Thursday, February 08, 2007

12 bar club blues

On the 7th of February 2001, at 2.50 in the afternoon, my mum died. She'd had motor neurone disease for around 18 years. I was upstairs teaching guitar when one of her home carers called me down. I got there just in time to see her go.

It's the worst thing I've ever seen. I hope you never see anything as bad.

Yesterday it was the 6th anniversary of her death. I was in the shop, a busy day with plenty to do. I had The Who on the DVD player- they've got me through everything else so why not this? Just as the clock on the computer changed from 14.49 to 14.50 Roger Daltery sang 'hope I die before I get old'. Inevitably.


Kris Dollimore is one of my very favourite guitarists. I first saw him in The Godfathers in, I think, 1986. They were fantastic, and he was almost unbelievable; he played a pearl fronted Zemaitis guitar which seemed to spend most of the gig with it suspended in mid-air in front of him with notes seeming to come from nowhere- an astonishing sight. He's responsible for 2 of my favourite guitar solos ever (on 'I Want Everything' and 'Birth School Work Death') and, on the occasions I've been brave enough to speak to him, seems to be a really nice bloke. He's just put out his first solo album '02/01/1978' which is superb and very different to anything I've heard from him before as it's for want of a better word a 'straight' blues album. Last night was the 'album launch gig' at The 12 Bar Club in London. After closing the shop I got the tube up to Tottenham Court Road and met up with Andy Knight and his mate Jim in The Intrepid Fox which has moved from Wardour Street to the top of Denmark Street, about 50 yards from The 12 Bar Club. Time for a drink or 2 before heading across the road for the gig.
Wearing a splendid pinstripe suit and playing an equally splendid Gibson acoustic guitar Kris kicked off with 'Soul of a Man'. The soundman hadn't miked his foot up (I know that sounds a bit weird but John Lee Hooker fans will know what I mean) and so spent much of the song scrambling around on stage moving a bass drum mic in the vicinity of Kris's left foot trying to get the best sound- an odd sight. I was so engrossed with this that it wasn't until near the end of the song that I noticed how brilliantly he was playing. The first set was all acoustic, songs by Robert Johnson, Bukka White and Charley Patton alongside originals from the album, ending with the instrumental 'East of England' which, bizarrely, he started in the wrong tuning. For the second set out came the electrics and up went the intensity- his version of The Stooges' 'T.V. Eye' being a real highlight. He finished with a fabulous 'Brother Ray'... and I swear that as he sang this part of the second verse:-

You looked at me then and just drifted away
Yeah you looked at me, and just faded away
You looked at me then, and just drifted away
You looked at me then and slowly drifted away

-I saw my mum's face, just for a split second. And she was smiling at me.*

A truly inspirational performance. Thanks Kris.

* mind you, I was a bit pissed!!

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