Hannah Aldridge and Cherry Lee Mewis proved to be the perfect entertainment on a hot and balmy summer evening at Little Rabbit Barn.
We even took some of the marquee sides down to provide a cooling breeze; that was a first… The weather was hot, not something we are used to, but the music was hotter and we are getting used to that!
First up, Hannah Aldridge after several years of trying to book her. The dates just didn’t line up. Hannah is from Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Her father Walt Aldridge was recently inducted into the Nashville and Alabama Hall of Fame.
Howlin’ Bones started us off, Track 6 from RAZOR WIRE where Hannah instantly grabbed our attention before telling us about her live record she was about to record at The Lexington in London. “Tonight is a practice for that” she says… laughs. An album to look out for sure…
The next song Razor Wire Hannah told us, was the first song where she dug in deep to write honestly and found her songwriting voice. “It was intimidating to write but was also liberating. I decided that if I didn’t go and write a song that meant something it wasn’t worth going out and playing at all”.
“I was raised in a very religious household but with electricity, because you don’t want to be inconvenienced too much…” laughs, “and I’ve been recovering from that for the last 30 years.” More laughs… So from that, Lace written in conjunction with Ashley McBryde is next. Based on discussions about demon possession and the seven deadly sins, the battle between good and evil. Track 9 on GOLD RUSH. “My favourite song on GOLD RUSH”. You can tell she is enjoying performing these songs by the energy she puts into it. Amazing!
Hannah tells us, a guy she dated asked her to write a song for him, but he continued to see his ex girlfriend. “So I took the opportunity to write this song, it’s a good way to get rid of someone, you should try it”. Laughs… Old Ghost Track 2 on RAZOR WIRE.
Parchman next based on Hannah’s experience of meeting women on death row and hearing their stories. She tells of how it feels when people express thanks and appreciation for a song. “You realise you’re not just writing a song in your bedroom”. Track 5 on GOLD RUSH.
“Another guy I dated kept asking me what was wrong with me? Well, I don’t even know that”… laughs “So I wrote this song Aftermath Track 1 on GOLD RUSH
We learned from Hannah about writing for movie scenes where you are given scenarios and key words to fit in. This is how the next song was written with Jordan Dean (who produced GOLD RUSH) on Halloween and is Track 11 on RAZOR WIRE. Save Yourself. “I’m going to record it on my live album at the Lexington soon”.
Well, after Hannah finally having met the Rabbits and whilst playing the Little Rabbit Barn we get to You ain’t worth the Fight. Track 1 on RAZOR WIRE. We enjoyed some off mic singing too and I am sure you could hear at the back as Hannah has such a powerful voice. She sings like she means it.
Another song written in conjunction with Ashley McBryde after spending time contemplating getting older, the title track from GOLD RUSH. These songs are spellbinding in a way that you lose track of time.
“My dad, a country music songwriter, is a big influence on me and I was asked to induct him into the Alabama Hall of Fame. I asked myself what is my favourite song he has written? He has written so many songs that have never been recorded. This song is about a rebel soldier who returned to find all his life had gone; so he did all he knew and took a pistol and a horse and rode off to rob a Yankee Bank to get back what was his.” Yankee Bank.
“This is my last tour for a little while after I record my Live Album at The Lexington on Monday with Danni Nicholls and The Black Feathers” Hannah tells us. I expect life constantly on the road is tough and we all need a break so it’s special we got this chance to see Hannah perform at Little Rabbit Barn. We got in just under the razor wire…
Lonesome closes the set on a pin drop moment… well, it would have but Hannah segued into performing Judgement Day for a big finish with a huge appreciation from everyone lucky enough to have been in the room tonight. We have been privileged to enjoy another truly great artist at Little Rabbit Barn.
Now is the time for food and also for people to enjoy the lawns on a beautiful summer evening as is the way at LRB. Lyn and her team worked miracles with Coronation Chicken and an exclusive vegetarian version of the same. The calling out of the raffle signals that the stage has been re set and it’s soon time for more music.
Cherry Lee Mewis and her amazing band of Max Milligan on guitar. Robbie Stewart-Mathews on bass. Brian Green on drums and sitting in the corner we find Lee Vernon on harmonica.
Luckily we didn’t have to send a private jet to pick her up like they did recently in Norway… But this goes to show the lengths people will go to for a Cherry Lee Mewis Band performance!
The band started with a great extended electric guitar solo from Max Milligan as Cherry sang Shake That Thing. Track 2 on SOUTHBOUND TRAIN.
Little Rabbit Barn is in party mode now. A great harmonica solo from Lee complimented Max’s solo.
Cherry remembers that it was 2012 when she last played the Little Rabbit Barn having recorded three more albums in the interim. This is a welcome return.
Max is now on acoustic as the band launch into the next number, Things Change.
Meet Me At The Station quickly follows, another uptempo foot tapper finishing with some lovely harmonics from max.
Lee Vernon is introduced (sitting in the corner out of the stage lighting) at this point. He is tall in relation to Cherry, so chose to sit on a stool so as not to hog the lime light… Cherry took to her guitar for this song also.
“Paul Jones picked up on this next song on his BBC Radio 2 Blues show” Cherry tells us. Stay Here With You Track 8 on CATCH MY DRIFT
Come Back Home is next, The opening track from her latest album VOYAGE, a song where the LRB crowd were happy to sing along. “Keep Lubricating” Cherry implores us.
This next song has a music video associated with it, Just Can’t Live Without You, Track 7 on HEARD IT HERE FIRST. “The hunky man featured in the video was not here tonight” Cherry told us looking somewhat disappointed… laughs…
Cherry, back on the very guitar this next song was written on, which we failed to amplify. “Its OK, I need to practise anyway” she says to laughs all round. Living The Dream an uptempo catchy ironic number Track 3 on VOYAGE.
Stan was called on to control the fan at this time, the price he had to pay for a front row seat….living the dream:)
Cherry tells us about living near the old jail in Bedford and what a great UK music hub Bedford is before losing the mic stand and launching into Memphis Tennessee another more well known musical hub. More fine Guitar from Max that draws applause mid song.
Max and Lee lead us into Hey Hey Hey Track 2 from CATCH MY DRIFT. Max takes on more great guitar solos and more applause as the LRB crowd join in. Brian’s drumming and Robbie’s Bass are really driving a tight groove throughout, this is a very tight band.
Some guitar boogie now from Max as he leads the band into Western Star. Track 12 from SOUTHBOUND TRAIN Cherry’s 2009 album.
Lee alternates solos on Harmonica with Max on guitar for some more high energy boogie.
Seamlessly we drift into a cover of Janis Joplin’s Piece Of My Heart that had more audience participation. You have to be good to do songs like this justice but fortunately Cherry and the band are up to the task..
“Shall we do another new one? Cherry asks. Well if you haven’t seen us before they are all new” she concedes. Max shouts out for the wonderful Hannah Aldridge to a very well deserved applause.
“This is a cool minor Blues from the new album”. One Night Stand Boulevard. Track 2. Max makes the most of his Telecaster on this number with more fine solos. Lovely…
Apparently, we need warming up now? (You think?) so with Max still on Telecaster we get Love Me With A Feeling. More uptempo Blues and another chance for Lee Vernon to shine on Harmonica as Cherry gets him standing centre stage so we can all see him as well as hear him play.
More audience participation as the girls sing ‘Angel like’ and the men just growl… laughs
I keep saying this, but if you come to LRB, you’re in the band.
Cherry wine, to close the show (a favourite tipple of Cherry’s) is next keeping up the pace. A great opportunity for solos from all the players in turn. Lee, Harp. Robbie, Bass. Max/Cherry trading riffs and Brian on the Drums. Wow!
We couldn’t leave it there though, so after a few thank yous Max allowed Cherry to play his beloved acoustic guitar ‘with stern warnings’ as we enjoyed another song from the new album VOYAGE How I Fell Out Of Love, followed by a group bow although Brian missed it being trapped by his snare.
James did a fine job on sound for what was an evening of two halves when you consider musical styles. All these artists are at the top of their game though and from the glowing feedback everyone enjoyed the artists. Marvellous.
Editor: Thanks to the wonderful performing artists, CHERRY LEE MEWIS, HANNAH ALDRIDGE, and a big shout to the superb side musicians Max Milligan, guitar & bvs, Robbie Stewart-Mathews, bass & bvs, Brian Green, drums and Lee Vernon on blues harp. Everyone involved with the production: James Partridge sound engineer and Cris stage ; The fabulous little rabbit team of Chris Kyan on video cameras and setup, Stan with Fran this evening, Richard and Sally, Brian and Chris, Helen, Karen.
Big shout to Chris for helping Lyn with food on the evening.
Picture credits: Andy Sheard, Nick Rabett
Video cameras: Chris Kyan
To our guests, big thanks for supporting live music and hope to see y’all next time.
Sunday 19 August we are thrilled to host and welcome Courtney Marie Andrews and Irene Moss.
Jonathan and Lyn, Terry and all at LRB
And here’s a picture captured the morning after the show.
Handy with the power tools too…thanks Hannah….huge pleasure to host you at LRB