Backbone plays at Dusty’s, High Wycombe 28/06/17

As you pass the squash courts, looking out at the village cricket team in the midst of a tense run-chase, you could be forgiven for wondering if sat nav has led you astray. But in these apparently unpromising surroundings, John ‘Dusty’ Dunsterville and his team have established a thriving blues club with a loyal and enthusiastic membership, here tonight to witness the second visit of Backbone Blues Band.

 

Regular readers of this publication may recall that Backbone were the subject of the ‘key to the highway’ feature in the July issue, and tonight’s audience got a first hand taste of how the band’s performance has been honed by the experience of a series of trips playing in America’s ‘deep south’. It’s clear that when the night’s earnings are the contents of the tip bucket and a slice of the bar-take, as is often apparently the case in the states, the job is to entertain, not simply to turn up and play.

 

Having seen the band perform on several occasions, I’m familiar with their style; tight, well structured songs which give justified prominence to Duncan Highet’s excellent soulful voice, and to  Frank McConnell’s fluid and emotive lead guitar. As usual they played a mix of original compositions from their excellent ‘which way to the blues’ album, interspersed with well chosen covers. Tonight those included a staple of their set, Coco Montoya’s excellent ‘am I losing you’ and a couple of new additions – Michael Burks’ moody slow blues ‘make it rain’ (adorned by Steve Pearce’s tasteful piano noodlings), and SRV’s ‘tightrope’ – the latter introduced with the band’s typical self-deprecation “we’ve been trying to get this one right for years!”

 

The quality of the playing and tightness of the band attest to a bunch of guys who take their blues seriously. The banter with the audience and the smiles amongst the band-members reveal their desire to enjoy the experience and make it an enjoyable one for the audience. This is clearly the case when Tony Seaman steps into the limelight to sing and play lead on the band’s bluesy take on ‘house of the rising sun’ – a real crowd favourite; and to lead the band through the stomping ‘ain’t no use’ from their album. A classic ‘call and response’ number to round off their set.

 

The rousing calls for ‘more’ from this knowledgeable crowd bore testament to the band’s excellent show. If you get the chance, I’d strongly recommend you grab the chance to catch Backbone, and to visit Dusty’s; neither will disappoint…

 

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