Right night, Right band. A road trip was in order for this month’s gig review, down to Reading’s 3rs club at Burghfield CSA venue, to catch a club show by Sister Suzie and the Right Band. We’d seen them about a month before at Rock Ridge Rumble and were mightily impressed, hence wanting to experience the band in a club environment, at a gig in their own right.
The Reading club had put this night on as an added extra to their regular Friday night slot, and I noted a decent sized crowd filtering in. Indeed, it’s not long before they hit the floor here either.
Sister Suzie looked super cool in her black number as she belted out the opening kicker, a cover of Big Mama Thornton’s ’57 cut on the Peacock label, ‘Just Like a Dog (Barking Up The Wrong Tree). With the Right Band, right there throughout, the quality of the tunes all vied for attention, ‘Teardrops’, ‘Working Girl’, ‘Can’t Hold Out’ for example. ‘Dirty Mother Fuyer’ the risqué and suggestive content was perfect for Suzie’s delivery and Betty James’ ‘A Little Mixed Up’ from ’61 on Chess, was a triumph both vocally and musically with Matt Jackson’s ace guitar work.
In among the rockers, was a heavenly five minutes, as the stunning ‘Yours’ showcased the vocal versatility of Suzie’s voice. That plus the ‘late night club’ vibe of the backing music, made for a special sound.
Irma Thomas’ ‘You Can Have My Husband, But Don’t Mess With My Man’ was simply sublime, as was the title track of the new CD, the Suzie and Matt original ‘Ain’t No Lady’. Rounding off the first set, a rollicking blues foot stomper, Jimmie Rogers’ ‘Sloppy Drunk’. My goodness, we were grateful there was a second set to come.
The second set picked up the tempo where the first left off, and again we opened up like the first set, with a Big Mama Thornton number ‘I Smell a Rat’. ‘Forty Cups of Coffee’ in the Ella Mae Morse style followed to great appreciation from the crowd, as did ‘Kissing in the Dark’ and the classic ‘See See Rider’. Although all the covers were respectful to the original song, I have to say the opening take on Carol Fran’s ‘Knock Knock’ brought a smile. Suzie reverted to her Northumberland regional accent, calling for Melvyn to let her in as she shouted ‘I cannee find me keys, howay man’. Absolutely loved it!
‘Wine Wine Wine’ rocked, followed by a corking rendition of LaVern’s ‘Voodoo Voodoo’ and another brace of Willie Mae Thornton tunes ‘They Call Me Big Mama’ and ‘Hound Dog’. And it was all topped off by an outstanding original blues bopper, ‘Big Mistake’, an edgy and punchy, kick arse bop tune that has late night dance floor stamped all over it. A thumping beat and rhythm, complemented Suzie’s vocal which ended a super show.
We are blessed on the Rock n Roll circuit with some excellent lady vocalists, Add this canny lass, with added sass to that list. A real force of nature, backed by four top musicians, producing a sound that is catchy and feel-good. Go and see for yourselves!
Resident DJ Mister Big Feet, clearly tapped into the psyche of the attendees encouraging a populated dance floor from the start. With a table at the back of the room, creaking under the weight of buns and a celebratory cake, catching more than a passing glance, attentions turned to the stage.
Mike Sanchez, familiar in stature and in his white sports jacket and black slacks, set about showcasing a masterclass in all types of Rock n Roll and jumping R&B, opening as often does, with ‘Red Hot Mama’. I don’t think we’ve seen a show yet where Mike has a set list, beyond a few post-it notes on the keyboard. Most of it is ad-libbed, and tailored perfectly to the audience in situ.
Naturally, we got ‘I’m Ready’ and one of my personal faves, ‘Yama Yama Pretty Mama’, which is just outstanding. Mike then decides he wants to try some Bobby Darin, even though they’ve never played ‘Multiplication’ live before, it sounded ace, followed by ‘Wild One’ in the Jerry Lee style
‘What do you want to hear?’ he asks the audience ‘Blue Boy’ came the reply close by us, and away we went with that very tune, followed by ‘Shirley’ and Amos Milburn’s ‘Down The Road A-Piece’. The first set concluded with another Sanchez standard, ‘Sapphire’.
Set two, and a trio of Fats tracks, from an audience request, ‘Blueberry Hill’, ‘Hello Josephine’ and ‘Let The Four Winds Blow’. If that lulled anyone into a medium jive tempo, Jerry Byrne’s ‘Lights Out’ blew that out of the water. Then something I believe is unique to Mike’s shows, the medley of various tune, merging one into the other, ad hoc, and to the rhythm of shaking maracas. So Little Junior Parker’s ‘Feelin’ Good’, begat ‘Shake Your Hips’ which morphed into ‘Hey Bo Diddley’, ‘Brown Eyed Handsome Man’ with bits of ‘Tequila’, ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’, ‘Jungle Rock’, ‘Move It’ and ‘Baby Let’s Play House’. If you danced through that lot…..good for you.
Topping off the show, another tear up on the eighty eight keys, with Little Richard’s ‘Heebie Jeebies’. An outstanding performance, by Mike and his (only) three band members, Mark Morgan on drums, Tom Bull on guitar and Nick Whitfield, who were spot on throughout.
Massive kudos to Neil and Claire, who rightly took the plaudits from those who’d come along for the evening. Their enthusiasm is infectious, and influence notable with those populating the dancefloor. They’ve even got their fourth birthday party sorted for 2019 in the same venue, with Cherry Casino and the Gamblers. Good on ‘em!
Down at Frimley Green, it's the Eddie Cochran Connection bash with an first class addition to the line up. John Lewis will be taking part in the Cochran Brothers section with Darrel Higham, those who were at shake Rattle and Roll will know this is going to be a good one! Jerry Chatabox says that there are only a few places left, so get in quick.
Burton Rock n Roll present a super cool night with the Jive Romeros in October, and next year, their seventh all dayer with some excellent looking acts. Check out the Starfighter Club in Norfolk around Christmas too, with a meeting of two top drawer bands.
The Rock Ridge Rumble team have their first Southport Rumble in the North West of England in March, with a varied line up.
The Rockabilly Rave have just confirmed their full line up for 2019, and it's a good one. Seems a long time away, but don't miss out
The Jive Aces now annual Big Jive spectacular, returns to Worthing Assembly Hall, in February 2019, where you can see one of the acts featured in the review at the top of the page. Sister Suzie and JG & The Ultimates on the same bill as the rest? Sounds good to me
Flagging up new for early 2019, Frisking the Whiskers The feel for the weekend is fresh new and different to other weekenders that are currently hosted in the UK. It will have UK based DJs playing a mix of Swing, Jazz, and 40s RnB.
And finally, Claire and Neil Seabrook of Boston Jive, have announced their line up for their second Hot Rock n Boogie Weekender. This year's was a beauty (see our weekender review section), and next year is shaping up nicely
And finally. Congratulations to all the artists that have been nominated for Ameripolitan Awards. Pity there are no categories for those in the creative part of the music industry covered by those awards, for writers, producers and songwriters for example.
So there we have it for another month readers. Check out the CD reviews section as we have added a couple of new reviews there since last month, with more to come soon. Our stats for the website continue to rise, so advertising with us increases the visibility of your event, or your recording. So get in touch by emailing or using the contact form.
Cheers til next time