Review: Davey Ralph & The Road Band

At The Old Neptune, Sunday 17th February 2013

Sweeping into The Neptune at Whitstable from the winter chill and the wilds of Faversham in their long black coats, Davey Ralph & The Road Band certainly looked like seasoned blues men. Seeing this and a grinning cartoon of Alfred E Neuman and his catchphrase 'What, me worry?' from the covers of Mad magazine emblazoned on their drum kit suggested that all the omens for a good gig were in place. So it proved to be, as this experienced and brilliant blues inspired band were about to deliver a wide ranging and eclectic set.

 

Davey Ralph is a consummately fine guitarist with a fabulous and affecting tone, and is also an expressive singer and songwriter. Check his self written song King of The Delta Blues in the video on this site. With sterling support from Tom Fairs, bass, Malcolm Mills, drums, and Derek Bright, rhythm guitar, the band was soon laying down a stupendous version of JJ Cale's After Midnight. This was followed by a marvellous take on a number that ranks amongst Hendrix's finest; Little Wing, and it was a natural progression from there to Davey's announcement "We're a blues band" being manifestly proved by an excellent low down You Shook Me.

 

Davey has cited his guitar playing influences as Jerry Garcia, Peter Green, JJ Cale, and T- Bone Walker, and he melds these legendary players varied styles with impressive impact and skill, producing his own glorious and distinctive sound from such a formidable melting pot. Any band that includes Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here in their set gets my vote but performed at this level of expertise only serves to increase the poignant reflective pleasures of that song. An appropriately 'countrified' Dead Flowers provided us with an appetiser for the Stones delights to come, and it was swiftly followed by Little Red Rooster with outstanding and lovely slide guitar from Derek Bright.

Closing the first part of their set with a lilting and sublime Albatross, with Peter Green getting his rightful name check, Davey promised some rock'n'roll upon their return: he kept his promise with an upbeat rendering of Van Morrison's Domino great crowd response from the packed pub was heard when it segued into a terrific rocking Beatles song, One After 909 and then a return to Jimi with the powerful strut of Foxy Lady which was also enthusiastically welcomed. Dylan's Knockin' On Heaven's Door perhaps a suitable song for a Sunday afternoon definitely hit the spot, and yet it's strange how a song about a dying man can somehow be uplifting, but that's the alchemy of this music in the hands of skilled practitioners.

 

With the strong rhythm section of Tom Fairs and Malcolm Mills to the fore on the reggae of I Shot The Sheriff a nine year old girl who intuitively understood and variously interpreted in her dancing throughout the gig the timeless musicality and inspiration of these songs, continued to confirm their magic when played at such a high standard.

 

A fabulous finale of Jumping Jack Flash, with an encore of Robert Johnson's seminal blues song Crossroads replete with a fantastic chugging rhythm made me briefly wish I'd had a camera to capture and record the moment, but when the winter blues are being played and transcended, as with the finest live music you carry away your own internal movie. This was Davey Ralph & The Road Band's first gig in Whitstable and it was a superb triumph ... we need to hear a lot more from them in the Local'n'Live area ... truly a band for all seasons!

 

Submitted by Nigel

 

Find their next gigs: Davey Ralph & His Band