Monday, 26 August 2013

A night with the Shiny happy people.

Saturday night and it’s the last day of my three day rollin', travelin', ‘blues fest’. This time I’m at The Feathers, Laleham, an old fashioned English country pub with real oak beams. I’m squeezed into the middle of a big crowd in a small bar, waiting to see ‘The Weydown Rhythm and Blues band’. I’m guessing the ‘wey’ is from nearbye Weybridge.

Inexplicably, there is a widescreen T.V. behind the band showing horse racing from Saratoga. Also the pub is heaving with people – most of them young and beautiful. I can’t work out why – is the Blues suddenly fashionable again? Surely the blues should only appeal to old men with gnarled walking sticks?

Could it be that word has got out that ‘Al the Hat’ is on Blues Harp tonight? That’s the by now world famous ‘Al the Hat’ from ‘The New Hawleans Jug band’ and probably all the other blues bands in the area too. He blows a mean harp does Al and he still looks worryingly like Freddie Kreuger .


The band starts up and then I realise, half the pub is a restaurant and all the 'shiny, happy people' are waiting for their candlelit dinner – Scampi anyone?

The bands write up promised me a plateful of "Muddy Waters, Albert King, Jimi Hendrix, Sonny Boy Williamson, Bill Withers, The Rollin’ Stones (that spelling should give you an idea of dates and era’s*), and Eric Clapton".

Lewis was very steady on drums, Al the Hat was hot on Harmonica as usual,  Gil was on bass & vocals while Elliot was impressive on guitar & vocals. It’s a tough call to take on Hendrix and carry it off – he did.

This is Elliot, in a world of his own playing Jimi Hendrix.

Black magic Woman was up there as well. But the presence of Al the hat told me this wasn’t going to be just any old covers band, this was going to be an authentic blues night; ‘Hoochie Coochie man’ and Down at the Crossroads’ are two examples. More than that this four piece had the spirit of the blues too.

By my calculation they rampaged from 1925 through to 1969. Luckily by the second half, enough meals had been served next door for me to get a seat up front.

A good foot tapping night, even if the band was fighting a losing battle with the seafood platters and the garlic sauce.

Mmmmmh, scrummy.


Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)
* The Rolling Stones started off as The Rollin' Stones, playing down the line blues. Later on they added a 'g' and lost an Ian Stewart and a Brian Jones. Some people feel they lost their way too.

* If you go onto and search out the Weydown Rhythm and Blues Band page there are 4 tracks you can listen too - the best is 'Sweet Home Chicago' which gives Al the Hat a real chance to show off. 

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