Swampcandy Delta Deluge 15th-18th May
Following fast on from a rapid run of dates around North Wales, Swampcandy, Ruben Dobbs and Joey Mitchell, found their way to our area. The 15th led to The Gardeners Arms, and a pleasant warm spring evening in the grounds of this Droitwich pub. The welcome was just as warm from the customers and music lovers filling the garden area. Swampcandy’s self penned Mississippi Delta Blues filled the air, Joey attacking his double bass with fingers, slaps and bow, as Ruben delivered his raw vocals over the resonator guitar. The audience applauded enthusiastically, but perhaps were a little too polite in demanding more; the set being broken down before they responded asking for another serving.
No great problem, all could retire to the bar for the open mike sessions continuing there. An all round lovely evening, in this excellent pub.
The 16th, brought them into Worcester and The Chestnut, a tight sauna of a venue, warm bodies and flowing beer brought with it a very responsive crowd having a great time. Ruben & Joey drove their raw delta style blues full on, with the added encouragement of a bit of heckling from ‘Mad Pierre’, who also had a toot on his trombone to add to the moment. Cream’s ‘Outside Woman Blues’, was brilliantly packaged in Swampcandy style, their own ‘Aberdeen’, and the trickier, ‘Devil In A Suitcase’, had vociferous support. ‘Mad Pierre’s’ Morris man’s feather adorned bowler, competed with Ruben’s finely tailored version for attention, a fantastic fun evening of musical mayhem in the thick cut atmosphere.
Another night, another town, Café Rene in Gloucester, was in for a late Saturday special. The early hours of Sunday saw the place full of dancing revellers, an unexpected treat to the raw music that demanded your body to move, they would not forget this visit. Joey, lost in his own world, hair flying as he pumps the drum, thick strings of the double bass distorting wildly under his fingers. Ruben’s gritty voice breaking in over the distinctive sound of slide on resonator. ‘Old Rosie’, and ‘Drink Whiskey With Me’, seemed entirely apt. ‘Insomnia’ faced the approaching dawn, ‘Baseball Bats and Bear Traps’, a frenzied energy laden closure.
What a contrast as The Prince Of Wales at Ledbury awaited. Hard to think of a better to spend a late Sunday afternoon at this great pub, good ale and an very appreciative clientèle. They know their blues, and listen respectfully, warmly acknowledging the many excellent bands who have performed here. Swampcandy gave them everything, ‘South County’ to ‘Highway 61’, Son House to Robert Johnson. Willie Brown’s, ‘Future Blues’, and Mississippi Fred McDowell’s, ‘I Asked For Whiskey She Brought Me Gasoline’ all played in their energy driven Swampcandy style. A superb session at this lovely setting, to close there visit to the area, before moving North into Yorkshire.
Four contrasting venues, from the quietly appreciative Gardeners Arms through to the ‘testing’ aficionado’s of The Prince Of Wales, via the more bar fuelled environs of The Chestnut, and the late night revellers of the Café Rene, Swampcandy have left a trail of converts all looking forward to the next tour.
Words and photos Graham Munn