Tony Yoko – ‘Blowing the blues away’ – 20 February 2017

Review by David Alston in Feb 2017 on

David Alston

02/20/2017 16:27:42

Tony Yoko proved there is an audience for jazz and blues, filling the Auto and General Theatre on the Square for four consecutive nights.That impresario, producer and drummer Tony Yoko was able to fill the Theatre on the Square on four consecutive nights for his fifth ‘Annual Jazz & Blues Weekend’, demonstrates clearly that there is an enthusiastic market for this type of music. Hopefully this will enable him to showcase more of the talent that is out there who love and understand these – often overlapping — genres. I was able to catch only two of the four concerts, but quite simply, they were a blast, and the capacity audience rewarded the musicians with standing ovations on each occasion – and on the other two nights.

First up was a blues band led by guitarist, vocalist and arranger Alistair Coakley – in the eighties part of the band Hotline which featured vocalist P.J. Powers – who had put together a stellar group especially for the occasion. Richard Thompson on guitar and vocals made up the frontline, Connie Foster on piano, keyboards, and vocals brought just the right sort of variation to the overall joyous musical mayhem, Neil Fox laid down a rocking beat on drums and an impassive Caesare Cassarino kept it all together on bass guitar. The band showed off their thorough knowledge of the blues with their tribute to three legends of the genre – BB King, Freddie King and Albert King – aptly entitled ‘We Three Kings’.

Wikipedia states succinctly that the blues form was ‘originated by African Americans in the Deep South of the United States around the end of the 19th century’ and ‘is characterised by the call and response pattern … of which the twelve bar blues is the most common.’ It was after the Second World War that there was a transition from acoustic to electric blues which brought the music to a wider audience and in the 1960s and 1970s a hybrid form called blues rock evolved. The ‘Three Kings’ spanned the years from 1923 to 2015. BB and Albert were both born on cotton plantations in Mississippi and Freddie hailed from Texas. So their roots in blues were, to say the least, impeccable, relating, as they often did, the ‘troubles experienced in African- American society’, as Wikipedia rather delicately puts it.