It was a dark cold November night, and instead of settling down in front of the TV and staying warm after a sunday roast, I sped up to Monmouth to catch one of my all time favorite bands.
The "Rhythm Rats"......fronted by Chris Mayfield, a musician with a pedigree as long as my right arm. with bass rat Thad Kelly on board.
The rats were short by two tonight..............Les Morgan stuck in London and Jane Pearl stuck in the USA........ but..both seats were ably filled by Steve Laffy on drums and the mighty Ben Waghorn on tenor sax.
Chris launches the evening (more a nudge and a shove actually) with Sonny Boys' "Checking up on my Baby". Chris is not one for hasty actions or intros or anything else for that matter, his life and music seem to go with an easy flow.
The band kicked into "It Should Have Been Me" where Thad Kelly takes one of several solo breaks with that stupendous bass playing of his. Thad is well known on the London and UK jazz scene, and his funky bluesy beat is interspersed with wild jazzy overtones and is absolutely mind blowing at times!! Tenor man extaordinaire Ben Waghorn blowing the bell off his sax keeps things wailing.
"Peepin' and a Moanin' blues"......"Small Town Girl"......"Don't miss yo Water"....and a swanky "Got love if you want It"............ tunes kept on rolling to the break.
A guitar change for Chris......and into the second set with a low down dirty version of Tom Waits "Everybody's Talkin at the Same Time" lifted by a scorching solo by Ben...WOW...........and so it went on towards the final run down to stop tap time when the guys were joined by Lyndon Owen on tenor for the encore, an explosive rendition of "I Heard My Angels Singing".....which really brought the house down !!!!
As a long time admirer of JJ Cale, whom I never got to see live, this was as near as dammit for me and for all the other ears in the Queens Head that night. Thanx to Mr Mayfield and the Rats and thanx to Neil the landlord for keeping music alive at his establishment and for the great atmosphere, good ales and good humour.
BLUES MATTERS MAGAZINE 2013