Ronnie Greer: live

ARDHOWEN THEATRE, ENNISKILLEN, GALLERY BAR Under a harvest moon a very special occasion this because “cosmic” Clive Culbertson was in the house and on bass guitar joining the erstwhile Waterboys drummer Peter McKinney who played superbly all night …

Published: 8 Nov 2019. Updated: 2 months.

ARDHOWEN THEATRE, ENNISKILLEN, GALLERY BAR Under a harvest moon a very special occasion this because “cosmic” Clive Culbertson was in the house and on bass guitar joining the erstwhile Waterboys drummer Peter McKinney who played superbly all night in a cracking rhythm section completed by John McCullough on organ/keys and Anthony ‘Sailortown’ Toner rhythm and occasional lead guitar and vocals with Lisburn blues legend Ronnie Greer on lead blues guitar and vocals. The main takeaway from the gig was that Ronnie mentioned to us all in the audience that he is about to record a live album in Lisburn to follow on from The Jazz Project and the earlier A Lifetime With the Blues.

The first set opened with a rollicking ‘No Brainer’ and highlights later included a superb ‘Cajun Moon’ – Toner elegant on this JJ Cale favourite. The take on Mingus’ ‘Nostalgia in Times Square’ was a little ragged however the Dan’s ‘Do it Again’ raised the bar to new heights and the Chicago blues got the room going. There was a great turn out in the Gallery and very nice to see Sidewalk Boogie drummer Des Campbell in the front row lapping it up – and Blakes of the Hollow owner Pat Blake where the Boogie are a house band one of the luminaries in the audience.

Anthony Toner, pic foreground left-to-right, Clive Culbertson, Ronnie Greer (John McCullough who excelled best of all grinding in the Jimmy Smith segment is in the background of the shot while Peter McKinney is not in shot) in the Gallery Bar. In the audio Clive Culbertson is on ‘High Spirits’ with Van Morrison and the Chieftains as he is on what became a peace meditational: the poetic ‘Coney Island’. Peter McKinney also in the audio with the Waterboys is on the wondrous ‘Fisherman’s Blues’.

Text + pics SG/marlbank

Tags: Live reviews

Beats & Pieces Big Band – Black Box, Belfast

AND IT WAS ALL going so well…

Published: 8 Nov 2019. Updated: 8 months.

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AND IT WAS ALL going so well…

But by two numbers in, the bass player’s bridge had collapsed and when they stopped to try to fix it the fire alarm went off.

Not exactly the impact Beats & Pieces had planned to make on their first visit to Ireland but by the time the show was back on the road again, bassist Stewart Wilson had switched to electric and this exuberant 14-piece Manchester band were providing the only fire in the house.

Now in their 11th year, which is remarkable in itself, this was the first of two Irish dates, the second being Limerick Jazz Festival the following night. Under the direction of composer/conductor Ben Cottrell, B&P are, as they say themselves, not so much a big band as a band that happens to be big. Indeed they are worthy successors to those last great disrupters of convention, Loose Tubes. There is, indeed, a loose energy to their sound. It’s powered by a floor-shaking rhythm section that’s heavy on the electronics and there are big, uplifting ensemble sections (played with not a music stand in sight).

There are also terrific soloists, in particular Nick Walters and Graham South on trumpets, Dee Byrne on alto and Anthony Brown on tenor, who featured on ‘Broken,’ which showed the band’s softer side. Other stand-out numbers included ‘Woody,’ with its second line New Orleans beat, a fast and ferocious ‘Jazzwalk’ and the touching ‘Fairytale,’ which could have been written for a North of England brass band.

Well done to the indefatigable Moving on Music for providing this exciting experience.

— Keith Baker

photo: Michael Bonner