featured in the first ever live review on the blog at the end of November last year, and was then the subject of the blog’s first interview in June.  So here’s a blast of an old track, ‘Blue Radio’, filmed at that gig – with the added extra of a guest appearance by electric cello specialist Calum Ingram.

Crow Black Chicken - Who hid the shaving gel?
One of the more popular album reviews was for Deep South, the live recording released back in June by the Irish power trio Crow Black Chicken.  The album was gutsy, noisy, and even funny.  Here’s the video they’ve put together recently for one of the standout tracks, ‘Priest Hunter’.
Another great album released this year was The RCA Sessions, by Malcolm Holcombe.  It only got a passing mention on the blog in a Listened to lately post back in July, because I’d actually reviewed it for The Blues Magazine, where I gave it 9 stars.  It’s a great example of songwriting and semi-acoustic rootsiness in a Tom Waits/Bob Dylan/Steve Earle vein – see what you make of this solo live performance of the rattling ‘Butcher In Town’.
I caught Ian Siegal playing solo in Glasgow in October – having previously reviewed a band performance in Newcastle, and his live album One Night In Amsterdam, back in March.  Here’s one of the standouts from his solo set, ‘Hard Times Come Again No More’, a song that dates all the way back to the American Civil War - shame about all the chattering gits in the background.  Having seen Siegal performing with American buddy Jimbo Mathus in 2014, I’m looking forward to catching the two of them again when they tour Europe next year – no shows in Scotland, but worth making the journey to see them elsewhere.
An intriguing find this year was an American guy with a wild back story called Fantastic Negrito, whose deluxe EP I reviewed in August – as I put it back then, imagine that Prince woke up from a night dreaming of work songs, and headed straight into the studio to start recording.  Make your own mind up with this stripped back version of ‘Lost In A Crowd’.
Vintage Trouble - dressed to kill
Closer to home, one of the standouts of the year was inevitably King King, and their be-kilted Glaswegian main man Alan Nimmo.  I saw them in Glasgow in March, and Glenrothes in November, as well as reviewing their latest album Reaching For The Light in April.  Next year promises to be a big one for them, and here’s something a wee bit different – a BBC Radio 2 session on the Paul Jones Show.
Also in the 'next big thing' category are Vintage Trouble, who I saw live for the first time at the Barrowlands in Glasgow.  With two sparkling albums and some big support slots behind them, and a dedicated fan following (the ‘Trouble Makers’), they’re now taking their 60s style soul/blues/funk revue stylings to a new level.  Check out this live performance of ‘Run Like A River’.
I’ll be interested to see how things go next year for Kansas-based singer and bassist Danielle Nicole, whose impressive debut album Wolf Den I covered when it came out in October.  The girl can’t half sing, and producer Anders Osborne gave the album a distinctive modern sound.  Little wonder that the outing was featured in the Blues Magazine's Top 50 albums of the year.  Here’s a sample of Danielle getting funky with 'You Only Want Me When You Need Me'.

More highlights to come in the Christmas Stocking Part 2.  Meantime, Merry Christmas folks!

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