Monday, February 1, 2016

Charlotte Marshall & The 45s - Stramash, Edinburgh, 30 January 2016

Due to unforeseen circumstances I found myself unexpectedly able to catch this Edinburgh outing by Charlotte Marshall and the 45s, but at the same time unable to get there until a few songs had passed by.  No matter, as Charlotte and her gang made it worth the effort.
Charlotte Marshall - no messing
Photo courtesy of Stuart Stott
About 9 months ago Charlotte Marshall and the 45s won a ‘Future Of The Blues’ contest co-sponsored by The Blues Magazine and the Mascot label, and this performance suggests three good reasons why.  First, the New Orleans jazziness of their sound offers something different from the herd.  Second, their musicianship is strong across the board.  And third – Charlotte Marshall is a no-messing, 24 carat, knock-your-socks-off performer.
Despite wrestling with a far from great sound on the vocal front, Little Miss M musters enough power to cut through in the end.  But she also inhabits the role of a Bourbon Street chanteuse with panache, selling the band’s Big Easy stylings both vocally and visually.
So it is that they can take material from different strands of the blues-soul-funk spectrum, and stir them into a NOLA-slanted gumbo, whether it’s the medley of ‘Walking The Dog’ and ‘Lucille’ with which they close their first set, or Stevie Wonder’s ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’ – or most entertainingly, their mash-up of Peggy Lee’s ‘Fever’ with the guitar riff from ‘All Along The Watchtower’, which guitarist Fraser John Lindsay follows up with a Santana-esque solo.
Covers may still predominate in their set, just about, but the scattering of originals is encouraging, including their current single ‘Big Easy Blues’.  New song ‘Dig My Love’ is downright sultry, with its lush organ sounds, while the up-tempo ‘Devil With A Lipstick On’ is driven along energetically by the horns of Gordon Dickson (sax) and Fenwick Lawson (trombone).  And the horns are also insistent in the closing ‘Just Can’t Help Myself’, on which the 45s build up a serious head of steam, with Dickson’s sax squawking and Tim Brough giving it large on piano.
Throughout all of this Marshall is alive to every solo, crescendo, twist and turn of what they’re up to, in between giving it her sassy, dressed-to-the-nines best on vocals.  It may be a team effort, but she doesn’t half make a difference to the end result.

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