Giglists & Revues

Gig Listing

This section of the site is where you'll find reviews of both gigs and CD's.

The reviews are included largely unedited ( except for formating etc ) and represent solely the views and oppinions of the reviewer. They do not represent the oppinions of the blues site or the Bullfrog Blues Club.

If you have seen a blues gig locally (any where in reasonable travelling time can count as local, even Southampton!) or a local band elsewhere and would like to send in a review then send email to



Earl Gaines & Al Garner ( wih Mo'Indigo )
The Bullfrog Blues Club - September 6th 2001

Thursday night has been blues night in Pompey for years now, with the venue shifting from the Wedgewood Rooms to the RMA, the Pyramids and now South Parade Pier home of the Bullfrog Blues Club.

Most of the acts have been British and even the Americans tend to be younger white guys, since that's the nature of the blues in the twenty first century. Every now and then however, the epithet Legend can be applied to musicians whose roots are in the black rhythm & blues of the USA.

So it was that in early September, British melodic blues rockers Mo Indigo turned up at the Pier and after a single introductory song from Harry Lang ushered Al Garner on stage to lead them in a set of well-known songs like Everyday I Have the Blues and Rock Me . Al performed nicely and projected well in a beautiful satin blue two- piece although the vocal range of Rock Me was not always evident in a slightly understated set.

After a short break his fellow Excello star Earl Gaines took his turn, sporting a neat yellow number. Gaines, now aged 65, had recorded fairly regularly from the mid- fifties and many of those sides were featured in the set including Sitting Here Drinking , Let Me Down Easy , The Door is Still Open and 24 Hours . His style drew less on straight-ahead twelve-bar blues and more on the gospel and soul style, which led to inevitable comparisons with Bobby Bland. Gaines has a similarly powerful mid-range voice which is very soulful when he chooses and he gave an accomplished and, at times, riveting performance.

This was night one of a month-long European tour and Gaines material was sometimes a little too complex for the band after brief rehearsals. Nonetheless lead guitarist Peter Farrugia worked his socks off to lead the arrangements and played neat guitar, complemented by Anthony Cooper s organ. My bet is that the show will be really cooking by the time they return to the south coast in late September. There are few Legends left to savour in the blues world grab these, you won t regret it!

Dave Allen

Thank's for the review Dave. The next gig thet Earl and Al are doing int the area is at the Brook in Southampton on September 27th. Pictures of this gig will follow soon.

Now that Dave's started the ball running lets have some more revues from all you blues fans out there!

Well no sooner do I ask than this review turns up from Clive!



With Claude Bourbon
The Bullfrog Blues Club - September 12th 2001

This review is for all those people who missed a feast of a gig at the Bullfrog Blues Club. Those of us who were there know what an excellent evening of music was laid before us by two very different blues singers/guitarists. First up was Claude Bourbon, who's intricate finger picking blues has rightly brought him to the forefront of the Blues scene. His mixture of traditional blues songs by Robert Johnson T. Bone Walker etc, a Cajun tune, French songs plus a haunting 'Howling at My Door' (which he co-wrote) displayed his strength of voice and guitar playing. Claude doesn't regurgitate standard blues songs he takes the basic song as a starting point and moulds them into his own thereby breathing new life into them. The highlight for me was 'Bright Lights, Big City' that included a guitar solo that had the audience mesmerised as they listened and watched his fingers create music from another dimension. He finished his set with an excellent version of 'Death Don't Have No Mercy' a song that bleeds Blues. He makes guitar playing look as easy as breathing -a sign of a true artist. Claude will be returning to the Bullfrog Blues Club on Thursday 18th October with his trio (guitar, double bass and drums). For those of you who have not seen him or have seen him as a solo artist this will be a gig not to be missed.

Kent Duchaine took to the stage and made it his own. He is truly a wandering minstrel as he constantly travels around the world playing and promoting the Blues. Armed only with 'Leadbessie', his beaten up national guitar, which is held together with gaffer tape and shows signs of rusting from the sweat of it's owner, he belted out classic Robert Johnson songs such as 'Sweet Home Chicago', plus others by such writers as Willie Dixon, Richard Jones and some of his own compositions. His slide guitar playing is at times aggressive to the point where you are concerned for the wellbeing of 'Leadbessie' but he can show a tenderness when playing songs such as 'I'll Be True to You' and one of my personal favourites, 'St. James Infirmary'. He is a slight man but his music, charisma and obsessive love of the Blues fills the stage with ease. Kent is not just and excellent singer/guitarist he is also a storyteller and his explanations as to how some of the all time classic Blues songs came to be written offers an insight into the social history of Black America. The Blues is not all doom and gloom and Kent has a sharp sense of humour and ability to laugh at himself, especially when talking about his ex-wives, much to the amusement of the audience. Sadly his set had to finish due to the ludicrous licensing laws - when is this government going to realise that some of us are old enough to stay up after 11.30pm? Were it not for this restriction I have no doubt Kent would have played all night and the audience would have boogied along with him. The applause he received from the audience was one of the best I have witnessed at the Club. Having attended hundreds of gigs over too many years I have no hesitation in saying this was one of the best nights of music I have listened to. For those of you who missed Kent Duchaine I can assure you attempts are being made to bring him back as soon as possible.

Finally a word of thanks must go to John Roberts. Without his energy and commitment to live Blues we would not have experienced such a great evening. There have been times over the past six months when the Bullfrog Blues Club had audiences of no more than five people and John must have wondered what was the point of it all. However he has patiently carried on and the numbers attending each week have steadily increased. Those of you who regularly attend know what live music is about -the task is to encourage others along so that the future of the Club is secure and we can continue to look forward to more nights of great music.

Clive Goodwin



The Bullfrog Blues Club - November 1st 2001

Well what a great start to November at the Bullfrog. King Rollo was excellent! One of my favorite performers so far. Here's a copy of the review I submitted to An excellent newgroup for those with an interest in blues music.

*** Begin of forwarded message ***

Date: 02-Nov-01 02:29:28
From: Andy 
Subject: King Rollo played a storm

--- Forwarded message follows ---

Just got to tell you all about the great blues gig I saw tonight in Southsea
Portsmouh (uk). It was the visit to our club by King Rollo an excellent
blues guitarist / singer from 'up north'. I think he hails from Hull or
Humberside or somewhere in that vicinty anyway ( excusemy southern ingorance)
Any way the music he played tonight was my favorite kind of blues. It was
rhythmic and intense withour resorting to flash and speed. All feel. The way
it really should be. He played both covers and originals but all in his own
idiom. Two covers that stood out were a version of 'Satisified and Tickled'
and 'Shingle by Shingle'. The first  a song originally by Mississippi John
Hurt but in this case taken from Taj Mahal, I particularly enjoyed this one
as it`s a number I perform myself, and I have to say he captured the essence
that I attempt to but don`t quite get... The second is from Eric Bibb and,
allough possilbly 'requiring' a little more vocal range that King Rollo
had availble, was sung with great feel. I think it`s allways the sign of a
good singer when  they achieve more with their voice that they are 'capable
of'. did that come accross right? I hope so.... As well as these excellent
covers were many originals, a humurous number about the perils of getting
old ( apparently a modern phenominum ) springs to mind although I can`t
remember the title ( too busy listening to the next somg ).

Tonight performance was outstanding, when he plays near you check him out.

Last week we had Sonny Black, this week King Rollo, our audience is
growing week by week, I think the blues has come back to Portsmouth.

Next week we have Andy Broad's Rhythm Kings, check the website for info,

[have to admit to vested interest in this one :^)]

Andy Broad Blues guitar vocalist , Free lance web desinger
and anything else that will make me a few bucks....
*** End of forwarded message ***


Andy Broad


The Naughty Rhythms Tour 2001

The Bullfrog Blues Club - November 18th 2001

250 people got out of their armchairs to listen to four acts collectively know as The Naughty Rhythms Tour 2001.

First up were the Kurshaal Flyers who are making a comeback after a short period of success in the 1970's. While they tried hard their songs are less than memorable and arguably you could see much better in your local boozer. Still they filled in half an hour while I queued for a round of drinks.

Next up was John Otway and his faithful side kick Richard Hogarth. Having seen John many times I knew what to expect but the man has the ability to make you laugh at his jokes and gymnastic knockabout humour time after time. From his one and only hit (so far) Oh Baby, That's Really Free to the audience participation number 'House of the Rising Sun' John provides the real warm up act for the evening. 'Body Talk' encapsulates all that is John Otway with his use of drum pads secreted about his body, the introduction of his birthday present the Theremin, his matchstick body getting into positions that make makes John Cleeses' 'Ministry of Silly Walks look tame and Richard belting out classic glam rock licks. In an insane world John Otway helps his audience retain some vestiges of sanity by making us laugh.

Dr. Feelgood was next after a break. I have not seen them since Pete Cage left and had heard mixed reviews. However Robert Kane in his long coat and dark glasses has fitted in seamlessly. He is also a good harp player and while his voice is not as distinctive as Lee Brilleaux or Pete Cages he has done well to keep the Feelgood factor going. All the classics were played from Milk and Alcohol, Down to the Doctors, Nadine, Back in the Night and Down by the Jetty. The last is a showcase for Steve Walwyn on guitar who builds his solo up to a manic crescendo. Called back for an encore they played Mad Man Blues with great solos from Steve and Robert on harp. Feelgood give the audience what they want - R&B at it's best.

Finally Canned Heat took the stage. Showing my age I admit that the last time I saw them was in the late sixties when Flower Power was at its zenith - hmmm! Kicking off with their biggest and most well known song, On The Road Again was a brave thing to do because you then anticipated that their set would get better and better. In reality it was patchy. The band was tight and the two guitarists played well. The lead singer who looked like someone from the Tooting Popular Front switched instruments playing harp, flute and saxophone. Their set included other hits such as Goin' Up the Country and Let's work together finishing with a flurry of out and out R&B boogie numbers.

After an hour they were gone and a band from my past had served up memories of times gone by even though there is only one original member left.

Judging from the audiences' reaction during the evening I would say that John Otway was the runaway success followed by Dr. Feelgood. I always judge an act by asking myself -would I see this band again? With John Otway and Dr. Feelgood the answer has to be yes. Sadly I would not bother to see the Kurshaal Flyers as they did nothing for me but then again they might please other people. With Canned Heat it was a nostalgia thing and I have now laid another ghost of the sixties to rest.

Clive Goodwin

Thanks for this review Clive, just one comment .... it's the 'Kursaal' Flyers!

Now what about some reviews of gigs at other venues, locally based blues bands or CD's?


Gwyn Ashton

The Bullfrog Blues Club - March 14th 2002

On a cold, wet and windy night a group of hardy souls ventured out to be war med up by The Gwyn Ashton Band and what did we get? Red hot blues rock that left you with a warm glow when it was time to leave and face the elements. Gwyn hails from Australia and has been tagged as the guy who plays like Rory Gallagher. As someone who followed the career of Gallagher I was interested to know if Gwyn was in fact a tribute band to a great guitarist or whether he had a wider reportoire - and the answer is he has. From the first few note s you knew that he was someone special as he played a range of songs by Fred dy King, Albert Collins, Muddy Waters, Rory Gallagher and many of his own compositions, some taken from his excellent CD 'Feel the Heat'. Gwyn, ably backed by his American drummer and Swiss bassist, just got better and better as the evening went on.

Comparisons with Rory are inevitable and there is no doubt that he draws his inspiration from the late guitarist even down to the acoustic solo numbers when he switched to playing a dobro but what the hell - he is more than capa ble of filling the large hole in the Blues rock scene that was created when Rory died. I also detected shades of Walter Trout in both his slow and up te mpo numbers. Having said that he is prepared to experiment with standards an d give them his own interpretation. I was also impressed by his slide guitar work and the slow blues songs which he slowly cranked up to a frenzy, squeezing notes out of his guitar with a genuine passion.

How good is he? Well I for one would go and see him again tomorrow if he was available. As far as I can recall there was not one weak song in his set - a rare thing even with great musicians. When he finished his set the audienc e cheered for more. Often this cry for an encore is an audiences way of gett ing their pound of flesh but last night was a genuine plea for more excellen t music. What is amazing is that Gwyn should be playing in large 500 plus ve nues but I feel extremely lucky that I saw him play in the intimate atmosphe re of the Bullfrog Blues club. Once again the Bullfrog Blues Club has brough t new talent to Southsea and this club is setting new standards each week as the acts seem to outdo each other. I cannot remember a gig over the past five years that I have enjoyed more.

Clive Goodwin

Gwyn Ashton Thanks for yet another review Clive! It would seem from reading this page that we only review gigs at The Bullfrog Blues Club, however, this is just because they are the only reviews we've been sent!
Somebody send us a review from else where...please!

By the way if you'd like to find out a little more about Gywn you can click on the thumb nail of Gwyn to check out John's preview on the Barking Spider Website. (Also maintained by myself :)


Memo Gonzalez and the Bluescasters

Bullfrog Blues Club, Southsea, Thurs, Jan. 23rd

After a slow beginning John Roberts' >Bullfrog Blues Club seems to be going from strength to strength. Certainly a very healthy crowd turned out on a cold night for the club's "Winter Times Blues Mini-Festival". Following a disappointing opening set by the much-hyped Michael Messer and Ed Gennis (Michael Messer - decent slide guitarist, average singer, mediocre songwriter, little stage presence or "feel"), the evening began for real when the Bluescasters took the stage.This multi-national band (German guitarist, Turkish bassist, Italian drummer) warmed up the audience a treat for the entrance of mainman Memo Gonzalez. And what an entrance! Weighing about 23 stone, this Mexican-American native of North Texas is an imposing figure, with a pair of lungs to match. From his first song he proceeded to cook up a storm which never subsided throughout a non-stop two-hour set of blues, boogie, shuffles, swing and good-old rock and roll, his mighty vocals punctuated by Howling Wolf style harmonica-raw, unsophisticated and powerful. He was backed up superbly by the Bluescasters, who were visibly having a ball throughout the proceedings. Particularly impressive was the playing of guitarist Kai Strauss, one of the hottest non-American bluespickers this reviewer has ever had the pleasure of seeing. His T-Bone Walker style swing instrumental, complete with Walker's trick of playing the guitar behind his head, was simply stunning! All in all a dynamic and hugely enjoyable performance which had the delighted crowd yelling for more. John Roberts and the Bullfrog Crew deserve congratulations for bringing acts of this calibre to the area, and for staging Blues gigs in Southsea on a weekly. basis. Why not give them your support?

Pete Harris



Bullfrog Blues Club, South Parade Pier

Pete Harris is generally better known in folk music circles, when he's teamed with Mick Ryan, but last week at The Bullfrog Blues Club on South Parade Pier he showed a different side and proved his worth as an extremely talented bluesman! Mind you, the band were no slouches either, with Mark Houghton's harp well to the fore in many of the songs, whilst the rest of the band kept a rock solid back beat throughout. Pete's versatility shone as he effortlessly changed from guitar to mandolin on some numbers, in which his style was reminiscent of the great Ry Cooder, proving that sublety will always shine through volume and three chord tricks.

It's refreshing to find a musician of Pete's calibre who is so good at two differing styles of music, but the blues is only American folk music after all. And what IS folk music? The great Louis Armstrong got it right when he asked to define folk music "Well, I ain't never hear no horse sing". If the Pete Harris Blues Band are near you, don't you dare miss them, you'll have a treat in store, and not a singing horse to be seen.....

John Roberts.