Saturday Afternoon Blues at the Spiegeltent in George Square was exactly what it promised on the ticket...an afternoon of blues from 1pm to 4 pm with that old fashioned value for money format of three different bands playing. Opening up the afternoon’s music was bluesman Lightnin’ Malcolm from Clarksdale, Mississippi, followed by local musicians Neil Warden, Gary Martin and Jim Walker, with the Memphis soul sound of John Nemeth and The Blue Dreamers to close.
As we are totally biased in our support for local musicians and artist on these pages, I am going to jump this review out of order a little and start with our middle act, Neil Warden (guitar & lap steel guitar) and Gary Martin (harmonica & vocals) – Blues and Beyond - with Jim Walker (drums).
Both Neil and Gary are well known to so many people already having travelled the blues roads with the late and greatly missed Tam White. In the set here, an affectionate cover of Tam White’s “The Stonemason’s Blues”. Other songs in the set included “Ain’t That Fine” and “You Don’t Have to Hang Around Here No More”.
Gary as always bringing a lot of energy on-stage to his harmonica playing and vocals while backed with some great guitar playing from Neil who demonstrates with ease his fluency in so many different guitar styles. Neil Warden is happy to not be up front and flashy , but instead let his guitar playing do the talking for him, and is a gifted player who can work in pretty much any style that is required on the night.
Neil has a new EP Adventures In Weissenborn Land out. More details from his website at
For more information on the current band visit
The Band will also be paying next Saturday (30th July) as part of the all day Edinburgh Rock and Blues Festival at The Corn Exchange. Details at
Lightnin’ Malcolm was actually the opening act for this show, bringing once again his love of his homeland Mississippi Blues to Edinburgh. I reviewed one of his shows yesterday afternoon, and true to his word, this show had a lot of different material in it.
Lightnin’ Malcolm is, as he is happy to admit, influenced by all the great players that have come out of Mississippi and Memphis over the years and he proudly carries on that tradition in his own music. Playing material from his new album “Foot Soldier” and some older material, the set included “Slow Roll”, “Big Rock” and “Young Woman, Old Fashioned Ways”.
With his guitar and stomping foot pedal drums, the Spiegeltent was a far better venue acoustically for his sound than I had heard yesterday. Part of that reason was just the larger space and a wooden floor that let that beat resonate through it. The music of Lightnin’ Malcolm is rooted in being played live in crowded dance rooms rather than more refined sitting down on our seats and clapping politely after each song, but The Spiegeltent gave us a little bit of what that must feel like.
The one thing about Lightnin’ Malcolm is that he just loves his heritage, loves his music and plays not just from his fingers and feet, but from his heart and soul.
Final act for our afternoon’s show was John Nemeth and The Blue Dreamers. With harmonica driven Memphis soul and funk sounds fused with some great blues, this was one of those acts that you just went “wow” with. As soon as John Nemeth opens with his incredible vocals you know that there is something special about to happen on stage. With Johnny Rhoades (guitar), Matthew Wilson (bass) and Danny Banks (drums), this is one very talented and very tight band and as they played their way through a set that included some standards like “Every Night About This Time” and some of their own material such as “Blue Broadway”, they had the audience with them from start to finish. The funkier side of the band may have been a bit of a newcomer to some of the more traditional jazz fans in the audience, but I loved their funk based music.
John Nemeth is simply one of the great voices out there at the moment and with the talents of the band behind him, I am sure that we are going to be hearing a lot more of them in the future.
For more details visit
Review by Tom King