Sunday, July 23, 2017

This Was B'N'T - Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, 21 July 2017

Tim Elliott officially called time on the Edinburgh R’n’B institution that was Blues’N’Trouble back in May this year, after several decades of rockin’ the joint.  So ‘This Was B’N’T’ is by way of a coda, if you like, a testimonial to those years of happy rocking, featuring Elliott along with guitarists from different eras of the band, John Bruce (or Jivin’ Johnny, as Elliott is wont to call him) and Sandy Tweeddale.
Tim Elliott huffs and puffs and blows the house down
In the circumstances, due respect should really be paid by arriving on time, but for one reason and another they’re almost three songs in by the time I get there.  No matter, from the minute I dash into the Spiegeltent it’s apparent that they’re on the kind of form to make sure everyone has a good time, with the excellent ‘Watermelon Minnie’ featuring jittery guitar lines over a Bo Diddley-ish beat.
They get right into the groove with the slower blues ‘B’n’T Blues’, on which Elliott shows that he still has a great blues voice and phrasing.  Tweeddale contributes a biting solo, complemented by beautifully subtle bass from Chris Agnew, before Bruce gets wild and wailing on his Strat, with some nice accents thrown into the mix by drummer Will Molleson.
They follow that up with the barnstorming riff of ‘What’s The Matter’ - a chunk of heads down, no nonsense boogie if ever there was one - and then for good measure the excellent jump blues of ‘Downtown Saturday Night’, with Molleson swinging like he’s Charlie Watts.
Throughout all this Elliott is in great form, declaring that this or that riffs were nicked, and, baggy suit and all, indulging in the most amiable dad dancing you’re ever likely to see, unable to resist a rock’n’roll rhythms or the roller coaster of a guitar solo.  But he also shows his mettle when the road rhythm of ‘Travellin’ Light’, with its cutting slide solo from John Bruce, melts into ‘Honeypot’ – as ever, a delicious huffing and puffing harp showcase.  It’s

such a simple affair of harp, voice and minimal drums, and they crown it with a false ending before the band kick in again to close the first set.
Bruce, Elliott and Tweeddale - Let's Rock!
After that the second set is simply party time, right from the opening ‘Red Hot’, about which Elliott recounts the story of the late Stones sideman Ian Stewart recording with them, and being unable to keep up on piano, so that they had to slow the tape down for him to play along. ‘Rocking With You Jimmy’ is a solid boogie, and a good warm up for the old war horse that is Sam The Sham & The Prophets’ ‘Wooly Bully’.
Other highlights include the witty ‘Try Anything Twice’, written with Tweeddale who contributes a spiky guitar riff, and the soulful ‘Wake Up Mama’, a slowie in Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland mode, with some sparring guitaring from Bruce and Tweeddale, while they also do rock’n’rolling justice to the sibling of ‘Johnny B. Goode’ that is ‘Let It Rock’.
There are still more sparky guitar licks to be heard on the closing ‘Long Gone Man’, and then standing ovations before and after the encore of ‘Why Why Why’, deservedly recognising a dynamite performance, not just from Elliott and the two guitar players, but also from the rhythm section of Agnew and Molleson.

And that was B’N’T, that was - treasure trove of R’n’B, delivered with love and affection.  They don’t make many of ‘em like that any more.

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