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Lazy Lester Solo acoustic @ Blue Front Blues Room 23rd February 2004

Extract from Issue 19 ‘BLUES MATTERS!’  Review by Diane (Sister Feelgood)

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I have seen this fine Blues man twice before at two consecutive Colne festivals but this was my first experience of him in a small more intimate setting. Whereas I was impressed with the festival performances this smaller low key, informal affair was by far the best. The skittle alley made over for the blues club twice a month is just the right size and setting for acoustic solo or duo artists. The audiences are receptive, keen and cannot get enough of these top quality musicians that is becoming the “hall mark” of this venue Lazy Lester with his unique style of down home swamp blues was just made for this type of venue and audience.

Friends Annie and Phil had beaten me up to the Forest and had been good enough to secure me a front row seat. What are friends for? Well! Keeping you one of the best seats in the house that’s what! 

Jook Joint were first up on stage as “support” and played a few Louisiana back porch numbers before quickly giving way to Mr. Johnson. Aidan, the accordion player from Whiskey River, was in for a real treat later in the evening!

Lester is a tall, slim fellow and quite fit for his years and dressed ‘casual but smart’ and topped off with a fine blue/grey Stetson hat looking every inch the performer! His warm smile and friendly banter as well as his superb craftsman of his chosen art form wins the audience over immediately. He tunes –up his guitar and goes straight into a  sprightly up tempo nearly ragtime guitar solo. That done it’s down a beat or two into Hank Williams’ “Cheatin’Heart” then “Must have been the Devil” His voice strong and clear with that earthy ruggedness very much the requirement for this style of swamp country blues. The next tune was “Leaving on the New River Train” that very much resembled “Rollin’ in my sweet baby’s arms”. He then called for the accordion man to come on up and help him out with the next number. Aiden Sheehan stumbled up amazed that he had been summoned by the master, himself, to play alongside him! The look of absolute glee tinged with a little disbelief flashed across his face as he pushed his way up front to the stage. “Gumbo Ya Ya” was on the spicy Cajun menu and the players and audience alike wolf it down with out hitting the sides as they say!! Aiden was invited up later to do a Cajun waltz style version of “Wildwood Flower”. 

The second set after a short break continued in the same vein and the folks there watched listened and entered into easy banter with Lester as he is such a charming and relaxed man with an obvious love and enjoyment for his music and those there felt the same, They marvel at the exquisite finger style and agility of those long digits of his flying up and down the frets like greased lightening at times and conversely holding a long note to perfection when needed. A rack harmonica was produced along the way  - which proved a little problematic with its setting-up – bit like a seaside deckchair! This was passed off with typical Lazy humour. At his feet two wooden homemade beat boards on which his best polished cowboy shoes rapped out the tempo throughout. One board had a small tambourine attached at the end and the other a castanet set into a neatly scoped out recess. Both implements secured with baler twine to the front legs of his stool! Sophistication for you!  I read somewhere that he had originally been a drummer in the start of his career before moving to the harmonica and then lastly going over to the guitar. What a talent.  As John said so rightly at the end of proceedings we were certainly served up a fine menu of Louisiana back porch, twelve bar blues with Cajun, Zydeco, country blues, and others mixed in for good measure. My favourite? It had to be a real deep down dirty guitar version with rough hewn vocals on “Mannish Boy”. Oh! It was so good – so very, very good!!!! Annie agreed with me that this was by far the best night we have had here in the Miners Arms. We agreed ,too, that the venue was just the right place with exactly the right appreciative audience for such a Blues maestro who cast a little Louisiana swamp voodoo  over the dark mysterious Forest -  that wooded land strip that lies between two rivers.

  Papa George Solo acoustic @ Blue Front Blues Room 21st October 2002

Extract from Issue 12  ‘BLUES MATTERS!’ Review by Diane (Sister Feelgood)

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 “This was my second visit to the club. On my first visit I saw and heard the lovely Emily Druce……….she is fast becoming the ‘darling’ of the acoustic scene in Britain.

The room at the back of the Miners Arms is rectangular (the skittle alley) with candle-lit tables down its length. The walls are scantily but effectively adorned with blues memorabilia. I must say the pub supports a friendly staff and bar clientele and has a handsome range of fine ales and ciders with guest ales such as the great London Pride and wonderful Timothy Taylors.

 

Papa George……….. is a seductive man both in patter and playing and beguiles you immediately with his smooth talk and even smoother seamless guitar work. He gets down to business with ‘Love Yourself’, which I noted as a ‘rollin-stumblin’, style blues. The sound reproduction is good and from the back of the hall where I stood is excellent. But then Papa George is a long served pro and knows his biz and the art of mastering the audience – simply by being GOOD! Next number was ‘Crawling King Snake’. He continued with his string of blues numbers and songs given his style of blues treatment that included his own composition ‘The Station’ and Robert Johnson’s ‘Walking Blues’.

The first set finished with a flurry of thumping good traditional style numbers such as ‘Blackjack’ (own comp) a wonderful National steel slide instrumental with classical guitar overtones and Spanish - American influence. Then Johnny Winter’s ‘Dallas’ and then the CD title track ‘Nite with You’.

The second set opened with ‘Barnes Station Blues’ followed by ‘Catfish Blues’, ‘Broken Mirror’ and the other RJ ‘Come on in my Kitchen’ which he starts traditionally with a slow almost dragging tempo but soon livens it up and evens swings it! Purists  - leave now time!!

He ended with a couple of tunes ‘Ain’t no Crime’ and ‘I Just Wanna Make Love to You’ and he asked the singer on previously, Jane Pearl, to join him and the two sang and improvised well together on this standard soulful blues. He rounded off the evening with ‘Forever Blue’ and so ended a very pleasurable, easy-going, relaxing evening.

This club has started to grow on me as something different…”