Music For The MIND

Friday 8th October 2021

London's Hammersmith Club

The night of Friday 8th October saw a benefit gig in aid of the Mental Health Awareness charity MIND, a week that culminated in World Mental Health Day on Sunday 10th October. The evening, sponsored by South Eastern Railways, saw a triple-headed bill of UK Blues circuit stalwarts. The venue itself, a hall belonging to the former Working Men’s Club, was reminiscent of the classic Church scene in the Blues Brothers film, so it was quite fitting for the surprise addition of South Eastern’s in-house choir, Trax, to open the evening, singing a variety of Pop songs.

This was followed by The Mustangs, a band, like their name suggests, were very much in the Americana mould. Perhaps due to the imposition of the theme and cause of event, they decided to do a short set of a few original songs and the rest mainly covers, ranging from Blues standards to the Hard Rock of ZZ top. This suited the appearance of specialist Blues Harmonica player Derek Kingaby, who managed to fit in an extended solo. The quartet displayed great musicianship and the only pity was that they did not showcase tracks from their latest album, the environmentally-aware, 'Watertown', still the taster gave good reason to check that out.

A cessation in the music allowed for an important message about mental health from Dr. Alice Green who took the stage. It turns out she is married to the bass player in the Milk Men, Lloyd Green (the third band on the bill) and that Pink Floyd are not the only band to have an in-band psychologist! That takeaway advice was that it was important to talk about any private anguish that one is going through and not to bottle-it -up, because ultimately it can harm the body as well, and simply googling “talking therapies”, along with any location, can instantly provide a list of local help and resources.

Award-Winning Emma Wilson was bold enough to go with a set of entirely her own songwriting. Since she is in the vein of sixties Motown, there was no lack of familiarity here, and her voice is quite simply put, phenomenal. Very few artists raise hairs on the back of your neck, such are the soulful depths she can reach, with songs such as 'She Isn’t You' and 'Blossom Like Snow', her range is extraordinary: from belt-out power to Jazz-tinged contralto. Her band is also worth a mention (Mat Hector on drums, Mark Neary on bass and Adam Chetwood on lead guitar), as they managed to rework 'Little Love Bites', from a simple acoustic to concert-worthy standard. Unfortunately, with time pressures, the set was called short much to the surprise of the singer herself.

However, this allowed for the Milk Men to arrive just in time to deliver their set. Dressed like a lounge lizard in evening attire, Jamie Smy, the frontman, lead the band with a set that was strictly let your hair down stuff. They goofed around onstage employing wigs on the old Blues cover of ’Give Me Back My Wig’ and donned sunglasses (definitely felt like the aforementioned famous scene from the Blues Brothers) for the ZZ Top cover 'Cheap Sunglasses'. I had to do a double-take when it slowly dawned on me that the lead guitarist, Adam Nosworthy, was also the lead in The Mustangs! They finished the evening with a rollicking version of 'Johnny B Goode' which spurred yours truly to break out into a Chuck Berry duck walking impression.

Ahhh live music surely soothes the mind from the stresses of the week!

Ivan De Mello