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Chicago Calling Twickenham: Cyril Davies Tribute Night

12 March 2017

 

The Cyril Davies Tribute Night

The Eel Pie Club at The Cabbage Patch, Twickenham

9th March 2017

A review by Cliff Tapstand

 They did you proud, Cyril!

Cyril Davies died on the 7th January 1964 at the tender age of 31, after collapsing during a performance at the original Eel Pie Island Club.  Along with Alexis Korner, Cyril is widely regarded as the driving force behind the birth of Rhythm and Blues music, and a tremendous influence on emerging bands like The Rolling Stones.

Once a year the resurrected Eel Pie Club holds a Tribute Gig in his memory, and on this night, he would have been thrilled at the number of exceptionally talented musicians that turned up to perform his type of music, his songs, and even more thrilled that so many of them played his instrument of choice, the blues harmonica.

The gig was put together by two regular performers at The Eel Pie Club, both of whom are renowned exponents of the harmonica, (or ‘harp’ as it known in the business): Alan Glen former member of The Yardbirds and Nine below Zero, together with John O’ Leary of The Downliners Sect.

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Photographs by Pat Stancliffe

Joining them on stage in an All Stars band were Tim Penn (Cadillac Kings), Nick Newell (Kinks), Glynn Evans (Martha and the Vandellas), Al Vincent (Daniel Smith Band), and Peter Miles (Radical Sheiks).

The band was joined from time to time by an array of guest artists each with their own tribute to Cyril Davies, his music, and Chicago Blues.  First up was Bob Hokum, who gave excellent renditions of Bad to the Bone, and One More Reason, with some impressive very guitar playing.

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Photographs by Pat Stancliffe

In 1963, Cyril Davies released a 45rpm record with Country Line Special, a fast and furious harmonica instrumental on the A side, and Chicago Calling on the B side.  We were treated to two excellent versions of these, the first by Laurie Garman, and the second by Dave Raphael and Nick Hyde.

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Photographs by Pat Stancliffe

Other special guests to contribute to this feast of blues classics were two regular visitors to the club, Robin Bibi who performed Guitar Slim’s Things I Used to Do, Lord, I Won’t Do No More, and the evening came to an end with a rousing session led by the ever popular Paul Cox.  Paul is one of the best front men in the business, and he didn’t let us down with Got My Mojo Working, Stormy Monday Blues, and a song closely associated with Cyril Davies, Hoochie Coochie Man, written by Willie Dixon and first recorded by Muddy Waters in 1954.  A Chicago Blues classic as was the whole evening!

Cliff Tapstand

March 2017

A little more about Cyril Davies:

In the mid1950s Cyril Davies formed a skiffle and blues group with Alexis Korner.  He began as a banjo player, but after hearing Little Walter he took up the blues harmonica, an instrument hardly heard in this country at that time.  Davis and Korner often guested with Chris Barber’s band at the Marquee Club, a jazz club in London, but they really wanted to play blues, and formed Blues Incorporated, with Davies recruiting Art Wood and Long John Baldry as the vocalists.  They founded The Ealing Club in 1962, which proved to be very popular thanks to a growing interest in R&B.  A young Mick Jagger was in the club on the second night, and went on stage to sing Got My Mojo Working.

The band split up later that year, mainly because Davies wanted to play just Chicago style blues, and in November formed the Cyril Davies All-Stars, later to be simply All-Stars.  The group featured Davis on harp and vocals, Long John Baldry on vocals, and the rest were mainly made up of Screaming Lord Sutch’s Savages.

The band had a residency at the Marquee and he hired The Rolling Stones to fill in the slot between sets.  This led to a substantial increase in the attendance, and not un-reasonably they asked for rise in pay.  They were immediately sacked.  When a colleague asked Cyril why, he reportedly said, ‘they weren’t that good anyway’.

In 1963, he contracted pleurisy, but continued to tour with the band until his death on 7th January 1964, after which the band became Long John Baldry and The Hoochie Coochie Men.

Cliff Tapstand

March 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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