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Live From Bilston: Samantha Fish, Jah Wobble & The Magic Band

Live From Bilston: Samantha Fish, Jah Wobble & The Magic Band
Martin Longley By

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Samantha Fish/Laurence Jones
The Robin R&B Club
November 11, 2015

The blues has a youthful future, across both sides of the Atlantic. Singer and guitarist Laurence Jones is the latest upstart to stir the UK scene, possessing a very 1960s sensibility, as if he's a throwback to the scene of Jimi Hendrix, John Mayall, Cream and The Yardbirds. This isn't to say that Joe Bonamassa hasn't made a mark on the Jones approach, but those older artists certainly represent his core historic values. Jones started out really young, and three or four years later he's still in his early twenties, and can be counted as relatively local, dwelling not too far away in Stratford-upon-Avon. He was ostensibly the opener, but Jones had already amassed a substantial gathering down at the front of the stage, his following growing noticeably each time he visits The Robin. The power trio was completed by local Birmingham bassist Roger Inniss and Stateside sticksman Go-Go Ray. Jones has all the showbiz tricks at his fingertips, but could use some more individuality, and more independent thought. He's still playing the Hendrix version of "All Around The Watchtower," when he could at least select one of the many Jimi alternatives, lesser-known but still majestic. Also, Jones favours a slightly muted, bass-loaded tone, which tends to remove the edge from his solos.

During the interval, Jones was presented with the 2015 British Blues Award for Young Artist Of The Year. Completing this Ruf Records Double Trouble tour date, singer/guitarist Samantha Fish (slightly older, at 26) employed the same Jones rhythm duo for her own set, hiking the intensity to a much higher level. The trio on this tour is an amalgamation of each artist's regular outfits, Inniss coming with Jones, and Ray imported by the Kansas City Fish. She's already up to her third album, this latest produced by Luther Dickinson, of the North Mississippi All-Stars. It's immediately apparent how superior her axe-sound is, infused with trebly twang, subject to sensitive note-bendings and guitar body-wobbles, a bottleneck in place for much of the time, as she squeals out tangled phrases. Perfectly timed for variety, Fish's acoustic guitar section featured a Charley Patton song, and then she displayed similarly good taste with a reading of "I Put A Spell On You," courtesy of Screamin' Jay Hawkins. Despite all of this guitar talk, and accepting the strengths of her playing, it's Fish's vocal prowess that strikes even more, bizarrely sounding closer to a country holler than a blues howl, full of trauma and heartbreak, and we're talking country'n'western, not just country blues. She also has an infusion of soul sensibility which makes for a rather unusual blend, full of outside traits. For the extended encore, Fish chose her primitivist cigar box geetar, Jones returned, and the pair each fronted a number, changing the emphasis on each song, and also wearing each other's tour t-shirts, By this time, the Bilston crowd were getting pretty rabid, just like this Wednesday was a Saturday night, and quite justifiably so, given the energies being transmitted from the stage.

Jah Wobble's Invaders Of The Heart
The Robin R&B Club
November 12, 2015

Ultra-subterranean bassman Jah Wobble forged his reputation as a member of Public Image Ltd., his first monumental achievement being the low-end contribution to their extremely innovative Metal Box triple-vinyl set (Virgin, 1979). Very soon after that he began concentrating on his own multi-manifestation career, adopting several band personas, as well as collaborating with artists such as Brian Eno, Bill Laswell, and several members of the pioneering German combo Can. Invaders Of The Heart have always traditionally been inclined towards global adventuring, incorporating variegated ethnic elements, filtered through the pan-cultural Wobble clan. For this incarnation, the tilt was more towards being a general house band for all of Wobble's highly varied back catalogue, geared up towards picking out material from his recent Redux six disc boxed set (Cherry Red, 2015).

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