Keith Thompson – Everyman Studio
Theatre, Cheltenham 2018
(Peter Clack – Blues In Britain)
This venue is just above the main theatre itself, where they
were staging “Hairspray”. Keith didn’t need that but wore
his black hat, joined by an array of guitars and a ukulele. For a man known
mainly as a blues /rock player, the solo shows are becoming very much part of
his music, both here and in mainland Europe.
Being a smallish venue, the show was quite an intimate affair, and being a locally born artist, many of the audience knew him personally, so it was like a homecoming gig. Keith came on stage playing guitar for a nice easy introduction to the night, a song called, “Breathe”. Over the following couple of hours he did several songs from his most recent, largely acoustic album, “Two Minutes to Midnight” with some great guitar and slide thrown into the mix. A nice touch was using back projection pictures that gave visuals to the music; during his own “Bluesman” (about his quest for the blues that led him all the way to the Mississippi) there were scenes ranging from London’s underground railway to the Delta, and a whole host of blues players through the years.
On another original, “Paid My Dues” there was footage of Keith’s entire career, around forty years now; the bands, the venues, the festivals and the solo shows, which brought the song very much alive to everyone.
Using loops and backbeats too filled out the sound. The set was mostly self-written material, proving he is as fine a writer as he is a guitarist, and there was ample proof of that; a man vastly underrated as a player, one of our best! He takes many views of life into his songs, like, “Living In The Blues”, (the idea coming from Stormy Monday Blues), about each day of the week but not all of it so down; the tongue in cheek look at retirement, “Watch n’Chain”, even a jolly romp on his ukulele, “Ain’t Gonna Worry”. He brought in some great slide on “Preachin’ the Blues” and the rolling beat to “Freedom Train”. There was another look at an older song, “Tumblin’ Dice” where it was hard to believe it was just one man on stage.
Yes this was a night of one man and his music, but again Keith proved what a huge talent he is, not just as guitarist and writer but with a very fine voice to go with it. He may cover several styles but at heart, as this show more than proved, he really is a bluesman. An evening with him, solo or with his superb band is one not to be missed.
"Catch the Fire" - Blues In Britain Magazine
Keith Thompson, blues-rock singer/guitarist and his excellent
band of Roy Adams on drums and Neil Simpson on bass, have an equally excellent
new studio album out. The key is it’s full of great tracks, full of fresh
exciting ideas that keep the interest from beginning to end. The band is tight,
the sound full and the production is right up there. It’s back to the
roots of classic blues-rock, in fact, back to what this band does best of all,
get the groove and build around it. The album is full of Keith’s self-penned
songs, there being only one cover, Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing”.
“Money” is a standout track. Other songs like, “Keeper Of
The Flame”, “Restless” and “Angel Fire” prove
equally as effective, with very high production values. Throughout Keith brings
in several areas of guitar sounds and styles, from boogie, wah-wah pedal, to
some pretty awesome riffs. It’s not all the main man on guitar because
both Buddy Whittington and Laurence Jones are added to the mix.
The use of sax on “Don’t Come Running to Me” adds depth and enjoyment. This release should prove to be a real success for Keith and his band, and one that deserves to be heard. “Catch the Flame” is a great album by a major talent on the current blues scene.
"Catch the Fire" - R2 Magazine
Known previously as a session guitarist, Keith Thompson has
clearly been influenced by the range of styles he has come across. Now a regular
performer across Europe with his band, he is an accomplished songwriter and
multi-instrumentalist (guitar, Keyboards and Harmonica). With the exception
of his cover of “Little Wing”, all songs on this sixteen-track album
are Thompson originals.
Former Bluesbreaker Buddy Whittington guests on two songs – the gritty “Burning the Playhouse Down” – a blues number with a funky backbeat and excellent guitar work, and “Restless”, a less successful AOR number. That said, the quality of song writing is an obvious strength, delivering well-constructed songs with good riffs and varied tempos in a mix of styles.
While primarily a blues-tinged rock album, here Thompson has mainly avoided the fast and furious approach too often adopted by his contemporaries, choosing instead to deliver songs like, “Crazy” with it’s Knopfler-like guitar and vocals, the wonderfully jangly guitars of “Access Denied”, and the impressively performed fretwork of “Wrong Side Of The Bed”.
To borrow from one of his song titles, Thompson is clearly an artist who has “Paid his Dues” and “Catch the Fire” will surely broaden his appeal.
"Two Minutes To Midnight" - Blues In Britain
Following 2014's excellent full on rock-blues album 'Catch The
Fire', Keith Thompson returns with a mainly acoustic album, his first of this
type since 'Steel Strings & Bruised Reed'. For this new set he went into
his studio and recorded as many of his songs as he could, which saw over fifty
songs done this way, from that we get the fifteen on this set, and mighty good
it is too. As he calls it an acoustic blues/rock album. He also played all the
instruments, not only his regular guitar but piano, drums, bass, ukulele and
harmonica, though he does have a little outside help on three songs.
What we get then, as he puts it, a personal and intimate group of songs, but what really stands out is the quality of them, he truly is a very fine songsmith, and also possesses the voice to get the best out of them. Towards the end of the year he did a solo European tour no doubt featuring some of the songs featured here.
Keith is an outstanding guitarist, and whether on acoustic or electric that holds strong throughout, on some songs he's double-tracked guitars to mix both styles to great effect. His voice has never sounded better, and on a song such as Freedom Train, obviously a train song but he uses two styles of vocals, added to that the railroad rhythm and tasty guitar parts you have one of several standout tracks in the set. In fact the opening Watch n Chain with its drumbeat and acoustic mid pace chording added to Keith's gritty voice creating the type of sound you get from a jug band (no jugs though) and some nice electric guitar in the middle of it all. By track two's Win Or Lose, a laid back guitar and harmonica, lyrics like 'Think you know me', and the gentle background voices add depth to the sound. You can't beat a blues song about growing up, and here's one 'Be A Better Man', striving to be the man you should be, some great lyrics here as well. The other side of being a man comes later in “Man Flu”, one he's already been playing live and a tongue in cheek look at how we men lay it on when a little under the weather, not to mention a few coughs thrown in for good measure, can't be too bad though he's added some harmonica again. Its good also that Keith's added some slide to the odd song because he's a very fine exponent of it and in “Ain't Gonna Worry”, a song about getting on with life, an easy paced blues where slide just adds that full touch to the overall sound.
Another song blues fans will hugely enjoy is “Bluesman”, a perfect opening for the song that follows 'London town, the train going south, the call of the blues, and the long way down to Mississippi', the British blues artists desire to reach the land that birthed the music, and your love of it. Should be one that gets noticed when years best song awards get mentioned. “Honest Man” sees him pick up organ, guitar, drums bass to become a one man band in a steady rolling blues. “Here By My Side”, is a down home slice of blues, add some claps, more acoustic guitar, a lesson in some nice finger picking here as well. The title track itself is an upbeat, light-hearted song, that also includes a ukulele, to lift it again featuring some background vocals. This is a rich full sound, and like so much of this set such a great song that deserves to be heard.
This is such a good release you could review every track, because they each have something a little different, each has its own special style, and one Mr. Thompson should rightfully be very proud of. This deserves to be heard, here is a British blues artist who delivers one of surely the best acoustic based albums you'll hear this year. The recording quality is excellent, and as said, he's in great voice throughout and remains on very fine form as a musician but on top of that is a song-writer of the highest order. Very highly recommended.
Don't wait till two minutes to midnight, get it now from Density music or catch him live.
Keith Thompson @ the Everyman Theatre Studio, Cheltenham
Always nice to see a full house, and so it was for Keith Thompson
to launch his latest album. Keith is a Cheltenham local and remains very popular
there and deservedly so. An excellent room with great acoustics and a nice homely
atmosphere; as his new solo album is acoustic based an ideal venue.
Keith came on and the evening was a mix of songs from the new album and some older favourites, most of it very blues-based with some superbly played guitar. He opened with the first track on the release, “Watch n’ Chain” using just guitar, but throughout the gig the use of drum loops and guitar pedals varied the sound; plus images back-projected onto a screen behind him added atmosphere and feeling to the songs. With his band he really hits the blues/rock trail, and some of the songs here had that harder edge that suited well; he is also a pretty tasty slide guitar player, with sometimes a touch of harmonica and even ukulele! “I just went into the shop to buy some strings, saw this and came out with it”, and it’s on the new album.
After the slightly gentle opener he hit into a thumping blues, “Win or Lose” and with the loops there was a full band sound, before a new song entitled “Bluesman” about the journey from London to Clarksdale USA, a journey that took 40 years to happen: visuals on the screen of the underground, shots of the delta and the great blues players from Mississippi John Hurt, BB King, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, and even Peter Green, made the song very effective. A very nice idea was using photos of shows Keith himself has played over the years. The life of a bluesman.
The title song of the new release, “Two Minutes to Midnight”, with visuals of the clock ticking towards the hour was a song about life on the road. As he put on his glass slide he played, “Preachin’ the Blues” a song he’s recorded in both styles, electric and acoustic. The slide playing here was right from the Deep South, and being live he could extend what had been recorded to give new life to the song. Another stomping slide in, “You Don’t Know Me” after which Nick John joined Keith for a really great take on J.J. Cale’s “Travelling Light”, their voices blended so well, and continuing with another from the new CD, “Freedom Train”. With that chunking sound of the railroad, it’s a song about the desire to play six strings like John Lee Hooker, BB King and their like, with added harmonica and Nick’s deeper voice it was a great slice of pure railroad blues.
The second half included “Getting Ready For The Burn” and a piece from the great John Martyn, “Solid Air” about mental health issues, a song Keith used to promote the “Lifting The Blues” charity set up for the support of people with this condition and their carers. Again the guitar playing was outstanding.
One of our finest musicians proved yet again why he remains popular, not only in his home town but wherever he plays. A superb new album and a great night of blues.
Two Minutes to Midnight
Review in R2 magazine
Those of you, like me, who only know Keith Thompson from his
previous band output, such as 2016’s “Catch the Fire” - a
powerful blues-rock album featuring Laurence Jones and Buddy Whittington, will
be surprised to learn of his acoustic and semi-acoustic alter-ego.
“Two Minutes to Midnight” sees Thompson venturing down a more introspective, melodic and frankly, authentic blues route. All fifteen songs are originals, apparently whittled down from over fifty, with Thompson playing all the instruments on most tracks; a remarkable feat that includes guitars, piano, drums, bass, ukulele and harmonica.
Stylistically the sound alternates between raw and refined, is traditional, yet contemporary in its subject matter, though always entertaining. Some of the starker tracks evoke comparison to Ian Siegal – no bad thing (“Living In The Blues” and “Freedom Train”); while others such as the superb title track are vocally reminiscent of T-Bone Burnett’s sound.
Throughout the album, Thompson’s instrumental flair, high production standards and ability to create a distinctive feel with each song are it’s clear strengths. Even light songs such as the humorous “Man Flu” or old time rag, “Going Home” are strong contributors to a solid album. Let’s hope his diehard blues-rock fans embrace such artistic latitude.
"Snapshot Of Reality" - Liverpool Sound & Vision
If passion is your thing, if it’s the be all and end all and makes the nights hanging by an amplifier, dry ice clinging to your lungs like a wet December fog and a guitar playing a sweet serenade of honest love and toiled emotion, then the Keith Thompson Band’s live album, Snapshot of Reality, is one in which to count the ways in which to adore your love of music.
If listening to the 2014 release Catch The Fire makes the ears tremble with an excitement perhaps not felt since the first love of your life gently blew down your ear hole and whispered the immortal words, “I have got you tickets to the gig in town tonight, grab your coat”, then one stage on from that introduction to the world of Keith Thompson is to either find a local gig, or the next best thing, and not always then an option as not everything transfers away from the true point of a live gig, is to take in the recording of one and let the imagination wander.
The album shakes with the unexpected, like a tremor felt in a Wessex town which startles the gentle British reserve enough for letters to hurriedly dispatched to the Editor of The Times in place of that peculiarity which surrounds the first set of correspondence declaring that the first cuckoo of Spring could plainly be heard, it’s enough to have the album ingratiate itself upon you with a quivering vibration.
The album, taking in the best recordings from gigs in Switzerland, Germany, Poland, Croatia, Slovenia and the U.K., sees songs such as the excellent All My Friends Are Gone, Giving Up The Day Job, the near portentous Giving Up The Day Job, the well observed Who Says A Whiteman Can’t Get The Blues and a very good cover of Al Green’s Take Me To The River all being played with that single, unremitting beautiful emotion of passion. It is that passion that marks Keith Thompson out as a great addition to the collection. Live music and delightful zeal, a winning combination in anyone’s book, a True Snapshot of Reality. Ian D. Hall
"Catch the Fire" - R2 Magazine
There’s no fuss and few frills from Keith Thompson, his
rhythm section (Neil Simpson, bass and Roy Adams on drums, borrowed from The
Climax Blues Band) and special guests, including Buddy Whittington and the precocious
Laurence Jones, on Catch The Fire.
The eighth album of a career where Thompson’s also a go-to session player, this outing has a gritty honesty about its relatively-unadorned content and from-the-heart delivery. It’s gratifying to note from the sleeve that no track extends beyond six minutes, suggesting that guitar histrionics are unlikely, this hint borne out on listening. Although not possessed of the strongest blues voice, Thompson puts as much effort into vocal emotion as he invests in his impressive single-coil attack and, at times, there’s as much honest soul as there is soloing.
‘Crazy’ exemplifies this, building from an intimate verse delivery into a rock ballad refrain, yet without losing the essential melancholic, pleading bluesy edge and never deviating into self indulgence.
The swinging shuffle of ‘Don’t Come Running To Me’, with Patsy Gamble’s sax adding a 50s feel, displays the versatility which has seen Thompson called upon to enhance recordings by, among others, Ruby Turner and Steve Winwood.
‘Paid My Dues’ is also worthy of mention, its riff-based dynamic allowing Simpson and Adams to display their well-honed skills in the light-and-shade balancing act that is tasteful three-piece rhythm accompaniment. And, of course, if you need a slide frenzy fix, ‘Send Your Fire’ is the one, an explosion of Delta howl atop a rhythmic bombast, guaranteed to raise roofs on the short English tour Thompson has scheduled for September and October.
David James Innes
"Catch the Fire" - Blues & Soul Magazine
This is one of those albums that sneak up on you amid the mountains
sat there ready for a listen and consideration for review, and says: “Hey,
don’t forget me. I may not be a world famous band on a major label, but
I’m well worth your time.” Well that is certainly true here. A very
nice album, from a British band I have not heard of before. The two guests caught
my eye; being US star Buddy Whittington, a former Bluesbreaker with John Mayall,
and our own young guitar star of the future, the UK’s Laurence Jones.
Keith Thompson is no beginner on guitar, his playing every bit as classy as the two guest stars. His skills have graced the tracks and live performances of among many others; Ruby Turner, Geno Washington, Stevie Winwood, Spooky Tooth and Mike D’Abo. This is his eight solo album, and features able band mates Roy Adams and Neil Simpson from the Climax Blues band.
As a session player he may not have had the recognition he deserves, but this album may change that. His playing can be heard on countless soundtracks for movies, computer games and TV shows. A well known band on the European touring and festival circuit, “Catch The Fire,” is a solid calling card on these 16 tracks - all but one he wrote. The one cover, “Little Wing,” one of Jimi’s most covered songs, but for me, not one of the best performances among the originals offered here.
Keith plays guitars, harmonica (very well too), keyboards and bass on the record, as well as lead vocals. Neil Simpson on bass, Roy Adams on drums, Buddy Whittington guitar on two tracks, “Burning The Playhouse Down,” and “Getting Ready For The Burn,” the latter track also features Laurence Jones on guitar. Patsy Gamble provides sax on “Don’t Come Running To Me.” Robyn James, Jan Thompson and David Pick sing backing vocals and Frederico Bozas played bass, drums and keyboards on “She’s Too Hot,” a song he also arranged. The album produced by Keith.
He knows how to nail a groove and deliver superb guitar playing across this album. But I do feel that 16 tracks makes it a bit of an uneven listen, some tracks work much better than others. I’d have trimmed this to 10 or 11 for a stronger end result, personally. The vocal did lose my attention on a few tracks, but overall Keith does a good job vocally on some quite interesting stuff. Maybe the focus next time should be on one style and finding a particular niche sound, as the key to progress.
There’s definitely a bit of an obsession with fire and heat on these songs: There’s the title “Catch The Fire,” and the tracks “Angel Fire,” "Burning The Playhouse Down,” “She’s Too Hot,” “Getting Ready For The Burn,” “Send Your Fire,” and “Keeper Of The Flame.” Plus the flaming guitar picture on the CD's front cover. Maybe keep the matches and lighter away from Keith and his mates then!
But seriously, here we do have a British blues band offering us a quality not often associated with self-released UK blues-rock albums, and a guitarist who should be heard. Simon Redley
"Catch the Fire" & Album launch gig at Brewery Blues, Cirencester
KEITH THOMPSON’S new album Catch The Fire has been spinning
non-stop on my CD deck since his showcase gig at Brewery Blues in Cirencester
The Cheltenham-based blues guitarist is always a welcome guest here and was chosen to celebrate the fifth anniversary of John Drummond’s first Brewery Blues concert back in 2009.
Backed by his regular cohorts, colourful sticksman Roy Adams and virtuoso five string bass wizard Neil Simpson, Thompson debuted tracks from his eighth and – to these ears – best album.
The bar was immediately set high by the slinky shuffle of Money, the slow-burning highlight Crazy and the uptempo Paid My Dues with its serious fret-melting guitar runs.
On the LP, Thompson trades licks on a couple of tracks with blues heavyweight and former John Mayall sideman Buddy Whittington as well as young blues rock tyro Laurence Jones. And it was on one of those new numbers Getting Ready for the Burn that Thompson playfully dipped into the vaults of Classic Rock riffs like Layla, Sunshine of Your Love, Black Knight, Purple Haze and Focus’ Sylvia.
Racing headlong to the finale he returned to trademark staples of his set includingYou Don’t Know Me, a rousing version of Rory Gallagher’s Should’ve Learnt My Lesson and the audience singalong closerTake Me to the River.
Earlier, Cirencester rockers Landslide brought some youthful exuberance to the party, while opening the show was James Daubney.
James is built like a tight head prop but after his gentle and atmospheric fingerstyle acoustic playing had wowed the crowd it was no surprise to hear he has been asked back on October 31.
Before then it is the second and third legs of the venue’s Autumn Blues Trilogy with blues belter Rebecca Downes and her band (September 26) and the magnificent Matt Woosey on October 10.
"Catch the Fire" - Liverpool Sound & Vision
Music is nothing without enthusiasm, the blaze of ongoing passion and the fervour of belief that what you are producing is something that will nestle at the heart of many a listener and grab their attention and excite them to a point where apathy is thrown to ravenous wolves and the deadly soulless.
Enthusiasm and passion can mean a lot more to in some respects to the listener than any amount of talent can offer. Some of the greatest guitarists to have ever strode the musical stage look and sound so disinterested in what they do that they somehow suck the joy out of a gig and out of life. Like being married to the most nagging partner possible to can have you cowering under the weight of one raised eyebrow, or being friends with someone who you fail to understand what ever drew you together, if the passion isn’t there, then why are you playing the game?
For the Keith Thompson band, passion is riddled throughout his new album, the songs are as delighted to be played as finding an alien visitor in your local pub extoling the enjoyment of a properly brewed bitter and finding out he is a dab hand at cribbage. Catch The Fire, perhaps an instruction, possibly a cheerful command from a man himself playing as if the smouldering tones of his songs are igniting the personal freedom one gains when creating something cool and enticing but most of all, a lesson in how passion is needed no matter what you strive to do in life. Without passion you may as well be a hard edged rock, unblinking, uncaring and only useful for sitting on when life becomes too weary.
With very special performances from Buddy Whittington and Laurence Jones, as well as Keith Thompson’s own band which includes a tremendous set by Neil Simpson on bass and the stirrings of beauty in Patsy Gamble’s saxophone, Keith Thompson delivers the 16 track album with deftness and a touch of musical madness.
Tracks such as Paid My Dues, the brilliant Burning The Playhouse Down, Getting Ready To Burn, the thrilling Wrong Side of the Bed and Access Denied makes Catch The Fire dismiss musicians who just seem at times to only care about the mood they are in rather than the chance to inspire at any cost. To Catch The Fire is to hold the passion, let it burn brightly in your hands.
Ian D. Hall
"Catch the Fire" - Lancashire Blues Archive and Independent & Blues In Britain
Hailing from Cheltenham the KEITH THOMSON BAND are International players. Keith Thompson, as a singer, songwriter fronts the band on vocals and guitars, with additions of bass, blues harp and keys. On bass guitar and drums are Climax Blues Band members, Neil Simpson and Roy Adams. Guesting on some tracks on this album, ‘CATCH THE FIRE’, were Buddy Whittington and Laurence Jones on guitar with Patsy Gamble on sax. All tracks, bar one, were self penned.
An interesting twenty five second opener with ‘Angel Fire -Alpha’ on this album, but then we got into the ‘meat’ of the music with ‘Money’. A great raunchy rockin’ track that reminded me a lot of The Hoax. Some great guitar playing, loved it! Next up a classic rock track, ‘Paid My Dues’ again some classy guitar work and a well put together rhythm section.
A bit more ‘rock’ with ‘Burning The Playhouse Down’ with Buddy Whittington taking the lead on guitar. Then slowing the pace down with a slower tempo rock number ‘Crazy’, with a haunting and excellent guitar solo, an ‘epic’ track.
Getting back to ‘the blues’ with shades of Gary Moore, the up tempo number ‘Don’t Come Running To Me’. Some fabulous sax from Patsy Gamble and piano input. Then on to a bit more rock with ‘She’s Too Hot’ with a funky feel.
‘Funkin’ it up with a great up tempo blues, ‘Getting Ready For The Burn’, gave us some super input from the young and talented Laurence Jones on guitar. Then a change with an Americana feel track with plenty of finger picking guitar on ‘Access Denied’, a great take.
The only ‘cover’ on the album was the Hendrix classic ‘Little Wing’ and what a well performed version too! Continuing in the ‘Hendrix’ style, ‘Breathe’ gave us some great rhythms, guitar and plenty of wah wah.
Another funky rock number ‘Restless’, with great guitar input from classic electric blues man Buddy Whittington. I loved the slide guitar on the next track ‘Send Your Fire’, with military precision drumming an great harp input giving a great sound.
‘Wrong Side Of The Bed’ gives us an interesting acoustic take for a change, it’s sometimes nice to get away from electrification. A great alternative rocky track and is one of my favourites on the album. Back to a slower classic rock number with some lovely acoustic guitar input, ‘Keeper Of The Flame’. This has a Latino feel and is a bit of an ‘anthem’ track.
The final track on this enjoyable album is the second, longer take of instrumental ‘Angel Fire – Omega’. Haunting and ethereal, but is a nice way to ‘cool down’ from the rocky input.
I enjoyed the album as a great statement for rock blues. Taking influences from those heady rock days of the late 60’s and 70’s, it gave us a fresh look at the style of music which will remain ‘classic’ . A great well put together album and thoroughly enjoyable.
"Catch the Fire" - Review (D. Morris)
It was a pleasure to be asked to review the new CD "Catch
the Fire" by the Keith Thompson Band. Keith has never disappointed me on
CD or live performances and you always get great value for your money with anything
from Keith and this CD is no exception. With tracks like "Paid my Dues,
"Burning the Playhouse Down" and "She's too Hot" you get
the very best of Keith and his Band, the song, the sound and great guitar work
as always, just pure pleasure with shades of greats like Joe Bonamassa, Stevie
Ray Vaughan and even BB King himself, truly inspirational music with so much
soul, feeling, commitment and pure joy for the lucky listener.
Greats like his new pieces "Restless", "Keeper of the Flame" and "Angel Fire" are so good I appeal to the reader of this review to go immediately to www.densitymusic.com to order this CD. It’s that good.
Texan Buddy Whittington and young Brit Laurence Jones both make
guest appearances as an extra enhancement to an already great piece of work.
My thanks go to Keith Thompson for his great guitar work, Neil Simpson on bass for his good tone and timing as well as Roy Adams on the drums for great rhythm and performance as always.
Keith has a new UK tour coming up in Sept/Oct. Well worth a visit to check Keith and the band out live!
Thanks once again to Keith and happy listening out there to all you Blues fans
Independence – Keith Thompson Band - Reviewed in Rock N’ Reel magazine by Keith Filton
Keith Thompson has been treading the boards,
as a solo artist and in various bands for many years now and has a wealth of
experience and knowledge that he has brought to this, his latest project. The
Keith Thompson Band has a new line-up for Independence featuring Neil Simpson
on bass, Roy Adams on drums (both from the Climax Blues band) and Patsy Gamble
on Saxophone. What hasn’t changed is Thompson’s uncompromising approach
to British rock/blues. Fuelled by a conscience evident in songs like “Nothing
At All” and “Independence”, there is passion aplenty in the
virtuoso guitar playing here. Taking on a range of styles, from Memphis shuffle,
Texas swagger to Chicago straight ahead blues, taking in acoustic territory
with “Preachin’ The Blues” and “Honest To God”,
this is a palette rich enough to satisfy the most discerning blues aficionado.
The writing is a class apart, with well-crafted songs strong on both melody
and rhythm, illustrating again the truism that the blues format does offer a
limitless vehicle to explore the emotional and dynamic range of popular musical
The band blends together perfectly and the members complement one another’s playing to a degree not always present in blues/rock outfits. An excellent CD which goes a long way to establishing Keith Thompson and the band as one of the top home grown acts on the British R&B circuit.
Independence - Reviewer: Blues Matters
Independence is a faultless, flawless, blinding gem of a blues/rock album. From the opening explosion of Crash 'n' Burn to the sultry delta closing of Honest to God, not a second is wasted. The man behind it all is Keith Thompson an experienced and in demand musician he has gathered around him like minded disciples in the guise of Neil Simpson and Roy Adams from The Climax Blues Band, Patsy Gamble from the Little Big Horns and John Broomhall. But it's Thompson powerhouse singing and guitar riffs that blaze through the album. This is music that comes straight from those halcyon days when the British Blues explosion was giving way to the scruffier, freer, meaner and dirtier rock that was its love child. From there it has also taken the tradition of leaving no stone unturned. The first three tracks weigh in at a meaty 16 minutes plus, combined. Yet they fly by. The acoustic Preachin The Blues and Heartbreaker get the juices flowing. It's not subtle, sometimes it's not pretty but it's certainly alive. Keith Thompson and Strangebrew have done more than just released an album of rock 'n' roll that defies superlatives. They have given true fans back the knot in their stomach. Michael Mee
Keith Thompson in Staefa
Written by Marc Winter, Music Editor - Bluesnews CH
Impressive concert. Occurred last Saturday as previously announced, the English blues guitarist and singer Keith Thompson was in Zurich, following his performance in Watt / Regensdorf. As the "opening act" Paul Ubana Jones was to offer an intense solo performance. The concert in Staefa turned out to be a Van Ooordt bath of emotion, which has a lot to do with good sound, but also very much with the great atmosphere that the organizers had created. An unforgettable concert. It would be hard to find much better Saturday evening entertainment.
Van Oordt in Staefa has a relatively large hall, apparently a former greenhouse. Surrounding of trees and plants made this a wonderful concert location at which it looked as though the musicians were in an enchanted forest, especially because stage lighting and candles contributed greatly to the atmosphere. When you have seen schonmal burning candles at a blues concert?
The appearance of Paul Ubana Jones matched the stage setting, as it could hardly have been more perfect. Jones, a New Zealand singer with a throaty voice and wild-maned Maori played acoustic guitar with a verve reminiscent of the "Woodstock veteran' Richie Havens. He also reminded of a gentler form of the artist, because Jones only played his own compositions, was thus both a poet and songwriter. Paul Ubana Jones brought a harmonious appearance, something ethnic, something songwriter. The whole thing would be stylistically somewhere between Bob Marley, Jose Feliciano, Angelo Branduardi and Richie Havens. A good appearance.
Then Keith Thompson, who simply went without much introduction to the stage and began his concert. Thompson seems to be a pleasant, down-to-earth type, no big airs, who primarily plays guitar and likes to play a song without much fuss. Keith Thompson is on the Swiss label "Brambus" under contract and therefore he always comes back here.
As for the music, Thompson plays straight ahead guitar blues played in the British tradition. So, as you might expect he plays a Fender Stratocaster direct into a Fender blues deluxe amp with little effects and he is not only stylistically but also comparable to the dexterity of Eric Clapton. Thompson is a much better guitarist than his profile might suggest. He plays extremely clean solos, played on the same guitar with and without Bottleneck, his guitar licks are quick as a flash. Also, Thompson's voice is good and the music appropriate.
The web site http://www.keiththompsonband.co.uk of the artist gives a good impression of his songs, click on it and off you go. At the concert he played fast Texas blues shuffles, slow blues, a few songs, for example the original composition “The Power of Love” was the title for a surprising radio friendly song. His covers included “Stormy Monday Blues” and “Tore Down”, but his own compositions sounded as good as some better-known titles.
Thompson was accompanied on set by a great drummer and a solid bass player who cast a blues foundation of great strength. The songs were similar in construction, A riff, two verses singing, a solo, another verse etc, but having said this, he did this to perfection. It must also be said that Thompson, while technically a brilliant guitarist, his solos are also quite creative, despite their note perfection.
Overall it was a great performance, and when the heavens opened and the hail pelted much of the greenhouse, one had the impression that the heavens were applauding. In fact once or twice heaven’s applause was deafening!
Keith Thompson Blues Power Band
im Moosburger Hof. Pfaffenhofen
By Manfred Habl
British guitarist and songwriter Keith Thompson played last Sunday with his band at the hotel moss Hof in Pfaffenhofen . Genuine original electric guitar blues at its best was commended by numerous experts in the audience . With high-profile support from bassist Federico Bozas from Buenos Aires and the Ingolstadt drummer Tom Diewock of the Blues Power Band of guitar god Thompson. A small, fine concert in a class of its own, seemingly conjured out of the sleeves .
Sven Tweer , head of Moss Burger Court has again proved that he indeed has any idea of quality in terms of blues. After sampling the home cooking, the quite talkative Thompson conjured up a few guitar solos on the musical dish that you were almost forced to re-order! A voice like the young Eric Clapton and the velocity of the instrument like Jimi Hendrix, he was also able to keep the tension in the slow, dreamy passages.
"He makes it look so easy!" was the brief comment
of a guest at the break . There is nothing more to add!
Show review of KEITH THOMPSON BAND at the STROUD BLUES CLUB, Lansdown, Stroud. Friday 28th February 2014-03-04
Stroud Blues Club is a relatively new venture operating a monthly blues night in Stroud’s Lansdown Hall. Tonight’s opening act was a local acoustic duo by the name of “Nobody’s Business”, who supplied some fine “easy listening” finger-style guitar and some sensitive harp playing.
The hall slowly filled up and by the time Keith Thompson and
his band hit the stage, the audience were primed and ready!
Keith’s show opened with a classic “rocky” number, “Watcha Doin’ To Me” with some great guitar and sax to get the set off to a cracking start for a truly memorable Keith Thompson performance.
His effortless style and rhythm flows through his guitar to match the best of the other greats like Eric Clapton, Joe Bonamassa and even Jeff Beck as we heard tonight.
Keith performs an almost entire set of original songs that have instant appeal. Keith’s talent is renowned in the trade as audiences discovered on his recent European tour, and tonight we were treated to a fabulous collection of his music.
As the audience got more involved and excited as the music flowed, it was easy to understand why Keith is so popular in Europe where there is an even greater appeal for his music and style of performance.
All in all, a talent not to be missed. Helped by his band with Neil Simpson on bass and Roy Adams on drums, (both also with the legendary Climax Blues band). Some groovy sax playing was supplied by Patsy Gamble to complete tonight’s line up for Keith.
To end the show, Keith brought the house down with some truly magnificent guitar playing that left his audience more than happy and demanding his return to the Lansdown at Stroud soon, a feeling we in the business all share.
Dave J. Morris. (Independent music reviewer)
Review of "Snapshot of Reality"
by the Keith Thompson Band
This great live CD shows Keith Thompson at his best. There are 12 tracks on this CD with 9 pieces written by Keith that show the depth and quality of this talent to put alongside the best of the rest such as Robert Cray, Joe Bonamassa, Walter Trout and Buddy Whittington.
As the title suggests, the album is a collection of recordings taken from various live shows in Europe. All the audiences, from Switzerland to Germany, Poland and Croatia were treated to shows of the highest quality that usually only come from the greats. That really is how good Keith has become as he shows on this CD "Snapshot of Reality".
He opens with "Showdown" to give some moody vocals
and truly great guitar work to set the scene for a great show, moving through
some of Keith's music until he plays T Bone Walker ‘s "Stormy Monday"
to put some slow blues and outstanding guitar down. Well worth getting along
to a gig and in “Snapshot” Keith has produced a classy CD to add
to your collection.
As a music reviewer it's a pleasure to listen to and discover talent like Keith Thompson and his band made up of the Climax Blues Band with Neil Simpson on bass and Roy Adams on drums. Stand out tracks for me are "Road to Recovery", "Reputation" and “Power Of Love” and put Keith into the must see and must buy category, simply because he's that good with some truly fabulous guitar playing.
I can now sign off as one very happy music reviewer looking forward to the release of Keith's next CD in September this year along with some great live gigs, such as the one coming at the Eal Pie Club, Twickenham in London on October 2nd this year.
Independent Music Reviewer
Independence - Reviewer: Toxic Pete's Music Reviews
D'ya like a bit of slick, contemporary, electric blues? Well Keith Thompson Band have just the thing in 'Independence'. This superbly put together album is crammed with great modern blues which combines the precise guitars of Thompson with awesome brass and keyboards and 'as tight as a ducks' rhythm section. D'ya also like value for money? Well, 'Independence' runs at fourteen tracks and times out a just seconds short of an hour. Hey, that's pretty good value. Of course, value doesn't just mean price per track or per hour - the other consideration must be quality. And, 'Independence' covers that aspect too. This entire project is simply spot-on; engineered and produced to the 'n'th degree but without loosing touch with reality or impinging on musical flair - the cool blues vibe rides high throughout and showcases some great talent and experience. The songs have a fresh, vibrant, feel - and that's cool within this particular genre as so often originality is restrained by reliance on 'tried and tested' formulas - but not with Thompson and his band! Thompson and the band call upon all the nuances and flavours of typical wired-up blues whilst retaining buckets full of interesting twists and turns that ensure 'Independence' doesn't fall into that particular trap . 'Independence', although British through and through carries with it a mildly Americanesque feel. Thompson and Strangebrew lay down awesome and passionate instrumental work that sits easily with the emotionally packed lyrics; both are delivered on a backdrop of gutsy blues roots and jazzy vibes resulting in a stunning piece of work - a quality package from start to finish and from cover to cover.
Steel Strings & Bruised Reed - Reviewer: Blues In Britain, Jonathan Blackstaffe
This is Thompson's first acoustic release, but far from his first album. It is a mixture of songs for which he had previously been unable to find a home and old songs he has re-worked to suit the form. According to Thompson, acoustic is how he entertains himself, rather than his public, but, judging by this, perhaps he should, somewhat unusually, consider sharing his private proclivities more publicly, more often.
There is, you see,exquisite delicacy to Thompson's music, the sort of quality that terrifies when doing the washing up but engenders such enchanting pathos when found in art. Contributory to this delecacy is Thompson's sweet, yet modest vocals, his gentle, intricate acoustic plucking; the simplicity, even ascetism of what accompanies this; and, perhaps crucially, the modest contained air with which it is all performed. The consequence is not so much a sound as a mood, an all-consuming atmosphere of quiet tragedy, a very English sort of contained personal collapse.
SS&BR is fine in every sense. It's quality - understated and anything but overt as it is - is easily missed for the music is brave enough to reward the intentness of the listener exponentially. But reward it most certainly does. Rating 9/10.
Steel Strings & Bruised Reed - Reviewed in Blues Matters by Graeme Scott
Normally found fronting his band alongside members of The Climax Blues Band, this new collection of tracks finds Keith in mostly stripped back acoustic form and in the company of saxophonist Patsy Gamble. What I particularly like about this CD are the ausio dynamics of the production - the clarity is exemplary. The sax playing is certainly complimentary and held beautifully in check so that it is not overpowering. "Why can't You Be Good" kicks the album off with a nice driving beat. then it is off to Mississippi Delta for the tragedy of the floods in "Bad rain". When I listen to "Heart & Soul" I hear Bad Company's seagull in places. this is due to the sound of Keith's acoustic guitar and the pace of the track, not in any way related to the lyrics - those are completely different. Loads here to enjoy. I liked this a lot!
Postojna Blues Festival – Slovenia (Bluesnews magazine)
The time is 21.00 exactly and right on
schedule Keith Thompson and his band appear on stage. In 2005 Keith founded
the current line-up of the Keith Thompson Band, and so here we have at Postojna
Festival, members of The Climax Blues band, bassist Neil Simpson and drummer
Roy Adams. In addition we have Patsy gamble on Saxophone. In short this “Magic
Brew” of musicians are convincing as they hit the stage and perform at
an exciting pace. The band are opening act for the headliners “Ten Years
After” and will need to work doubly hard to win over the crowd who are
awaiting the main event. The band continued with hard hitting R&B and clean,
concrete elements of funk, which ensure the group come across as world-class.
Initially the crowd are content to watch and listen, lazily with beer in hand.
In response, Keith, with hairstyle, reminiscent of Joe Cocker led the band through
a compact set of adrenaline-imbued songs. The individual talents of the band
members soon became apparent with cutting edge solo improvisations from Patsy
and Keith, and a breathtaking solo from bassist Neil Simpson. The auditorium
seemed to awaken from their slumber!
Keith Thompson band were mainly playing material from their new album, “Independence” and in one hour they convinced the audience that they were worthy of attention and the crowd called out for more! The encore was an adaptation of Al Green’s “Take Me To The River” and in this song the crowd really came alive!
To summarize, Keith plays blues/rock in a very accessible fashion with explosive energy. No messin’, just straight ahead, flawless, with an all or nothing approach. You really must suck it and see for yourself!
Keith Thompson Band at Brewery Arts Centre, Cirencester - Review by the Wilts Standard
A RAPTUROUS Brewery Blues reception prompted
local blues guitarist Keith Thompson to ask the audience ‘Can you come
out with us on tour’.
The applause was thoroughly well deserved and no wonder impresario John Drummond wants to book the band for the venue’s Christmas party on December 14.
Thompson played two sets for the Cirencester punters backed by the experienced Climax Blues Band rhythm section of Neil Simpson and Roy Adams.
Thompson effortlessly traded licks with Simpson’s five-string bass on the self-penned Power Of Love, put his own spin on Hendrix’s Little Wing and closed the opening session with some storming slide guitar work on his own Tumblin’ Dice.
But the evening took off with his incendiary version of Rory Gallagher’s slow blues, Should’ve Learned My Lesson – the best thing I have seen at Brewery Arts since the blues nights began.
The crowd joyously participated in Al Green’s Take Me To The River and Thompson closed an excellent night with another nod to one of his heroes in Gallagher’s Messin’ With The Kid.
Independence - Reviewed in Blues In Britain May 2006
This is an album of high-energy rock-blues. The band contains some seasoned players with a rhythm section of Neil Simpson on bass and Roy Adams on drums, both also regular members of the Climax Blues Band. On saxophone is patsy gamble and on keyboards is John Broomhall. For overall style think Gary Moore, Rory Gallagher and Bad Company.
Fourteen originals make up the disc. "Crash & Burn" is the title of the uptempo, funky opener which sets the tone for the album, with plenty of guitar work and some sax too to spice up the mix. "Emergency" is a strong song with good lyrics, a familiar guitar riff and a guitar hero finish! The next track, "Blue on Blue" is a funky chugger with good slide guitar and sax. Also liked the following track, "Preachin' The Blues", which appears in two versions. The acoustic take has tasty slide and also some harp from Keith. Then there is the full fat band version, a thumping rocker with some great guitar. Two more highlights follow: the powerhouse, "Heartbreaker" and "You Got The Better Of Me" with it's "Help Me" style riff. "Nothing At All" takes us into Gray Moore blues-rock ballad territory whilst "Young Girl" uses the classic Santana soul-funk riff and a bomping bass line. The title track is a guitar showcase with good hookline riff. The two part "Long Road Home" shows a number of influences. The first part has a Blind Faith, "Can't Find My Way Home" feel to it while the second part has a Peter Green style guitar intro but then has a "Layla-like" slide segment. The closer uses a Bo Diddley beat and acoustic guitars.
Although there are a number of naggingly
familiar riffs and rhythms used here, the numbers still come across as fresh
and the energy quotent is high. The rhythm section get a big thumbs up and greatly
add to the overall sound. Keith's vocals are fine and of course the guitar work
is top notch. This CD can only enhance the guy's reputation and is recommended
to all you blues-rockers out there. Rating 8/10
R. Jim Greaves
Independence - Keith Thompson Band - Reviewed in "Musician" (The Musician's Union journal)
Skyscraping blues guitar and Bryan Adams-style vocals from much respected Keith and his band Strangebrew exploiting the talents of drummer Roy Adams and bassist Neil Simpson. "Emergency" with it's mix of Stones' production and traces of "Witch Queen Of New Orleans" in it's main riff, hits the spot and lovers of classic British rock cannot fail to be courted by the sheer tightness of this five-piece group. There's an energy, a freshness and understanding on display here that is heartily reassuring when we've heard the blues rock songbook suffer at the hands of too many lesser lights. The first few seconds of "Heartbreaker" are a call to arms and the addition of cobweb-clearing blues harp and fluid rhythm section to the stew just completes the recipe. Blinding.
"Out Of The Smoke" - Reviewed in Blues Matters
The title of the album is derived from
the name for London "The Smoke", where the pioneer purveyors of British
Blues plied their art. Clearly Keith Thompson has been influenced by the inhalation
of this "Blue Smoke" and "Out Of The Smoke" is a testament
to his musical inheritance. This CD is rocking blues throughout with delightful
thick, warm tones from Keith's guitar.
All the numbers are home brewed with the exception of "Strange Brew", the classic Cream track. The band consists of; Keith Thompson on guitar, vocals, saxophone, harp and keyboards. Alleyn Menzies on drums, Lee Hunter on bass guitar with several guest musicians on keyboards and brass. The album kicks off with "Tumblin' Dice", a rocking blues number with quality electric slide guitar. This number gets you hooked for what is a pleasant and superb album. Keith's vocals are passionate and emotive throughout and the musicianship of Alleyn and Lee etc. lays down a solid backdrop to allow Keith to express himself admirably. The rendition of "Strange Brew" compliments the "Power Of Love", another bluesy rocker; "Beat The System" a funky number with a beautiful brass section and a heavenly sax solo. The slow blues "Let You Go" has some soulful vocals and emotive playing by the band. The penultimate track is "All Over Now" a rocking celtic number full of reels, lots of changes in tempo, punctuated by several stop/starts. The remainder of the album is no-nonsense blues. The sleeve notes are very good with full vocal script. All in all this is a very good album with nothing strange about this brew of musicians.
The technology that artists use to produce their music and make it available is changing rapidly. As huge corporate record companies struggle to maintain the old empire artists are having to be more creative in their approach in order for real music to survive. Some still play the lottery of playing to win the big deal while others carry on producing the music they believe in regardless. The internet has provided a market place for music and art of every genre and description. It's a revolution that brings the power of heartfelt music and art back to the people and declares that everything has a place! The exciting thing is that you can be a part of this revolution. The way in which artists like Keith Thompson resource their projects has had to change. But you can support them. We at Density Music would like you to be a participant. You can support the band and other density projects in many ways. You can be part of the revolution. If you have any skills or ideas, let us know! This is a whole new world of interactive creativity. Don't just be passive recievers. Become our partners in keeping the music and art we all believe in alive!
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