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Chuck Berry, Albert and the Lion

Mike Harding | 16:31 UK time, Wednesday, 17 February 2010

There are moments when I sit before my lap-top staring at the screen in amazement and wondering. My music directory has more than songs and tunes on it, all folk and all great stuff.

And on my shelves in the shed are hundreds more CDs that I haven't transferred to the lap-top yet...
...stuff like the entire Watersons collection, my old Cyril Tawney CDs and the huge collection of American old-timey and Jug Band music that was so much part of my musical growing up.

I mean I have to be a bit weird ­ don't I? In the 60s and 70s I would be listening to Gus Cannon and his Jug Stompers one moment and Bert Lloyd and Ewan MacColl the next; one moment Willie Clancy and Finbar Dwyer the next Steeleye Span.

And when it came to comedy ­ Lenny Bruce and Lord Buckley would rub shoulders with Chick Murray, Billy Bennett and George Formby. An eclectic mix you might say ­ but worse still, in the pub I would be singing Chuck Berry's 'Johnny B Goode' straight after 'The Manchester Rambler' and 'King Cotton' would be followed by 'Albert and the Lion'.

No wonder I'm not well in my head.

Which brings me to my main point ­ Jack-E McAuley. I've never understood why Jack is not better known - a brilliant singer and musician who has written some superb songs ('Bad Day at Black Rock' and 'Ride the Peace Train') and has also performed some great versions of songs like 'The Auld Triangle' and 'Come On In My Kitchen'. I am tempted to begin a one man crusade to get the chap's music better known.

Meantime I will put his great song 'Blind Willie Johnson' into one of the forthcoming shows ­ it's the least I can do.


  • Comment number 1.

    Hello Mike,

    Great blog - Jack-E's CD 'Fretwork' is a classic, full of gems and I'm lucky enough to be one of only a few thousand to own a copy. Have tried tracking down his masterpiece 'Headspin' to no avail! Any tips?

    While I'm on, if I could also draw your attention to a wonderful young talent, the Scottish singer-songwriter Simon Kempston - excellent live performer and his new CD (produced by Iain McCalman, no less!) should also be heard by many more people. Have a listen at www.myspace.com/simonkempston.

    Looking forward to next Wednesday, I'm going to start a campaign for your show to be extended to 3 hours!



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