Sari Schorr, David Sinclair Four
Tuesday 2nd April 2019
The Beaverwood Club, Chislehurst
The Beaverwood Club, situated in the leafy Kent suburbs, looks like a cricket pavilion, adjoining as it does a cricket pitch in the grounds of the local Beaverwood school. It’s the sort of local venue that does business hosting weddings, parties and celebrations although, like many, it also hosts regular live music nights. Local music mogul, Pete Feenstra, is the man responsible for bringing some top quality acts to this part of the country and has secured the likes of Chantel McGregor, Joanne Shaw Taylor and Walter Trout at this lovely venue. Supporting Walter Trout on his October 2017 tour was Sari Schorr, the up and coming New York Blueser, and tonight she takes the headline spot.
Opening act is the David Sinclair Four, a south London quartet, playing Rock and Roll and Blues. Backed by brothers Jos and Rory Mendoza on drums and bass, guitarist Geoff Peel supports frontman David Sinclair perform a mixed set of classics by artists like Lou Reed and Chuck Berry as well as David’s own material. His track 'Eight Rounds Later' pays homage to years of travelling and drinking around the world whilst 'Coming Off The Rails' is a toe tapping track also reminiscing about enjoying the good times maybe just a touch too much. It’s catchy Rock and Roll that was enjoyed by all and warmed the small crowd nicely.
Sari’s Schorr is a hard-working Blues woman whose humble beginnings, working the music scene in the legendary fierce South Bronx of New York and on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, to a performance at Carnegie Hall, has now led her to international success. In 2016, Sari Schorr made her debut album, 'A Force of Nature', produced by iconic British Blues pioneer Mike Vernon (David Bowie, Eric Clapton, John Mayall, Fleetwood Mac, Peter Green). Following her 2017 UK appearances she is now touring the country supporting her new second album 'Never Say Never'. Sari insisted that the album be recorded live to capture the raw energy of her music. It’s an album full of personal emotions that she admits was as painful as it was healing in the making.
Dressed in black jacket, silver scarf, blue jeans and black boots, the operatically trained singer takes to the stage to front her current band of talented British backing musicians. Guitarist Ash Wilson sports a number of guitars although his main axe is a beautiful white Deusenberg hollow body, and is a solo Blues artist in his own right. Bob Fridzema handles keys - both piano and organ - with Mat Beable on bass and Roy Martin on drums.
Opening with just the haunting sound of Ash’s Deusenberg, 'The New Revolution' soon morphs into a full on Rock and Roll groove allowing Sari to showcase her powerhouse vocals, ably supported by Fridzema on backing vocals. Written in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., it’s a song about the struggles he stood for. “Stand up for righteousness. Stand up for justice. Stand up for truth” she sings. A powerful song with a powerful message. In contrast, 'Damn The Reason' is slow and sultry in comparison, although Sari’s vocals are no less forceful. All the power and presence of Bonnie Tyler with none of the gravel. But when stopping to chat with the audience between songs, Sari’s voice has the softness of a sexy seductress as she introduces the band.
Opening track of her new album is 'King Of Rock And Roll', a tribute to Blues legend Robert Johnson who allegedly sold his soul to the devil at a local crossroads of two Mississippi highways to become the greatest Blues musician in history. Ash weighs in with some drop tuned goodness played on a Fender through his unusual 633 Engineering Groove King amp. These are high end boutique UK built amps, this one inspired by the classic Vox AC30 to get those classic British Rock tones. His pedal board is also a collection of top amplification and modulation too. Ash is notable too on 'Thank You', also from the 'Never Say Never' album, with some tasteful wah that complements the songs groove. "I wrote this song for all the good people ruining great relationships. Self-sabotage is a mystifying loop of behavior that destroyed a relationship I really wanted. No matter what I did, this man I loved simply couldn’t believe that he was capable of being loved. Perception can be more powerful than reality" says Sari.
Stopping briefly to welcome her network family - Sari is a regular on social media - she launches into a couple of covers this evening, which are original and enjoyable takes on well-known classics. Bad Company’s 'Ready For Love' is one such that benefits from the power of her superb vocals that are required to do justice to Paul Rodgers anthem, with Fridzema providing a tasteful keyboard solo. As he also did on the Bluesy 'Demolition Man', dedicated to producer Mike Vernon. 'Ain't Got No Money' is a Funky Blues track that allows Ash to show a bit of his love for sixties Rock and Roll, with his white hollow body Deusenberg providing that Shadows twang. But it’s their up temp cover of Willie Dixon’s 'I Just Want To Make Love To You' that really allows Ash to shine. It’s a raunchy clap along version, with Sari’s strong vocals to the fore as ever, but it’s the almost Hendrix style guitar solo that captivates me. Ash is loving it, and it’s great to watch the rest of the band reveling in his joy as he temporarily loses himself in his revelry. The audience really picks up on the feel good factor as the whole band are just having a ball. The song just turns into a fun jam for all.
'Kiss Me' is more of a Rock ballad with a squealing guitar solo, before they launch into the title track of the new album. 'Never Say Never' was written by Small Faces and Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan after his wife’s tragic death. Writing this song became part of Ian’s healing process. It’s a song about facing challenges and not being afraid to ask for help. It is slow and soulful with Sari restraining the power of her voice to almost gentle before the song builds to a strong conclusion. Very emotive.
Lifting the tempo, 'Valentina' is a rocking little number that tells of the dangers of getting your priorities wrong. Based upon her own experiences of missing some of the important moments in life whilst following her dream. "Valentina is my alter ego who learns too late that the high price of her pursuits have left her alone and broke in a world that is completely indifferent to her" she explains. The punchy rocking number contains another fine screaming guitar solo, again from the drop tuned Fender. And closing out her main set is 'Freedom', a song about guns, war and violence. "Not all Americans love guns" she proclaims earnestly. This is Sari’s message to the world. Although the world does not appear to be listening. Her voice is stronger than ever as the passion flows from her. Aretha Franklin was the first name that popped into my head. A great song it gave Ash the chance to try out his new red Deusenberg guitar (#NGD). Yes, it worked very nicely Ash.
Disappearing for a very brief sojourn, the band returns to the stage for another notable cover. This time it’s their version of Lead Belly’s 'Black Betty', made famous by Ram Jam. But unlike the famous latter, Sari’s version is a slow sludgy Blues version more akin to the original. Starting once more with just the haunting clean sounds of Ash’s white hollow body, the song explodes into the full Blues with Sari showing every range of vocal talent. High and low, sharp and held, the song is used to showcase exactly why she is headlining shows and will be hitting the highs that match her range. Ash pulls out a beautiful Gilmour-esque solo in what is a really compelling cover that ends the way it started, with a beautiful clean guitar. Closing track is a cracking Country Blues track from the new album called 'Back to L.A.' (I thought you said you were from Brooklyn?). Although it’s a song about looking back at how quickly life goes by, and wishing you hadn’t wasted so much of it, it’s a feel good song with an up beat tempo that skips along to the only too quickly reached conclusion. But it’s a finish with a flourish to an excellent set that showcases not only Sari’s impressive vocal talents, but also thoughtful and interesting songwriting skills.
In an ever more chaotic world, the Beaverwood Club is an island of tranquility in a sea of madness. The woes weighing us down are temporarily lifted to allow us a window of calm. Doctor Feenstra has written his prescription. No medication is required other than that dispensed by barman Dan, along with a large dose of Sari Schorr. Take both before retiring to bed and everything will be fine in the morning.
Sari Schorr setlist:
The New Revolution
Damn the Reason
King Of Rock'n'Roll
Ready For Love (Bad Company cover)
Ain’t Got No Money
I Just Wanna Make Love to You (Willie Dixon cover)
Never Say Never
Black Betty (Lead Belly cover)
Back To LA