Thursday 12 February 2015

Great West Groove at The Brewery Tap, Brentford - Raw Blues from the West Thames Delta! Photos and Review by Paul Slattery

The Great West Groove - Photo by Paul Slattery
The Brewery Tap in Brentford is one of those superb little pubs which has been offering live music for over thirty years and long may it continue. Having survived the eye of the developers who wanted to demolish it against massive local public opinion, it goes from strength to strength. Blues is at the heart of pop music tradition and to see the blues played this well is indeed a treat. The Great West Groove have been playing together for some time and they play with passion and humour. It's also played on acoustic guitars, electrified of course, the sound is intimate for a small room and echoes that of the first electric blues players who played in someone's front room. And that's just where we are, it's the front room of a pub and that is what makes it great. 

Bob Hokum - Photo by Paul Slattery
Bob Hokum's vocals seems to have been honed in Mississippi rather than Brentford, or the West Thames Delta as it's known round here and as he launches into Muddy Waters'  languid "I'm Ready", and you are momentarily transported south, and then off to Chicago with Bo Diddley's "Can't Judge A Book" which get things moving right along. The band really comes together on Bob's own song "Django's Ghost" brilliantly supported on acoustic fretless bass by a nimble-fingered Steve King, and on side drum and brushes by Paul White who just adds that subtle touch of percussion that this small room needs. Also superb mouth harpist Paul Stewart from 60's band "The Others" has crossed the river tonight and boy, can he play. Then we get "Highway Shoes" by Johnny G, "Why The Hell Wasn't I Born Rich" another Bob Hokum classic and then the first half is brought to a storming end with Blind Willie Johnson's "Nobody's Fault But Mine", Paul Stewart's mouth harp providing us with some great flourishes. 

The Great West Groove - Photo by Paul Slattery
Paul White - Photo by Paul Slattery
This is a pub room gig, so you got to give the band a beer break but this seems to quicken the pace when the second half starts with the Clovers "Your Cash Ain't Nothin But Trash" and then they fly through Robert Johnson's "Walkin' Blues", John Lee Hooker's "Boom Boom", and Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love" to rapturous applause and the sight of two couples whirling around the crowded bar! Well this is turning into a really great evening, the band are hot and the crowd love it. Bob's a great frontman, as good with the humour as he is with the guitar. I've never seen an acoustic electric bass before and Steve King's playing is a really unique style which adds so much to this bluesy sound. Guest Paul Stewart's mouth harp is truly mind blowing and Paul keeps the beat moving right along. 

Steve King - Photo by Paul Slattery
Paul Stewart - Photo by Paul Slattery
Then a couple of Bob's self penned blues numbers "All Play No Work" and the excellent "Gospel According to John Lee Hooker" bring proceedings to a temporary halt with wild applause, and the crowd just can't wait for the encores, so it's straight into one of my favourites, Robert Johnson's "Love In Vain". I've always loved those lyrics "...Well, the blue light was my baby, and the red light was my mind."  She gets on the train - he stays behind. Heartbreak which is often what the blues is all about, but it's not for long as the band crank into "Get Your Kicks On the A66", the Lake District version! This is really a truly great night, an intimate but thoroughly rocking gig in a small pub room - it really doesn't come any better for fans of live music. And big thanks too to Paul Stewart for crossing the river with his mouth harp. I can't wait to see them play again.

The Great West Groove - Photo by Paul Slattery
They'll be playing at Ain't Nothing But in Kingly Street, London on Wednesday 18th Feb as The Robert Hokum Blues Band which is the same band but with the full solid electric guitar line-up and full drum kit, and the next evening 19th Feb at The Sussex Arms, Twickenham, as the Great West Groove. Checkout the Robert Hokum Facebook page for more news on upcoming gigs. 

You can also check out what Paul Stewart and The Others are doing at their Facebook page here

Thanks to Paul Slattery for the review and photographs. All photos copyright Paul Slattery 2015.

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