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Alabama 3 + The Cedars
The Whitehorse, Streatham, 16.11.06
Review by Rick Webb, Photos by Andy Hall
When was the last time you saw a guy on an acoustic
and some singers lay waste to a room full of discerning music types? Seriously,
it takes a special kind of style to pull that stuff off, and style is
something that Alabama 3 have never been short of.
Their 1997 masterwork Exile on Coldharbour Lane was never off
the record player round my house back in the day and they, as much as
anybody, made me realise that there was no difficulty combining acid
house techno with blues country and gospel. Not only that, their whole
thing was done with such extraordinary panache that they created an entire
mythology which allowed them to range across cultural and musical time
and space in a way that few others (none?) have been able to match.
wasn't the full crew, just (singer) Larry Love, with
Rock Freebase (guitar, excellent by the way), accompanied
by a couple of mates doing assorted toasting/rapping/dancing/Bezzery
and it's hard to remember seeing anybody who earned it as convincingly
as they did.
We're talking here about a 'band' that can pull off Johnny
Prison Blues' ("I shot a man in Streatham, just to watch him die!)
segueing into KRS 1's 'Sound of the Police' ("Whoop!
all er... whoop) and making the whole crowd smile at just how right the
connection was. Not something you normally see on a Thursday night in
Streatham, or for that matter, anywhere. Love has the kind of voice that
most British 'Blues' singers can only dream of, as well as a commanding
prescence, and seems absolutley as at home dropping 21st Century South
London references as he is dipping into the obscurities of blues history.
The Cedars describe themselves as a 'bluesy Americana
throwback' and jolly good they
are at it too. Fronted by the charismatic Chantal
Hill on vocals and with the stylish slide of Jason
Moffat on guitar, their tales of murder and jilted love are
finely wrought and their 'unplugged' approach makes a welcome change.
They're a hard working band too, and appear to have a good following.
Catch 'em near you soon.
In a week where the very future of bluesinlondon.com was in question
following a particularly dense flurry of tedious abuse from people who
just don't seem to get what we're about, this was a gig that re-invigorated
our faith that yes, there is something worth celebrating this far along
the history of 'blues' musical culture.
If you're reading this and thinking
'Acid House? Folk? That aint the blues!' then you need to think again.
If you can connect with a room full of outstanding musicians playing
music that's rooted in blues and yet which manages
to have something to say about the world today, and which you can also
dance to, then welcome to our world.