Supporting Vulnerable and Disadvantaged people access to the Folk Arts!

Artists Biographies

Martin McNeill

Friday 14th April 2017


MARTIN McNEILL is acclaimed for his dynamic slide guitar playing and soulful vocals. He works in solo, duo, trio and full band format.

He hosts Monday Blues at Peggy Sue's, Leigh-on-Sea, playing and singing with guest musicians each week.

Martin McNeill's Bottleneck Blues are regulars at Southend's famous Railway Hotel. Other venues the band play include the Smack in Old Leigh. The varying line-up includes West Weston on harmonica, Tim Huskisson on piano, JJ Zarbo on double bass and Roy Webber or Marc Cecil on drums, sometimes with other guests.

Martin has gigged with many British and American blues artists including Leo Bud Welch, U P Wilson, Chris Corcoran, Ben Waters, Ben Tyzack, Mississippi MacDonald and Dave Ferra. When he first started playing as a teenager, Martin supported visiting US blues including one of his biggest influences, Fred McDowell, and star duo Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee.

Martin plays most often as a solo performers. He also plays guitar for Cambridge-based singer Ruby Florence and does duo sessions with some of the finest players on the blues scene: West Weston, Tim Huskisson, JJ Zarbo, Tim Aves, Ramon Goose, Richie Milton, Katie Bradley and others.



"A slide guitarist par excellence, Martin was the perfect man to put us in the right mood. He finished an all-too-brief set with an excellent rendition of Chain of was nice to be reminded that it was Aretha Franklin who first introduced us to this Don Covay number."

TONY BELL, GRAPEVINE MAGAZINE (on Martin's appearance supporting the James Hunter Six at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich).




"They're a bloody good band. The whole of the band is really good. They're playing proper blues, which is quite a rare thing."

Wilko's comments come in an interview with Dave Collins for Level 4 magazine, when Wilko mentions watching the Bottlenecks at the Railway Hotel. Dave says "they never rehearse" (true), to which Wilko responds: "My philosophy exactly! With this kind of music if it gets too rigid you lose a lot. You've got to have a bit of floppiness in there -- let it happen as it happens."

"It was a great gig"

JILL WARD, Brasenose Arms, Cropredy

"Tonight at Peggy Sue's Music Bar, 1063 London Road, Leigh-on-Sea, was really special with Martin McNeill and Steve West Weston playing two blindingly good sets. This place is a little gem of a music venue - great atmosphere and really friendly people!!"


"Wonderful solo offering...very fine album."

Radio presenter HOWLING DICK

'Excellent solo acoustic set by Martin McNeill, who really held the audience. At times you could hear a pin drop. Check out Martin's new album." MIKE LIGHTFOOT

"Thank you for putting on such a great band together and the excellent performance. I'm so pleased that we got a good audience to do it justice."


"Martin McNeill and Ramon Goose amazed us at the Tuesday Night Music Club with a demonstration of the best in acoustic blues. Ramon and Martin were fabulous. I was quite honestly stunned by just how good."


"Great gig at the Railway on Sunday...just love the vibe"


"What a great time we had at Peggy Sue's"






Spikedrivers Friday 12th May 2017


The Spikedrivers

One of the most original, innovative and exciting bands around, their combination of gutsy slide guitar, rock-solid bass, infectious grooves and highly distinctive vocals, creates a sound that is uniquely their own. They take you on a journey, from southern juke-joints and lazy front porches to the huge open spaces of dust bowls and railroad tracks disappearing into the distance.....


ben tyzack: guitar, vocals & harmonica

Born in London but raised in the deep south of the United States, Ben’s musical style reflects these experiences. His guitar playing is an intoxicating blend, from the raw delta blues of Robert Johnson to the powerful soundscapes of Jimmy Page. This combined with a soulful voice and commanding stage presence completes the picture of a very unique artist. In 1992 Ben formed the Spikedrivers, they have released seven albums including many of his original songs. He has also composed music for Channel 4’s ‘Car Wars’ and performed with Lee Sankey, Roger Askew and the Royal Shakespeare Company. “I’m very lucky to have been brought up in a musical family. As well as my dad playing trumpet. My mom (Patzy Tyzack) plays piano. One of her musical passions is Ragtime. Hearing this music as well as early Jazz was definitely a big influence. There’s quite a cross over from Ragtime piano to fingerpicking guitar. For instance: although you can’t get the wide range of notes and harmonies that you can on a piano, the syncopated rhythms and chord structures suit the guitar well. It was great to have some of that music in my head before even learning how to play.”


constance redgrave: bass - vocals - washboard - percussion - flute

Born in Los Angeles of Native American roots, Constance naturally transferred her genetic tribal rhythms into the simple, rock solid bass lines that are her trademark and her ability as a compelling vocalist and percussionist perfectly complements this talent. Now living in London she has played with Otis Grand, Steve Cropper, Anson Funderburgh, Hank Wangford, Chris Jagger. “I have had the pleasure of playing with quite a list of people and bands. These include Otis Grand, the legendary Steve Cropper, Anson Funderburgh, Debbie Davis, Misdemeanor, Hank Wangford, Chris Jagger, Pierre La Rue, Wes McGhee, Companions of the Rosy Hours, Audio Murphy, Boo Hewerdine and The Colin John Band.”


maurice mcelroy: drums - percussion - vocals.

“I started playing when I was 13 years old. My father had played drums in dance bands in Northern Ireland. So when rock’n’roll came along and everybody wanted to be in a band, I decided to be a drummer. The first band I listened to were the Shadows. I’d see them backing Cliff (when they were still called The Drifters) on TV shows like 6-5 Special and Boy Meets Girl. They’d be on with bands like Joe Brown and his Bruvvers and Billy Fury but I was always more interested in the musicians than the singers. Then on Sundays they would show musicals with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and musicians like Gene Krupa and Benny Goodman would sometimes appear so I started listening to them as well. For a long while I was the house band drummer for the main blues jam in North London. First at The Weavers Arms in Stoke Newington, and later the World’s End in Finsbury Park. Since joining Ben and Constance I feel that I’ve really begun to open up as a musician. Aside from drums, I’ve been getting more into different percussion instruments and I learned to sing (Thank you Melanie Harrold). I’ve also started to write songs and have some input into arrangements. Right this minute I’m learning to play guitar and all I can say about that is I have very sore fingers.”









Brooks Williams

Friday 10th February 2017



Brooks Williams, from Statesboro, Georgia USA (the town made famous by country-blues legend Blind Willie McTell and his song Statesboro Blues), creates a super-charged acoustic music that draws heavily on both his blues and Americana roots. The resulting sound can be described as “Blues-icana,” that confluence of crossroads where American roots music comes together.

Keys And Chords describes Williams' music as "A beautiful fusion of blues, old country and a touch Americana.” fRoots says Williams "really rocks, stirring up soulful Americana, full-on blues and tasty rootsy grooves." Like drinking whiskey from a honey jar, you get both the sweet and the bite. Resonator slide and acoustic Piedmont picking lay down the groove while Williams' laid-back low-country vocal floats over top.

Brooks Williams got his start in the clubs and bars around New York and Boston (the same music scene that years earlier sparked the careers of Bonnie Raitt and Chris Smither). There, playing 5-6 nights a week, he developed his signature roots sound. From the very beginning and still to this day, audiences are often heard asking, how can one guitar and one voice sound like a full band?

In 2013 Williams was nominated best male vocalist by the UK’s foremost roots-music mavens, Spiral Earth. AmericanaUK says, “he has a beautiful voice that you just melt into.” He has that way of delivering a song that plays with the line the way a slide guitarist teases the notes from the strings.

And he’s one helluva good guitar player, ranked in the Top 100 Acoustic Guitarists. The San Antonio Light says that Williams is a “fret monster who has to be seen to be believed!” Whether playing his trusty National resonator slide guitar, his road-worn Collings acoustic or his tobacco-burst Washburn hollow-body, this guy knows a thing or two about the guitar. Over the years he’s picked alongside Taj Mahal, John Hammond, Paul Jones, Little Feat, Maria Muldaur, Shawn Colvin and Leo Kottke, to name but a few.

With twenty-two albums to his name, including Brooks' Blues (2016), My Turn Now (2016) and Shreveport Sessions (2014), Williams has recorded for labels as diverse as Signature Sounds, Green Linnet Records, Reveal Records, Solid Air Records, as well as his own Red Guitar Blue Music. He’s learned the studio trade first-hand working with roots music producers like Colin Linden (Blackie And The Rodeo Kings, Bruce Cockburn) in Toronto and Phil Madeira (Buddy and Julie Miller, Emmylou Harris) in Nashville. His music has featured on the BBC (UK), RTE (Ireland), CBC (Canada) and NPR (USA) and has charted on the FOLKDJ stations. He can also be heard on Satellite and Internet radio throughout the world. WUMB-FM radio in Boston (USA) voted him one of their Top 100 Artists.

Brooks Williams tours relentlessly in the US, UK & Europe. Recent appearances include Celtic Connections (Scotland), Meneer Frits (Netherlands), Cambridge Folk Festival (England), Falcon Ridge Festival (USA), Cathedral Quarter Festival (N. Ireland), and Winnipeg Folk Festival (Canada). All in all, thousands of gigs over thousands of miles!




Dave Ferra

Friday 13th January 2017

Blues, Spirituals and ragtimes with guitar, slide and rack harmonica. Playing in England and the Continent he has supported The Blues Band, Kirk Fletcher, Paul Lamb, Babajack, Nine Below Zero, Billy Walton and The Spikedrivers amongst others and is a regular at London's Ain't nothin but the Blues Bar.


" entertaining acoustic set from Dave Ferra. His accomplished rack harp, fingerpicking and slide interspersed with a gentle, self -depricating commentary worked well in an intimate setting." - Blues in Britain, Review of The Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival


"Wonderful stuff...Great man, great voice, great everything!" - Doug Welch, BBC Radio Kent


"Acoustic Bluesman par excellence" - Blues Matters


“a wonderful acoustic album….oozing quality and style”– Blues in the South


"Great evening, loved their performance. They had me smiling or laughing out loud throughout."


“excellent delta bluesman” – Blues in Britain


“great guitar and spot on for style” – Blues in Britain


“Fabulous night; Best this year. Dave had a fantastic rapport with the audience and the whole group transmitted a convivial atmosphere. Well done and thanks for bringing them to Deal – Phil Healey (Audience member at Spooner’s Blues Club)



Milking The Blues

Friday 10th March 2017


Milking The Blues are our house band.

Made up with several experienced Blues performers who have all played in bands, trio's, duo's and solo for many years!

They can all mix and match and perform at the highest level making sure The Milkmaid has a strong support act on guest nights and to hold their own when they are showcased at various times throughout the year.

The line up will vary because of whose available on the night but rest assured they won't disappoint. Those of you who have attended our events over the past two months will testify to that. They meet weekly to rehearse. For the list of musicians who make up Milking the Blues go to the House Band button.