The Spitz 24th September 2005
Review by Blues in London free ticket winner
Mr. K - seen here bravely attempting to convince a tall girl that
the blues isn't just about old farts playing long guitar solos.
Props to him for getting the flyer into the pic too...
"Thee Most Super-Bluesitatious Old-Time Mother-For-Ya"
read the legend on the poster adorned with a photo-shopped Dooley
Wilson head atop Robert Johnson‘s body. Quite a bold
claim! And so with more than a hint of scepticism I headed off to
The Spitz for a night of freebie Blues courtesy
Arriving to an almost empty hall there was mild confusion with the
guestlist but it all stopped short of mild hysterics, wild fist
gesticulation and shouted claims of ‘BUT DON’T YOU KNOW
WHO I AM MATE!??” and before long I was sat sipping vodka
quite contentedly at the bar whilst Djs ’Too Bad’
Jim & Hangdog Trash Sound System pumped
out a rather unruly aural backbeat.
Crampton and his shirt...
the time John Crampton came on the place had filled
up a bit but I would’ve still had no problem swinging several
large cats around with no fear of maiming anyone! The moral of the
story here is 'never judge a book by it’s cover' because when
he plonked himself down on a chair centre stage sporting a quite
vile Hawaiian shirt and looking for all the world like an errant
Beach Boy my heart kinda sank. That all changed about 30 seconds
into the first number 'Million Miles' as I was more than pleasantly
surprised by the swampy Mississippi style blues, gritty vocals and
manic foot stomps.
A definite one-man-band, Crampton plays a mean bottle-neck on a
ancient looking National Steel whilst providing his own percussion
via stomp box. Add some gravel vocals and the occasional harmonica
burst and really the man can’t be faulted! Except maybe for
the workman like version of 'Baby Please Don’t Go'…oh
and that god awful shirt of course!
lets himself go...
A few more drinks, a few more people and before I knew it Dooley
Wilson himself was taking his place mainstage, Guinness
in hand. Being a Dooley virgin and with that scepticism being tickled
even more by the fact that Mr.Wilson is the poster boy for 'skinny
white boys' everywhere, things weren’t looking hopeful! To
his credit though the boy can play a mean electric slide, despite
having problems with a buzzing amp (on loan from one Mr.David
Vocally however I wasn't convinced with the lightweight delivery,
especially after the spit'n'sawdust approach of John Crampton. There
wasn’t much in the way of interaction with the audience either.
He just kinda sat there, closed his eyes and lost himself in the
blues. Did find it strange that he did 'Baby Please Don’t
Go' again seeing as we’d heard it already not 20 minutes beforehand!
But hey, he’s the Super-Bluesitatious-Old-Time-Mother, not
me, so who am I to be contentious!? Song wise I recognised the old
Hooker chestnut 'Bundle Up & Go' and a track I'd previously
downloaded from Dooley's first cd 'Asshole’s Last Chance'
called 'She Moves Me'. All in all it was an enjoyable first set
and I was interested to see how it’d all come together later
when Soledad Brother No.1, Mr.Benjamin Swank, joined the party on
drums for the second set…
gives Santana a run for his money in the gurning stakes...
up was the man I really came to see, Dan Sartain.
Finally getting some recognition in the U.K. now his album 'Dan
Sartain vs the Serpientes' has a release via One Little Indian.
I picked the thing up TWO YEARS ago when it originally came out
on Swami and really fell in love with the super-lo-fi sub-Rocket
From The Crypt wailings.
Dan didn't bother with the stage and instead set his mic up ground
level amongst the audience… which thankfully had now swelled
somewhat. A quick slug from what was either a chilled bottle of
water or a really cheap bottle of Lambrusco(!) and he kicked straight
off with 'Cobras', engaging the audience immediately and really
not letting go for the entire set.
Wild eyed, excited and hungry, he strummed the life out of his guitar
and played all the best stuff from the album including my personal
favourite 'P.C.B.98'. The trump card was when he removed his shirt
to reveal a t-shirt emblazoned with a picture of Ol' Dirty
Bastard, poured a drink from his water/Lambruso onto the
floor and dedicated the next song to "…all my dead homies…"!
He was joined on the last few songs by Ben Swank
and that really did turn the entire thing up to 11! I'd bet my Elvis
belt that by set end there wasn’t a non-believer in the entire
building! Definitely a name to watch out for in the future. Mark
And so back to Mr.Dooley Wilson, now joined by
the primal drumming skills of Mr.Swank again. Starting
out with a cover of Muddy Waters 'Rollin’ & Tumblin' I’m
not sure if the edition of drums improved the state of play or just
made it different. Fair play to him, Dooley was now somewhat more
animated, rockin' out some heavy slide blues but there was still
a sense that something was missing. Authenticity perhaps? Some grit?
A bass player most definitely!
It wasn’t so much that I disliked Dooley, just that I found
him kinda like 'Ikea Blues'. Like beige wallpaper. A foot-tapping,
head nodding distraction but nothing earth shattering or for that
matter, nothing that I hadn’t seen or heard before done better.
For me the definite winners tonight were Dan Sartain and Mr.Beach
Boy himself, John Crampton.
More info about John Crampton can be found at http://www.crampton62.freeserve.co.uk/
More info about Dan Sartain can be found at http://www.indian.co.uk/dansartain/
More info about Dooley Wilson can be found at http://www.drunkenmonkeyrecords.com/
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