By Martin McNeill, Jan 7 2020 08:31AM
My CD Cat Squirrel was placed No 9 in the blues broadcasters chart for 2019.
This chart is based on radio plays on umpteen shows across the UK and beyond.
Many thanks to all the DJs who thought my music worth playing.
By Martin McNeill, Nov 19 2019 08:50PM
Ben Tyzack is my guest at the next blues session at the Leigh Community centre cafe, Wednesday December 4, 7.30pm.
Ben, a fine guitarist and singer who was brought up in the US, is best known for his work with top blues band Spikedrivers. He is currently recording a solo album.
It's always a pleasure to play with Ben; I'm really looking forward to this gig.
Lorna & Lottie's Cafe has a licensed bar and is a great little space for live music. Come and join us!
By Martin McNeill, Sep 20 2019 08:45PM
Here's a new gig! I'm at the cafe at Leigh Community Centre with Tim Huskisson on piano on Wed Oct 2.
If we pull in enough punters, it's possible this could become a regular session.
I've loved my two stints at Peggy Sue's and am grateful to the team there but it's time to something different. Lorna & Lottie's is a cosy cafe, there will be a licensed bar, and there's plenty of parking.
As well as Tim and me, acoustic guitarist Glen Ottley will play an interval set. I'm so pleased he has agreed to do it -- he's a really talented player.
It's an early gig: 7.30pm start, 10pm finish. £5 admission.
Leigh Community Centre is in Elm Road.
By Martin McNeill, Aug 27 2019 08:04AM
My album Cat Squirrel is a pick of the month for September among presenters in the Independent Blues Broadcasters Association. Great to be getting some airplay!
And a little ehwile back BBC Suffolk presented Stephen Foster wrote a nice piece about the record in his column in the East Anglian Daily Times.
I'm due to guest on his show (again) tomorrow (Aug 28) before my gig at he Halberd, Ipswich.
By Martin McNeill, Jul 29 2019 04:59PM
The new CD Cat Squirrel is album of the week on this week's Wednesday's Worse show, on Blues and Roots Radio, presented by Ian McKenzie. "Excellent stuff" says Ian.
5pm Wednesday, repeated Thursday 8am
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.
WHAT THEY SAY
"My album of the week. Excellent stuff!"
on Cat Squirrel (Ian presents Wednesday's Worse on Blues and Roots Radio
'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.
PHILL THE MUSIC QUILL
Blues classics in a friendly venue
WILKO JOHNSON ON BOTTLENECK BLUES:
"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 philosophy 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."