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18 Jan 2008

Blues in England - Part Two

T-Bone Walker

Live at the Klooks Kleek 1965

by Tony Lennane - From Blues Unlimited - April 1965 Issue

Just a few weeks short Klooks from West Hampstead station is the Railway Hotel, home of Klooks Kleek, a rather posher-than-usual R n’B club.

It is located on the first floor, bars and carpets everywhere: not the kind of place I would have expected to see T-Bone Walker.

See him I did.

This was one of Klooks better nights. By nine pm it was quite packed, though little known to the present generation of beat enthusiasts, there was quite a lot of genuine appreciation evident that night. It was March 9th; the doors were opened at 8.00 pm and we were allowed in for a very reasonable 7/- (how do they manage it ?)

Our first entertainers, and entertain they did, were the “Bluesbreakers” led by John “heart and soul in my music” Mayall, a true musician deeply involved in the true traditions of the American Negro.

I feel just recognition should be given where it is rightly due. Here is a man who knows the music, in fact a true enthusiast of the pure blues, definitely the best group we are fortunate in having here in Britain.*

After having been told of T-Bones appearance having been set for a full hour at the end of the evening between 10 and 11 pm, he appeared without warning at approximately 9 o’clock for the first of the two sets of the day.

First we were to be impressed by a five-minute guitar instrumental which, though, simple in construction , had us all rockin’. Once again credit is due to the boys for a very able backing. T-Bone told me later “they have a true feeling for the blues”.

He liked the boys, as he explained later in the bar, over a gin and orange.

The highlights of the evening were the two numbers he featured on the “Original American Folk-Blues Festival” (Polydor LPHM 237-597), “I wanna see my baby” and “I’m in love”, both among my particular favorites by T-Bone.

Other exciting – if commercial – numbers to be performed for our eager ears included the rock classic of the fifties “Linda Loo”, originally recorded by the now unheard Ray Sharp, and “T-Bone Shuffle”, an item remembered from his Atlantic label employ.

After half-time in yonder bar we pushed our weary way to the front to find John Mayall running through a few popular R n’B items – “My Babe” etc…etc…etc… T-Bone appeared to back John for a few numbers before taking the spotlight himself.

To end the night of unforgettable music we were given a form of Hooker-cum-Reed-cum-Walker “Boogie Riff”. It took 4 encores and nigh on twelve minutes before he finally disappeared behind the door, to appear very briefly with a bow and a broad smile.

This was a night never to be forgotten, and for Klooks Kleek I sincerely hope, a paying one.

More performances by visiting US artists to such as the Kleek club will undoubtedly bring out the best in all of them, thus rewarding the bluesophile with better than the average shows.

T-Bone’s tour of Britain proves to be quite comprehensive, as he is taking in all 3 TV channels and travelling from his London hotel (The Imperial) to perform everywhere from

the Cliffs Pavilion Southend to

the Regency Ballroom Bath, via

Market Hall, St. Albans,

Club-A-GoGo, Newcastle;

Dungeon Club, Nottingham;

Twisted Wheel, Manchester;

The Whiskey-A-GoGo, Birmingham;

Ricky Tick, Windsor;

Doghouse Club, Harrow;

Crawdaddy, Richmond

and many other colourful places with such names as

Cooks Ferry Inn,

Concord South Bank Jazz Club,

Public Hall,

Chelsea College and

Trade Union Hall !

Quite a selection ……

T-Bone spent two evening in full rehearsal with his group at the Marquee Club in Wardour St., London prior to his opening night at the Flamingo, which lacked the spark of his Klooks performance, a night that ignited a blaze of new interest in one of the greatest of old time bluesmen.

* Note that, as the “Bexhill Observer” so rightly says, “Any opinions stated by our correspondents do not necessarily reflect those of the editorial staff.” So don’t plague us with letters (as once happened).

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