5 February 2012

Returning to Roots

I follow jazz and even fine music these days, but I still have a soft spot for blues-rock so a visit to the Pro Blues & Roots jam today was lots of fun. The Cherrypickers were hosting and what a great little band they are. No surprise there: they are made up of some of the cream of the local blues-rock scene and the songs were wide ranging and entertaining, the feels were solid and capable, Monica’s voice was in full flight - loud and powerful and often growling - and John’s guitar solos were busy and chordally full and often screaming. Just as this music should be. They had the dancers up, the feet tapping and a few heads nodding, and they were having as good a time as we were. John’s bass sounded great, too: hard and unyielding with playing that’s tight, rock-powerful and distilled. They didn’t strictly play the blues, although JVB sang on the classic, You don’t love me. The rest of the repertoire included Michael Jackson’s I want you back (this was commented on!), as well as Aerosmith(!)’s Walk this way, JoJo Zep’s The shape I’m in and Martha and the Muffin’s Echo beach. Not really the blues: more entertaining than impassioned.

The room was the same. This is not a young crowd – I don’t feel out of place – but all are welcome. The blues does have some young followers but I’m sure many of these people lived through the years of rock guitar. Cream’s Sunshine of your life was played and my guess is that the performer heard it when it released. But it’s a friendly, easy-going scene, beery but certainly more restrained than I expect these guys (mostly guys) remember from their youth. There were several other make-up bands, people having a jam, maybe friends who’ve played together here or elsewhere before. One was more a country blues style, playing JJ Cale and the like. One was led by the richly bearded ex-Canadian singer-guitarist Danny Mack aka the Cement City Cowboy. Chris Harland led another band with his hot blues guitar. I got to play a few tunes with JVB and Jon from the Cherrypickers and a few others.

It was an entertaining and sociable outing that I plan to revisit. The blues scene around Canberra revolves around the Canberra Blues Society with frequent events and Bucky’s monthly Pro Blues & Roots Jam sessions. There’s plenty of opportunity to hear the blues and it’s great fun. The Cherrypickers are Monica Moore (vocals) and the Jon/Johnnies: John Van Buuren (also known as JVB; guitar), John Coates (bass) and Jon Jones (drums). The Pro Blues & Roots Jam is held monthly at Holy Grail, Kingston and the MC is the garrulous and entertaining bassist Dave (Bucky) Buckmaster. Other players included Chris Harland, Peter Barta, Steve Harnett, Mitch Preston and Danny Mack.

  • Danny Mack

    Paul Livingston said...

    Eric. To help you out. Danny Mack is the artist you mentioned as, "One was led by a richly bearded leader who I can’t name." You might be interested in his history. His web page is: http://www.dannymack.com/
    Paul L.

    Eric Pozza said...

    Paul, Thanks. Article now updated. Sounds an interesting history. Eric