Down and dirty blues kicks off Shetland Blues Festival

Butcher’s block, down and dirty blues was unleashed in Vidlin as one-man stomping, blues-sliding, Half Deaf Clatch opened the show.

With the brim of his John Deere baseball cap casting a shadow over his eyes – the bluesman from Hull snarled at the microphone, pulled and snapped at the strings on his resonator guitars.

It  was the first of the festival’s Vidlin gigs with another show at Mareel last night. More music follows at both venues this weekend.

Clatch was direct, raw and earthy as he stomped on his home-made percussion – of a miced-up hefty wooden chopping board – to great effect.

It Aint About The Money mixed alternating guitar chops and booming board rhythms.

Clatch, a very nifty slide player, hit the frets with precision and whether sliding up or down the fretboard, he really made the guitar sing.

Well Well was catchy and strong with Clatch delivering the lines with power and conviction.

And with a cover of Robert Johnson’s Stones in My Passway and Baby Please Don’t Go – I was thinking a resonator guitar might be on my shopping list.

It was a big and impressive sound for one man, although a few numbers without the backing of the stomp board could have mixed things up a little.

Local boys Sore Finger followed. They played a mixture of covers from John Mayer’s Who Did you Think I Was, to the Stevie Wonder  classic Superstition – complete with a loop pedal from guitarist Gordon Tulloch.

Frontman Victor Sandison had a good laugh with the audience – although it was a real shame as there was a very low turnout of punters.

He said the band didn’t gig very often due to family commitments, and had been playing away in a garage in the lead up to the gig.

Hopefully they will be playing more gigs in future as their set was well-polished and full of variety.

Sandison gave it plenty gusto and has a real warmth to his voice, while bass player Graham Malcolmson and guitarist Tulloch rattled off riffs with ease.

Archer Kemp joined on drums and their take of Little Milton’s Gimme’ My Broom was funky and contagious.

American keyboardist Bob Malone finished off the night – backed by his band on electric guitar, bass and drums.

The group played a range of blues tunes, groovy organ-inspired melodies, and ballads.

Malone raked, and hammered at the keys – dancing up and down the length of the keyboard in boogie-woogie style.

Not only a virtuoso musician, he’s one hell of an entertainer.

The band’s rendition of Bob Dylan’s Tangled Up In Blue – the original an acoustic guitar marathon – was turned into an upbeat, head-nodding number with guitar solos rich bass lines and plenty of flair from Malone on keys.

It climaxed with Malone kicking away the stool he was perched on and going hell-for-leather in the higher registers.

For more see next week’s Shetland Times.


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