St. Paddy's Day Blues
Thursday 17th March
Proud Camden, London
It is perhaps unusual for the organiser of a night to review it, but while Blues In Britain magazine, who were represented, may do so, I'll beat them to it!
The Proud Camden venue in The Stables Market on 17th March was the location for the first venture into a live music night by the British Blues Exhibition - www.britishbluesexhibition.co.uk. The exhibition celebrates history, but it celebrates the past to help more live Blues music be played and listened to in the present and future. So the exhibition itself hosting live music nights was a logical step to take.
'The debut event 'St Paddy's Blues' on St. Patrick's Day was built with the help of co-organisers Juliette Vix and Ornella Caponi, and much appreciated support from the Wrinkly Rockers Club, the Cambridge Rock Festival and others. It drew in music figures including Jukin' Jenn, who has her Bucket of Blues radio show; Richard Dunning, Blues DJ on Croydon Radio; photographer Paul Dubbelman; and the designer of the event poster. Musicians including Bob Hokum helped swell the audience, but what swelled the audience most of all were a beautifully dressed group of Blues dancers drawn from across London, chiefly from the 'Down & Outs' troupe, an offshoot of Swing Patrol - Their couples dancing with such style and grace and delight was a treat to the eye, especially on those occasions when they all danced at once. Brilliant.
That undoubtedly made the night more unusual and inspiring for the musicians. As organiser, manning the merch, talking to friends and answering questions and popping here and there on various missions wasn't great for lapping up the music, but it is ever a pleasure to see the Laura Holland Band, with its horn section and special vocalist in action, as they were for the first hour of the night. In the break before the next act, it was a pleasure to show off in public two items acquired by the British Blues Exhibition, but hitherto under wraps. One was one of the three used, signed harmonicas donated by exhibition supporter John Mayall, another the 50th anniversary banner of the Crawdaddy Club, where, as I mentioned, live Blues music continues in Richmond, just as it does in the Eel Pie Club in Twickenham.
The Saiichi Sugiyama band took to the stage next, and showed that their take on classic British Blues Rock, which pulls in some intriguing influences including Cream, Motown and Stevie Wonder, has a significant upbeat, danceable side, as the Down & Outs and friends continued to take to the floor. Their new album is out later this year, around the time of their September-October tour. Again, the band was fronted by a talented lady vocalist, but the last act of the night was led by a male singer.
One of British Blues very finest acts was Cream - Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce. Their famous and iconic songs were co-written by Pete Brown, and Pete put the stamp of history on the night as well as producing a very fine musical performance. Belying his years, Pete sang with fire and humour, including songs from his personal musical repertoire, but fittingly closing the evening with 'White Room' and 'Sunshine Of Your Love'. Pleasingly, a member of Jack Bruce's family was present and said it was "...a fab night. I enjoyed myself in what was a fun entertaining show."
With the help of all those involved and present, the British Blues Exhibition not only celebrated history, it made some of its own. We will be back at Proud Camden on 12th May with more history to make, more top quality musical entertainment, and with a little more help from our friends. See this website and the exhibition website and Facebook page for more.
Darren Weale - Proud Wrinkly Rocker and British Blues Exhibition founder