Stompin' Dave live performance reviews
Stompin' Dave & Sam Kelly
Bullfrog Blues Dockyard Club, Southsea
Blues In Britain
The ever popular multi-talented maestro linking up with the ubiquitous, evergreen drumming legend Sam Kelly, was exactly the right combination to shake off that festive season lethargyand begin the New Years we mean to go on. We even had a bit of panto as Dave checked whether he had actually turned his speaker on, “Oh yes it is! Oh no it isn’t!”
He hit the ground running with a real groove and stomp on ‘What Am I Supposed To Do’, the first of the plethora of original material on display, before a couple of traditional instrumentals. ‘Love To Say I Told You So’ was a rousing infectious boogie which had Dave enquiring whether we missed a bass player? The roared negative response was met with the inevitable retort “That’s good because we haven’t got one”!
Moving onto keys for some glorious Honky Tonk, and then to banjo for another infectious stomp, it was noticeable and refreshing throughout, to have every note of Sam’s percussion clearly audible to savour. Back to that fierce guitar work on ‘Hello Everybody’, extolling the merits of saying hello even if you are not sure whether to or not! before some great slide on ‘Boogie Town’ and ‘The Devil Made Me Do It’. The dancers were in action as the first set closed rather aptly with ‘One More Boogie’ with another compelling riff.
The second half stepped up a gear as a torrent of insistent and hypnotic riffs from ‘Black Mountain Rag’ and ‘Fool Me Round’ marked a definite change of style, redolent of Mississippi Hill Country Blues and the work of luminaries such as RL Burnside. A change to keys for Dave’s favourite ‘Beer Drinking Woman’ preceded some fine harp and keys on ‘Mean And Jealous’ before demonstrating some awesome dexterity on the banjo, treating it just like a lead guitar.
Back to slide, stomp and drums for ‘There Is Still Some Wonder’. With the dancers in full flow at the front and sides, an ill-timed request for Dave to move his car, led to an all too brief encore ‘I Feel A Little Better Now’. When attuned to his muse and in full flow, Dave is an elemental force of nature, and Sam, in making it quite clear that his trip down from the metropolis was wholly worthwhile, voiced his delight in playing with his partner in crime.
The Stompin’ Dave devotees and Boogaloo weekend regulars lucky enough to be present in the excellent turnout, were unanimous that this was up there with the best of them from the self-deprecating instrumental polymath. Let’s face it, in adding the quality of his original material, the man is a downright genius. Sales of his fine recent live release with Sam were understandably brisk after a such perfect start to the New Year.
Stompin' Dave & His Bluegrass Band
Marshwood Vale Magazine
The Corn Exchange in Dorchester sprouted American roots with a visit from Stompin’ Dave Allen and his Bluegrass Band, offering a packed room a rootin’-tootin’ good time.
The musician, a West Dorset man who has a stellar reputation on the local and UK music scene, began the evening on stage by himself. He came out slowly, without speaking, and launched straight into an instrumental number. Before long it wasn’t just the banjo going as Dave Allen certainly earned his nickname with some impressive tap moves. Throughout each song he kept in perfect time with the music, even giving some crowd-pleasing moves throughout, like playing his banjo behind his head or between his legs – again, he never missed a beat.
This was first time I had seen Stompin’ Dave I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was astounded when I heard his singing voice. The Deep South twang he had was spot on, singing the lyrics with some actual feeling. As someone who was already a fan of this genre I was hoping for something that I would enjoy not just a poor West Country imitation – this is exactly what I got with Stompin’ Dave. Yeehaw!
When the band hit the stage Dave was flanked by a fiddle, a double bass, and a guitar, looking very much the part. My mind drifted to a little shack in Tennessee, somewhere I could be enjoying a Jack Daniels on ice, sat on a hay bale with a group of guys jamming through the night.
I don’t think I was the only one either. The crowd were clearly already big Stompin’ Dave fans – and any that weren’t to begin with certainly seemed to leave as fans. By the time the music started the audience had made trips to the bar and seemed well-oiled and jolly, perfect for a good ol’ American hoedown. It didn’t take Dave and the band long before they got the audience involved with some simple refrains to repeat, and as the night went on the requests from the crowd came freely and loudly.
The band accompanying Stompin’ Dave hasn’t been his backing group for long but you wouldn’t know it. The foursome had a relaxing rapport together, it seemed very much to be a group having some fun, just playing some music. Joe Buirski, Jerry Bloom and Ally McAuley combine well with their frontman to hit the spot on many bluegrass and hillbilly standards. My one regret of the night was not having enough cash on me to buy a CD, which were all very reasonably priced.
Stompin’ Dave is a Bluegrass fan’s dream but trying to keep up with those fingers, and occasionally feet, can be a photographer’s nightmare. Highly recommended, seeing a solo Stompin’ Dave gig or one with his band is a relaxing and enjoyable experience. He is a fantastic performer while playing in a band or when flying solo so do try and catch him, y’all won’t regret it.
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How I stumbled on Stompin’ Dave
The Daily Telegraph
June 25th 2011
The best thing about my job are those rare and blessed moments when you stumble across a fresh new talent who completely blows you away. And sometimes it can happen in the most unexpected places.
I was pottering around Lyme Regis the other day when I saw that a guy called Stompin’ Dave Allen was playing at the Marine Theatre and decided to give him a whirl. He turned out to be an utter delight.
I arrived a few minutes late, to discover a plump chap playing old-time American banjo and fiddle numbers while also performing surprisingly elegant tap-dancing routines on a wooden box to provide percussive accompaniment. I assumed he was some hillbilly from the Appalachians who had mysteriously washed up in West Dorset; in fact, he hails from Leamington Spa and is now based near Bridport.
Stompin’ Dave is a master of all kinds of American roots music, ranging from bluegrass to electric blues guitar and boogie piano, with a nice line in self-deprecating patter between numbers. He’s partial to showbiz gimmicks, juggling with his banjo and playing his electric guitar behind his head like Hendrix, but there is great sincerity and feeling in his performance, too. Often accompanied by one-string tea-chest bass and drums, he played for more than two hours, ranging from bluegrass through Bessie Smith to Fats Domino and Ray Charles, and he would probably have gone on for longer if he hadn’t kept breaking the strings of almost every instrument he touched. He ending up with some storming blues harmonica, and by then it was just about the only instrument that wasn’t bust.
Stompin’ Dave performs 150 gigs a year, mostly in the West Country but also venturing as far as Ealing and Essex, and you can find out more about him and check his touring schedule at www.stompindave.com. I bought a couple of his CDs at the gig and have been playing them ever since. Stompin’ Dave is a formidable musician and a true original.