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Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Hokum Hotshots @ The Dun Cow, Sunderland. January 23

Hokum Hotshots: Jim Murray (guitars & vocals) & Pete Mason (guitars & vocals) + George Shovlin (guitar & vocals) & George Lamb (guitar & vocals)
(Review by Russell)
Sunderland Blues Club meets fortnightly in the upstairs room at the Head of Steam’s Dun Cow on High Street West. The club’s lynchpin George Shovlin was mighty pleased at the turn-out; the small drawing room-style layout with a trademark Head of Steam twist to an impressive Edwardian building, a photographic still of Stan and Ollie (the legendary duo performed at the adjacent Empire Theatre) at the bar.
Shovelin and fellow Radar George Lamb opened the all-acoustic show with a superb set of  blues standards ranging from Slim Harpo (Got Love If You Want It) to Muddy Waters (Long Distance Call) to Jimmy Witherspoon (Evenin’). Shovelin possesses a voice hewn from Wearside’s proud, defiant industrial heritage. The big-drinking blues crowd (a jazz club could but dream of such patronage!) had heard them all before and no one objected to hearing them one more time.
Murray and Mason do Hokum. Old timey, jug band exponents, the Hokum Hotshots gave a master class in the genre. Self-effacing (Two fat b******* from Shields), the duo, in the most appalling Hawaiian shirts (they’ve been wearing the on-stage clobber for years), do more than play a song –  as historians of the music they entertain and inform as they go. A collection of vintage guitars so rare (National slide, Dobro lapsteel, a mandolin c1950) they’re probably uninsured (premiums prohibitive), the Hokum Hotshots have the hardware and the talent to make the most of it by way of Casey Bill, Tampa Red and many others.
Sunderland Blues Club is a welcome addition to the north east’s flourishing live music scene. Next up at the Dun Cow (January 30, then fortnightly) is another double bill – Struggle Bunny and George Shovlin and Gary Lamb. Doors open at eight o’clock, admission £4.00. If you want a seat get in the queue before eight. Future guests include Mitch Laddie (Feb 13) and the Dave Whiffin Band (Mar 20). Mr Shovlin is onto a winner.                          
Russell.

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