Woodman Folk Club - Reviews
|Bryn Phillips||16 November 2018||
Tonight was a double bonus for me. First of all we had a new guest artist
at the club, and secondly we spent the evening being entertained by an
accomplished blues musician. Even though Kris was new to the club I had a
good idea what to expect as I had checked out several videos on YouTube
and as a result of that I had purchased one of his CDs in advance of his
visit. I knew we were in for a good night and I wasn’t disappointed.
As well as being a solo performer, Kris has played with a number of well known bands and artists including The Godfathers, The Damned, Dee Dee Ramone, Johnny Thunders, Adam Ant and Del Amitri. However tonight he was with us as a solo blues musician.
He started off with an excellent fingerstyle rendition of “Poor Boy” and then moved onto some impressive slide guitar playing with “No Ghosts In This House”. He played with a glass slide which drew a very mellow sound from his six string Martin acoustic guitar. On this particular song his playing was in part reminiscent of Catfish Keith. Great stuff. We had a lot more slide during the evening, featuring songs from some of the old time bluesmen including Robert Johnson, Blind Willie Johnson, Charlie Patton and Muddy Waters. Each one was interpreted in the style of the original and delivered with precision. Even his vocals fitted the material perfectly.
At one point when he switched from his acoustic to his semi-acoustic Gibson 330 to play “Testify”, an old John Lee Hooker number, he mentioned that he had bought the guitar from the drummer in The Damned. Apart from this and a casual mention of Del Amitri at another point in the evening, they were the only references to his alter ego. Although he didn’t give much in the way of introduction to his material, what he did say was always relevant and there were some gems. For example I have always enjoyed Charlie Patton’s music and seen him referred to as “The Father of The Blues” and have just seen the one fairly serious looking photo off him and I was surprised when Kris just mentioned in passing that he was the Jimi Hendrix of his day performing all sorts of guitar tricks such as playing with the guitar behind his head. I’ve since been reading up about Mr Patton and that’s only part of the man’s persona. This is the benefit of getting a first class blues musician to the club – it’s not just about playing the music and getting it technically correct, it’s all about getting into the roots of the music.
As well as classic blues he played a number of his own compositions including “Sometimes You Need To Feel The Pain” and “Evil People” from his “All Grown Up” CD and “Sahara Blues”, a song about a hotel in Las Vegas - another one from his CD “No Ghosts In This House”. For a complete change he performed Bob Dylan’s “Buckets of Rain”, a classic track from “Blood on the Tracks”; again a faultless performance.
All of this was done without the use of a set list. Unlike many performers who play material predominantly from their latest album he selected songs and tunes from each of his CDs, giving us an excellent overview of his repertoire. He finished the evening with a great slide guitar interpretation of Marvin Gaye’s funky “Inner City Blues”. For a well deserved encore he played Jimmie Rodgers’ “Gamblin’ Bar Room Blues” after observing from the support artists that we were an audience who enjoyed singing, and so far hadn’t had a chance with his songs. This song was an exception and we ended up singing “Oh hee oh hee, You’re just as drunk as me; oh hee oh hee, Heading for the Deep Blue Sea” ...
Support was provided by Nothing to Prove who started off the evening with a great performance of three songs; “A Little Time”, “Byker Hill” and “Gold Watch Blues”. They were then followed by Barry and Corinne Priest who carried on the good work with “Not That Different” followed by an excellent interpretation of “Black and White, 1945”. Bryn Phillips (that’s me!) started off the second half with two of his self-penned songs, “Are You All Cowards” and “Now All I Listen To Is The Blues”, the latter being a tribute to Robert Johnson and various other old time bluesmen.
To quote our regular esteemed reviewer, Les Jones, “A wonderful time was had by all” – and it was, it really was!