All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Live Reviews

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Live From Old York: Big Boy Bloater, Dreadzone & Oli Brown

Live From Old York: Big Boy Bloater, Dreadzone & Oli Brown
Martin Longley By

Sign in to view read count
Big Boy Bloater
City Screen Basement
York, UK
December 5, 2013

The Bloater returneth, just over a year after his last appearance in York. Back then, he was joined by his full combo, but this 2013 show was a part of the Big Boy's solo tour, making use of intimate spaces for maximum eyeball confrontation. The Basement is a very small den lying underneath the city's alternative semi-art cinema, so even though the audience was a highly discerning tiny huddle, it still managed to more than fill all of the available chairs'n'stools. Bloater held court from his personalized stage space, his tiki cocktail bar to one side, an array of guitars and an old Fender amplifier to the other. Amongst his treasures were a cheapo Korean almost-cardboard Danelectro and a hand-crafted three-string cigar box gutbucket axe, complete with bullet-shell pick-up bridges. Nestling under all was his own rug, inspired by a touring experience with Delaware boogiemeister George Thorogood, who had brought his own thick pile carpet along for the ride, as well as his special Hoover, in its dedicated flight case. This was just one of the amusing anecdotes dropped in by Bloater during the course of his nearly 90-minute set. The tales were often as long, or even longer, than the songs.

Last year's set trawled wider in style, but this time Bloater's one man repertoire found him concentrating on the blues. Classic cuts mingled with original compositions, their delivery also split between old school porch interpretation and instant layering via sampling foot pedals. In this way, Bloater managed to combine rootsy grit and high technology, all in aid of a directly down-home expression. His voice is best described as having an enjoyably sculpted hoarseness, deep and resonant. His guitaring moved from detailed thumb'n'finger picking up to the full whammy bar twangeroo, usually after having laid down a slapped "drumbeat," and a couple of chopping rhythm parts with his pedal-aids. Bloater's building-up technique might not be completely slick yet, but this all added to the general air of off-the-cuff jollity. The songs were cannily selected, and even if their authors represented familiar choices, Big Boy's chosen number was usually a less than likely selection. Lightnin' Hopkins, Ike Turner, Fats Domino, Muddy Waters, H-Bomb Ferguson and Screamin' Jay Hawkins were amongst the excellent roster of rollin.' It was also an edifying treat to hear original songs "Leonard Cohen," "That Ain't My Name," "Pallbearer's Song" and "She Gets Naked For A Living," in their skeletal form. Also, the Bloater receives the closing 2013 award for most merchandise plugs made during a performance!

York, UK
December 12, 2013

This was a hedonistic summer festival gig, transplanted indoors for the winter season. Dreadzone might best be described as a dub reggae electro-rock trippy-pop combo, and in 2013 they're celebrating two decades of determined stepping. The band's particular mixture might now sound slightly dated, too redolent of the 1990s hippy rave scene, but their crowding up of Fibbers illustrated the strength of their core following, which is now comprised of grizzled herb veterans along with a healthy infusion of younger converts. A hand count was requested by the spirited MC Spee, and there were plenty of folks prepared to admit that they were freshly-deflowered Dreadzone virgins. The outfit's roots lie in Big Audio Dynamite, whose own roots lie in the Clash. Keeping the set list current, Dreadzone featured a chunk of Escapades, their newly released album. These selections pointed out the outfit's chief weakness, a predilection for penning songs that are overly anthemic, with a tendency to become irritatingly over-familiar in a very short time. Even their best known "Little Britain" single falls into that same category, along with encore item "Captain Dread," both of them taken from Second Light (Virgin, 1995), Dreadzone's most influential album. It's the stretches where the Leo Williams bass floods up to boast its immense weight that the band are at their most compelling. In short, the deep reggae aspects rather than the cheerfully accelerated techno-banging bouts.

Oli Brown
The Duchess
York, UK
December 14, 2013


comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read 2018 Hope College Jazz Organ Summit Live Reviews
2018 Hope College Jazz Organ Summit
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: March 23, 2018
Read Vlatko Stefanovski's performance at the Macedonian Philharmonic Orchestra's Concert Hall 2018 Live Reviews
Vlatko Stefanovski's performance at the Macedonian...
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: March 23, 2018
Read Noa Fort at Cornelia Street Café Live Reviews
Noa Fort at Cornelia Street Café
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 21, 2018
Read Cologne Open 2018 Live Reviews
Cologne Open 2018
by Henning Bolte
Published: March 21, 2018
Read Jon Faddis at The Wheel Live Reviews
Jon Faddis at The Wheel
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 20, 2018
Read Dixie Dregs at Lincoln Theatre Live Reviews
Dixie Dregs at Lincoln Theatre
by Eric Thiessen
Published: March 18, 2018
Read "Like A Jazz Machine 2017" Live Reviews Like A Jazz Machine 2017
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 4, 2017
Read "Diane Schuur at Birdland" Live Reviews Diane Schuur at Birdland
by Tyran Grillo
Published: November 20, 2017
Read "Big Ears Festival 2017" Live Reviews Big Ears Festival 2017
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 5, 2017
Read "Brussels Jazz Festival 2018" Live Reviews Brussels Jazz Festival 2018
by Martin Longley
Published: February 22, 2018
Read "We Jazz: Moveable Feast Fest Theory" Live Reviews We Jazz: Moveable Feast Fest Theory
by Josef Woodard
Published: December 16, 2017