Bottleneck Blues Club

Dear All

Thanks to all who came to see Red Butler last month. Here is a review:

"On this wet and cold night at the end of November the youngest band that has ever played the Bottleneck turned up to entertain us - did they do it? - of course they did! Now and again you see a band new to the club who really make you take notice and this night it was the turn of RED BUTLER. With their 'cheeky chappy' singer/rhythm guitarist Dan Spellman, they were ready to rock! - which is exactly what they did for about three minutes, then stopped, took a look at the crowd, and started to show what they can really can do! Slow blues, rocking blues even some old rock songs. What makes this band special is that they are such good musicians. Alex Butler is one of the best lead guitar players around at the moment, and some of his instrumental solos are stunning. From gentle slow to big rocky stuff, nothing is beyond him, backed by a bass player, Mike Topp, (who almost plays lead) and a drummer, Charlie Simson, who does not think it's necessary to make your ears ache! The highlights, too many to mention including their clever playing of covers like Eric Clapton's 'Old Love'. Johny Kidd's 'Shakin all Over' got the crowd singing along, they slowed it right down to nothing and back again. They also took on 'Oh Well' by Fleetwood Mac - it sounded like Peter Green was playing at Rochester! After a break they came back and sat on the stage to perform an acoustic set highlighting Dan Spellman at his best. He has a Paul Rogers from Free style of voice (maybe it is all the fags he smokes1). They covered Rag and Bone Man's, 'Human' and another number, 'Nothing to Lose', also a Johny Cash song 'Ring of Fire' (this put me in mind of Ian Siegal who is always prepared to try something different). Acoustic set over, it is time to rock us home - Stevie Ray Vaughans 'Pride and Joy' has never sounded better! Their original songs are also good too - 'Calm before the Storm', 'Say Hello', 'Belly of the Blues', to name some. The big finale is the proper way to rock out and 'Show Me The Money' is when the band makes the use of roving guitar mics (showing off like young men do!). Everybody on stage is showing their skill - and then they are off around the hall - ten minutes of fun put together by a group of young men who deserve all the success they get, and more. If you haven't seen RED BUTLER, do it now because the last time I saw a young musician that excited me this much it was Ian Siegal, and that was about twenty years ago! Without young guys like this, small blues clubs will die off, so we need to support them, as they represent the future. Status Quo, early Stones, The Who, Faces, Free - fans, they are here now playing clubs like the Bottleneck! Well done RED BUTLER. Alan Kyle"

Some surprise news to follow what was clearly a great show, the Roffen has been sold and won't be continuing with any events after March 2018. The good news is that for the last three shows at the Roffen we have three fantastic acts. In January Guy Tortora and band - well known to all of you as a superb performer and an artist of immense creative ability. We have the club debut in February of Kyla Brox - another artist of utter quality who has in her band the very best musicians. How fitting that the final show at the Roffen will be one of the club's all-time favourites, Geoff Achison. A twist of fortuitous fate that we could never have predicted. Bookings for these artists, please, in response to my mailout early in the month of the show itself.

The task of finding a new venue is already in hand. It's going to be a hard job to match the atmosphere and facility of the Roffen, however, we are going to try and I will keep you posted. In the meantime, any feedback would be appreciated as to where you live (town) and how far you would be prepared to travel in continued support of the club, or indeed if you can recommend any potential venues. Finally, as we approach Christmas and the New Year I would like, as well as wishing you all the best for the Season, to thank you for the support you have shown to the club, enabling it to continue, almost against all odds, over the ten years or so after I took it over from John Adams

Important in this is the people that have helped to maintain the day to day running of the shows over this period, namely Sandra Fergusson and Terry, her late husband, with help from Roy and John. Latterly, Alan and Carol who have done a fantastic job, including being actively involved in selection of the acts and successfully introducing some new blood, including last month's band Red Butler. As Alan says in his review, it is giving these younger artists an opportunity at this level which is going to preserve the genre of the blues in the UK and even though these acts may go on to greater things, the stepping stone of the Bottleneck, with it's generous and appreciative audience, will always be remembered by them. Also thanks to George and Lol who have handled the sound so superbly and to Gillian for her work on the website.

A very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all.

Richard Dobney