Two of the UK's finest Blues artists

Review: Tommy Allen and Johnny Hewitt, Macclesfield

This was a blues night of double firsts.
It was the first night for presenting live blues at this very cosy canalside pub and the first appearance as an acoustic duo of two of the UK’s finest younger blues musicians, Tommy Allen of Trafficker on guitar and Johnny Hewitt of Smokehouse Blues on harmonica.

Certainly their reputations went before them and the pub was packed with an eager appreciative crowd of blues enthusiasts.
They opened up with Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup’s Mean Old Frisco and followed this with two of Tommy’s regulars Texas Love and Listen To Me.
Tommy then introduced a new song he had written especially for acoustic sets, A Woman So Good which featured a great repetetive rhythmic harp from Johnny who then impressed mightily on harp and vocals with Big Walter Horton’s Can’t Stop Loving Her.

Tommy then traded his acoustic guitar for a resonator and featured great slide on an original arrangement of Muddy’s I Just Can’t Be Satisfied and then moved on to the mandolin for a superbly arranged version of Crossroads.

There then followed another new song by Tommy called Fatherless Child, a beautiful slow song with great lyrics, quiet guitar and very mellow harp from Johnny.
Jonny then played solo on Sonny Boy Williamson’s Steady Rolling Man and brought the house down whilst Tom retuned his resonator for some raw slide on J B Hutto’s Too Much Alcohol, played in Rory Gallager style, a great way to finish the first set.

The second set opened with some lovely guitar from Tommy on Robert Johnson’s Milk Cow Calf’s Blues before moving into Mance Lipscomb’s Freddie featuring the resonator again and a superb long solo by Johnny which again drew great applause.

Johnny featured superbly on Sonny Boy Williamson’s You’re So Fine and again on Jimmy Rodgers Whose Loving You Tonight before Tommy on kick drum and high hat gave a superb version of Jesse Fuller’s San Francisco Bay Blues.

The resonator was then cranked up again on a cracking slide version of Proud Mary followed by a request for a reprise of the mandolin and Crossroads from people at the back who didn’t hear the first version clearly due to one or two chatterers.

Johnny then impressed all with Little Walter’s Juke before everyone was roused by Elvis’ Mystery Train with Tom again on superb guitar and percussion before the final number Sweet Home Chicago played the Robert Johnson way and not by the Blues Brother brought a superb debut gig to a brilliant end.

Tommy has been well documented as an excellent guitarist who perhaps has veered towards the rockier side of the genre in recent years with his band Trafficker. His heart has always been in the blues though and this gig proved that whilst Johnny to anyone north of the capital has always been rated as one of the country’s top harp players.Collectively they must be congratulated for putting together a lovely balanced set of covers and originals and another pleasing aspect was that these two lads really enjoyed what they were doing and we look forward to seeing them more on the blues circuit.

Congratulations too must go to Chris Stairmand at The Hollins for starting to put on regular blues gigs and keeping a great selection of real ales.


Pete Evans - Hookers Blues Club