Live Reviews

  Big Baby Ernie, Laura Younger and Kalvin Koolidge live at Aspinall Arms in Mitton

Laura Younger

Friday the 13th. Something strange was bound to happen. Bluesbunny gets the beers in anyway. It's Copper Dragon ale. So far, so good. Nearly 9pm. No sign of a band anywhere. Bluesbunny is getting worried. Might well be trapped here with only beer to distract us from reality. No need to panic just yet. They have not run out of beer. Bluesbunny looks around.

The Aspinall Arms seems like a normal English pub. There is even an old man with a dog standing at the bar. Then two minibuses draw up outside. Some unsavoury looking characters get out. They are wearing hats. They must be musicians. The old man and his dog leave the pub.

The master of ceremonies for tonight is Ben Ruth, head honcho of CMEAS and one helluva fine harmonica player as part of the Convulsions. He introduces the first act. Laura Younger is from Colchester. Brimming with the confidence of youth, she performs some songs from her debut album "Notes to Self". Her song writing shows lyrical sensibilities that exceed our expectations of one so young. The songs are well constructed and really rather catchy. Of particular note is "City Girls". The next day - now bereft of alcohol - we debate the use of the word "beauteous" in this song with her. Is it a real word? Apparently it is. We retire wounded. The kitten has claws.

Big Bad Ernie

Next up is Big Baby Ernie. All the way from New Jersey says our Ben. They seem to be the most experienced band having regular gigs throughout New Jersey. They play with gusto laying down a solid groove that gets your feet tapping. Bluesbunny muses on things from the other side of the Atlantic. Where do they get their drummers? Everyone of them different but each one hits the skins with metronomic precision driving each song forward. Musicianship of the highest order and that's the truth. Tonight's man on the beat was Bryan Bosen. The temperature in the room is definitely rising now. Big Baby Ernie handles the audience like a seasoned pro. He compliments our warm British beer between songs. Songs like "Fairweather Friends" and "Hurricane Song" stick in the mind. But it's all good. Damn fine organ playing from Vince Bergamo too. The band's sound reminds Bluesbunny of Jamiroquai but without the pretensions. Or the expensive car collection, no doubt. Foot tapping, hard hitting, lip smacking, solid grooving, floor filling, enervating solid gold action. They are the real deal and that's for sure.

Kalvin Koolidge

Then came Kalvin Koolidge. Hailing from Boston, our man Ben tells us that they represent the punk contingent. He means punk in an American way. They have problems with an amp. In a Spinal Tap moment, they are advised to turn it up to 11. Sounding less polished than Big Baby Ernie, they deliver an edgy performance. Verging on the shambolic at times, they possess a raw energy missing from so many bands these days. They run through several tracks from their rather fine CD "Kill the Precedent". That'll do nicely.

Laura Younger returns with "Maybe Never". She gives a touching, sensitive rendition of one of the best songs on her CD. She more than holds her own against the noisy boys in the bands.

full band

Big Baby Ernie return and deliver a powerful version of "Suffer". Superb. Ah, you think it's all over? No. Time for a supergroup. Going under the name "Pants Party", the stage fills with every musician in the room. This includes Ben Ruth. And they blow the roof off. They roar through everything, playing like their very life depends on it. They even do a James Brown medley. And then they drop their trousers. By this time, the audience are dancing on the tables. It's late. The bar runs out of Copper Dragon.

We danced. We sang. We had a damn good time. Time to go. Then Bluesbunny found he was locked out of his hotel. Bluesbunny did not care. He was still dancing.

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