Artist biogs A - C
The late 1960s yielded a remarkable crop of British blues-based rock guitarists, including Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Rory Gallagher, Peter Green ..... and Mick Abrahams. Back then, Mick Abrahams' guitar playing profile was on a par with that of his contemporaries. And now, nearly thirty years later, he is playing better than ever.
The roots of Mick Abrahams' musical career were typical of aspiring guitarists in the mid-sixties, taking in stints with R&B groups like The Hustlers, The Toggery Five, Screaming Lord Sutch, Neil Christian's Crusaders (replacing Jimmy Page) and his own McGregor's Engine. By late 1967 Mick had become a founder member of Jethro Tull, and throughout 1968 the band built up a reputation based on the already distinctive blues guitar of Abrahams and the flute playing and wild stage persona of Ian Anderson. The band's unique blend of blues, jazz and rock was reflected in their first album This Was, an immediate UK chart hit. However, having two such strong personalities as a twin focus was always going to be a recipe for musical incompatibility, and at the end of 1968 Abrahams jumped ship.
While Tull sailed a new course away from the blues under Captain Anderson, Mick formed his own band, dubbed Blodwyn Pig by a stoned hippy friend just back from the Buddhist trail. Their two albums, 1969's Ahead Rings Out and 1970's Getting To This, were a delightful amalgam of the 'progressive blues' of This Was and the jazzier influences of saxophonist Jack Lancaster, and both albums spent several weeks in the UK Top Ten charts. America too embraced the band in the course of two tours there. At that stage Blodwyn Pig looked destined for great things - but the old ogre of musical differences reared its ugly head, and Abrahams left his own band. Blodwyn Pig soldiered on for a while, but Mick's presence had been too vital a factor in their success, and the Pig died.
The early seventies saw Mick on 'Top Of The Pops' and 'In Concert' on Radio One with The Mick Abrahams Band, showcasing two fine guitar-driven rock albums in (A Musical Evening With) Mick Abrahams and At Last. The band enjoyed success through6ut Europe; but record company support was less encouraging and, after a short-lived Blodwyn Pig reunion in 1974 (immortalised via another Radio One live broadcast), a disillusioned Mick Abrahams effectively quit the music business.
Here we are in the new millennium, and Mick Abrahams' recording career is busier than ever. After spending the rest of the seventies and most of the eighties in civvy street, with just the occasional appearance at charity gigs to remind us of what a great guitarist the ex-Pig was, Mick Abrahams was persuaded by the enthusiastic response of the fans to these one-off gigs to resuscitate Blodwyn Pig - and what a fine decision it has been. Far from simply trading on past glories, Mick has spent the nineties writing and recording new music, both with Blodwyn Pig and as a solo artist. 1991's All Said And Done featured an impressive selection of new songs and stage favourites, while 1993's Lies was a sparkling collection of self-penned tracks. The Blods' dynamic stage performance was captured on the live 1994 album All Tore Down, and the 1996 solo electric blues album Mick's Back featured four new songs alongside a number of standards. And in between he has found time to guest on a number of other artists' albums, most notably on the Peter Green tribute album Rattlesnake Guitar alongside an illustrious Who's Who of the blues.
The most remarkable 1996 album though was the solo release One, which featured Mick just on acoustic guitar ("unpigged"), augmented on four tracks by the mandolin, harmonica and flute of his erstwhile Jethro Tull cohort Ian Anderson. The renewed working relationship with Anderson had started in the early 1990s with a couple of live reunions at fan conventions, and has continued with Mick making special guest appearances at Jethro Tull concerts, while Ian has even played live with Blodwyn Pig. That Ian should volunteer to play on One is as high as any testament to Mick's remarkable talents.
And still the man continues to produce new music. Mick's brand new album See My Way further demonstrates what a fine songwriter Mick Abrahams is in a range of styles, from slow tear-jerking blues to acoustic finger-picking ditties to driving fist-waving rock. The current line-up for this brilliant new album has some very distinguished guest musicians such as Elliott Randall, Dave Bronze, Geoff Whitehorn and Jim Rodford to name but a few. This has to be Mick's finest album to date. It also marks a new direction for Mick, as this is his debut as a producer and this album is proof of his dedication to continue to make and produce great blues, country, rock and jazz influenced music that is unique and heart felt.
There are plenty of good guitarists around. One of the hallmarks of a great guitarist is the development of a personal style - and the big, rich sound of Mick's rolling and tumbling licks are instantly recognisable, whether he is blasting out a blurred-finger eye-bulging rocker or making his guitar weep to a mournful slow blues.
The fans too have welcomed Mick back with open arms. All the old Blodwyn Pig and Mick Abrahams Band albums are now available on CD alongside the newer material, and the band continues to tour and entertain the audiences of Europe with its powerful bluesy rock and rockin' blues.
For more information about Mick Abrahams check out the website at Mick Abrahams-Blodwyn Pig Official site
November 2005 BEN ANDREWS
Washington DC, Ben has been playing the clubs & festivals along the Eastern
seaboard of the USA for over twenty years. His picking on a variety of guitars ~
12 string, Dobro, 6 string ~ is awesome!! He always gives a passionate display
of virtuoso playing, whether it is the ragtime styles of Blind Blake or Willie
McTell, the powerful driving rhythms of Huddie Ledbetter or the delicate slide
of Mississippi John Hurt he just oozes authenticity. His rich voice perfectly
compliments his playing. It is rare to get a combination of superb guitar,
stunning vocals & natural swing but with Ben Andrews you get just that
also provides music scores for film, TV & radio. He has appeared at major
festivals throughout the USA & Europe & has performed with many of the
legends of blues including: - Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Brownie McGhee, John
Hammond Jnr. and Robert Lockwood Jnr.
Feb 2005, June 2006 DUCK BAKER
Duck Baker was born Richard R. Baker IV in Washington, DC in 1949 and grew up in Richmond, Virginia. His teenage years were devoted to playing the rock and blues bands before becoming interested in playing in fingerpicking style in local coffeehouses. Ragtime pianist Buck Evans was a major influence on Baker's developing interests, which by the time he moved to San Francisco in 1973 included rags, blues, old-time country, Cajun, bluegrass and New Orleans jazz. This variety inspired the title of his first solo record, "There's Something for Everyone in America," in 1976.
During the next four years, Baker recorded four more solo records, including one devoted to swing, one to modern jazz and one to Irish and Scottish tunes, and appeared on nine others. He also wrote a book of fiddle tune arrangements and toured incessantly throughout America, Canada, Europe and Australia. He changed address almost as constantly, finally winding up in Europe for most of the '80s. He returned to San Francisco in 1987 and finally to Virginia in 1991. Most of his more recent solo recordings have featured his own compositions, an aspect of his work that has drawn particular praise from other guitarists.
If Baker's insistence on studying and performing so many facets of folk and related music, from medieval European carols to avant-garde jazz, have made him somewhat difficult for the press to categorize, he certainly has earned the respect of his peers. A check list of musicians with whom he has been associated professionally (in performance or on records) would include blues man Charlie Musselwhite and Jerry Ricks, bluegrassers Tim O'Brien and Dan Crary, traditionalists Ali Anderson and Brian MacNeil, new music icon John Zron, rock legend J. J. Cale, and jug band king Jim Kweskin.
Duck Baker has been a seminal figure and influence in the bringing of Irish traditional music to the guitar. Baker is one of those rare musicians who doesn't draw upon the repertoire of his chosen instrument for musical raw material, but rather finds ideas in the broader musical stream, and shapes them to the sensibilities of the guitar. From the application of that talent comes his acknowledged success at translating Irish fiddle, pipe, and harp music for the guitar. His memorable but not widely distributed 1980 album Kid on the Mountain outlined a stylistic approach that eschews any cosmetic prettiness of tone, and focuses rather upon the possibilities of stark, open harmonies and complex interwoven bass lines. That album first introduced to many guitarists in America viable arrangements of some essential Irish tunes, a few of which include "The Blarney Pilgrim," "Morgan Magan" and "The Duke of Fife's Welcome to Deeside." Though that album is long out of print, many of the landmark arrangements found there have been reissued on various CD collections.
For more information about Duck Baker check out the website at www.duckbaker.com
Tom ball & Kenny sultan
June 2002, October 2003, Sept 2004
Read the BFBR interview!
"America's Good Time Blues Ambassadors"
"Somewhere, Sonny and Brownie are smiling. RA" Acoustic Guitar
Tom and Kenny
have been bringing their unique blend of guitar and harmonica blues, rags and
good time music to widely diverse audiences for more than two decades. Ball has
the perfect gruff blues voice, plus he plays a mean harmonica; Sultan is a
guitar virtuoso. Their repertoire includes hilarious blues tunes by forgotten
singers, plus a number of originals.
Over the years they have
shared the stage with some of the very best, Ray Charles, Clifton Chenier, Ry
Cooder, Albert Collins, Elvis Costello, James Cotton, Robert Cray, Bo Diddley,
Willie Dixon, John Hammond, Emmylou Harris, Brownie McGhee, Big Joe Turner,
Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, Doc & Merle Watson,
Junior Wells, and many, many more...
For more information about Tom Ball & Kenny Sultan check out the website at www.bassharp.com/tomball.htm
March 2005, July 2006 SPENCER BOHREN
Spencer Bohren lovingly calls New Orleans home, but for much of any given year, he can be found roaming the globe travelling by train, plane, car and boat to share his deep love of American blues, folk and gospel music.
From Portland to Paris, Denver to Dublin, enthusiastic audiences rise to their feet night after night to celebrate Spencer's unique mix of traditional and original songs, casual instrumental prowess and unpredictable storytelling.
He's been a frequent guest on Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion; a perennial winner of New Orleans' coveted Big Easy Award for Best Folk Artist, the composer of an evocative score for Louisiana hit play, Earl Long in Purgatory, and an instructor at Jorma Kaukonen's Fur Peace Ranch in Southern Ohio. Spencer has released more than a dozen albums, and his most recent, Solitaire, is hailed by critics around the world as some of his best work in a thirty-five year career.
performance is Spencer's greatest pleasure, and no two shows are ever the same.
This year's itinerary includes dates all over the United States as well as
concerts in Ireland, Sweden, France, Germany, England and Belgium. No matter
which side of the Atlantic you find yourself, you won't want to miss an
opportunity to experience and evening with one of America's most soulful
Spencer Bohren was born to sing. A devout Baptist upbringing gave Spencer Bohren a strong musical foundation, and he was singing harmonies in church by the age of eight. He came of age musically during the folk boom of the mid-60's, when he started playing guitar and became aware of the folk traditions of America. "Church music is so entwined with traditional music that it was an easy transition for me, but the wealth of American music astonished me," Bohren says.
Guided by his
gospel past, Spencer naturally gravitated to the music of the South, and he
became a passionate student of the blues - both the cotton field variety of the
early Black musicians, and the hillbilly blues of the Appalachians. He comments,
"I never differentiated much between black Blues and what I call White
blues. Of course, the differences are obvious, but so are the
Spencer left his Wyoming birthplace in 1968, drawn by the burgeoning folk scene at the Denver Folklore Centre. He was fortunate to learn first-hand from excellent performers like the Reverend Gary Davis, before moving on to Seattle, where he played with a series of bands and wrote his first original songs. Seattle marks the beginning of what was to become a life of travel.
In 1973, Spencer moved
back to Colorado to play with folk-blues legend Judy Roderick. A fateful
backstage conversation with Mac Rebennac, a.k.a. Dr. John The Night Tripper,
spun the compass south with tales of the culture and subcultures of New Orleans.
Soon thereafter, Spencer began the journey the inevitably led to a decade in New
In New Orleans, surrounded by the sights, sounds and smells of a previously unimagined cultural gumbo, Spencer found a spiritual and musical home. A spectacular cycle of citywide musical creativity and activity was just beginning, one which generated the formation of the Neville Brothers, the Subdudes, Beausoleil, and the Radiators. The musical community included such greats as Clifton Chenier, Professor Longhair, Gatemouth Brown, and the Meters. "In New Orleans, I found kindred souls who lived for music in a place where music is woven into the fabric of life. Just walking down the street makes you a better musician...it comes up through the soles of your feet!" Spencer once said.
regularly in the French Quarter at the Absinthe Bar, and uptown at Tipitina's.
This renowned nightclub was then in its infancy, and Spencer held down a steady
Monday night jam session for two years, providing a living-room atmosphere for
countless New Orleans musicians. He also performed annually at the New Orleans
Jazz & Heritage Festival, where he attracted the attention of European
concert promoters and music lovers from all over the world.
As his reputation grew, Spencer began travelling throughout the South, farther and farther from home. Finally, in 1983, Spencer and his wife made a decision to move into an Airstream trailer, towed by their classic 1955 Chevy Bel Air, and travel with their three children along Spencer's performance itinerary. The journey lasted seven incredible years. Spencer performed coast to coast in a series of one-nighters, bringing his bluesy music to people in all parts of the country.
In addition, Spencer
recorded the first through fourth of his seven current albums and began to tour
extensively in Europe and Japan, where his recordings are often released on
major labels (Virgin and SONY) and enjoy strong airplay. In 1989, he had a
top-forty hit in Sweden. He comments, "Touring in foreign countries is a
bit unreal. It's big time on a small scale, but I will always be grateful for
the opportunity to travel the world."
In 1990 the gypsy life
and travelling show came to an end. Spencer and his family (now numbering four
children), settled in his home state of Wyoming, surrounded again by the
sensational landscape of the West.
In late 1997, the
siren call of the Crescent City brought Spencer back to his adopted home of New
Orleans where he immersed himself once again in its rich musical culture. He
released "Carry the Word" in April 2000, and continues to tour
nationally and internationally.
For more information about Spencer Bohren check out the website at www.spencerbohren.com
Jan 2006 KEVIN BROWN
Kevin Brown was born in Preston Lancashire, the son of a signwriter and schoolteacher, and has had a strong interest in music since early childhood. His ambitions have centred on guitar as well as writing and singing.
From an early age his interests have been highly focused on the blues and its related genres. His devotion to music has been lifelong and his passion for slide guitar has resulted in many outstanding recordings and performances throughout the world. All of Kevin’s work is emotionally strong whether it be with a full rhythm section or as a solo artist.
His work is admired by fans and artists alike, many of whom follow his career with great interest. His fresh approach to slide playing and willingness to examine new ideas has resulted in recordings which often seem to have a ‘timeless’ nature to them as well as perpetually generating interest.
May 2003, Nov 2004, Nov 2006 BOB BROZMAN
master of slide, fingerstyle, and percussive guitar
RA, Bob's exhilarating show
spans the global and musical spectrum, his rhythmic dexterity resonates with
elements of blues, jazz, Gypsy swing, calypso, sega, and even hip-hop and ska
Redefining musical diversity worldwide, Bob
Brozman is a remarkably prolific artist whose wit, energy, and musical technique
combine powerfully to create an unforgettable live performance. A master of
slide, fingerstyle, and percussive guitar, Bob's exhilarating show spans the
global and musical spectrum, and keeps audiences enthralled, begging for more of
his endearing, infectious energy.
Likewise, his chords and harmonies articulate an
acute blend of timbres from Hawaiian, Indian, African, Japanese/Okinawan,
Caribbean, and American roots blues. His fingerwork has been described in world
press as uniquely staggering, yet full of humour. Bob has a collection of
hand-tricks that make audiences look for electronic effects that in fact don't
exist: his show is the clean product of acoustic genius.
For more information about Bob Brozman check out the website at www.bobbrozman.com
April 2007 BUFFALO GALS
The Buffalo Gals are fast becoming the country's favourite old-time country string band. Firmly rooted in traditional American music, with an authentic sound driven by fiddle, banjo, percussive step dance, and soaring harmonies, they produce an irresistible show packed with all the excitement, passion and fun of Appalachian, Bluegrass, Blues and Cajun tunes and songs.
The band features a group of professional performers with a wide range of talents and interests, all of whom share a passion for the traditional music of the USA, and bring to their performance their many years of experience and enthusiasm for the genre.
Lissauer on fiddle and vocals with Sue Clare adding wonderful harmonies and the
occasional lead as well as mandolin. The third female Gal is flatfoot dancer
Sibylle Riesen. The male Gals are Pete Dunn, who sings and plays rock-solid
flatpick guitar, banjoist Johnny Whelan, and another rock-solid player, double
bassist Tim Smith.
For more information about Buffalo Gals check out the website at www.buffalogals.co.uk
June 2005 MOJO BUFORD
Best known for having played with Muddy Waters, Mojo Buford was born in 1929 in Hernando, Mississippi. He learned the harmonica from his father and also sang in the church choir when he was young. At 14, he moved to Memphis, where he met B.B. King and other blues players, and started soaking up the music in the local blues scene.
After a decade in Memphis, his ambitions shifted to playing in Chicago, and in 1954 he arrived in the Windy City. He formed a band with drummer Sam Burden and guitarist Dave Members and the trio called themselves "The Savage Boys". They eventually got to know Muddy Waters, who began booking them as "The Muddy Waters, Jr. Band" at local venues when he was playing out-of-town gigs.
Buford played with Muddy in 1962, 1967-68, and 1971-72. During the 67-68 period he toured the U.S., Canada, Australia, England, and Europe with Waters, and also recorded live with him. Mojo recorded with Muddy Waters for four decades.
After his stints with Muddy, he moved to the Minnesota’s Twin Cities area, where he got the name "Mojo" - the fans at a St. Paul barbecue bar couldn’t get enough of his playing on "I Got My Mojo Working"- and the moniker stuck. He currently divides his time in between Minneapolis and Memphis.
There are only about 15 or 20 “active” musicians from the “old school” of blues and “Mojo” Buford is one of the best you can find anywhere. He is preparing for his next major tour in the spring / summer of 2005.
September 2003 ADRIAN BYRON BURNS
Throughout Europe, Adrian is considered to be one of the most exciting performers around today RA.
In 1969, while living in his native America,
Adrian opened shows for Neil Young and Ritchie Havens on the East Coast which
led to a European tour in 1971 with other 'young talents'. The tour took him
through Germany, Holland, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland and Scandinavia and
provided the incentive for him to remain in Europe.
Adrian moved to England in 1974 and a year
later, signed a contract with Splash Records , who released thru EMI two singles
(soul oriented) and an album thru PYE in 1976. That same year saw him join Jimmy
James & the Vagabonds.
Adrian has toured through Europe as well as Asia and the U.S.
He has and continues to play in many Festivals and has shared the stage with such artists as B.B. King, Luther & Bernard Allison, Robert Cray, Charlie Musselwhite, Nils Lofgrin, The Dubliners, Hans Theesink, The Ford Blues Band, Marva Wright, Louisiana Red, Otis Grand, Roy Rodgers, Johnny Mars, Gregg Wright, The Big Town Playboys, Woody Mann, Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings, John Renbourn, Vin Garbutt, Show of Hands and many others. Adrian is featured on the Rhythm Kings Album (2000) "Groovin" (he sings the opening track), and on the new album (released April 2001) "Double Bill" and has toured with them throughout the U.K. during the past two years.
He has made nine albums and has averaged over 200 concerts per year for the past nine years.
For the past six years, Adrian has gained fame as a solo artist, both for his fabulous voice and for his incredible acoustic work. He has garnered praise for his compositions and for the originality of his interpretations of songs by Hendrix, Sting, Lennon/McCartney, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and many others.
Adrian has also been voted 'Acoustic Artist of
the Year' 1999 & 2000 by the British Blues Connection and Blueprint
Adrian is one of those rare breed of musicians
who is dedicated to keeping music as an art. He believes that the music industry
has become overcrowded with people wanting to make their fortunes by utilising
image and deception instead of playing music from the heart and soul. He also
believes that the media are doing their utmost to kill decent music. Jazz,
Blues, Bluegrass and Folk are treated as minority interests (In England
especially!) and not as cultural landmarks to guide both the public and young
musicians into new realms of understanding and self-expression. Pop has become
the over abiding monster laying waste to virtually everything in it's path.
He believes in the grassroots of music. We
constantly hear wonderful musicians who never get media attention and are kept
outside of the public's gaze, except for those who still make the effort to go
to festivals and read those small and valiant publications that are dedicated to
A dedicated believer in Acoustic Music and the power of one voice to still have relevance, Adrian often plays in places where he is the sole solo performer the establishment has featured. He wants to see an upsurge in acoustic music and hopes that the American trend for House Concerts takes off on this side of the Atlantic as well!!
For more information about Adrian Byron Burns check out the website at www.adrianburns.com
March 2006, March 2007 cafe bohemia (7-piece band)
Cafe Bohemia, highly respected and very talented musicians, have made a name for themselves in various pubs and clubs in the Gloucestershire area and beyond, giving pleasure to a steadily growing fan base with their varied repertoire.
Interests range from jazz and swing to blues and more, following in the footsteps of heroes such as Django Reinhardt, Charlie Christian and Eddie Lang, mixed with their own interpretations of well-known standards and more obscure numbers from the past, always a delight to listen to.
Be sure not to miss the wide range of music from the subtleties of guitar jazz to the rawness of the blues. These very talented musicians delight and entertain wherever they appear.
For more information about Cafe Bohemia check out the website at www.bottlebag.co.uk
January 2003, Nov 2004, Sept 2006
“One of the finest blues acts you can see.” Blues in Britain
A sensational voice, a class player RA and funny too!
Crawford is something of a blues enigma. Originally from Lancashire he now
resides in Appledore on the North Devon coast.
A shy and
retiring man who readily admits that recording studios fill him with dread and
that he’d rather go fishing with his dog for company, has, none the less,
toured much of Europe and the USA, captivating audiences with his intimate blues
came to the attention of a wider blues audience when invited to record a session
for the BBC’s Paul Jones Show. Current
projects include collaboration with virtuoso slide guitarist Kevin Brown on a
new album and tour in the spring of 2003.
Jim is also writing material for a new solo album that will be available along with his previous albums ‘Blues Boy’ and ‘When the Rains Came’.
For more information about Jim Crawford check out the website at www.jim-crawford.com