By John Millington
There is perhaps no finer backdrop for a blues influenced musician than a beaming red inverted Pentagram strapped to the back wall.
But on tonight’s evidence both Nashville folk star Otis Gibbs and his support act relative newcomer Sean Taylor don’t need tricks and superstitions to make you spellbound.
Up first is Taylor, modestly stepping forward only to crack a joke at the audience’s expense.
He tilts his hat before belting out blues infused guitar rhythms showcasing musical influences from Robert Johnson to Steve Ray Vaughn.
His short set feels varied both in terms of subject matter and musicianship.
Dirty down blues numbers like Austin Texas blues are backed up by searching pieces about a friend lost to drug addiction.
By the 3rd song, Taylor has you in his grasp and uncontrollably stomping your foot and bobbing your head as he turns up the soul factor in his smoky voice.
His alternative rendition of his most famous song to date “Stand Up” – a rebel standard amongst the Occupy movement lets him bring out his best – a socially conscious artist ready to break into the big time.
However he will no doubt learn much from elder statesman Gibbs whose clear articulation of pain, dark humour and subtle socio political insight is evident during his intimate set.
Silence falls and the 80 plus audience squeeze in closer as if Gibbs is about to tell them a deep seated secret.
With gruff Nashville tones, he switches between personal struggle during hard economic times to the painful story of “Caroline” – a song about an abused wife.
It is not all doom and gloom though – as Gibbs squeezes in ironic camp fire stories only to have you in stitches when he declares “there is no punch-line.”
Gibbs has an alluring sensitivity which he achieves despite a very Seasick Steve big beard look.
But his effortless strumming and life experience etched into every note will have you thinking about your problems and then setting them aside for the evening.
- SEAN TAYLOR – http://www.seantaylorsongs.com/
- OTIS GIBBS – http://otisgibbs.com/