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Big Joe Louis
Aint Nothing But - Dec 2005

Reviewed by G.P. Throat of The Vulnerable Things
Photo by Steve Sleddon

  This is not Big Joe, it's top harp man Wes Weston who plays with him. You can see what Joe looks like if you click here to read our interview

Hard wooden chairs, dingy lighting and beer soaked floors! I can think of better places to be on a Friday night!

Hang on... No I can’t!
“Ain’t Nothin’ But…” Is THE place to hear Blues in London today. It’s the perfect setting for this genre of music.

I arrived at 6pm, the only way to guarantee a seat on a Friday night. But the crowds don’t start arriving until around 7 O’clock. There’s the usual eclectic mix of genuine Blues fans and numerous Suits looking for a drink after work, sometimes I wonder what they are expecting from the venue when they first stumble upon it, and some of the reactions can be as entertaining as the musicians!

Big Joe arrives in the familiar understated manner associated with the performers at A.N.B, most of the punters seemingly unaware of who he is. But to be fair, Big Joe isn’t the archetypal Blues artist, he looks more Bill Hayley than Bill Broonzy. He takes the stage in a shirt which exudes cabaret, but the performance is anything but.

He is backed by a terrifyingly tight band comprising a solid double bass player, a drummer with amazingly soft hands and the uniquely talented Wes Weston on Harmonica. Weston’s playing stands out immediately, his sound is so full, he never overplays (as is the case with numerous Harp players) and I don’t think he even took a breath during the opening number, effortless!

Big Joe is a soulful enough singer, he doesn’t carry the grit of an Ian Siegal but is impressive enough. His guitar playing is understated which is actually quite refreshing and only adds to the feel of professionalism that this band gives out, you can really tell that they have learnt their trade over the numerous years they have been playing.

The atmosphere rises as the set progresses (so much so that some fool knocks a pint of Murphys into my lap). There are shades of Muddy Waters (not on my jeans) and definite nods towards John Lee Hooker throughout the set, the use of Hooker style one chord riffs being a recurring feature.

All in all this is a good entertaining Blues band who are well appreciated by their audience. A well oiled outfit (I met Joe for a brief chat too and he’s a top bloke too). Well worth checking out.

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