Category Archives: Music Reviews

Dave Arcari Projects His Intense Wail Of Energy


On Tuesday 18th October The Colchester Arts Centre welcomed the critically acclaimed guitarist Dave Arcari. He entered the stage with just his guitar in hand, but when he started to play it became clear that he had brought much more than that. Arcari had brought a sound that wrapped blues, country and rock into an intense wail of energy. Steven Flavell reports.

Dave Arcari courtesy of Paul Webster

When the Scottish steel guitar player entered the stage I didn’t quite know what to expect. He seemed to possess a real presence that seemed almost unearthly. His thick beard glinted with silver and his eyes flashed with excitement, and then he started to play… He scrunched his face into the glare of a madman that had stumbled upon a secret. When Arcari played Devil’s Left Hand it all became clear, the lyrics revealed the secret that his expression alluded to; “the devil’s left hand reached across the sticks, and I drank all his whiskey and learnt some of his tricks.”

His performance of Parcel Of Rogues was mesmerising and strangely disorientating. Like a mischievous dancer of deliverance Arcari galloped across the stage, glaring out of focus but very much in tune. He swung his beard away from his body to break free but it clung to him like his guitar.

During Got Me Electric Arcari strummed a bassy percussion into his guitar that he saluted with a roll back of his eyes and the raspy twang of his voice. He stomped his feet as he gazed out with glee, wrapping his rich scotch accent around the lyrics, strangling them with rugged emotion. As I watched him I wondered if this was a madman or a genius, but perhaps he is both…

This article was originally posted by me on the Colchester Circle blog.

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Hokie Joint Turn The Soundhouse Into A Juke Joint


On Friday 7th October Hokie Joint turned The Soundhouse at The Bull into a juke joint; or at the very least gave it the feel of one with their raw and dirty version of roots based blues. Steven Flavell reports.

This is a band that plays music together, not as petty individuals seeking to steal the limelight from one another by over exaggerating their own prowess. They share the moment together and build it up into a deep breath of quirky and original roots music. Their aim is to take the blues to the masses.

Hokie Joint

JoJo Burgess (image courtesy of Brian Sherwen)
It was very difficult not to focus on the antics of Jo Jo Burgess the lead singer who brought an almost vaudevillian presence to the band in between songs; he communicated with the crowd in an Ian Dury-esque manner awkwardly flexing his limbs and blazing his eyes wide open like a man possessed.

Stephen Cutmore the drummer (courtesy of Brian Sherwen)

Meanwhile their drummer; Stephen Cutmore reminds me of Mick Jagger, partly because he looks like him, and partly because he spends the whole time pulling faces like him! He looks like a man who’s having a brilliant time on stage, providing energy and genuine personality. It really rubs off on the audience.

Joel Fisk the guitarist (courtesy of Tony Joe Gardner)

Joel Fisk brings startlingly skilful slide guitar to the fore. He is a fairly shy personality in comparison to some members of the band on stage, but there is nothing understated about his play; he slides into solos that echo the likes of Eric Clapton.

Giles King harmonica with Fergie Fulton base (courtesy of Brian Sherwen)

When I heard that Giles King was regarded as one of the best blues harmonica players in the country I took it with a pinch of salt. However when I heard him play it all became clear. I have absolutely no idea how to play the harmonica but I do know that Giles King can do some pretty special things with one. During their song Back Where We Are Going he even left the stage and entered into the midst of the crowd while performing a solo.

Fergie Fulton brings energetic base lines that complement the eye-catching antics and sounds of Hokie Joint’s electric guitar and harmonica. For a bassist he displays a relatively rare willingness to get right up at the front of the stage and bust out his bass for all to see. Yup, Hokie Joint were keen to share the love around, and you know what? I think I felt it.

What I really like about Hokie Joint was that they didn’t rely on padding out their set with other people’s songs’, but stuck to their own music. The Music Starts To Play (the title track of their second album) began with a mischievous exchange between the guitar and drums before being joined by the harmonica, bass and vocals. It created an energy that seemed to grow with every breath that was sucked in and blown out by Giles King’s harmonica.

Apologise was another track that oozed energy. Stehen Cutmore wound up the drums with his careful brushwork while he pouted his lips like a madman, Fergie Fulton joined in with a thick base line before the guitar, vocals and harmonica united to create a petulant defiance; to quote the song lyrics “It’s not a problem, why should I apologise.”

The Crying Song was much slower and it began with Joel Fisk playing a clean and clear riff to amplify the vocals of Jo Jo Burgess which sounded incredible. Jo Jo rasped “How I cried, how I cried” like a rusty chainsaw that cut through the sounds of the instruments and into your flesh… in a good way!

I had not seen Hokie Joint before, but I will make sure I see them again.

Hokie Joint will play at the Colchester Arts Centre on Tuesday 18th October. Click here to book tickets.

This article was originally posted by me on the Colchester Circle blog

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The Full Phat 5 Lay Down The Funk-Bomb At Roberts


On Saturday 1st October The Full Phat 5 played at Roberts Live Lounge in Colchester and left the audience suitably funkified. The Full Phat 5 produced a performance of genuine passion and energy that showed how to cover some of the best soul and funk tracks ever made. Steven Flavell was there to enjoy the experience.

The Full Phat 5

When I heard that The Full Phat 5 were playing at Roberts bar I just had to go. Although I had never seen them play before, I have seen Greg Blackman perform with his piano; his voice is something that really has to be sampled in person; it’s just made for soul and funk. However The Full Phat 5 are not just a one man band, far from it. The remaining four members: Matt Haines (guitar), Rocky Hambling (drums), Geoff Hall (bass) and Kev Wiltshire (keyboard) possess years of experience from gigging and touring across the country and Europe.

How this band came to be is not important, what is important is that we have a local soul and funk cover band that can lay down a set that covers songs by the likes of Stevie Wonder to Bill Withers.

The Full Phat 5 opened with a full and rich rendition of I Wish by Stevie Wonder and followed it up with Harvest For The World by The Isley Brothers. The band seemed at ease as the lethargic base and smooth keys appeared to carry you away with the peaceful melodies of the song.

It was at this moment that The Full Phat 5 introduced a little funk to the proceedings by playing Brick House by The Commodores. The mischievous rhythm of the song is impossible not to dance to. When I looked onto the dance floor I thought that The Full Phat 5 had succeeded in bringing back to life the late Patrick Swayze; he was dancing away like nobody’s business, but alas it was not Patrick Swayze. It was merely a drunken lookalike who couldn’t dance at all…

One of the highlights of the night was during the Bill Withers song Ain’t No Sunshine in the third verse where Bill Withers repeats “I know, I know, I know…” and builds his voice with emotion and volume. Vocally it is incredibly difficult to replicate but Greg Blackman filled the lyrics with such soulful passion that it sent a shiver down my spine.

The Full Phat 5

The Full Phat 5’s cover of Al Green’s Lets Stay Together was also a very special moment. The band nailed it. The gentle thud of the drums complemented the mysterious keys to create a soothing lullaby. Click here to listen to The Full Phat 5′s recorded version of Lets Stay Together by Al Green.

The Full Phat 5 ended the night with Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder, whereby they well and truly laid down the funk like an atom bomb. It was delivered with explosive emotion and it was a great way to end the night.

This article was originally posted by me on the Colchester Circle blog

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