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Blues Extra at the Squirrel

THANKS TO GRAEME KIDD FOR THIS REVIEW!

It's been a while since I'd seen Blues Extra perform, and to have a chance to catch up with some friends so I was looking forward to their gig at The Squirrel in Rugby.

Blues Extra are a five-piece, experienced semi-professionals from Rugby, Kenilworth and Leamington Spa, and consist of guitar, keyboards, bass & drums, supplemented by stylish harmonica playing and acoustic guitar.

There is always a special atmosphere at The Squirrel and even though the sightlines aren't great, the sound is always good and the beer is well kept. The gig kicked off with a rousing version of So Many Roads, a Joe Bonamasa number which is always a crowd pleaser and was quickly followed by Riders on The Storm and Hold Your Head Up which got the audience singing along.

I particularly enjoy the songs where the band have done their own arrangements especially Don't Believe a Word by Thin Lizzy and Led Zeppelin's Bring It On Home. They seem to find an added depth and unexpected poetry in the lyrics as well as exposing musicality and melody that is often lost in high speed, high volume performances. Their rendition of Joe Bonamassa's Dustbowl is a fine example of this, with hints of Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Westerns added to an already fine song.

With Blues Extra the "Extra" is in the second set, where things shift up a gear and the shift from Blues/rock to Hard Rock kicks in. Jimi Hendrix, Cream, T Rex, Bad Company, AC/DC, Mott the Hoople and David Bowie are all covered with carefully crafted arrangements and exuberant performances. Finishing on Alright Now is a good touch, with the crowd joining in during the chorus.

I believe the next few gigs are in Warwick followed by some festivals and charity gigs over the summer, including headlining at Hook Norton, before they are back at The Squirrel in September.

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MIke Hall and friends at the Kenilworth jazz club

A night of fluid, elegant standards from the very mellow Mike Hall on tenor. Mike shared the front line with two students from the Royal Northern College of Music. Aaron Wood offered up soulful, passionate trumpet and flugelhorn while

James Girling on the guitar delivered some beautifully voiced chord work and intelligently constructed bop-influenced solo contributions. Holding it together in the engine room, we had the always excellent dream team of Mitch Perrins on drums and Mike Green on double bass.

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Carrick at the Leamington Beer and Music festival

An excellent folk-pop workout from the lively and charming Carrick who persuaded a hall packed with real-ale fans to sing along with 'I would walk 500 miles'. Actually, the beer selection was very very good and little persuasion was needed.

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The Jolly Rogers at GristFest 2

From Lizzy to Queen, dual-guitar fuelled rock mayhem.

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Courthouse at Think Pink

How much energy can three guys create on one stage? A superb afternoon set of vibrant urban pop rock from Courthouse on the Think Pink stage.

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Announcing the Hot Music Live local festivals guide for 2016

What could be nicer than sitting in the sun with a pint of the good stuff and some of the area's finest on stage? So, here's something new, the Hot Music Live local festival guide for 2016.

It's on the menu just after the gig guide or you can link directly to http://www.hotmusiclive.co.uk/festivals .

Thanks to everyone who encouraged us to do this and a special shout out to the excellent toneranger for his in depth knowledge of the festival landscape. (Let us know about any other festivals we need to add.)

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