Some 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.
See more photographs accompanying this: article:
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.
The Dorset Echo
26th March 2011
The sound of banjos may have ushered in a rather bad time for Burt Reynolds’ character in the film Deliverance, but it worked wonders for the career of one Dorset musician. Dave Allen – better known as Stompin’ Dave on the county’s music scene – is based in Bridport and recognised for his talents all over the country and in America.
An exponent of Old Time and Bluegrass music, his talents were recently recognised by the Friends Of American Old-Time Music (FOAOTMAD) who crowned him the UK’s best banjo player at their recent annual shindig at Gainsborough in Lincolnshire. Dave was named as winner by a panel of American judges and also came a respectable third in the festival’s flat-footing dance contest.
He said: “It was an amazing experience taking part in the competitions, especially as the standard of my fellow competitors was so high. It was a great honour to be selected a winner by such an excellent and entertaining group of musicians who have played with some of the legends of old-time music such as Tommy Jarrell and Benton Flippen.”
Dave was awarded a first place rosette for the adult banjo section, and was also overall winner in the banjo section. He added: “Gainsborough festival is a great place to learn from some of the top performers in American old-time music as in addition to the contests there are also performances and workshops to enjoy.” Dave has been playing the banjo for 12 years – he heard the infamous Duelling Banjos from the film Deliverance, and was hooked.
Like many before him, he started his musical career with the guitar as a teenager, inspired by the likes of Clapton and Hendrix, before deciding to diversify. He studied music at Bournemouth & Poole College and then at Southampton University. There, part of his music degree was lessons with Pete Stanley, one of the UK’s best known banjo players and regarded by many as the ‘grandfather of British Blues’.
Dave has carried the torch and now plays in various guises – Stompin’ Dave, acoustic Dave and electric Dave as well as with Dave Saunders of the band The Producers. Up and coming gigs and festivals include a tour of Ireland which kicks off tomorrow and a general traipse around the UK throughout April before returning to Dorset in may for an appearance at the Bournemouth Folk Club and a home gig at Bridport’s Electric Palace on May 6.
“People say you have to go to London to become a musician, but I have managed not to,” said Dave. “I have been lucky enough to make a living here, although I think we are very lucky because West Dorset has such a great gigging scene. “I think the locals get quite blasé about it – there is so much on all year round that they take it for granted, whereas people who come here to visit are amazed at what we’ve got.
“It’s great for everyone but especially for younger musicians starting out because it hopefully makes it easier for them to find a venue or someone who is prepared to give them a chance. However, it’s not always as much fun as it looks out there on the road. There is a lot of late-night driving involved, which means you can’t go out and have a drink after you’ve played."
“Maybe it’s different if you are in a rock band, but there’s not a lot of glamour in banjo playing. But my advice for anyone starting to gig is to get out there, play as much as you can and enjoy it.”
In person, Dave is as quiet and self-effacing a person as you could hope to meet, but on stage he is a one-man string-twanging dynamo, just as likely to play his banjo behind his head as he is In the more traditional position Bluegrass music is a form of American roots music, and is a sub-genre of country music. It is thought to have derived from traditional music imported into the States by the slaves from Africa as well as immigrants from the British Isles and elsewhere.
In bluegrass, as in some forms of jazz, one or more instruments each takes its turn playing the melody and improvising around it, while the others perform accompaniment; this is especially typified in tunes called breakdowns. This is in contrast to old-time music, a folk genre, in which all instruments play the melody together or one instrument carries the lead throughout while the others provide accompaniment.
“Originally, it was the sound of the banjo that drew me in, the driving rhythm and the banjo and the singing,” said Dave. “With the Old Time music, I love its raw simplicity, which has a natural beauty to it. A lot of people don’t know a great deal about it, so we are all grateful to FOAOTMAD for bringing it to greater attention. It’s not massive but now you do get people coming over from America to play at places like the Electric Palace in Bridport, and I think that’s great.”
Also for Dave, much of music’s attraction lies in its mystique and history. “The mystery of music appeals to me,” he said. “I didn’t start learning until I was 15 and up until then, it was all a mystery. It was a mystery how people managed to make music because to me, it seemed like a gift and I didn’t understand how they did it. “But then I started to learn and the more I learned, it still seemed as much a mystery as ever.
“A lot of the history of banjo music has been lost because the recordings don’t go back much beyond 1910. The same goes for the origins of banjos – some say they were brought over by the slaves from Africa, some say they came from China, but most cultures have a stringed instrument of some sort. I guess we will never know for sure.”
"The opening concert on Friday night featured Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick, heroes from way back playing together again. It was a sell-out and the fans were not disappointed, as we were treated to a blend of old and new material, superbly performed. This was the icing on the cake after an already splendid set of performances from Stompin' Dave Allen and Steve Turner – a welcome returner to the festival.
Stompin' Dave – you have to see it to believe it! Have you ever before seen “Duelling Banjos” performed in two parts by just one guy on one banjo? At top speed – while continuing to stomp on his box! Never mind the various other feats, such as juggling with his fiddle and bow, without missing a beat, and the excellent music he can play so fluently. A truly memorable, five-star evening."
Blues In Britain Review
“A full ninety minute set by Stompin’ Dave had been arranged by popular request and accompanied by Dave Saunders of Producers fame on broomstick bass and harp on “CC Rider” and then banjo for a BB King number he eased into a fine “Fishin’ Blues” before moving into overdrive. Playing the banjo behind his head and stomping and high kiching he produced some high octane bluegrass before taking up keyboards and harp for “Every Day I Have The Blues”.
We then had some lovely country on a National steel as the self deprecating laid back maestro entertained with his disarming patter. If you preferred to watch his antics instead of listening, for example, “you could buy a DVD, play what music you wanted and try to get him to stomp in time!” Taking up the fiddle he related that he planned a CD of chicken songs for his home ground of Dorset but he had ‘been sitting on it for 6 months!’
Denied time for a full sound check and with frequent instrument changes he took some time in tuning his guitar. When advised by a wag to ’take it back to the shop’, he quickly replied ’if you bought enough CDs I could afford to buy a new one’ This amazing entertainer is no mere circus act, there is real talent at work. Although the audience can be dazzled by is versatility and presentation, it is ultimately the quality of product that is the attraction.
Moving from a humorous number complete with animal noises via a flat picking guitar shuffle to a lovely “What am I Supposed To Do” with a marvellous reverb on harp and guitar and he makes it look easy. “Kansas City” on the banjo was a climatic finale to a storming triumph of a set. We look forward to seeing him closer to home in Torquay next year”