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.
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