Different shades of blue
CHALK and cheese just about covers the contrasting styles of the two blues artistes on stage at The Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans on Saturday night. First up was David Bristow, a gentle character who is a self-taught guitarist, singer and songwriter
CHALK and cheese just about covers the contrasting styles of the two blues artistes on stage at The Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans on Saturday night.
First up was David Bristow, a gentle character who is a self-taught guitarist, singer and songwriter who plays very "three-in-the-morning, porch-style blues".
It didn't do much for me but one of my companions said she found it very "soothing".
David has a pleasant voice and produces warm, mellifluous tones with his guitar but Mr Charisma he is not.
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I felt guilty for not liking him more when he confessed some of his songs had been born from his experiences of being homeless.
But the kindest thing I can think of to say about him is I'm glad he's not homeless any more and I'm happy for him that he now appears to be a devoted husband and father.
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It was marginally better when he stuck to songs of the greats like Hoagy Carmichael, Bessie Smith and Robert Johnson but I did heave a massive sigh of relief when Kris Dollimore showed up.
Dressed in a sharp suit with a tie complete with a tie pin, he was the picture of sartorial elegance reminiscent of a Mod look, if anyone can remember that far back - and he positively fizzed with energy.
His skills were honed as a sought-after session player and former sideman for The Damned and Del Amitri - and his first song sparked the audience into life.
He plays mainly original modern urban blues inspired by John Lee Hooker, Mississipi Fred McDowell and Robert Johnson.
He rips through the songs with such drive and feeling that he fills the room with his remarkable sound, at once so powerful and joyous that it's hard to stay seated.
Joyous might seem an odd choice of words to describe a blues player but Dollimore creates an almost palpable buzz with his highly-unusual and individual take on the blues.
He teamed up with David Bristow for a duet at the end where they both acquitted themselves admirably. David's voice melded so well with Dollimore's energised guitar playing that it lifted his performance. Maybe he needs to find a partner with a little more bite and aggression.
Dollimore redeemed the evening for me and I can't believe I was alone in that.