Rejected for being ‘too old’ 40 years ago

The Blues Band (l to r) Dave Kelly, Gary Fletcher, Paul Jones, Tom McGuinness & Ron Townsend

The Blues Band: The Tivoli Theatre, WimborneIt’s hard to believe that it is now 40 long years since Paul Jones recruited a bunch of mates to form The Blues Band with the idea of playing occasional pub and club gigs. Even though back in 1979 they were rejected by at least one major record label for being “too old”,  they proved a near instant success. Now four decades and countless albums later they are still at the top of their game and still sporting almost exactly the same personnel .

Now, as then, we have Jones on vocals and harmonica, Tom McGuinness and Dave Kelly on guitars and Gary Fletcher on bass – a formidable line-up augmented at The Tivoli on Friday by Sam Kelly, Dave’s son, on drums. Depping for regular drummer Rob Townsend, Kelly junior did a sterling job, giving the band a new dimension with some brilliant musicianship.

Not that any of The Blues Band are less than top notch, a fact they proved yet again by steaming through an evening of vintage blues and R&B with a couple of folkie frills lobbed in for good measure.

They opened with three tracks from their latest album The Rooster Crowed, and ended more than two hours later with the Louis Jordan crowd-pleaser Let The Good Times Roll. I could have done without the singalong element added to the encore myself but perhaps I’m being churlish. The band’s  set had included some great numbers. They mined their own individual and collective back catalogues and a dished up a welter of blues classics like Howlin’ Wolf’s Down in the Bottom, Muddy Water’s I Can’t Be Satisfied, Blind Willie McTell’s Statesborough Blues, a dollop of Blind Boy Fuller, a little Staples Singers and much, much more.

A great evening with wonderful musicianship from all concerned including great guitar from both McGuinness and Kelly while Jones remains one of the finest harmonica players on the scene. There were no weak points. However were I forced to pick personal highlights they would undoubtedly be Dave Kelly’s vocal and slide guitar work and Sam Kelly’s drumming. Brilliant stuff!

Jeremy Miles

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