John Cee Stannard review of Giles Hedley
3rd Friday Blues, 21 South Street, Reading.
First published in Blues In Britain magazine
It was at the previous month’s 3rd Friday Blues night that Andy Wilkin announced that after around 13 years of running the club, he was going to retire. This is sad news to the blues fans on Reading, and we are all hoping that someone will come forward grab the reigns of this great club.
The success of the club during those years was typified by the turnout of 60 to 70 people who were hear to listen to an evening of Giles Hedley and the Aviators. No-one was going to be disappointed. It was a stunning evening. Giles gave a masterclass performance on how to deliver the blues with conviction, authenticity, and above all, fun. Superbly supported by Sam Kelly’s usual sensitive and supportive drum, and the rhythm section completed as usual by Richard Sadler’s perfect bass. On this occasion there was no Christophe on guitar, so it was a slightly (very slightly) stripped back version of the usual Aviators’ sound.
Having started his one hour forty five minute set with a little “Sleepy” John Estes number, closely followed by the Son House classic “My Black Woman”, he picked up his harmonica for the first of several songs from his So Glad I’m Living album, playing the title track by Arthur Crudup. He then cranked up his self-wired “not entirely conventional” lap steel to slow things down with the powerful “Rain Is Such A Lonesome Sound” by Jimmy Witherspoon, before picking up the tempo again with Jimmy Reed’s mid-tempo shuffle: “Too Much”.
As well as a couple more songs by “Sleepy” John Estes, and great interpretations of songs by Willie Dixon(Back Door Man), Danny Brown(Standing On The Corner) and the classic Muddy Walter’s ballad “Stood In My Kitchen” we were treated to several of Giles’s own well-crafted songs including “The Dark Before the Dawning” and the slow jazzy smooth Jimmy Witherspoon-esk “Shadows Falling”.
By the time we got half way through the set, it was hard to imagine the set could become any more infection, but that’s just what happened as Giles and the Aviators launched into Sleepy John’s “If The River Was Whisky”.
Giles saved his nose harmonica Gospel treat for his final song of the evening, which of course guaranteed an encore in the form of Giles’ high energy “Don’t Let ‘em Down”. Another terrific evening of Giles Hedley music in the great 3rd Friday club in South Street Reading.
Check Giles out at http://www.gileshedley.com/
John Cee Stannard www.johnceestannard.co.uk