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Woodman Folk Club - Reviews

Little Toby Walker: The Sutton Blues Collective, Sutton Coldfield
Bryn Phillips 10 March 2004
I was about twenty minutes late arriving at the Sutton Blues Collective’s new venue at The Station Hotel, having got lost in Sutton Coldfield’s one way system. That was a shame, because I missed most of Tony Portlock’s excellent support set – I was in time to hear "The Titanic", and of course I heard Tony’s trademark finale, "Alberta", with an enthusiastic audience joining in.

Fortunately I was able to hear all of Little Toby Walter’s performance. “I want to Introduce you to the Band” – he held up his thumb “This is the bass section” – then first and second fingers “These are the lead guitarists” – and then the third finger “and rhythm”. That just about summed his style up. A steady rhythm, clever intricate finger work picking out tunes and counter melodies and of course some deeply sonorous bass runs. Lots of styles came through – Robert Johnson, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Rev Gary Davies, Bukka White, Blind Willie McTell and so on. Plus the street cred “When I was nineteen I played support to Muddy Waters”. Every song, every rag, every tune was a knock-out. Little Toby Walter (Why doesn’t he go by Lil’ Toby Walker?) is more than an accomplished blues musician. He writes some great stuff as well. For me – if I was going to choose one song that really struck me – it was “Devil Beating on His Wife Tonight”. It was such a powerful song and the imagery was just right.

As well as the music, the stories were wonderful; again full of imagery. I loved his description of the old man knocking down the barbecue. There was a lot of humour throughout the night with songs and intros to match such as  "Full Figured Woman", "Oops" and his finale "Weak Willed and Easily Led" which left everyone walking away humming or singing the addictive chorus.  

Anyway don’t take my word for it, visit his web site and play some of the streaming audio tracks – unlike most artist music clips these are full length. In fact it was listening to these tracks that made me decide to travel the thirty odd miles on a miserable cold night. I wasn’t disappointed!