The Barnes Blues Band – Veterans at Work at The Bulls Head
Few people who read this will have heard of The Barnes Blues Band, and fewer still are likely to see them play. But they are worth attention for two reasons.
First, they are really good. If you like your electric blues, this is it. Second, though, is what they represent: longstanding industry professionals who have been there and done that and are now putting it all together at the edge of the business.
Start with front man Papa George. George is arguably London’s best blues guitarist (certainly one of the best) and has been plying his trade over five decades, some of it as far afield as Texas. His main group, The Papa George Band, has had such guests sit in as Freddie Mercury, Zoot Money, Paul Jones (of Manfred Mann fame), and Roger Chapman (of Family).
On bass, we had Pete Reese, a long-time musician with the late Irish blues virtuoso Gary Moore. He showed his credentials at the gig with some superb riffs and a classic bass solo (right down to turning his back on the audience so that we could not see the finger work).
George’s guitar partner was Bobby Tench, formerly of The Jeff Beck Group, The Van Morrison Band and Humble Pie, among others. He has recorded with Freddie King, Ginger Baker and Eric Burdon. It showed.
Rounding up the band was drummer Darby Todd. At 31, he does not have the years to collect credentials like the others, but he plays with people who have played with the greats and his drumming was so tight it looks almost automatic (in a good way).
The music – all superb – ranged from John Hiatt to Tom Waits by way of Howlin’ Wolf. The finale was Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition”, which I confess I had never seen the blues in, but there it was.
Two sets, some great beer (Camden Hell) and a historic London music venue in the Bulls Head in Barnes. What’s not to like?
May be worth a search if your ever in the area.