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The Green Note, Camden, 26.01.07
By David Atkinson, Photos by Rick Webb
Kris Dollimore's music is unmistakably British
and delivered with an edge that might suprise most listeners. I caught Kris
live last friday night in Camden and had his debut CD, 02/01/1978 in my hifi most of the weekend. My introduction to the man and his
music have formed this abum-come-live review thingy...
Initially, the album's title presented me with a problem: how best to
say it? Asking a friend "Have you heard The First of The Second,
Nineteen-Seventy-Eight by Kris Dollimore yet?" would be met
with with bewilderment. The title is not the only unconventional thing
though; Kris honed his chops with The Godfathers, Johnny
Dee Dee Ramone, Adam Ant and Del
Amitri, not really names dropped in
blues circles. It all seemed quite incongruous but the tracks
available on his website added to the intrigue...
Playing at a busy Green Note, Kris switched between straight acoustic,
amplified acoustic and electric styles with ease and plowed through most
of 02/01/1978 and a few familiar standards. He's an accomplished player,
no doubt about it, and the years of post-punk and New Wave have
imparted a toughness to his music that is pleasingly free from posturing.
'Lean' is perhaps the best description...
The Green Note is a good venue that balances the comfort of the audience
with that of the performer. The former enjoy table service, good food
and fine music, while the latter can be part of an eclectic roster who
play to an appreciative crowd in surroundings a genuine cut above most
small music joints in Camden. It is intimate yet lively; trying to maximise
the benefits of having both music and food but also manage the limitations that
accompany such a juxtaposition.
Those hungry for Blues had much to enjoy in in Kris' performance but to
my eyes and ears the acoustic tracks had a hard time cutting through
the noise made by those who were just plain hungry. Kris did look and
sound more comfortable ramping things up on the electric and semi-electric
numbers though, employing a well thought out stage set up that included
a wooden stomp box (or 'portable portch' as I like to think of them) that
utilised slap-back echo for that urgent John
Lee Hooker vibe which
characterises some of the standout tracks on 02/01/78.
JLH thing is only part of the deal though. There is a feeling that reminds
me of the least faux-punk blues offerings typical of Fat
Possum; it's sort
of Mississippi hill country blues by way of Kent. Indeed, Dollimore cites
Fred McDowell as one of his heroes so it is not surprising. The
album's Britishness is to its credit rather than a handicap. On
one hand it frees him form the crushing weight of tradition
but, on the other, that tradition is clearly enjoyed and respected
by him and his music. He really does bring something of his own to it.
Listening to the album since the gig, the initial buzz of the electric
material gave way to the more ambient songs. The shout-a-long of North
Kent Post Industrial Hillstomp Blues, the more pensive Rolling
Stone and the closing track, East of England, come across
nicely in a normal listening environment. Actually, the
album's acoustic tracks' vocals remind me of British folk whizz
Martin Simpson's, albeit over some quite different (but still inventive)
All in all a distinctive and individual take on the blues.