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Anyone who knows me will know that I love to discover new bands. That Savoy Brown have been a blues/rock institution since 1965 doesn’t make them any less new to me. Until four weeks ago the adventures of Kim Simmonds’ group had flown completely under my radar.
Look through the listings of Grapevine Magazine and you will see many well-known names from the 60s and 70s still touring. Some of those shows that I’ve seen have left me thinking, whilst nostalgia is great, maybe, just maybe, they should have left us with our vinyl memories.
But not so Savoy Brown. This is no pension propping last gasp tour to play the old favourites to converted fans. This is a band at the top of their game, writing and recording new material, played with a passion and ease that is a pleasure to listen to.
“Why Did You Hoodoo Me?” is the first track on the 2017 album “Witchy Feelin’”. It was the track which grabbed me by the throat and insisted I buy it (with next day delivery) and listen to the whole album. It was the second number the band performed last night. Played live the effect was intensified tenfold.
The set was a mix of the old and the current with tantalising glimpses of new tracks from the latest album ‘City Night’ which comes out in June. Available to pre-order from a web-browser near you…
Playing new material in public is nerve wracking for any musician but when Kim produced the hand written lyric sheet for “Walkin’ on Stoney Ground” he explained that it was only the second time they had played this and he’d like to get it right. Young aspiring musicians take note.
Back in 1969 Savoy Brown recorded the Muddy Waters song “Louisiana Blues“. Kim recalls that on meeting the man himself, Muddy’s first words were “You stole my song”! Well Muddy, wherever you listen to your music these days, rest assured that “Louisiana Blues” is in safe hands with this band.
Alongside Kim Simmonds in this current incarnation of Savoy Brown are Pat DeSalvo on bass and Garnet Grimm on percussion. Together this band are tight, individually masters of what they do. I’ve never been a fan of drum solos or bass solos, for this band I’ll make an exception.
Kim tells a story at the end of the set about how, at thirteen years of age, he sent away for a mail order guitar. Not put off by the fact that, when it arrived, it was in kit form, he set about building it and learning how to play. It may have taken three years locked away in his bedroom but that, he tells us, is how he learned. “And how!” came a cry from the crowd. Nuff said.
Supporting Savoy Brown last night were local Norwich based band The Delta Belters who opened with a solo piece by guitarist Sunny Boy Summerson. I had heard good things about this band but tonight was my first opportunity to see them play live, I was not disappointed. Playing a mix of blues and ragtime in three-piece formation, they were joined for a ‘guest appearance’ by their percussionist Ray Bowden on washboard for their final numbers.
Our thanks Brian McAlister for his hospitality and for creating yet another wonderful night of music in a venue described by one as ‘Norfolk’s best kept secret’. Keep an eye on events here – the team at The Barrel have plans, big plans.