www.spikedrivers.co.uk/ Friday 12th May 2017
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.”
Friday 14th July 2017 https://www.johnverity.com/
John Verity began his music career in the early 1960's, playing guitar in various local groups around his home town of Bradford, Yorkshire, until he was offered a full time gig with a pro band the ‘Richard Kent Style’. Soon gigging – sometimes twice a night, 7 nights a week all across the UK and Europe, the band became tight in the way that only a hard working band can.
‘My first band with a real rhythm section (Al Powell on drums & Harvey Rose on bass) that sounded to me, as good as the American records we tried to emulate. The band was a six piece complete with brass section, and soon in addition to the R&B material in the set there was some Chicago Blues to get my teeth into - amazing!’
By the spring of 1970 the Kent Style had morphed into ‘Tunnel’. Living and working in the US, doing prestigious support slots with many of the big names of the day including Jimi Hendrix (July 5th 1970 – 2 days after JV’s 21st birthday), Mountain, Canned Heat, Savoy Brown, and Janis Joplin. Very soon, Tunnel would morph into the very first John Verity Band, formed in Miami later that year. On his return to England in 1971, John secured a contract with producer Steve Rowland to record his first solo album for ABC Dunhill/Probe records, 'John Verity Band', which was released in the spring of 1973. John is pictured right, with Steve Rowland and Head of Probe records Dave Chapman at the signing of the contract.
Whilst on tour promoting the album, JV was spotted by Rod Argent who was looking for new lead vocalist for his band following the departure of Russ Ballard. John eventually joined Argent late in 1973 and there followed a period of intense recording and touring until the band decided to come off the road late in 1976. Argent never did go back on the road, and decided to disband, at which point John became involved with various new projects both as Artist and Record Producer.
First of all, along with Bob Henrit and Jim Rodford he formed Phoenix, which soon signed to CBS records. The original line-up recorded the first album and toured Europe before recruiting Ray Minhinnet to share the guitar-playing duties in time for the second album scheduled for release on Rocket Records. During this time Jim Rodford left to join the Kinks, and the line-up remained a 3 piece for the recording of In Full View for Charisma Records. John produced the Phoenix albums and co-produced the Charlie album ‘Good Morning America’ as well as the first Saxon album during this time, and decided to divide his time between sessions and record production whilst Bob Henrit teamed up with Jim Rodford once again by joining the Kinks.
The next few years were spent in recording studios throughout the world, producing, playing guitar, or doing backup vocals with various acts including Motorhead, Tank, Ringo Starr, Russ Ballard, Colin Blunstone, Brian Connolly, John Parr, BowWowWow and The Searchers amongst many others, until late in 1981 when PRT Records MD Matt Haywood asked JV to record a comeback album.
By now living in his native Yorkshire, John had built his own 38-track studio achieved by synchronising together 24 and 16 track tape machines - state of the art at the time, and had moved into full time record production. The Matt Haywood offer meant that JV could get back out on the road again to promote the album, and touring always seemed to bring out fresh ideas... "Interrupted Journey", released under the name Verity in 1982, was highly acclaimed in the UK, USA and Europe and successfully relaunched Johns performing career, as he once again took to the road. John was approached by many big name acts for recording and performing projects during this period - Mike Rutherford of Genesis wrote three songs for inclusion on JV’s next set of recording sessions, and both Keith Emerson and Greg Lake used John on their current recording projects.
The next two albums "Truth Of The Matter" and "Rock Solid" were also well received, and John soon had offers to join various name bands including MSG, Ted Nugent, and Asia which he declined, deciding instead to come off the road to record an album with newly reformed Zombies. This project took the best part of a year and was mostly recorded at Mountain Studios, Montreux, Switzerland and finished in London... After a short break John was soon back on the road again with John Coghlan's Diesel Band (Status Quo), in the UK and Europe, before reforming his own Band for similar venues and recording here in the UK. In 1992 John decided to re-locate, away from his native Yorkshire to rural Bedfordshire and closer to friends from the Argent days.
Since the move south the JV Band gigs have continued, with different line-ups chosen from a shortlist of fine musicians. At the 1994 Manchester Festival "Fender Stratocaster 40th Anniversary" concert, JV guested, along with many Rock Legends past and present including Sonny Curtis, Frankie Miller and Rory Gallagher. Johns performance of "Stay With Me Baby" was one of the high spots of the evening, bringing the capacity crowd at the Manchester Free Trade Hall to its feet!
During this period JV also did vocal sessions for 3 episodes of the Granada TV series "Full Stretch", (1991) and another guest spot with the 'Strat Pack', for the Australia Day (1995) celebrations at the Hippodrome in London's West End. 2000 saw a major gigging project with a 32 date UK tour, opening the show on the Jools Holland Sex Jazz and Rock'n'Roll tour at major venues including Manchester Opera House, Birmingham Symphony Hall, and the London Albert Hall. After this, it was back to his regular gigging routine. Festivals across the UK and mainland Europe, recording and writing sessions keep the man busy.
JV always said that live work was his first love and that holds as true today as ever. After playing the Cambridge Rock Festival in the summer of 2009 JV and the band went into the studio once more – The resulting recordings were released April 2010: VERITY – A Phoenix Still Rising... yet another stage in JV's amazing journey... The plan was for Phoenix to go back on the road, but things didn't quite work out so JV repackaged some of the tracks and added 3 new originals, to form 'Verity - Rise Like The Phoenix' instead. Back on the road the band worked solidly until mid-2011 when JV went back into the studio. This time the aim was to record some of John's favourite blues material - some of which goes back to the very earliest bands that he had played in. Bob Henrit, Steve Rodford, Mark Griffiths, Andy Childs and Keith Weir were asked to work on these tracks at different times during a busy few months to complete the album in time for release in December 2011. 'It's a Mean Old Scene' is Verity's strongest so far, and new dates are in the diary - early 2012 and the band is on the road again... first major date being the GB Rock & Blues Festival, which video'd successfully to provide a lasting record of this excellent gig... featured musicians in the JV Band for this one were Steve Rodford on drums, and bassist Mark Griffiths. 2012 was to prove a landmark year for JV in a number of ways - first of all a chance meeting with guitar guru Trev Wilkinson during which John impressed Trev with his ideas on guitar design, led to the development and release of the JV Signature model guitar. To give the guitar its full title - the 'Fret King Black Label Corona JV Signature model'.
Whilst the guitar was in development, John was inspired to try to complete all the links in the audio chain, and together with amp specialists began work on an amplifier worthy of the JV stamp of approval. The finished amp was soon a fixture of John's live setup - an all valve (tube) design following traditional values but with just the ingredients needed to get the 'sound in my head' as JV is quoted saying, on trying the combination of his new signature guitar and amp. The final 'icing on the cake' in this search for the perfect tone is the specially voiced loudspeaker made to JV specification with the help of Paul Seago at Tayden Loudspeakers in the UK.
2014 found the band on the road as usual, interspersed with JV appearances to promote the JV signature products at music trade shows/ events, and the new album Tone Hound looks set to follow the success of It's a mean old scene, which charted in late 2013.
Next up in 2014 JV went into the studio the record tracks for 'TONE HOUND on the road to Corona' and took this one on the road with the band, to an ever expanding group of followers across the UK.
2015 saw the band in the studio recording live for the 'Boske' album, an opportunity for JV, Bob Henrit and Bob Skeat to work together in the studio just laying live tracks down like in the old days!! Bianca Kinane added some amazing vocals, and Tom Wilson performed keyboard duties on this entertaining set.
Fast forward to May 2016 and the release of 'My Religion'. Surely JV's strongest to date, with 6 of JV's own songs together with 4 of his favourite covers. For the first time in ages, this JV album is released on Vinyl - a double album with bonus tracks in a gatefold sleeve.
2017 looks like being JV and the Band's busiest year to date with shows across the length and breadth of the UK.
As with 2016 the focus in the New Year will be on shows in the UK, in order to consolidate the progress made during the previous year. Any spare time will be spent in the studio writing/recording for the next JV album, scheduled for spring 2018...
Friday 8th September 2017
Northumberland has always had one of the UK’s proudest and most distinctive folk music traditions with many internationally recognised exponents. In addition to that, the southern boundary of the rugged and historic county - Tyneside - has a close affinity with, and a strong following for, American blues which dates back at least five decades to the halcyon days of the seminal Club A Go Go and visits by Muddy, Wolf, Sonny Boy and the like.
Slide-guitarist/singer/writer, Johnny Dickinson, from the county town of Morpeth, was subjected to both elements in his formative years and the resultant musical alloy has been burnished painstakingly ever since. In the early ‘80s, Kerrang magazine - a standard-bearer for blues-rock rather than roots music - tagged Johnny’s first band, Splitcrow, a “most likely to succeed” outfit, a view borne-out by an impending major UK tour. After moving to London he became a founder member of the influential twin-guitar and harmonica- powered (and multi-award winning) band, Paul Lamb & the Kingsnakes. Also in London he did stints on steel guitar with rockabilly band The Moonshine Boys. Ultimately returning to home turf to form the wildly eclectic Hillbillies From Outer Space – an idiosyncratic amalgam of all that had gone before, and then some !
Since 2004, Dickinson has largely pursued a solo career, a format he appears to be totally at ease with. Of course, it helps if the music makes a lasting impression ! His solo debut, Castles & Old Kings, certainly did that. BBC Radio 2 took notice at once, with Dickinson picking-up guest spots on the Mike Harding and Mark Radcliffe shows and, proving his versatility, recorded a live broadcast session for Paul Jones Blues show. UK tours with the Australian guitar-phenomenon, Tommy Emmanuel, then Kelly Joe Phelps and an Irish tour with John Martyn spread the word quickly. Followed by shows in Denmark, The Netherlands, Croatia, Italy, Germany, Poland and Austria with players like John Renbourn, Louis Winsberg, Jan Ackermann and Thom Bresh (virtuoso son of Merle Travis) among many others. Back in the studio, Dickinson fitted in a side project for the Northumbrian Anthology (an aural encyclopaedia of the region’s folk music) and the resulting album, Border Ballads, a composite of Johnny’s music and the words of the Victorian writer and poet, Algernon Charles Swinburne, was highly praised, winning MOJO’s Folk Album of the Month in the process.
The release of the all-original, English Summer (Hard Road Recording) which included the core of Kate Rusby’s band, coincided with his appearances at the 2005 Cambridge Folk Festival at the end of July and the success of his live performances there – on all three stages – was underlined by the fact that the on-site CD stall sold-out the entire stock of hundreds of copies of English Summer over just two days ! He was nominated (one of only four) in the Horizon category of the 2005 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and was chosen again, for Musician of The Year, in 2006 !
The momentum developed further by the release of Dickinson’s live album, Sketches From the Road (Hard Road Recording), in March 2006 and his choice of material was as eclectic as ever. He embellished his own songs with some real gems. KC Douglas’ classic, Mercury Blues, is slowed down to cruising speed. The baddest man in the West, John Hardy, is juxtaposed with two British traditional songs, Handsome Molly and Jock O’Hazeldine. Jackson C Frank’s opus, Blues Run the Game, gets a welcome revival, too. The Negro-spiritual, I Wish I Was In Heaven Settin’ Down (Long White Robe), a regular fixture in Johnny’s live set, is also on the album. The immaculate slide-guitar – evoking memories of Cooder, Lindley and the peerless Blind Willie Johnson – topped-off by full-ranged vocals is an irresistible package. This guy has nurtured the music he grew-up with but he is not afraid to play around with the form or tempo. Bluegrass, blues and folk with a Caribbean skank or middle-eastern edge, seering slide-guitar and vocal range to match.
Next up was his album, Hilo Town (Hard Road Recording). The record again showed-off his flair for arrangement. Using a tight band, he described his work as “ a collection of traditional music from England, Scotland, Ireland and America. As usual, I have arranged the material in my own fashion, drawing inspiration from many sources including Sol Hoopi, Elmore James, Gypsy-jazz, Celtic Pipers and Mariachi bands, Peggy Lee, Nic Jones and Martin Carthy.” Now that’s eclectic !
A five-month US tour with Andy McKee took him from Lakes to Louisiana and coast to coast and ensured that he visited first-hand many of the places he had been singing about for years. It won him countless new fans, too.
"Five years ago I started chemo treatment for a lymphoma , 8 months later I ended up in hospital with Guillain Barre Syndrome . That kept me in hospital for 6 months. Now I’m guessing that’s what most people have heard about and the reason why I’ve received your many kind comments for which I’m very grateful .
Movin’ on into early 2013 my lymphoma got busy again so it was chemo again and I’ve been on treatment ever since ! This combined with a naturally idle disposition means I’m not very consistent with anything ,except for takin’ meds. Anyway I’ve regained an interest in music and have started playin’ lots this year. I think I’ll post a video up of some playin’ if anyone fancies that. Go to website!" Johnny.
The Baroness and The Bear
13th October 2017
The Baroness and the Bear started performing together in 2014. Aiming to be a little different and incorporate different aspects of blues music. they have been enthusiastically received and delighted to be invited back to play at so many events including blues and music festivals, charity and corporate events, weddings and private parties.
Having established a common interest in music, people, community and generally having a good time, Julie and Bob got married in 2013! They formed the band and started performing in local venues and were soon invited to travel further afield, playing Festivals in Swanage, London, Reading, Chelmsford and some beautiful venues for private functions.
The Baroness and The Bear’s music is varied and covers many styles from traditional ‘Classic and Old’ blues such as Lil Green and Willie Dixon, to Cakewalks and Gospel, including more modern unique styles such as Tom Waites, Madelaine Peyroux, some jazzy turns and a few original compositions thrown in.
The Baroness and the Bear are the nucleus of the band, often preforming as a duo and also as a band with the very talented Paul Borley drums/percussion and our newest recruit Steve Smith on Guitar. We are also privileged to occasionally work with other wonderful musicians "Rhythm Travellers" such as the very talented John William - lead guitar/flamenco, Robert Hokum Dobra and Guitar, Sarah O’Neil and Kevin Lowen - Violin and Wendy Benefer on Drums, Violin and Guitar!
All very lovely people and awesome musicians.
The last few years have been exciting and The Baroness and the Bear are also ‘Rhythm Travellers’ playing with other artists around the country at some truly special gigs. From a charity gig outside a vegetable shop to high society weddings and parties!
Julie and Bob have also been studying the History of the Blues with Exeter University, while performing songs in their own style many of the lyrics are steeped in history and reflect the original blues meanings that had no fixed genre when they were first documented.
The spirit of The Baroness and The Bear is to share good times with lovely people.
All in all – let’s have a good time! xx
10th November 2017
Kent DuChaine has listened to, hung out with, opened up for, traveled and played with most of the great Blues men and women his whole adult life. The list is too long to name them all, but some of the major ones are: Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Big Mam Thornton, Koko Taylor, BB, Albert and Freddie King, Willie Dixon, Bukka White, Johnny Shines, Robert JR Lockwood, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Furry Lewis and Son House. These were the big Country and Urban Blues influences who Kent heard and/or played with.
Kent's early days with the Blues involved him both living and learning the
He has played in most of the major Blues festivals in the U.S.A. and Europe and was part of a Grammy nominated album recorded at the prestigious Smithsonian Institute Festival of Folk Life in Washington D.C. The theme of the festival was "The Roots of Rhythm & Blues, The Robert Johnson Era" and was recorded and released by Sony Music. It featured Robert Johnson's old buddies, Johnny Shines, Robert JR Lockwood, Honeyboy Edwards, and Henry Townsend.
Kent attended two of the early "Ann Arbor Blues Festivals" in the 70's. It united together virtually every important Blues man and woman in the world who performed for the three days and nights in August.
His dedication and talent for the blues earned him the honor of opening two shows for Bukka White, spending time with Mississippi Fred McDowell and befriending his hometown Bluesmen, Lazy Bill Lucas and Mojo Buford in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He has even hung out with Muddy Waters who he later paid his last respects to at Muddys' funeral in Chicago. You will have to wait till you see him on stage to hear if he took up Muddy's offer of some reefer and Champagne!
The Blues were happening all around Kent at this time and he ended up playing alongside Kim Wilson in a band called "Aces, Straights & Shuffles". Willie Dixon heard the band and complimented Kent on his slide playing sounding like a young Muddy Waters. Willie arranged a recording contract for the boys to help them launch their career by putting them on stage with Howlin' Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Albert Collins and Margie Evans.
Kent spent time in Austin, Texas in the mid 70's, soaking up the blues at "Antone's", who where beginning to bring in alot of the old Blues men. He met Stevie Ray Vaughn and learned that there where others who shared the same passion and respect for the real Blues.
Around this time the most incredible thing happened: after searching for ten years, Kent found his beloved 1934 National Steel guitar, Leadbessie.
After some time, Kent could see that the solo Blues life was where he wanted to go. Traveling the roads alone allowed him the opportunities he was seeking. Following the Blues trails unhindered gave him the freedom to play where and when he wanted, for what ever he could get, even if it was just a meal and a drink. The solo life built his following, reputation and talent for the real Blues.
By the late 80's he was doing 300+ shows a year all over N. America. He was blessed by the Blues in 1988 by coming across the great Johnny Shines who was living in Alabama. Kent had been based there already for seven years so he knew his way around. The two of them together were a sight to see...." The Young and the Old". Kent and Johnny traveled for three years and did over 200 shows together. He also recorded a W.C. Handy award winning album with Johnny and Snooky Pryor. The Blues rained down April 21st 1992, just four days before the two of them where to celebrate their birthdays together, Johnny passsed away. Kent understanding that this is life, carried on alone.
He has spent most of the last 24 years traveling back and forth to Europe and has done 100 plus European tours of 4-7 weeks each. He has logged millions of miles and many 1000's of shows.