Live Reviews

  JC Hamilton, Pete Shellard and Martin Forry live at MacSorleys in Glasgow

Another night in the Wild West of Scotland. An acoustic night at Macsorleys. Keeping to the shadows, Bluesbunny slides through the door and heads for the bar. There's a new gang in town, apparently. They go by the name of JC Hamilton.

Bluesbunny hears a voice behind him. An amplified voice. It is the voice of "English" Pete Shellard. He rambles away about the dangerous situations a man can find himself in when he has a German girlfriend. The kind of situations that would get solved with a six shooter. Or a song. "English" Pete is in a good mood so he goes for the song tonight. As an aside, BluesBunny wonders why "English" Pete is playing tonight. It would seem like the curse of the Bluesbunny has struck again. The merest hint that we are hitting town to take care of some reviewing business and musicians run. It's enough to give a guy a complex. Or at least it would be if we were at all sensitive. Looking on the bright side, there will be a few less people to fight through to get to the bar. Anyway, now we are doing the rambling. So, I hear you say, what song does he choose. He chooses "Angel in My Heart" to highlight his clean, clear voice. Staying in sentimental territory, he then takes us on a childhood journey with "Holeswater". Showing excellent taste, he squeezes in a cover of Damien Rice's "9 Crimes" before leaving us with some more plaintiveness in "I Miss You". This is the kind of haunting love song that would find - or indeed, fund - a new life in Nashville. For the mean streets of Glasgow though, perhaps Pete should pick up some of the usual bad habits - fast cars, cheap women and Jack Daniels to name a few personal favourites.

After a short break, JC Hamilton takes to the stage. There are actually three of them doing the playing as one thing. They have even brought along their families to even out the odds against any potential hostility from the crowd. It doesn't take long to note the almost spiritual, calming properties of his music. Whilst melodic, this band steers away from the soporific. The bass player is way too animated for a start. He bounces up and down during "Eiderdown" and this continues into the rather more reflective "Statued Reading". The harmonies brought us to the conclusion that JC might have a Byrds album or two in his collection and to bring a reference back from the grave, perhaps a Grateful Dead LP. They do a lively cover of "Jesus was a Capricorn" just to prove that, despite their proficiency with the slow stuff, they can rock out when they need to. Instrumental virtuosity is much in evidence in their final song "Hollow Part of Me" but it was "Do You Need my Love" that the Bluesbunny was humming on the way home. There was a definite sparkle to this band's performance and we are sure that their talent will shine through someday soon.

"English" Pete Shellard returns to the stage with event promoter - and Sheriff - Martin Forry to fill in the gaps left by those who fear the pen of the Bluesbunny. There are times when Bluesbunny feels sympathy for his fellow human beings. Not often but sometimes. This was one of those moments. Sheriff Forry is getting to be a perpetual stand in, filling in for musicians that forget to appear. However, he has got plenty of songs to sing and he never appears to bear a grudge. "Falling Down" and "Eleanor" works well with effective guitar support from Pete Shellard. He clearly takes his songs seriously. There are shadows and solitude in his lyrics and he often sings with his eyes shut almost as if he is isolating himself from the audience that he deserves. True troubadours like Woody Guthrie, Mississippi Fred McDowell or even Ralph McTell, know that you have to bring people into your world before they will listen to what you have to say. Maybe that is a lesson for us all.

The music ends. Bluesbunny watches some strange, brightly coloured women buy some last, strange, brightly coloured drinks for the road. If this were the real Wild West then this bar would probably be called something cool like the Last Chance Saloon but, in this real world acoustic setting, it would be better to call it the First Chance Saloon. Bluesbunny finishes his Guinness and heads for that last stagecoach out of town.

Review Date: July 10 2007