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Bettye and Shuggie in San Javier

CIMG5067In the stage-side cafe at San Javier Jazz festival

Hot on the heels of the Cazorla Blues Festival comes the San Javier Jazz festival. The name is somewhat redundant, as Uriah Heep are appearing this year, and if they’re jazz then I’m a teapot. but, be that as it may, at least the festival, strung out over an entire month and situated in a town only a couple of hours away from where we live, affords the possibility of seeing world-class talent under the Spanish sun.

The night we picked featured Bettye LaVette, a singer who’d only come to my attention via Jools Holland’s BBC2 show ‘Later’, and who’d greatly impressed. As Bettye herself said on the night, “It’s only taken me 50 years to become an overnight success..” Approaching 70, she’s had a long, hard career in the music business, starting with her debut single in 1962: “My man- he’s a lovin’ man”. Raised in Detroit, she flirted with fame over the years. A brief stint with James Brown, a stage musical with Cab Calloway…but for the most part Bettye languished in obscurity.

It was the interest of Gilles Petard, a French soul music collector, that began to shine a light on Bettye, after he sought out and acquired the rights to her unreleased Child of the Seventies masters, having been played the mono recordings by Bettye herself. It was finally released, decades after its creation, as Souvenirs in 2000.

But it was LaVette’s appearance at the Kennedy Centre Honors, where The Who were honorees, that really gave Bettye’s career the necessary momentum. An amazing performance of Love reign o’er me had the Kennedy centre audience, most unaware of Lavette at that point, on their feet, and Townsend and Daltrey moved to tears. Just check it out:

It highlighted her ability to turn a song inside out, de-construct it, and make it her own. This led to The British Rock Songbook, a wonderful collection of British rock classics that Bettye performs as if her life depends on it.

bettyesanjavBettye at San Javier Jazz – Photo by Rafe Marquez

Seeing her live was a privilege. Her band, tight and funky, and able to draw subtle nuances out of every arrangement were a perfect complement to her rich raw vocals. Opening with Lennon and McCartney’s ‘The Word‘ she simply stole the show.  ‘Love reign o’er me’ sent shivers down my spine, and when she announced a Neil Young cover “Heart of Gold” with the tongue-in cheek statement “but I sing it better”, you damn well believed her before she’d even sang a note.

Bettye LaVette cover

I met and chatted with her bassist, James Simonson after the show, a real nice guy, who was still buzzing about meeting Marcus Miller at the North Sea Jazz fest just days ago.  We got into ‘bassist’ talk for a while.  I asked him to pass on my compliments to Bettye and the band, and I bought The British Rock Songbook that very night.  Bettye’s message, throughout her long career is an unspoken, yet potent one: If you’re good, believe in it, and don’t give up. ever. As she approaches 70, Bettye LaVette’s got a helluva lot more to give.

shuggie-otisShuggie Otis

Shuggie Otis. I knew the name, but was fairly unacquainted with his music. However, a quick rummage through my record collection revealed that I owned “Strawberry letter 23” by The Brothers Johnson on their greatest hits CD. This was a Shuggie-penned tune, and this recording of it gave Shuggie his big break. Just listening to it, you can hear how he was to become a huge influence on the likes of Prince and Lenny Kravitz. It’s a great piece of pop-funk-psychedelia. I awaited his performance with interest.  With a 9 piece band, the arrangements were superb, and the musicianship absolutely top-notch. Shuggie’s fluid guitar playing, especially when he played the blues was also pretty impressive. But…..

….the guy was on another planet. I don’t know what he’d been smoking, but the end result was that it seemed like he just couldn’t be bothered to reach the notes when he was singing (or finish sentences when he was talking) in contrast to Bettye, who, although not speaking Spanish spoke slowly and clearly to the audience. Shuggie was a disaster. I was willing him to sing properly. Every now and again he would seem to remember where he was and a couple of lines would suddenly leap out clear and powerful, then just lapse away again.  When they played ‘Wings of Love’, a fine song with a fantastic arrangement, beautifully performed, his voice just destroyed it. He also looked like he couldn’t get away fast enough, and his son and brother who were band members sort of hung around on stage to try and get everybody to ask for an encore, which he eventually gave.  These people paid to see you man. You are an undeniable talent. Stay focused, and make the effort.

Kev Moore

July 26, 2013 Posted by | blues, Jazz Rock, Music, Thoughts, Touring, Writing | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Santa Cruz – and Moore Music!


So today, as our time in Tenerife draws to a close, we headed into the capital of the island, Santa Cruz, coincidentally on the very day the courts here sentenced a Bulgarian lunatic for beheading a 60 year-old British woman in a supermarket down the coast in Los Cristianos. Yes, you read that right. It’s not all ‘idyllic paradise’ over here….

A  Happy Kev in Santa Cruz with his CD haul...

A Happy Kev in Santa Cruz with his CD haul…

Anyway, I wasn’t overly impressed with the city itself, I imagine its ‘best face’ is the waterfront and port, but it’s undergoing something of a facelift at the moment and offers only green industrial sheeting, corrugated metal and barriers as opposed to broad avenues at the water’s edge. Now, I’d had some luck near to our apartment yesterday finding a Judas Priest album, and Santa Cruz proved to be a happy hunting ground also. I found another great little CD shop which yielded a great find: Joe Walsh’s latest ‘The Analog Man’ complete with bonus DVD, and only 6.50 euros! I’d been after this CD ever since Stone wrote a series of articles about it on Metal Odyssey.

On our way out of town I spied ‘El Corte Inglese’ – a huge department store with outlets all over Spain. It means ‘The English Line’, or something, but there’s not much English about it really. But… they do still have CD department!  A lot of the stuff is WAY overpriced, but the bargain section was well worth a look, as I came away with:

A double edition Firefly/Abominog by Uriah Heep (Featuring a friend of mine Pete Goalby on vocals)

Queen’s  ‘Queen ll’ remastered and ‘Sheer Heart Attack’ remastered – albums from what  I consider to be their halcyon days

Led Zeppelin’s ‘Presence’ remastered – enough said!

The soundtrack album of the HBO series  ‘Treme’  set in New Orleans, one of my favourite cities, and with the added bonus that it features a track by a band we befriended when we visited ‘The Big Easy’ – The New Orleans Jazz Vipers’ and our friend on trumpet – Jack Fine.

…and all this great music for just 30 euros!  Wow! Another great day in Tenerife…or perhaps that should be ‘a tenner each’? haha! What really set the whole trip off beautifully was my incredibly generous partner Miki buying the whole lot for me as a gift – am I lucky or what?

Kev Moore

February 22, 2013 Posted by | Jazz Rock, Metal, Music, Recording, Rock, Thoughts, Writing | 3 Comments


The postman always rings twice here in Spain. No , really – he does. He brings the letters and stuff, then he tells me he’ll be back cos he’s got a paqueta in the van for me.

Headless Heaven

So, five minutes later he returns with my new acquisition,  A beautiful  mint condition Fernandes Tomahawk Headless bass from 1987. (see above pic) These beauties came in two versions, one with a maple neck, and one with a graphite neck, the latter being the more expensive, at 115,000 Japanese Yen in the catalogue – that’s around £932 in real money! This one is the Graphite version. I do like variety in my bass collection, and this one fits the bill perfectly.

From the 1986 Fernandes Catalogue

I already have a Fernandes FRB 100 5 string, which I got from Saxon’s Graham Oliver in the early 90’s when Saxon had a deal with the company, and I was working on a couple of things with Graham. I also seem to remember designing a plectrum logo for them too. They are vastly underrated basses in my opinion, and I’m really happy to have added one to my collection – and for a real bargain price too!

My FRB 100 – who now has a friend….

It’s great to receive a secondhand bass that’s clearly been so lovingly cared for, and it sounds superb.

Kev Moore

June 28, 2012 Posted by | Home Studio, Jazz Rock, Music, Recording, Rock, Writing | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Tufty Gordon drops in

Tufty and me

It’s often said that “it’s a small world”. Well it sure is. Some days ago, I was invited to speak about my career in front of The Dames of Turre – a charitable organization of ex-pat ladies who meet regularly in our village.  Their leader, Jean, mentioned that she’d met a certain entertainer while on a Caribbean cruise, and that he was currently touring around Spain and was due to pay a visit on them this week. She asked if I knew him: “Tufty Gordon is his name” she said. Well, when you’ve been a pro muso for over 30 years, as I have, you cannot fail to have heard of Tufty. He’s been in the business for 55 years as a professional sax player and compere, (particularly hosting events for The Stage) and in fact interviewed me some years ago on stage when I was about to take my solo rock show out to the Caribbean on the ship ‘Ocean Village’. Tufty has played for the likes of Joe Cocker, my old friend Tony Christie and many, many others.  Jean arranged for me to meet up with him down on Mojacar playa. It was great to catch up with him and his lovely wife, Sylvia, and he kindly offered to lay down some sax in my studio while he was in town.  So today, I played him my latest work in progress: “Statue of Only Me” – a song from my next album and also to be featured on my Bay Radio spot next month. After a few listens and run throughs, he put down some great tenor lines which I’ll now spend the next few days editing and arranging.  I’m truly indebted to him for his generosity, and was happy to catch up with him again in ‘my own back yard’. Cheers Tufty!

Kev Moore

March 2, 2012 Posted by | blues, Jazz Rock, Music, Recording, Rock, Thoughts, Touring, Writing | , , , | 1 Comment

Thank you Rams!

Occasionally, my passions collide. Take Music and Football. They collided spectacularly when Nigel Clough took over at Derby County FC, inspiring me to create ( with a few fans’ help) a whole CD of songs dedicated to the Mighty Rams. The Fan Fayre for the Commons People album was hard work, but a labour of love.

But the weekend saw The Rams, via the unquestionable generosity of my partner, French Artist and fellow ‘Ramatic’, Miki, reward me for my efforts. As we prepared to listen to the commentary for the Derby v Portsmouth game on Saturday, I was ‘window shopping’ for a new fretless bass for the studio, studying one in particular with some intensity and incredibly kindly, if a little recklessly, she said: “If we win, I’ll buy you that bass.”

Now, anybody familiar with DCFC will know that listening to, or watching their games is a nervy affair at best – though our fabulous start to the season has tempered the fear somewhat – but to add into the mix the chance of winning or losing an instrument???  aaaaargh!!!!!

Anyway, to Miki’s bemusement and my delight, The Rams demolished Pompey in the first half, and ran out comfortable winners at 3-1.

So, thanks lads, for a great win, and a brand new fretless Wishbass!


The Musos among you can check out more of Steve Wishnevsky’s amazing instruments HERE.

Kev Moore

October 31, 2011 Posted by | blues, Home Studio, Jazz Rock, Music, Recording, Rock, Writing | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gil Scott-Heron dies, aged 62. R.I.P.

One of the seminal black artists who rose to prominence in the 70’s,  Scott-Heron was something of a pioneer. He’s been labelled as the Godfather of rap, but he was much more than that, and it seemed to be a title he wore uneasily. his sparse rhythms and street poetry were of a higher order than most of what gets churned out today. My favourite track of his was “The Bottle” – and I was lucky enough to meet him when our bands were staying in the same hotel in Essen, Germany, back in the 90’s.

Rest in Peace, Gil, and thanks for the music.

Kev Moore

May 28, 2011 Posted by | Jazz Rock, Music, Recording, Thoughts, Touring, Video, Writing | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gary Moore – Rest in Peace

Last night I returned home on cloud nine after gigging down on the Playa in Mojacar. It had been a while since I’d been on stage and I’d missed it. Arriving home, I was in great spirits after getting that ‘fix’ again.  A mere four hours down the coast, something had happened that was to hit me like a sucker punch.

On Friday, sitting in our local at lunchtime, I’d met one of Gary Moore’s backstage technicians, taking a short break from touring. We were discussing how Gary achieved his wonderful tone, partly through the heavy gauge strings that he used – incredibly hard to bend, but rich sounding.

Now, as I fired up the Mac upon returning home late Sunday night, I discovered that Gary had passed away in a hotel in Estepona. He was just 58. I was dumbfounded. Gary Moore has always been one of my guitar heroes. He was the real deal, and the complete package, not only a genius guitarist, but a great singer and writer. There were few if any, that could touch him. As if that weren’t enough, he was equally at home playing fusion, blues, jazz and metal.

I first became aware of Gary’s music on “Little Darlin'” by Thin Lizzy. I was always a Lizzy fan, even going so far as to impersonate Phil Lynott on Stars in their Eyes. I also met Gary’s predecessor, Eric Bell.  But when Gary joined their ranks, briefly, for that first time, and Little Darlin’ exploded from the speakers, I knew he was special.  I discovered his earlier work with Skid Row, amazing skills at just 16!

One of my favourite albums of his  is “Run for Cover” because it brings together three of my all-time favourite musicians, Gary, Glenn Hughes and Phil Lynott. But I’m not going to feature anything from that, nor “Still got the blues”. Instead, here’s a lesser-known single from Gary, unbelievably poignant and eerily prophetic, given the last line.  Gary, the word genius is often over-used, but in your case it hardly begins to cover your mastery of the guitar. Rest in Peace, your music will live on forever. I want to extend my condolences to his friends and family at this sad time.

Kev Moore

February 7, 2011 Posted by | blues, Jazz Rock, Music, Recording, Rock, Thoughts, Touring, Video, Writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Criminal shortsightedness: The Death of the Lorca Rock Festival

About an hour up the motorway from where we live, there is a small town called Lorca. It is famed for its spectacular Spanish fortress high on a ridge overlooking the town, under which the motorway passes, tunneled through the mountain – and it is famous for the spectacular Rock Festival that is held there every year, bringing the cream of heavy rock from around the world to this small corner of Spain.

The last Lorca rock Festival. Shame on you, Mr Mayor.

But, while trawling the internet yesterday, Miki discovered that the Lorca Rock Festival is no more.  This is just one more blow in a worrying trend. You see, they have a new Mayor. The Mayor doesn’t like Rock, or apparently, visitors, and has put such a huge amount of obstacles in the way of the organizers that they have found it impossible to continue.  So the Lorca rock festival has died.  How stupid can one man be? How short sighted? His vision is narrower than the tunnels that run beneath his Fortress.  Much the same is happening in nearby Mojacar. The Mayoress here makes no secret of her dislike of the UK residents and tourists, to the extent that tourism here as all but dried up and the season, once as fulsome as a watermelon has shrunk to the size of an unpalatable prune. English couples, working on a dream of running a bar or some other service business here, are returning home dejected by the dozen. This area in particular, has experienced growth courtesy of the tourist euro from the Brits, French and Germans for over 30 years. Now it’s thanks very much, and goodnight.

The lack of foresight in Lorca and Mojacar is breathtaking.  Only a couple of decades ago, these people were selling Asparagus by the side of the road to make ends meet. Now, every peasant that had a horse and cart drives a Mercedes. Mojacar was a dead village until the then Mayor (a man cut from considerably finer cloth than the current incumbent) offered up the empty houses at a tenner a throw – artists and musicians flocked here, and the village was reborn. They may have come a long way financially, but social finesse has been sacrificed on the altar of ‘progress’.

Does the Mayor of Lorca not realize that his town is known around the World because of the Lorca rock festival? Because of the song “Night train to Lorca” by The Pogues? Make no mistake Mr. Mayor, if you continue with this madness, your town will be little more than a forgotten archaeological footnote, barely visited.

Similarly, in Mojacar, the Mayoress is playing with fire. The Spanish tourists rarely spend money in the bars, the tourist industry locally is a fragile one, and is collapsing before our very eyes.

I must qualify this by saying our village, Turre, just 5 minutes away, seems to be run a little differently. But all it takes is a change of Mayor, someone who forgets, or who is too young to remember why this tiny forgotten area began to flourish in the first place, and it can happen here, and anyway, all these villages are in the same area, and the residents are hostages to the same ‘tourist eco-system)

The world economic crisis has badly affected the tourist trade, and steps should be taken to bolster it, not kick it while it’s down. The Brits, for one, are creatures of habit, and when they get into the habit of discovering that the likes of Florida and Turkey can offer more for less, they won’t come back.

Bring back the Tourists, and more importantly, BRING BACK THE ROCK!

Kev Moore

November 1, 2010 Posted by | blues, Jazz Rock, Music, Recording, Rock, Thoughts, Touring, Writing | , , , , | Leave a comment

Mixing the Brass

Me and Ron at Jazz Life in Mojacar about 4 years ago

This week, I’ve been mixing the three tracks that have brass parts for them. With tenor and soprano saxes by my friend Ron Johnson, Trumpet by Dr.John Showalter, and recorded in Columbus, Ohio, by engineer  Cody Boyce, they really add something to the songs “Who Dat”, “The Ghost of Bessie Smith” and “Buttermilk Boogie”. I also received the final drum track for “Who Dat” from my friend Stef in London, so Blue Odyssey edges ever nearer to completion.

Stef Cybichowski: Drummer on 3 tracks on the Blue Odyssey album

One of the great pleasures for me on this project has been the opportunity to work with friends and colleagues around the world on it.  Release is set for October. Look out here on moore:music for a special offer for those who place advanced orders!

Kev Moore

September 22, 2010 Posted by | Blue Odyssey CD, blues, Home Studio, Jazz Rock, Music, Recording, Rock, Thoughts, Writing | , | 3 Comments

The New Orleans Suite

Joan of Arc, obviously a Saints fan then, being a Saint, and from Orleans and stuff...

The influence of New Orleans on me during our American trip earlier this year was so great that there are no fewer than three songs that deal with different aspects of that fabulous city that will appear on my Blue Odyssey album. I’m considering linking them somehow to form a “New Orleans Suite”, perhaps with ‘vox pops’ from New Orleans residents. The three songs are widely differing in style, Who Dat is funky, Ol’ New Orleans is very zydeco, and XXX is , well, a heavy rock blues with an acoustic beginning and an off-the-wall solo section. But the common thread is the city, whether it be the triumph of The Saints at the Superbowl, the pleasure of the Mardi Gras, Bourbon Street, the French Quarter  and the musical heritage therein, or the otherworldly Voodoo influences of Marie Laveau.It is the song dealing with the latter to which I’ve currently turned my attention.

One thing is for sure. It is impossible to visit such a city and not come away with a host of wonderful ideas and influences. Manna from heaven for a songwriter!

Kev Moore

July 21, 2010 Posted by | Blue Odyssey CD, blues, Home Studio, Jazz Rock, Music, Recording, Rock, Writing | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments