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Borough Blues Club Second Birthday Bash – 8th September 2007
by Adrian Bold
Two years of the Borough Blues Club already! And what a good reason for a great celebration last Saturday night! Not only were there live performances for the whole evening but there was also a free raffle with the usual prizes of Blues CDs, wine and chocolates, an “on the house” birthday drink for everyone and a superb complimentary buffet. The Clubroom had been decked out with balloons, candles and posters and from very early on it was clear that people were entering into the party spirit. The room was nicely crowded and, with the atmosphere building, the evening kicked off with a great set from local “unplugged” duo Mike Markey and Nick Jones, fresh from their previous weekend’s successful performance at Pontypool’s “Jazz in the Park” festival.
Mike is a vocalist and harp player in a traditional blues style who sang a range of songs from the blues greats including “Tired as a man can be.” (Sonny and Brownie); “I just can’t be satisfied” (Muddy Waters); “Dust Pneumonia Blues” (Woody Guthrie) and “I’m so lonesome” (Hank Williams). Mike was superbly supported by Nick Jones who is highly accomplished on both guitar and a beautiful, shiny, metal resonator. Nick’s intricate picking and slide guitar was held in awe, particularly among the aspiring blues guitarists in the room. It takes a special talent to hold an audience spellbound with just guitar, voice and harmonica Mike and Nick managed this well and the Borough Blues Club provided a good reception and warm applause.
No expense had been spared and the evening continued with two sets from the highly acclaimed band “Storm Warning” who are building a reputation as original and entertaining rock-blues band. Their list of credits is huge with many appearances at big UK festivals and upcoming tours of Holland and Poland where they will take third place on the bill at the RAWA festival, the biggest indoor blues event in the world, with over 8000 people attending. The band, who hail from Aylesbury and High Wycombe, have been together for three years and are fronted by Stuart “Son” Maxwell who has a melodic vocal style and is a virtuoso harp player – and has actually had books published on the subject. He was elegantly accompanied by Bob “Mad Dog” Moore on guitar. Bob, according to his blog, was “born under a road sign, near the cotton fields of East London, the eldest of seven older brothers. My father had been killed by a lynch mob just a year before. My mother entertained gentlemen at home to make ends meet, or so she told us. I left home at twelve and took the greyhound to Chicago. I got back about one thirty, and gave the dog back.”
(Check out the Storm Warning Website http://www.stormwarning.co.uk/ for more in a similar vein). The band was completed by Derek White who has bass experience with some major bands extending back into the 1970’s, and Roger Willis on drums. These two provided the excellent platform from which the whole band sprang to life. Unfortunately, Ian Salisbury, who normally joins in on keyboards had been called away abroad and was not able to appear. However, if this had not been mentioned it would not have been noticeable as the band gave a very professional performance made up almost entirely of songs written by band members themselves.
In fact, a few more familiar “standards” might have made the evening even more enjoyable – but, the crowd did not seem to mind and called loudly for encores as the group finished their set.
Storm Warning is a band determined to go places. They are producing their second CD of original songs at the moment; they have a list of major engagements in the diary and are beginning to make their mark in the media. They recently had three “live session” songs played on the Paul Jones Rhythm and Blues programme on Radio 2 and are getting air time in other places. Their visit to the Borough Blues Club was a fitting way to mark our second birthday and marks the commitment of the Club Committee to provide the best of the blues into our third year. Watch this space!