Thursday, 21 April 2011

'Blues' Skies over the Tyne

The fans were out in force, drinking their pints and pina colada's (!!) outside the Tyne pub on a sunny blue-skied evening. 
The Boneshakers arrived in time to show their support for Archie and the Young Bucks, who played just before the boys were due on stage.


To a backdrop of the flowing river Tyne at  local beauty-spot, Ousburn, underneath a red brick arch, the Boneshakers took to the open air stage and WOWED their audience.
The crowd went crazy, dancing in the aisles, while Russ Hird (vocals and lead guitar), Ronnie Semple (blues harp and vocals), Dave Hildreth (bass guitar) and Barry Ellis (drums) played their hearts out and sang the blues in a sensational performance.
This was Barry Ellis's 'swan song' - and what better send-off than a gig he's always dreamed of: THE TYNE BAR. And he played the best bluesy skins I've ever heard him play.  He grinned like the proverbial Cheshire Cat from the beginning of the evening to the end of the night.

The band payed homage to Barry on stage during his final performance and thanked him for being such a great stand-in drummer.
At the end of a sunny, 'blues'-skied evening, when the guys were packing up, getting ready for the off, Russ said, "It's been an absolute pleasure to work with Barry.  It's been a great day.  Now I'm off home for a vodka!"

Ronnie said: "I agree: Barry's been a great stand-in drummer. And what a great gig the Tyne Bar is. It's good that Barry got to play here. I've had a great day.  Now where's Denice?  I need to get packed up and get away." 

Yeah, the Boneshakers could almost call this venue 'home', with a gig last Boxing Day, one this evening - and the next one coming up in September.With a merry flush in his cheeks as he stripped down his kit at the end of a glorious gig, Barry grinned and said:
"That was great.  I finally got to do the Tyne at the end of my stint with the Boneshakers."

Dave winked after shaking Barry's hand, saying:
"Today, I think we've made a little boy very happy!  Now I'm off for me curry supper and a glass o' red."

The Boneshakers set sail on a blues barge of classic blues numbers like Pride and Joy, Dust my Broom and How Blue Can you Get, anchoring after a hour of tight and light, down and dirty, in a superb finale of Shake your Hips. Oh, man, these boys were on fire this evening as the sun went down, creating a river haze that added to the atmosphere of great music and a charismatic performance from the fantastic Boneshakers.
And to add an extra dimension to the stage, Stevie, an up-and-coming young local blues harp player - often in the crowd at a Boneshakers gig - pushed the boat out with the lads in a rip roaring rendition of 'Shotgun Blues' to tumultuous applause. Great stuff, Stevie.
There was a sense of excitement in the audience, a bit of magic in the air, as the crowd went bonkers for the blues band that are by far the best in the North East. 

There were even some members of the illustrious Scoundrels here in support of the guys.  And they were lovin' it too!
The Boneshakers are back at the Tyne Bar in September.  You just gotta catch them next time their boat comes in on the Tyne in awesome Ouseburn.


And then there were three...
But next time you see the Boneshakers, they'll be four again - with their new drummer, Gordon Smiles, who's already dipped his toes in the water with them at The Flat Tops, Boldon Colliery.

But in the meantime, farewell Barry Ellis, WE LOVE YOU!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Review: Flying High at the Flying Horse


The Boneshakers, on the lookout for a new drummer, were auditioning Gordon Smiles tonight, live, during their second set. 

Gordon, a great bloke, ex The Ugly Brothers fame that had lasted 25 years before they split - looking to add to his repertoire as a member of a North East pipe band - had his sights set on playing drums with a blues/rock band - so who better a band  than the brilliant Boneshakers to help him break through onto the blues scene. That's Gordon, pictured below right with his wife Roz and Ronnie Semple's daughter, Gemma.

During the first set, he watched and listened to the Boneshakers do their amazing stuff.  "They're a great band," he said to me, fiddling nervously with the drum sticks he'd brought along with him, "Hope I can do them justice."

Tonight, Russ Hird (lead guitar and vocals) was trying out something new for himself. 
With his newly-acquired Fender Stratocaster with gorgeous mother-of-pearl scratch plate and a brand spanking new strap with his name in huge black lettering, he thundered through numbers like Dust my Broom and You Don't Love Me - with real 'Pride and Joy' in the fantastic sound he reproduced through that great g-e-e-t-a-r.  He sure made that instrument sing.

Ronnie Semple on blues harp did his usual amazing stunts and tricks.  Nobody in the North of England can play harp like Ronnie - and tonight he played that mouth-piece of his with sensational aplomb.  His 'friend', a little green skeleton man he calls 'The Boneshaker', clung to the mike stand in awe of his master!  Ronnie insists that his mascot talks to him!!  Well tonight, I think he'll have whispered, "Go, Ronnie, go - you're a star, bonny lad."

Dave Hildreth on bass guitar chewed gum, tapped his feet, raised his eyes to the heavens and hit the bassiest sounds ever.  He'd said before the gig he was looking forward to playing alongside the prospective new drummer.  "A bass man and a drummer have to hit it off right from the word go - one has to be in tune with the other - or it's no go," he told me. Dave is a 'no-frills' bass expert who tells it like it is!

Barry Ellis of Shanghai fame, still continuing to fill in with the Boneshakers until the lads find their new drummer, kept his head firmly under his baseball cap as always. The guys have been grateful for his workmanlike approach to their gigs.

Time for the second set and Gordon said, "Whoa, I'm bottling it!"  But he got up there like a hero and shook his tail feathers, bringing out his brushes to start Walkin' Blues off to a soft and tender start.  The Boneshakers built up to an unbelievably great crescendo of blues notes and riffs.  Russ's voice was in fine fettle tonight and he sang this one as well as I've heard it sung anywhere.  Ronnie's harp solo interludes were stunning and Dave was sure gettin' in the groove with the new man at the drum kit.

The crowd loved it.  They wanted more from this prospective new member of the band - and they got it.  You Upset Me Baby, a Joe Bonamassa number, went down a storm.  Gordon Smiles drummed his way through this emotional song with such heart, the blues-lovin' audience were almost in tears.
As the crowd roared their appreciation, Gordon said,

"It's the best time I've had wi' me claes on for a lang time." 

The job is now Gordon's (of course it is) from the end of April, but Ronnie was keen to point out,

"Bloody hell, I'm glad Gordon kept his claes on tonight!"

Russ said,

"Yep. Gordon did a great job. How d'you like the new Strat?"

Talking about the Boneshakers great night, he said "Hmm...4-1 - a great night for the toon." - Pardon?

And Dave, a man of few words, said,

"Champion. Gordon'll do nicely"

However, he did also say, "Kebabs, the food of Kings...well Greek and Turkish Kings anyhow."  I reckon he was thinking about stopping off at the takeaway on the way home!

Barry will play his last stand-in gig with the Boneshakers on 17th April.

And so, to Gordon Smiles (and he does - SMILE a lot, that is!) -


You can see footage of Gordon doing his thing with the Blues-Mad Boneshakers to 'You Upset Me Baby' on You-Tube.

Here's the link: