Thursday, 10 May 2012

Blues Bringing in the Sunshine

Imagine the blues: Guys in hats, shirts unbuttoned, sleeves rolled up, clustered around their instruments, which mourn or croon the chords of the soul.  

That is one version of how to do the blues. The Martin Harley Band take this to another extreme. 

Bringing the freshest of air to the blues, in 2005 the Martin Harley Band took their music up to the Himalayas. There they played the Guinness Book of World Records recognised ‘Highest Gig in the World’, 21,000 feet up Kala Patthar, having trekked to their destination, enduring stomach bugs and high altitudes in order to do so.  

In a similar vein in 2010 Harley undertook the ‘Blues Gone Green Tour’, a 27 show, 1,200 mile acoustic tour of the UK by bicycle over thirty one days.  Can you say ‘carbon neutral’? 

The band has created arty film-short videos to accompany the tunes which serve to celebrate the history from which the Martin Harley Band sound has come, demonstrating playfulness and joy in the making the music. 

To me however the most mesmerising video clips are the ones shot live at festivals and gigs. There’s a personalness to Martin and the band, a sense of them not only tuning into each other but also into their location and their audience, be they mountain high or near the almost overflowing banks of the river Ex.

The Barebones tour comes to Exeter Phoenix on Thurs 10 May forming part of the final spurt of opportunities to see the band this tour.  

Original approaches to ‘the how’ of playing aside, the band produce beautiful bluesy tunes, with a mixture of instruments and Martin the bands’ singer/songwriter. 

Despite the dismal May we’re currently experiencing, sultry and southern rootedHoneybee from the Barebones EP will bring the sunshine foot-tapping into the audience whilst jazz-infused Love in the Afternoon will have the rest of your body shortly thrumming and buzzing to the beat. 

Reminiscent of 90s Levellers, Carnival Girl brings a lazy summer bounce, warm as whisky for the ear.  But, if the sunshine still won’t come out then Winter Coatis the perfect antidote tune to snuggle up inside and keep off the rain.

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