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Bebop Spoken There

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12,127 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 12 years ago. 1267 of them this year alone and, so far, 109 this month (Nov. 25).

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Monday, June 06, 2016

Groove-a-matics @ The Tyne Bar. June 5

Mick Cantwell (tenor saxophone, harmonica & vocals), Johnny Whitehill (guitar), John Morgan (bass) & Barry Race (drums)
(Review by Russell/photo from BSH archives).
The Smokin’ Spitfires’ gig at the Cluny wound up sometime after three. A stroll through  the Ouseburn, the burning sun encouraging butterflies to flutter and kingfishers to dart, a secluded haven of biodiversity in action. The Tyne Bar comes into its own on days such as this. Summer had finally arrived. The outdoor stage was in use, today sunstroke could be an issue rather than the usual prospect of hypothermia! An orderly queue formed, and wound its way outside, for the Tyne Bar’s Wylam Brewery house beers. Bar staff didn’t stop all afternoon. Hundreds gathered at the Ouseburn, all tables taken, many took to the adjacent steep grass slopes, the views upstream picture postcard.
On stage, sound check complete, the band ripped into their set. Groove-a-matics are four top-notch musicians: front man Mick Cantwell, the legendary Johnny Whitehill (guitar), rock steady bass man John Morgan and engine room partner Barry Race (drums). There isn’t a better blues band around. Groove-a-matics are an award winning outfit. In 2012 a New Brunswick Blues Band competition victory confirmed what many knew – they are something special. When charismatic vocalist Mick Cantwell sings, you listen. BB King, Muddy Waters, Mick Cantwell – they command that you listen, they sing with authority. To the right of Cantwell is Johnny Whitehill. Way back when, Whitehill played at a long since demolished Broken Doll, a spit and sawdust public house a stone’s throw from the Tyne. Class then, class now. Cantwell referred to Johnny Whitehill as ‘an encyclopedia of the blues’. Playing a vintage Les Paul, standing stock still, this was the ‘real deal’.
Cantwell sang about a Workin’ Class Man, Whitehill played a blues for Peter Green, the band reworked Statesboro Blues. Hoochie Coochie women danced under a late afternoon sun. Number after number met with whoops, hollers and manic whistles. Good Man and Who Stole the Water?, two sets of cracking Ouseburn Delta blues. The crowd wanted an encore, they got one. Still they wanted more, they weren’t going anywhere, so they got more. If you’re yet to hear Groove-a-matics, check ‘em out, they’re the real deal.
Russell.

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