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Memphis in the Meantime – 5th January 2008
This was an eagerly anticipated return of a very good group to the Borough Blues Club. At their last visit in November 2006 Memphis in the Meantime had wowed the audience with two excellent sets containing a wide variety of blues and had sent the audience home very contented.
Their line up was the same with Chris Lomas on bass and vocals, Mark Shaw on guitar and vocals, Fred Skidmore on the organ and Micky Barker on Drums. The talent on display was, as before, undisputed and the group worked hard to entertain. From the opening with “Green Onions” (Bukka T and the MGs) to the final “Just goes to show you never can tell” (Chuck Berry) there was a range of musical ability on show together with excellent all round performances. Such virtuosity comes from years of dedication and Chris Lomas pointed out that he had got into music ages ago through a love for “The Fabulous Thunderbirds”. “It did not totally change my life,” he said, “but it stopped me wanting to go to work!” All the members of “Memphis” have great experience and have been together for about five years, so that their individual skills are welded into a very tight unit and it was not surprising that they can play very, very good blues. The only problem was – they did not! At least, not very much!
It was unfortunate that the group decided to include a huge amount of original material in their set. This might have been OK if it had been blues but a lot of it seemed to have more of a country flavour. It is doubtful that there was enough blues in between the self compositions or the music of other styles to warrant the title “blues band”. What they did was excellent but certainly raised comment among BBC members that detracted from what could have been a superb night’s blues!
The issue was raised with the band in a very gentle way and it will be clarified in future that for “Memphis in the Meantime” and for other bands appearing at the Borough Blues Club the expectation is that blues or rhythm and blues will form the major part of what they will be expected to perform. It is, after all, the Borough Blues Club. We like variety and originality to go with the skill – but all in the best possible blues taste.