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Hucklebuck - Last Train to the Running Horse DVD (featuring Matt Schofield)
Reviewed by G.P. Bennett

Filmed at Nottingham's basic but hearty Running Horse, this release by the Sam Hare led quartet is an interesting find on the Blues In London scene. Filmed to document the band at a high point before imminent personnel changes, this DVD captures a tight outfit enjoying what they do.

The band comprises Sam hare (Guitar and Vocals), Giles King (Harmonica), Jamie Lawrence (Bass) and Mimi Hajime (Drums)

The DVD doesn’t mess about as it leaps straight into the opening titles with the Funky instrumental track Streamline. Led by some fat sounding Harp from King, before Sam takes over with some Wah Wah Telecaster. You get the impression that arrangements have been thought about in some detail (or maybe that’s just the sound of a good band). The quality of the live sound comes to the fore with the Jump Shuffle of second song Poker Machine.

Sam's thoughtful lead controls the song and is coupled with his unique vocals.
It's one of those voices you either like or you don't, Not a classic blues brawlers voice - there are no Wolf or Muddy imitations here - but a genuine authenticity to his slightly country tone clearly aided by the fact that he is singing some top notch self penned songs. You won't be hearing Sweet Home Chicago at a Hucklebuck gig.

Although this is undoubtedly the Sam Hare show, the rest of the band is definitely worth a mention. The harp of Giles King is solid and considered and takes a backseat more often than the usual blower. But when he does let loose (Something Gotta Change) he deserves some attention. The bass playing of Jamie Lawrence and Drums of Mimi Hajime interlock nicely, especially on Getting Old, with it's busy groove.

So far it sounds like I’m reviewing a live gig, rather than the DVD as a whole, so...

As a product it’s not bad, it has some professional touches and looks pretty good. There is a nice addition at the end, with a bonus track / promo video of Mr Hare playing his song You Just bring Me Water– with some suitable “mood lighting” and a some nice camera angles (good song as well).

The set flows smoothly, taking in lot's of different Blues styles from funk to shuffles, country and some slow blues, always holding the interest.
It's rounded off perfectly by the appearance of Matt Schofield on second guitar for a couple of numbers. His playing an ideal partner to Sam's thoughtful approach. Schofield is by far one of the best guitarists around at the moment, and his class lifts the whole thing up that little bit extra, he bides his time, backing Sam until it's his turn to cut through and the looks on the faces of the band says it all.

Hucklebuck has taken on a slightly different approach since the filming, with Sam's brother Fergus being recruited on Bass, but the essence of what this gig was all about will still be there.

It's a sign of the times when unsigned bands start releasing good quality, feature length, well produced professional DVD packages. And that’s exactly what this is. Well worth checking out !!

GP

Available from Hucklebuck's websitewebsite: www.hucklebuck.co.uk/