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Bullfrog Blues Club Southsea - March 5th 2015

The respected veteran, South coast Bluesman Pete Harris is justifiably proud of his new venture, and the watertight six piece outfit blazed through a superb set of retro Swing Blues which captured perfectly the joie de vivre of that bygone era.

The urbane and approachable eponymous front-man on guitar and fine lead vocals, also acted as emcee, pulling the strings throughout, aided and abetted by Ray Drury, keys, Brian Wright, drums, Bob Manley, bass and Paul Tasker on sax.

The line-up is completed by Miss Jeradine Hume, resplendent at stage front centre, whose photogenic 50's style curvaceous charm concealed an even bigger vocal talent, rich, resonant and powerful.

It was Pete's warm, clear vocal though to shine first on 'Just A Little Bit' and 'T-Bone Shuffle', over his fluid and articulate guitar work. 'Rock Me Baby' was the perfect sultry vehicle for Jeradine to showcase that honeyed vocal and vamp like presence. Some lovely rippling keys and a fine solo from Ray led to a somewhat strident treatment of 'Baby What You Want Me To Do' the only number where perhaps the orchestration was less than empathetic.

Back to top marks for the band leader and choreographer's superb vocal rendition of Bessie Smith's 'Ain't Nobody's Business' where we were invited to imagine him as a woman and us as sophisticated! Koko Taylor's 'That's Why I'm Crying' was up next with the opulent songstress offering a cogent and compelling vocal to match the superb guitar work.

Tales of backing Lazy Lester with 'Blues Stop Knocking At My Door' "In the neighbourhood of E"! displayed Pete's underrated vocal versatility, survived a collapsing chair in the crowd, and saw the first set complete with a rousing Big Mama Thornton style 'Hound Dog' with Jeradine stretching those impressive vocal chops with full blooded eloquence.

The second half moved a notch higher with Pete's terrific vocals on 'I Woke Up This Morning' before a storming 'Little By Little'. Brenda Lee's 'Sweet Nothings' was given extra verve by Jeradine's screen siren, saucy whisper to Blues shouter treatment before a vibrant 'Voodoo Woman'.

In contrast to the earlier Jimmy Reed cover, 'Honest I Do' was a complete stunning success with vocal harmonies, keys solo, and sinuous rhythm from the engine room. A smoking 'I'm A Woman' was lyrically finessed and given raw vocal potency from Jeradine before the dancers swung into action on 'Sick And Tired'.

No-one including Pete wanted the night to end and a thoroughly deserved encore of 'The Sky Is Crying' was mellow and earthy, with mellifluous keys, stonking sax and evocative articulate guitar underpinning that luscious vocal opulence.

The only blot on the evening was that the band's terrific new release 'Live At Talking Heads' was not yet available. The classy band leader's easy rapport with the audience, pride in his band and sheer enjoyment of their craft made this a truly memorable night.

Bob Chaffey - Blues In Britain

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