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David Atkinson
The River Bar, Tower Bridge Road, 02.11.06
Review by G.P. Bennett

A couple of years ago I had a conversation with a mate about 'Improving as a Guitarist'. At the time I held the view that when you have been playing for 5 or 6 years you have basically reached your level, like it or not, and there isn't anywhere to go. I have since realised that I was talking out of my F–Hole, and that playing/performing puts a completely different angle on what you're capable of. This realisation was fuelled tonight by watching David Atkinson’s set.

I first came across Dave a few months ago, being a fellow Bluesinlondon–ite, I invited him down to play at the open mic I was running at Ain’t Nothin’ But. He played, and it was... OK, nothing more. He obviously had some slide talent and he could hum a tune, but let's say I was hardly blown away.

A few months later, after numerous gigs and open mics (Dave has been whoring himself like the rest of us) he is starting to come into his own. He seems to have found 'his sound' and some good material to go with it. Completely at ease with a national in his hand, he approaches things from a very roots level. It's refreshing to see a young performer unafraid to tackle such an ancient songbook... and pull it off.

His performance is what has made the difference. On our first encounter, he seemed slightly wary of the microphone (too used to playing in his bedroom maybe), but now he has a relaxed confidence on stage.

A quick mention of the venue. The River Bar is a well located busy drinking establishment,  the live music area being in a basement. It's slick and modern but not too pretentious. The promoters, Live Nights, seem to be running a well organised show too.

Dave takes the stage to a minimal crowd (it's only 8 O'clock) but one that proves to be very appreciative. He begins with a self penned number, and immediately the audience pay attention. Singing of trains and women doing him wrong with some tasty guitar work the scene is set nicely.

With the next 2 songs - 'If Blues was money', and a Charlie Patton number I forget the title of, I started to notice the combination of rhythm and bass notes in Dave's playing, at points making it sound like two guitars on stage. The set continues to flow well with some good dynamics and mutters from the audience of "he’s great isn’t he" is always a good sign. Dave grows with each song stomping away on the wooden floor for extra power. The short and bitter sweet set comes to an end with a well delivered  'Nobody’s fault but mine'

Six or so gritty delta tunes and the audience is still listening, nice! I left with the thought that If Dave has improved this much in the few short months I have know him , then just imagine what he might be doing next year.

Check him out at soon.
Check out his 'Top Five Blues Records' in our Features section.