By Martin McNeill, Jul 2 2018 06:51AM
JULY GIG NEWS
Zabrano bar and restaurant is a welcome addition to the Leigh music scene.
My first gig there is on Saturday July 21, with JJ bass.
I'm back at Zabrano the following week, Saturday July 28, with harmonica star West Weston for what promises to be a great day of music. We'll be playing late afternoon between two jazz acts. Check Zabrano's website for details closer to the time.
Please support Zabrano's live music sessions if you can. It's in Leigh Road, at junction with Dundonald Drive.
* Also in Leigh, I'm back at Peggy's Sue's Music Bar in London Road for the first time since my regular sessions finished a year ago. For this one-off gig on the 23rd I'll have Roy Webber on drums and JJ on bass. It would be great to see some of the old Monday Blues supporters there.
* I'm grateful to the Man of Kent in Rochester for asking me to play at short notice this Friday. I had been due to play at the Northern Seaman, also in Rochester, but it has had to close temporarily.
* I'm at the Norton pub in Cold Norton with JJ on Friday the 13th (why does that date ring a bell?) Last time I gigged there was with Tim Aves and were a bit upstaged by a brilliant young fiddler's impromptu performance...well, it was St Patrick's Day.
* My sessions every second Tuesday of the month continue at the Spread Eagle, Brentwood. Next one is on the 10th with Tim Huskisson on piano and JJ on bass.
* The full Bottleneck Blues band play our regular Sunday session at the Railway Hotel in Southend on the 15th, 4.30pm start.
* To end the month, I'm at prize-winning Southend micropub Mawson's for a Sunday afternoon session on the 29th.
ALL THE BEST
By Martin McNeill, Jun 25 2018 09:02AM
Fancy a day out featuring cider, steam engines...and blues?
Bottleneck Blues are the main live act at the Steam and Cider Fair at Old Dagenham Country Park this Saturday, June 30.
It's a special five-pieve line-up with West Weston on harmonica, Chris Kibble piano, JJ bass, Rob Pokorny drums.
We're on at 2pm and return for a second set at 4.50pm.
By Martin McNeill, Jun 1 2018 01:08PM
The brilliant Chris Corcoran, who is establishing himself as one of the UK's top blues and swing guitarists, is guesting with my Bottleneck Blues band at the Smack in Old Leigh on Friday June 8. Rob Pokorny will be on drums, JJ bass.
The Bottlenecks featuring West Weston are at the Railway in Southend twice in June, the 3rd and 24th. These Sunday sessions start at 4.30pm.
My regular second-Tuesday-of-the-month session at the Spread Eagle in Brentwood features Tim Huskisson on piano and JJ on bass. These are nice, relaxed gigs; Tim's a superb jazz pianist with a great feel for blues.
Now here's an unusual one to end the month! I have been asked to put together a five-piece Bottleneck Blues for two sets at the Steam & Cider Festival at Old Dagenham Country Park on Saturday June 30. So as well as Steve, JJ and Roy we've got the fantastic Chris Kibble on piano. We're doing two sets, scheduled for 2pm and 4.50pm. A good family day out, apparently.
Hope to see you soon
* Sun June 3, 4.30pm: Railway Hotel, Clifftown Road, Southend -- Bottleneck Blues with West Weston, JJ Zarbo and Roy Webber
* Thurs June 7, 9pm: Rock Lodge, Oxford St, Whitstable CT5 1DB
* Fri June 8, 8.30pm: Ye Olde Smack, Old Leigh -- Bottleneck Blues with JJ on bass, Rob Pokorny drums and special guest Chris Corcoran on guitar
* Tues June 12, 8pm: Spread Eagle, Queen's Road, Brentwood -- Bottleneck Blues with Tim Huskisson piano, JJ bass
* Sun June 24, 4.30pm: Railway Hotel, Clifftown Road, Southend -- Bottleneck Blues with West Weston, JJ Zarbo and Roy Webber
* Sat June 30, afternoon: Steam & Cider festival, Old Dagenham Country Park. Special five-piece Bottleneck Blues line-up: West Weston (harmonica), Chris Kibble (piano), JJ Zarbo (bass), Rob Pokorny (drums). Playing two sets, first at 2pm, second at 4.50pm
* Check my website for gig updates:
By Martin McNeill, May 21 2018 11:31PM
I'm back at the Flying Pig this Thursday, May 24, joined by singer Ruby Florence...our first gig together for a few months.
By Martin McNeill, May 10 2018 10:44PM
I spent 40 years in a day job which didn't give me enough time for my music, so these days I'm making the most of opportunities to get out and play. Many of my gigs are solo but I also love band work because it puts me alongside some musicians I really admire.
I've just done a couple of sessions with harmonica star Steve West Weston. We had an enthusiastic crowd at the Queen's Head, Burnham, on Saturday, and enjoyed a more chilled-out evening at the Spread Eagle, Brentwood, on Tuesday. Steve, as always, was brilliant.
Now I'm looking forward to two weekend gigs with my favourite pianist, Tim Huskisson. Tim is a classy jazzman with a fantastic feel for the blues.
Tim, me and bassist JJ Zarbo are at the United Brethren in New Writtle Street, Chelmsford, from 9pm Saturday (May12).
Then on Sunday (May 13), we'll be joined by drummer Roy Webber for our once-every-three-weeks show at the Railway Hotel, Southend; 4.30pm kick-off.
* We're slowly building up a following for blues at the Spread Eagle, Brentwood. I do it on the second Tuesday of each month. There's an extra date this month: Bank Holiday Monday May 28. I'll be joined by Roy on drums and Tim on piano.
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
'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 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."