MARTIN McNEILL                      

bottleneck blues


Picture: The Dim Locator


By Martin McNeill, Sep 5 2017 11:30AM

Loved playing Rye International Jazz & Blues Festival with Roy Webber on drums and JJ on bass -- and nice to get very positive feedback.

Festival director Ian Bowden wrote: "Thank you for a superb performance at the festival.

I hope that you enjoyed it as much as the audience, really great vibe and atmosphere."

By Martin McNeill, Aug 7 2017 11:40PM

I'm putting together a little blues festival at the Spread Eagle, Brentwood, on Saturday, September 23, with live music from 4pm to 10.30pm.

Here's the line-up:

* Jerimiah Marques (health permitting) with Laurie Garman on harmonica, JJ Zarbo on double bass, me on guitar;

* Ben Tyzack playing a solo set;

* A session from me with pianist Tim Huskisson.

All this and maybe a special guest or two. Put it in your diary!

By Martin McNeill, Jun 28 2017 07:46AM

Just had a fabulous gig at Annie's Jazz Club in Thorpe Bay with a five-piece line-up.

This is a great place to play; so well organised and a lovely, attentive audience. Thanks to Ivor, Jan and the Annie's team (Annie herself was away).

My next local gig is with Tim Huskison at Peggy Sue' s, Monday July 3.

By Martin McNeill, Jun 2 2017 12:56PM

Just taken a booking for election night at the Man of Kent, Rochester; my first time at this venue.

June stared well with a nice gig at the Flying Pig, Cambridge (joined by Ruby Florence).

It's turning out to be a busy month. I'm at the Railway Hotel, Southend, with the band twice and once in solo form.

The band also play Annie's jazz club in Thorpe Bay with a special five-piece line-up.

I'm doing solo gigs in Essex, Suffolk and Kent.

Tim Huskisson is joining me for a gig at the Smack in Old Leigh. And I've got a spot at the famous Leigh Festival.

Here's the list:

* Sunday June 4, 4.30pm: Bottleneck Blues (featuring West Weston), Railway Hotel, Clifftown Road, Southend

* Monday June 5, 8pm: Martin McNeill with guests Fran McGillivray and Mike Burke, Peggy Sue's Music Bar, 1063 London Road, Leigh-on-Sea

* Tuesday June 6, 8.30pm: solo session at the Railway Hotel, Clifftown Road, Southend

* Thursday, June 8, 8.30pm: Man of Kent, 6 John St, Rochester ME1 1YN

* Saturday June 10, 8.30pm: Maypole, Mill End, Thaxted CM6 2LT

* Sunday June 12, 2.30pm: Ship, Blaxhall, near Woodbridge, Suffolk

* Thursday June 15, 8pm: Lifeboat, Market Street, Margate

* Friday June 16, 8.30pm: Martin McNeill and Tim Huskisson, Smack, High Street, Old Leigh

* Sunday June 25, 11.15am: Clarendon Scout Hut, Old Leigh -- part of Leigh Folk Festival

* Sunday June 25, 4.30pm: Bottleneck Blues, Railway Hotel, Clifftown Road, Southend

* Monday June 26, 1pm: Duo session with Tim Aves, Station House, Burnham (Burnham Art Trail event)

* Tuesday June 27, 8pm: Bottleneck Blues, Annie's Jazz Club, Thorpe Hall Golf Club, Thorpe Bay. With West Weston, Tim Huskisson, JJ Zarbo, Marc Cecil

By Martin McNeill, Mar 27 2017 09:55AM

Here are my guests for the final three weekly blues gigs at Peggy Sue's:

* Monday March 27: Homebrew -- an acoustic trio from Suffolk featuring the mighty Nolan Wiltz on vocals.

* Monday April 3: Ramon Goose plus JJ Zarbo on bass. Ramon is a brilliant, highly-original blues and world music guitarist. It will be wonderful to work with him again.;

* Monday April 10: Steve Weston plus JJ on bass. Steve is simply the best harmonica player you're ever likely to hear up-close, Not to be missed!

Many thanks to everyone who has supported these weekly sessions over the last two or three years.

Monday Blues is not closing altogether.

It will pick up again on May 1 as a monthly gig, every first Monday of the month. Watch out for details.

Peggy Sue's is at 1063 London Road, Leigh. The gigs start at 8pm.

PS: I'll playing some laidback music for diners at the Oaktree vegetarian restaurant, Leigh, this Thursday,March 30. My full Bottleneck Blues band, featuring Steve Weston, play the Railway, Southend, on Sunday, April 2, from 4.30pm.

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A great afternoon gig by top local musicians

From the Echo, Feb 25, 2015


Martin McNeill's Bottleneck Blues, Railway Hotel Southend


THIS Sunday afternoon gig showed just why the Railway is Southend's finest music pub.

Four of the finest local musicians served up a mix of swing, funk, jazz and blues to an expectant audience.

The first set contained a couple of instrumentals, plus bass player JJ Zarbo singing one of his own numbers, alongside the vocal and slide guitar of Martin McNeill. An added bonus was Tim Huskisson tinkling the pub's grand piano.

Highlights included Ray Charles' Hallelujah I Love Her So and Elmore James' Hawaiian Boogie.

Tim led the band on The In Crowd, a la Ramsey Lewis. That was followed by a Latin Roll and Tumble and Bo Diddley-esque Hand Jive, a particular highlight for me.

The band finished with Talk To Me Baby, featuring tremendous slide from Martin, but the crowd wouldn't let them off that lightly so they encored in traditional style with Mojo Working.




'Excellent solo acoustic set by Martin McNeill, who really held the audience. At times you could hear a pin drop. Check out Martin's new album."                                             MIKE LIGHTFOOT


"Thank you for putting on such a great band together and the excellent performance.  I'm so pleased that we got a good audience to do it justice."



"Martin McNeill and Ramon Goose  amazed us at the Tuesday Night Music Club with a demonstration of the best in acoustic blues. Ramon and Martin were fabulous. I was quite honestly stunned by just how good."




"Great gig at the Railway on Sunday...just love the vibe"



"What a great time we had at Peggy Sue's"



From Phil the Music Quill's blog


Blues at Peggy Sue's, hosted by Martin McNeill with special guests Steve West Weston and Rob Glazebrook


Martin McNeill is the regular Monday Blues host. He’d brought two semi-acoustics with him; and was setting up as we arrived.

He welcomed us warmly and introduced us to the venue’s guv’nor, Dave; and to one of his guests for the evening, Rob Glazebrook.

Martin is a great aficionado of slide guitar, and has even named his band Bottleneck Blues. He often plays with them at the Railway Hotel, Southend-on-Sea; but he’s equally comfortable playing a small venue like Peggy Sue’s; just with one or two friends.

Rob Glazebrook is an accomplished guitarist too (and also a guitar tutor). He is a left-handed guitarist; and a member of two groups: the Broadkasters, which is a blues band; and the Houserockers, a 50s rock’n’roll/rockabilly outfit. Rob is something of a purist; and told us that he loves to use vintage kit – guitars, amps and mics – to get the authentic sounds of the original artists that he and his groups admire and emulate – and this is true even when writing his own material too. He brought a Tanglewood acoustic and a ’68 Les Paul Gold Top to the gig – lefties, of course.

Martin’s other guest for the night was the renowned Steve West Weston, an acknowledged master of the blues harp. He is an occasional member of Martin’s band, Bottleneck Blues; and often plays as a guest at Peggy Sue’s, and at the Railway Hotel. He’s also recently been headhunted for a tour with Mike Vernon and the Mighty Combo. Looking every inch the coolest of bluesmen in his dark shades, and clutching his precious case of harps, West was invited by Martin to join him for the first of three sets scheduled for the evening.

Set 1 had Martin on guitar and vocals; and Steve on harmonica and vocals. Right from the start it was clear that these two fine musicians were very used to playing together. They played an impressive set of up-beat acoustic Delta/downhome blues covers; nine songs in all, including the Sam Cooke blues ballad ‘Bring It On Home To Me'; and old classics like ‘Rolled And Tumbled'; ‘I’m Just Lucky That Way'; and ‘In The Mood’. Martin’s slide work was superb; and Steve on the harp was faultless throughout.

Set 2 was Rob’s solo guitar slot.  Seated with his Tanglewood; he shouted out ‘All aboard!’ and immediately launched into ‘Mystery Train’ – a Junior Parker song from ’53. Unfortunately, the nut on his Tanglewood broke during the number, causing the 4th-string to slip up to the 5th-string slot. Very professionally, Rob carried on regardless; tapping his feet and singing while he finger-wrestled the D-string back into place. This  achieved, he continued, but the same problem dogged him throughout his set. He ploughed on though; masterfully playing some good ol’ blues numbers, including Lightning Hopkins' ‘Someday Baby'; and Robert Johnson's ‘Stop Breakin’ Down’. Excellent.

Set 3 featured all three of our Bluesmen. This time, Rob armed himself with his Les Paul, and the three of them launched into a fine set of eight more blues classics including Percy Mayfield's ‘Walkin’ On A Tight-Rope'; and Johnny Guitar Watson's ‘3 O’clock In The Morning’. This third set was more lively too; being more towards the rock’n’roll end of the spectrum. The evening ended to great applause from the small but enthusiastic crowd.

I very much liked both the gig and the venue; and I’d recommend a visit if you’re into listening to the blues classics played live in a warm and friendly little venue.



Blues classics in a friendly venue


"They're a bloody good band. The whole of the band is really good. They're playing proper blues, which is quite a rare thing."

Wilko's comments come in an interview with Dave Collins for Level 4 magazine, when Wilko mentions watching the Bottlenecks at the Railway Hotel. Dave says "they never rehearse" (true), to which Wilko responds: "My philosphy exactly! With this kind of music if it gets too rigid you lose a lot.  You've got to have a bit of floppiness in there -- let it happen as it happens."