Chris Spedding

Chris SpeddingThe Crown

4 January 2015

By Sean Geraghty

A zillion idiots keep a guitar in their household as a reminder of their youth. Of those zillion, few more from this region might have made it out to hear one played properly.

Bridport is a town of 14,697 people according to the inturnip (the Dorset information superbyway) and approximately 35 attended to see Spedding play a free gig.

Spedding’s last appearance in the West Country was at Glastonbury in 2014 when he was invited to appear on the pyramid stage by Bryan Ferry. Let’s consider that: INVITED by Bryan Ferry, who could likely have invited any guitarist on the planet.

Aged 70, Spedding has amassed enough practitioner-experience to achieve mastery of his instrument. He has earned the respect of his peers; these include members of the Beatles, Nillsson, Soft Machine, Brian Eno and Joan Armatrading.

Spedding’s accomplices for the evening were Malcolm Bruce on bass and Bridport’s Chris Page on drums. This no-nonsense classic pub-rock trio kicked out sharp-edged renditions reminiscent of The Jam or Dr Feelgood during a punchy first set.

Despite the thin attendance, Spedding matter-of-factly displayed his wares, shredding his see-through axe through the night. For those of us lucky enough to catch this unexpected preview for Spedding’s London gig at the 100 Club on Oxford Street on January 10, it was a delight to hear him play in the warm and welcoming surroundings of the Crown, which does a great job in promoting live music in the area.

But Bridport, where were you?

By |January 5th, 2015|Music, Sean Geraghty|0 Comments

Brooke and Adam

Brooke and AdamBritish Legion Hall
22 November 2014

By Jonah Corren

The patience of much of the audience was tested to the limit, for Brooke and Adam, the main event, did not appear until far too late in the evening. Indeed, the sound of the background music fading at around 9.45pm signalled the long overdue beginning of Brooke and Adam’s set, and even then it took a few songs for the duo to really get going. But with the arrival of a French chanson, the first number sung by Brooke Sharkey, we were away.

On the earlier songs, Adam Beattie’s clearly defined vocals were fine, but Brooke’s were of a different order. With Adam harmonising and playing electric guitar, it was clear that the set had really started.
Alas, two songs later, Brooke announced that there would be yet another interval. I ventured upstairs where I found a group of children chatting in a corner with the teenagers I had come with. They all made it clear that this event held little appeal to young people. The atmosphere and setting just did not suit them.

Nevertheless, the last half an hour of the gig was excellent, easily the best. All of the songs produced by the duo during this period were fantastic. The first was sung entirely a cappella, bar an egg-shaker confidently brandished by Brooke. My favourite song was introduced as being inspired by a Chinese proverb. For this, the double-bass player who accompanied the support act, Son of Richard, was invited on stage to add an extra level of texture to the piece. The addition of the double bass also allowed Adam an impressive guitar solo in which he showed his prowess with the instrument.

Brooke and Adam’s final piece was a sweet tribute to Adam’s late grandfather, who died after turning one hundred. The audience was invited to sing along in the chorus, accompanied by poetic verses recounting the last hundred years.

All in all, the event was enjoyable, even if it took too long to get going. I would recommend Brooke and Adam to anyone who enjoys soft, folksy music, and I suggest keeping an eye out for any upcoming gigs of theirs in the future.

By |November 23rd, 2014|Jonah Corren, Music, Review|0 Comments

John Etheridge

John EtheridgeJohn Etheridge
Electric Palace
23 October 2014
BR Rating ****

By Sean Geraghty

There is no doubting John Etheridge’s calibre as a master of the guitar when recalling some of the luminaries of the music scene he has played alongside – Stephane Grappelli, John Williams, Soft Machine, Pat Metheny, Andy Summers, Nigel Kennedy and Eric Clapton to name but a few.

A tall jovial man emerged from the wings with guitars in hand, a James-May dress style and an affable, professorial welcome for the hundred-plus souls gathered to experience a lesson in instrumental excellence.

Etheridge instantly engaged with the audience, requesting that the house lights come up so he could see some faces before opening up with a Sonny Rollins tune followed by John Scofield’s I’ll Take Less.

Pausing to proclaim his enthusiasm for Dorset, the Palace and the people who had come out, he proceeded through myriad styles, each one reminding us of his pedigree. I initially wondered whether solo guitar would hold our attention for the duration. But Etheridge’s skill in reducing intricate arrangements down to their component parts was exemplary. He established the backbone of a familiar tune before reconstructing its melody and adding his personal signature.

A high point was Goodbye Pork-Pie Hat dedicated to saxophonist Lester Young – a sublime soulful rendition emerged after a blissful opening cascade that embraced a solo where his guitar sang from every available fret.

Switching to acoustic, he showcased some African compositions that he had explored alongside John Williams. Etheridge’s astonishing ability to delve into a deep personal archive is well worth seeing live; his enthusiasm adds value, introducing each new musical direction with an endearing affability; at one point he described Hawkwind’s audience as a “liberal bunch” after a recent joint tour.

There were quite a few effects-pedals on stage. His ‘looper’ unit enabled him to let go over the background groove on rockier numbers. Hendrix’s Little Wing took flight after some improvised experiments, emerging from the abstract like a vision of enlightenment before letting rip into a soaring solo.

A subsequent sing-along never quite got off the ground – a potential hazard with such ever-changing musical landscapes. Then it was back to blues, followed by some somersaults on a modified telecaster with bass and lead parts emerging from the same instrument. Stormy Weather merged into an up-tempo Making Whoopee, familiar but given the full treatment of re-invention, pure genius.

On the last lap we were treated to a few off-the-cuff impressions of Simon Callow and Rowan Atkinson before Etheridge closed with one of Dollar Brand’s stomping township tunes.

Etheridge and Kit Holmes, the support act, encored with a fun-filled duet of Brubeck’s Take Five, interchanging solo and rhythm lines. After prolonged applause he gave a second encore, Richard Thompson’s beautiful The End of The Day on acoustic. It was a fitting conclusion to a master-class from a master of the guitar.

By |October 24th, 2014|Music, Review|0 Comments

Bug Tree Swamp


Alison Lang original artwork of V.B.Tim live at The Ropemakers

Bug Tree Swamp
The Ropemakers
Saturday 11 October 2014
BR Rating ***
By Alison Lang

On Saturday night the Ropemakers came alive with a six-piece band, Bug Tree Swamp. V.B. Tim, on guitar and lead vocals, with bare feet on his beloved Bridport, leads his disciples into what he’s coined Eclectic, Rocksteady, Jurrassic Ska.

The band mostly comprises local boys, with Mark Juan on drums, Simon Hartung on sax, Michael Grew on trumpet, Chris Kaneis on keyboards. There’s one foreigner: John Lester, the posh one from Burton Bradstock, on bass.

V. B. Tim’s bullfrog growl delivered Loving Feeling, Rivers of Babylon and The Israelites along with several lesser-known songs that transcended the Ska standards and were so intensely pretty you felt like you were having a beautiful holiday romance. It brought to my mind the full and romantic sounds of Sergio Mendez and Brazil 66 that my dad used to play on vinyl.
A lively evening: there was a Club Med feel on the dance floor, with plenty riding the vibe.

By |October 13th, 2014|Music, Review|0 Comments

Hobo Jones and the Junkyard Dogs


Link to Alison Lang Caricatures

Alison Lang original artwork live at The Ropemakers

Hobo Jones and the Junkyard Dogs
The Ropemakers  Saturday 4 October 2014
BR rating ****
By Alison Lang

Happy, even keen to be pigeon-holed, this good-time band from Kent puts itself in the genre of skunk; an amalgamation of ska and punk, apparently. Dressed as 1940s hobos with tattered clothes and top hats, they comprise Hobo Jones (tea-chest bass), Miser Bill (guitar) and Wino Tyrone (washboard, pots, pans and sink).
No wonder they are welcome regulars and no wonder they have made five appearances at Glastonbury as well as supporting Chas ’n Dave and Bad Manners.
They went down a storm with the jubilant Ropemakers scrum as they thrashed out covers from Johnny Cash, Motorhead and The Clash. Jones, the godfather of skunk, was in excellent, exceptional voice.
As usual, the bad boys made time for lewd chat: “Who says we don’t do the Spice Girls?” said Jones “I’d do most of them!” said Tyrone.

By |October 6th, 2014|Music|0 Comments