Recent CD Reviews
Blues In Britain Review
Stompin' Dave & Slammer Durrant
Old Time Fiddle
David Allen, alias Stompin' Dave, is one of the most gifted musicians and entertainers around. He hails from Bridport in Dorset and last year we did a full interview with him. His last two albums were one of piano blues and one of acoustic blues. Both were solo and proved what a varied and huge talent he is.
This time he's looked at Old Time Fiddle - in fact many blues recordings over the years have included fiddles, best know was Gatemouth Brown.
Listening to this new album reminded me a little of those days, replacing piano with fiddle and it works an absolute treat. Slammer takes the guitar role, to which Dave add his vocals, and, yes his tap dancing, a key part of his live shows (his own rhythm machine).
Arranged and recorded by the man himself, three of the generous seventeen tracks are live at The Sidmouth Arms, Upottery, Devon, three more at home just outside of Bridport and the rest at St. Michael & All saints Church, Stockland, Devon in December 2000. These wonderful old stone built churches have superb acoustics, especially for acoustic music.
The sound throughout is excellent, and makes this whole set a listening pleasure. Dave's not usually one for covers but this time has gone for traditional tunes, arranged to suit his style.
Tracks include the opening 'Angelina Baker', through others such as 'Baby O', 'Say darling say', 'Brickyard Joe', 'Seneca Square Dance' 'Arkansas Traveller', and 'Shortnin' Bread'. The whole album is a real lifter, making you feel better and taking those stuck in blues away, offering some nice uplifting blues and swing tunes, as they say 'Just what the doctor ordered'.
Stompin' Dave , the musician with a usually pretty full live date listing, has made up for the lack of dates with one hugely well played and lively album. The fiddle rises again, and you can try your own tap dancing along with him (your daily exercise). Well, just go lift your day, lift your feet, and enjoy a big slice of music to bring life back again. Thanks to both Dave and Slammer for this cracking little album.
Blues In Britain Review
Are there any limits to this man’s incredible musical talents, it’s because whatever he plays he proves to be a master of it. From his Blues 3 to his recent rock n roll outing, then an outstanding acoustic blues guitar album. Now we have a solo piano set of all original songs, twenty two of them, and right from the start his piano playing takes him straight into the top league, Dave can play blues piano as well as the very best of them.
If we believe the song ‘The blues had a baby and they called it rock n roll’ well here is your answer, inspired by the piano music from New Orleans up to Chicago, we travel all the way, the styles of folk from Prof.Longhair, Memphis Slim, through Otis Span to Piano Red are all in there somewhere, but this is an entirely original piece of work. His live shows feature much of his piano playing alongside other instruments, he really does excel though on the keyboards. This is a blues masterclass of the acoustic piano blues. A very generous number of new tracks, all self written and played by Dave. Some have been in his live sets, either solo or his duo with Sam Kelly or his Blues 3, but this is as it was the day he put them together. Rock n roll gets a mention because the closing ‘Your A Dirty Little Cheater’ is right out of the very best style of Jerry Lee Lewis. What is so unique here though he has absorbed all the best in piano blues, and made it his own.
At times he’s very much the Memphis Slim of today, the playing, the vocals, the ease he plays all comes out of the very best of its style. The opening ‘She’s A Beer Drinking Woman’ has been in his live sets for awhile, not always on piano though, even banjo got a look in on one version, but this is how it should sound, an anthem for the ladies who like a drink or three, before ‘Cunning Old Jack’ jumps in. There’s one thing when Dave plays country blues, as the cover art proves he gets his photos in the countryside, there’s something so real and gets a mile away from the heavily overproduced modern sounds.
You could walk into a bar and just sit and enjoy this blues, and Stompin’ Dave is truly a national treasure. Described by one writer as ‘Mesmerising and infectious’ another called him a ‘phenomenal artist’,Even Blues In Britain called him ‘a downright genius’. This new release is one anyone who likes piano blues played at its very best should not miss, it really is that good. This is an absolutely joyous trip through the world of keyboard blues, and when the awards come up surely best keyboard players he’s just got to be in there.
One more aspect of him is his song titles, ‘Just A Joke’, ‘On Her Mobile Phone’, ‘Twice Out Of Sight’, ‘I Love To Say I Told You So’, yes! There are so many elements and styles of piano blues here, that it never wavers in the enjoyment given to listeners. Stompin’ Dave the one man music business with a talent a million miles wide, produces one of for sure the best blues albums of the year, the blues as it should be played and how!
Blues In Britain Review
Stompin' Dave's Rockin' Outfit: Rock n Roll & Rockabilly
This is the third new release from one man music industry Stompin' Dave in various guises over the recent months. Now we have a good old slice of rock n roll and rockabilly with a fair bit of blues for good measure.
For this release of ten glorious covers, which has the sound of the old Sun Studios, was actually recorded in Farnham at the Mayfair Studios. He is joined by Mark Feld on bass and, changing from his regular bass duties to drums Earl Jackson. This title little unit give it that authentic feel and make for a highly enjoyable thirty minutes of truly classic music. Dave's an amazing musician - I've yet to see an instrument he can't play - but here he limits himself to guitar and piano and achieves the sound of the originals, which is quite a feat in itself.
Dave switches between instruments throughout from a full sounding piano style of Jerry Lee Lewis to some great guitar on songs like "I'm Ready", through a really funky groove for Slim Harpo's 'Shake Your Hips', and from Elvis's early sessions in 'That's All Right Mama'. The Band drive things along nicely and being uncluttered produce a nice lean rhythm full of the sound we all know from those legendary Sun sessions.
Songs like 'Great Balls Of Fire'. 'Midnight Special' and 'Wreck Of The Old Ninety Seven' are included here, but for a real taste of great guitar playing listen to Dave's take on 'Brown Ferry Blues' and you'll soon be pushing that replay button. Stompin' Dave's albums in whatever format are an absolute treat and this latest line up will be touring so watch out for them, not only for the great music but add Dave's wonderful sense of humour and your in for a treat as Dave's band bring rock n roll to town.
Blues In Britain Review
Stompin' Dave's Blues3: The Mayfair Studio
This album was recorded at studios in Farnham. Blues3 has Earl Jackson on bass and Sam Kelly on drums. This album contains ten new songs by Dave and the forty five minutes here prove why they are such a popular live band.
The opening 'Sell Your Soul' sets thing off with a nice mid paced blues, before a tasty boogie with a Jimmy Reed type groove on 'Darling Girl'. Track three 'Innocent Man' is one of the outstanding songs on this album of many delights. This is an uplifting slice of Dorset blues with some very fine guitar on 'My Heart Belongs To You.' 'Hoodoo Hole' is a deep down blues, which includes a deliverance call from the life he leads.
One song that will surely be a crowd favourite is the somewhat humourous 'Stuck Behind A Big Fat Truck', the one you're blocked behind when all you want to do is get home. It may be a blues but it's an uplifting slice of music. Dave, Earl, and Sam are masters of their craft and together they are tight and funky as 'Money Makes the World' proves. The only twelve bar is found in 'Ride This Train' with it's railroad grove. Join the ride, it's a great little track. The closing 'Raging And A Moaning' opens with Earl's bass for another song the dancers will rise up to; a perfect close to what is a hugely enjoyable and superbly played album. Stompin' Dave has the ideal voice for his music and together these three certainly do make some great blues.
Blues In Britain Review
Stompin' Dave Allen is one of the most totally unique musicians anywhere on the music scene today and there seems to be no limit to the instruments he plays. For this release he's solo and it's blues right from the opening 'About My Lady', one of those that reminds you of the singing brakeman Jimmie Rodgers, through the Delta for 'A Little Disposition' and onto a song that could have come from Charlie Patton in 'You Snake' featuring Dave's beautiful slide guitar. On 'Fool Me Round' Dave adds another element to the mix; his backing band or in this case his tap dancing. Yes, live he dances while he plays and never misses a beat. A real up beat joyful blues.
He certainly knows how to write a great blues song and here 'Blues This Morning' has the quality of songs like 'Careless Love'. The voice and the guitar make a perfect match and it's one of the album's truly outstanding songs. By the time we reach 'Change My World' we have both the strumming guitar and the tap dancing - he taps out the rhythm with his feet and plays guitar over it.
This album show Dave's full range to full effect, from the superb slide of 'Still Some Wonder', a song about English country life to 'Super Rich Man' sums up this whole album, it was one that he had to do. This a totally enjoyable slice of the best in acoustic blues.
STOMPIN' DAVE'S BLUES3
Blues In The South
In other parts of the world they have cyclones, tornados and hurricanes, in the UK we have Stompin' Dave. Dave is a phenomenal artist. A great guitar player and vocalist, an accomplished songwriter and an excellent traditional fiddler, a boogie/blues piano player and a competition standard five-string banjo picker. As if that's not enough, he is also an outstanding dancer using a combination of flatfoot and clogging styles often when playing one of his stringed instruments. It is an often electrifying acoustic experience.
Here, Dave is working with ace drummer Sam Kelly and bass man Earl Jackson. Dave has produced something that is both traitional and fresh. The best example is his interpretation of the old, old song Careless Love. Commonly delivered as an 8 or 16 bar blues here it is performed as a 12 bar with a finger-picked accompaniment in the style of Scotty More or Merle Travis. The remainder of the 11 tracks on the album range in style from a restrained (i.e. no stacks of amps) power trio on Space Blues to a riff driven Political Man and including some delicate Americana slide playing on Trust Enough with some nice harmonies by Earl (and a bit of a drum solo by Sam). I Can Tell is a seriously funky piece which would go down well in New Orlins.
All in all a delight which I am delighted to report adds a new arrow to Dave's already bulging quiver.
Ian K McKenzie
Stompin' Dave: American Roots
Old Time News
Dorset-based Stompin Dave Allen sings and plays guitar, banjo, fiddle, harmonica and flatfoot/tap dances at the same time! Stompin Dave provides a very entertaining show as many of you have been lucky enough to experience at his appearances at UK festivals including FOAOTMAD’s own Gainsborough. Dave has some respectable credentials in old-time music and is well known on the UK old-time scene having been a proud winner of Gainsborough’s old time banjo competition in 2011 and 2013 and runner up for dancing in 2012.
Dave’s album output has been productive with just over one CD per year since 2006. This latest release is in fact his 23rd album. It represents a fine selection of traditional songs and tunes all played at a foot-stomping tempo. The CD was recorded partly at his home outside Bridport in 2014, and also recorded live during his recent tour in 2017.
Dave has included a wide range of tunes providing contrast by featuring either his banjo, guitar or fiddle. They are mostly traditional numbers with the exception of an impressive guitar picked version of Scott Joplin's The Entertainer and Benjamin Hanby's Darling Nellie Gray. Thirteen of the tracks were recorded live at gigs and the atmosphere of the live gig is captured here very well, complete with applause and “thank-yous”. The live recordings are my favourite tracks as they burst with energy. I particularly enjoyed the classic ragtime tune The Entertainer and other highlights for me were his versions of John Henry and Greasy String. The repertoire does include some banjo picking and “crossover” standards which may not appeal to old-time purists.
Many of the tracks include his rhythmic percussive dancing and up-tempo musicianship and should be of great interest to Appalachian clogging and flatfoooting groups as well as their musicians. Dancers may find this CD useful for practise sessions and the breadth of material will appeal to a wide range of musicians as well as a broader Americana audience. The impressive display of driving musicianship and clear vocals throughout this album provides great entertainment and 20 tracks is good value to boot!