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Debbie Bond
Bullfrog Blues Dockyard Club Southsea - August 6th 2015

Alabama based Debbie Bond on vocals and guitar with her husband Rick Asherson on keyboard supplying the bass lines, backing vocals and harp, and a UK drummer whose name I did not catch, suffered on a night clashing with nearby Wickham festival which sadly decimated the numbers.

Impressively undaunted, Debbie quickly established a rapport with the stalwart few, regaling us with tales of her adopted states' musical heritage and legendary Bluesmen like Johnny Shines.

Her voice is somewhere between Bex Marshall and Bonnie Raitt with a rather thinner timbre underpinned by her big jangling guitar. Her song writing skills were demonstrated on 'Nothing But The Blues' with that crystal clear vocal commenting on the more unfortunate side of Alabama's social history, with Rick adding a dextrous keys solo.

As one might expect from the home of Sam and Dave, there was plenty of Soul influence in evidence, with 'Falling' an early highlight. Rick moved to harp on a splendid tour de force train song about waiting for the train to pass, ending nicely with a pin drop harp solo.

Some Rock 'n' Roll too with twinkling keys and that big jangling guitar tone. Tasteful accompaniment on percussion, and pulsing bass lines from the keyboard before a classic but original Blues, 'Blue Rain' with an emotive lyric about a bad relationship closed the first set.

'Steady Rollin' Man' saw Debbie put down her guitar before a superb cover of her local hero Jody Williams' 'You Left Me In The Dark' which was as compelling, lilting and catchy as the original. Another fine cover of 'Help Me' preceded her own 'Tarragona Blues' with a real Spanish vibe.

With only a score of us in attendance, I suppose my note taking was obvious, but nevertheless it is the first time I have ever been asked what I was up to from the stage! My response of "Blues In Britain" was warmly received but I did wonder afterwards whether "The IRS" might have had more of a dramatic impact!

Despite that sparse crowd there was enthusiastic participation with the ascerbic refrain "Got a wishbone where a backbone should be" about a girlfriend constantly making the wrong choices in men. Equating Mobile to New Orleans brought a really authentic vibe to the keys before a slow paced Country imbued ballad.

Another New Orleans style 'Mojo Working' with fluid keys and harp was a thoroughly merited encore to an enjoyable evening. Interesting and stimulating too, with her engaging vibrant personality, both in her between number patter and in networking the audience.

Bob Chaffey

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