On the first date of her UK Tour, Annie Keating transported the audience to Brooklyn, New York & Bristol County, Massachusetts simultaneously on her magical time machine! What a Special night that was and the audience will remember it for sure in spite of the facts that the band only met for the first time 2 days prior and that it was Annie’s first gig to a Live Audience since 2019!
Annie’s joy to be performing live again was clearly evident. The appreciative & engaging audience so contagiously picked up on it. Annie has a natural talent to connect with audiences and her wonderful songs with amazing backstories were enjoyed by everyone. The band, needless to say, rose to the occasion also & everyone contributed their parts so incredibly well, clearly enjoying performing so well.
Annie’s music requires great lead guitar contribution which Teddy Krumple had developed in Annie’s own band and this was achieved really well by guitarist for this tour, Joe Coombs. Joe had some great fills & also great slide and rhythm work and even helped Annie on occasion with capo position selection. The brilliant rhythm section consisted of Scott Warman on bass and Jamie Dawson on drums. The highlight for Jamie was on the track, ‘On The Loose’ before which Annie suggested we watch the drummer and she was right and also well supported by Joe on bass.
We were treated to 18 marvellous heartfelt songs of immense variety and quality which all have meaning & performed to the highest level. The backdrop to the Bristol County Tides songs was obviously the lock-down and Annie communicates the deep meaning behind each song. I feel we can all empathise and identify with that as it affected us all. One of the songs she performed, ‘Nobody Knows’ holds that message so clearly and before she performed at the release livestream with no audience last year she introduced the song so well as follows:-
‘So lately I’ve been thinking a lot about uncertainty, change. I think one thing we probably all had in common was it sort of changed our lives in whatever way. For me a lot changed but for everybody it’s just like how do you deal with this massive amount of change and uncertainty and one thing that’s been comforting me in these times is the idea that it’s all changed. That’s growth & it’s like you don’t get to live your life without it constantly being changed and there’s this quote that I read the other day that made me feel good about that journey. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about uncertainty and change’. – ‘Suffering is resisting the route of uncertainty but no matter what the circumstance, uncertainty is all we have.’ ‘I think there’s growth in there somewhere.’ She turned to her guitarist Teddy Krumple and he said ‘Life is a jazz solo.’
Annie has had her music played by Bob Harris since 2008 and the last time was about a month ago when he played her latest single ‘Feels Like Home’ which was part of the set-list on the night & is a wonderful song. He has played her music many times & on one occasion in 2011 she played two songs live, namely ‘Victoria Station’ and ‘First of November’ and was described as follows, ‘New York’s famous Village Voice described Annie Keating as ” a wise mix of Lucinda Williams songwriting, Gillian Welch guitar and a vocal of her own – a cross between Willie Nelson and John Prine”. The Boston-born New York-based musician and activist play live for Bob Harris. Such a fine body of work to explore with many great albums and I feel she is developing new ideas and connections all the time, Her album ‘Bristol County Tides’ is a real gift of creativity, emotional connection and expression of challenges felt by the lock-down. A heartfelt collection of beautiful songs communicated through her music and her live performance takes everything to a new level. She really needs to be congratulated and I can’t recommend enough for people to attend whatever gigs they can on this tour. Her music is so exciting and vibrant and full of enjoyment and celebration now that she can take her music live to the UK and beyond!
I am really looking forward to seeing Zoe this Friday at the Chapel Arts Venue in Bath. After almost two years since I last heard them, it will be amazing to see some special live music again. The chance to chat with husband and wife Rob and Zoe is especially great. They are such an amazing couple, so passionate about music and so very kind to their fans. In anticipation to this great event to come, I thought I’d write up about our last encounter.
Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion at The Huntingdon Hall Worcester – 23rd November 2019 – The Scene
The 23rd of November 2019 seems like a long time ago now. But I still have vivid memories of a wonderful night watching and listening to a truly amazing band of exceptional musicians giving us a lesson in sublime musical teamwork!
Let me just set the scene. The venue is a beautiful acoustic space. It brimmed with a great history, everyone of its elements lovingly restored. It isvlocated in a wonderful Cathedral City.
The band comprises husband & wife team. Rob is on guitar & Zoe on vocals. We also have Pete Whittaker on keys & Paul Robinson on drums. Now consider the following pedigree. Zoe’s experience include Classical music, Jazz and Blues. Rob knows his Jazz & Blues. Pete has experience with many great artists including a No. 1 hit with the Wonder Stuff. Paul has the best connections imaginable with 19 years with Nina Simone, Paul McCartney, Van Morrison and many others. You’d expect the sound to be pretty good and you wouldn’t be disappointed.
So the scene was set. The air was full of anticipation with the audience poised for the entertainment to commence. The first song was ‘I Wonder who my next man will be‘ as Zoe would say, ‘One of our tunes’ and a great song too from the ‘Exposed‘ album.
Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion at The Huntingdon Hall Worcester – Setlist
I Wonder Who My Next Man Will Be (Exposed)
People (This is The Life I Chose)
Sitting on Top of the World (Howling Wolf) (Blue Commotion)
Give Me the Key to your Heart (Chameleon)
Hello My Old Friend (Chameleon)
The Blues Don’t Scare Me (The Blues Don’t Scare Me)
The Blues & I Should Have a Party (The Blues & I Should Have a Party)
Way Down In The Caves (The Blues & I Should Have a Party)
When The Blues Come a Knocking (Chameleon)
I Can’t Live Like That (This Is the Life I Chose)
——–o Interval o——–
Beatitudes (Good Times)
If Only I Could Be With You (Chameleon)
Don’t Hold Back (The Blues & I Should Have a Party)
Liberated Woman (The Blues Don’t Scare Me/I’ll Be Yours Tonight Live)
Better Days (Better Days)
Life Goes On (Chameleon)
I’ll Be Here For You (Chameleon)
Shout (The Blues & I Should Have a Party)
Thank You (The Blues & I Should Have a Party)
——–o Encore o——–
Angel Of Mercy (Exposed & I’ll Be Yours Tonight)
The band offered their audience a wonderful array of brilliant music! It was great that we were treated to a preview of six of the tracks from the then upcoming album ‘Chameleon‘ which I believe to be their best so far. They have so many other albums and what an amazing pedigree the band has with its four extremely talented musicians. That night, we witnessed a really special evening of sublime music. The band demonstrated how all their individual musical experiences have now come together. The musical output of their combined instruments, their fantastic songwriting skills have blended into a terrific performance!
I certainly enjoyed all the Chameleon songs. The emotional ballad ‘Hello My Old Friend‘ is a particular favourite bringing out the lovely vocal talent, a great guitar solo from Rob, beautiful keys and percussion interplay. When the Blues Come a Knocking is a great rocking tune. A great selection of tunes to please everyone and a lot to make you want to get up and dance. I loved the connection with the audience which is so very key at live events. When requests for an encore were explored I think everyone approved of ‘Angel of Mercy‘. This is such a wonderful emotional tune that just soars!
It is exciting to think that I’ll be seeing them again this Friday. They are playing at the Chapel Arts Venue in Bath. It is a great start to hearing great live music again. Check out the band’s music, backstories, bio information and upcoming show dates on their website:-
The Huntingdon Hall in Worcester is a really impressive venue. It started its life in 1773 as a chapel. The Countess of Huntingdon, founder of the Calvanistic/Methodist group known as the Countess of Huntingdon Connexion, built it.
The last service was held in 1976. After ten years, nearly £1 million was raised to restore it to the wonderful venue that it is today. Some of the features have been retained. These includes many of the original pews, the pulpit, and the graceful curved staircases leading up to it with two eagle lecterns at the side. In addition, the organ that John Nicholson of Worcester built in 1840 remains.
The Elgar School of Music buildings were originally glove makers’ cottages. They were restored in 1983. The school gives over 200 lessons per week. The Huntingdon Hall Bar, staircase and foyer were completed in 1993.
The overall result makes the Huntingdon Hall a unique and wonderful venue for live music with great acoustics. Its staff are volunteers and all friendly, helpful and proud of the venue. All that contributes to a truly amazing experience.
Having seen The Karena K band last November, I was keen to see them again as I had been really impressed the first time and was anxious to see if there was a consistency. I needn’t have been apprehensive as instantly we were made aware of the beautiful tones of her amazingly soulful voice and the brilliant command she has of the phrasing and control of the light and dark shadings within the songs.
The audience at first was not so full due to the surface train strike that evening but soon filled up. There was certainly a buzz and an atmosphere about the place and we knew we were going to have a great evening’s entertainment.
The Setlist was as follows :-
Let My Baby Ride (R.L. Burnside Cover) Temptation Eyes (Grass Roots Cover) Midnight Walk Darlin’ You Know I Love You ( Tina Turner Cover) Playing With Fire Light At The End Of The Tunnel Unchain My Heart (Joe Cocker Cover) Rock Me Baby (B.B. King Cover) Battered and Blue If This Isn’t Love Mercy (Duffy Cover) Please Note – Karena’s compositions are the ones without parenthesis. Band Members :- Karena K – Vocals/Saxophone Alan Taylor – Guitar Darrel Welch – Guitar James Fox – Bass Guitar Spencer Blackledge – Drums
The First song up certainly did credit to R L Burnside. Wonderful powerful vocals and great saxophone breaks. This was a stunning song to open the set with brilliant tight rocking rhythm section and great guitar work. This was followed by Temptation Eyes , which is a cover of an old grass roots song. This is a brilliant song and suits Karena’s voice so well. Upbeat and again sung beautifully with such soul, clear diction, great melody and performed so well by the band.
Midnight Walk was the next song and is her debut single from her proposed album. Her voice on this song has variously been described as sultry, sexy and like velvet fog. It was all this and more at this live event and this was a really stunning performance by the whole band. Next up was a great cover of the Tina Turner song, Darlin’ you know I love you. Another great sultry song with shuffle rhythm so tightly played with lead breaks alternating between Darrel & Alan on guitar and Karena on saxophone. Again Karena’s vocals soar and really do justice to this great song.
The next song up was ’Playing With Fire’ which is another one of Karena’s compositions and is such a powerful song. Karena’s great emotional delivery really makes you believe that someone really is playing with fire and this will be a strong song when she releases her album. ‘Light at the End of the Tunnel’ is another great song written by Karena and it appears on Wily Bo Walker & Karena’s album ‘A Long Way from Heaven’. With ‘Unchain My Heart’, Karena really does credit to this Joe Cocker classic. She stamps her own identity on this song whilst delivering such a powerful and soulful interpretation.
We are then treated to a brilliant version of B.B. King’s ‘Rock Me Baby’ song, sung with such conviction and passion. Battered and Blue is yet another one of Karena’s great emotional compositions sung again with such power and honesty.
I really enjoyed the penultimate song, ‘If This Isn’t Love’ which is a new song to be released on a future album. A very catchy and poignant song which I feel could be a little anthemic and again Karena makes you believe in her lyrics and music! The last song ‘Mercy’ was such a great take on this lovely Duffy song and it rounded off a set of really strong songs so magnificently presented by Karena and her band.
All in all The Karena K band has now developed into a great team of brilliant musicians who play so well together with a great repertoire of songs which will make for an Exceptional Album in the near future. They seem to understand each other so well and have developed into a great tight unit that entertains so well and that was confirmed by the euphoric approval of the audience.
What is also amazing is the alter egos that Karena has in bands such as the Vampirettes, The Blue Valentines, Rattlin’ Bone, the Mescal Canyon Troubadours and other ventures with Wily Bo Walker. It was wonderful to chat to both of them after her set and to discover the passion they both have for music and a tremendous mutual respect for each other. Make no mistake, they are both extremely talented musicians. It was interesting to discover that in the ‘80s. Bo was looking for a horn player and backing singer for his band in the Glasgow area. Karena & Bo then played together in a band called the Heartbeats. They both then went on with their separate careers until about six years ago.
Karena toured all over the world, including an appearance in the Dubai Rock/Blues Festival with her band ‘Nightcalls.’ They have more recently worked together on the mini-album ‘A Long Way From Heaven’ and two other albums, from which the title song was runner up in the 2015 Blues Awards. Karena has been nominated for Best Instrumentalist Award in 2016 Blues Awards. I feel Karena is destined for success and hopefully we will have a physical CD album to listen to from her in the near future.
Kimme Rhodes at the Hen & Chicken, Bristol 29/01/2016
This was an amazing opportunity to see a Great Country & Western Legend in a small & intimate venue and for sure the appreciative audience were treated to an evening of Glorious Music and Wonderful Stories from her Magical & Impressive Musical Journey.
With 16 solo CDs and multi-platinum selling songs, having recorded with artists such as Willie Nelson, Wynonna Judd, Trisha Yearwood, Amy Grant, CeCe Winans, Joe Ely, John Farnham, Waylon Jennings, Peter Frampton, Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris we knew we were pretty privileged to be there.
Before the gig I had purchased from her website her latest CD, ‘Cowgirl Boudoir’ & listened to her on Richard Madeley’s Radio Show on the previous Sunday which had given me a flavour of her amazingly friendly & fun personality & her beautiful voice. The song ‘Love & Happiness for You’ had been performed so stunningly even though she had taken a flight after three shows in Ireland at 3.30am & the show in London started at 11am.
The Setlist was as follows (Albums in Parenthesis):
1. West Texas Heaven (West Texas Heaven) 2. I’ve Been Loved By You (Walls Fall Down) 3. Just One Love (Jackalopes, Moons & Angels) 4. Love Me Like A Song (Love Me Like A Song) 5. Bells Of Joy (Rich From The Journey) 6. God’s Acre (Rich From The Journey) 7. If I Needed You (Walls Fall Down) 8. Contrabandistas (Jackalopes, Moons & Angels) ——– Break ——– 9. Worthy Cause (Cowgirl Boudoir) 10.Catch The Wind (Dreams Of Flying) 11.Raining in my Heart (Cover of Buddy Holly Song)
12.I Just Drove By (Jackalopes, Moons & Angels) 13.Yes ( Cowgirl Boudoir) 14.Love & Happiness For You (Love Me Like A Song) Kimmie was ably supported by her son, Gabe Rhodes on guitar & backing vocals providing some great lead licks & adding depth to Kimme’s guitar playing & beautiful vocals. Unfortunately her daughter, Jolie Goodnight was unwell & unable to attend.
The event held only about 100 in the audience & the atmosphere was a cosy intimate one & Kimmie made great contact & made everyone feel welcome & involved. She chatted at length between songs telling us about her musical career & the background behind the songs. She said that she had been fortunate to have worked with so many great artists & I’m sure they must have felt the same way about working with her. For much of her career her husband, Joe Gracey had produced her records& when he died in 2011 it was a great loss to her. She said she had tried alcohol but that hadn’t worked so the solution that evolved was to say ‘yes’ to everything. Her celebration of this was illustrated in her penultimate song of the evening which was ‘Yes’.
Kimmie made mention of the fact that she was from Lubbock, Texas which was the same as other great artists such as Buddy Holly, Waylon Jennings and Joe Ely.
West Texas Heaven was a brilliant opening song and a great introduction to what was to follow. Wonderful songs sung with great harmonies with lovely flowing finger-picking & strumming from Kimmie’s guitar. The Guitar was a beautiful sweet sounding parlour size Martin guitar from the late 1920’s. Kimmie’s son, Gabe played dynamic contrasting guitar lines& occasionally played slide on some songs at which point he would lay the guitar on his lap with suitably altered tunings. He also provided piano accompaniment on some songs and Kimmie said they had a grand piano at the previous gig but much preferred the sound of this upright piano.
Just One Love, the third song had been recorded with Joe Ely at Willie Nelson’s recording studio and Gabe played great slide guitar on this song. Love Me Like A Song was a great emotional song & the lyrics are inspirational.
God’s Acrewas another great song played with slide guitar and If I needed you had been influenced by Townes Van Zant.
Contrabandistas was one of Kimmie’s early songs recorded with the Jackalope Brothers ( Joe Ely and her second husband Joe Gracey, whom she had first met in 1979 at Koke FM where he had been a DJ. This song was a rousing & dynamic one with great guitar work by both artists & a great close to the first half.
The second half opener was ‘Worthy Cause’, a track off her latest CD followed by ‘Catch the Wind’ a great Donovan cover which she had played earlier in the week at the Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow. A Great Buddy Holly cover followed called ‘Raining in My Heart’.
The final song, ‘Love and Happiness For You’, was a beautiful song that Kimmie and Emylou Harris wrote for their children. Kimme conveyed the passion & feeling in the words so well and the lyrics are wonderful.
All in all this was such a lovely concert by such a brilliant artist with her very talented son. The warmth, love of life & family, the great communicator and teller of great real life stories; the beautiful voice and wonderful lyrics in her songs, coupled with the great musical skills, harmonies all made for an enchanting and special evening that we were all fortunate to attend. Kimmie has a great skill of getting the audience to be involved and this wonderful lady gave us so much to appreciate. A true artist in that after giving such a performance, she stayed behind to chat and sign CDs.
The first time I had heard of Karena K was a couple of years ago when I suggested to a Radio Presenter a song called Jingle Bells (Go to Hell) by the Vampirettes. The Presenter liked the song but suggested the idea of chopping Santa’s head off might not go well with the BBC. Needless to say, no heads were chopped off on this occasion.
We were treated to an amazing night of Bluesy, Soulful music, delivered with a passion & quality which pleased the audience immensely. As the Band, The Riotous Brothers did not play we were provided with extended sets by Karena & Roscoe Levee.
Karena’s setlist included a great mix of her own great music & some really good covers. The guitar work of Alan Taylor and Darrel Welch blended so well with great rhythm and licks including some great slide work. Brilliant driving rhythm section with James Fox on bass guitar and Spencer Blaclkledge on drums. Karena completed the picture with some great saxophone breaks & superb vocals. Overall the effect was a really impressive band.
Among the covers played were ‘Let My Baby Ride (R.L. Burnside)’, ‘Steamy Windows (Tina Turner)’, ‘Tainted Love (Soft Cell)’,’The Letter & Unchain My Heart (Both Joe Cocker)’ and ‘Piece of My heart (Janis Joplin)’. Certainly songs not for the faint-hearted and all were delivered superbly and there were a few goose-bump moments believe me.
Karena’s own songs such as ‘Midnight Walk’, ‘Temptation Eyes’, Road to my Soul’ and ‘Battered and Blue’ are all really strong songs and were performed so well. ‘Light at the End of the Tunnel’ is a song she sings with Wily Bo Walker on the ‘Long Way From Heaven album’ and it was so good to hear her version of this. The song ‘A Long Way to Heaven’ earned them runner up in the ‘Blues Song’ category in the 2015 British Blues Awards.
All in all this was a very competent and brilliant performance by Karena and the Band and they will surely do well in the near future.
Rosco and his band treated us to a great set of Blues/Southern Rock Music at its best! They demonstrated that they are a group of accomplished musicians playing with passion and the audience responded with their appreciation throughout.
With influences such as Robert Johnson, Delaney Bramlett, Elvis, The Allman Brothers, The Rolling Stones, The Band & Peter Green & Eric Clapton we knew we were in for a treat.
Some Great Music with songs such as ‘Howitzer Eyes’ & ‘Back to the Banks’ from his latest CD, ‘Get it While You Can’ were played with great virtuosity & all band members played their parts so well that the overall sound was enthralling. On a couple of numbers Rosco ventured into the audience to hype up the proceedings & played guitar solos. One of these occasions was on the song ‘Goldrush’ which was about 11 minutes long & was nominated in 2013 for Best Original Song in the British Blues Awards. Great guitar playing by Andy Hayes & Dave Tettmer kept a great driving beat on drums with occasional crescendos & Tension builds. After an interesting call & response between Rosco & bassist, Simon Gardiner, Simon burst into a brilliant fast bass solo followed by a brilliant organ solo by Lee Spreadbury while Rosco was changing his Les Paul Guitar for his Gibson SG before producing a brilliant guitar solo after joining the audience.
Another wonderful song ‘When You’re Gone To Ramble’ starts off in a slow soulful way then changes to a faster driving beat with great interspersed solos by Rosco occasionally at the dusty end of the fretboard, building intensity & tension. Finally towards the end Dave Tettmer bursts into an exciting drum solo while Rosco tweaks his effects pedal.
Formed in 2010, Rosco Levee has honed his band into a top class music machine 7 since he first started playing when he was 5 years old it is obvious that he has learned his craft well through his influences & has surrounded himself with a great bunch of musicians. All in all a Brilliant gig!