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Hamilton Loomis – Live in England

Ham-Bone Records

12 songs; 72.50 minutes

Texan Hamilton Loomis has been a regular visitor to the UK in recent years and has developed a loyal following here, so it is a logical step for him to record his first live CD here. The CD was recorded at two venues, the Famous Monday Blues in Oxford and the Liverpool Marina, with no overdubs. The sound is extremely clear and precise, recorded on an Alessis HD24 (according to the sleeve notes – for the technically minded). The band consists of Hamilton on guitar and harp (played through an adapted vacuum cleaner!), Stratton Doyle on sax and keys, Kent Beatty on bass and Jamie Little on drums. All are in Hamilton’s regular US band except Jamie, who plays with many visiting acts to the UK, such as Sherman Robertson.

Hamilton’s two previous CDs were released on Blind Pig, Kickin’ It in 2003 and Ain’t Just Temporary in 2007, but this time he has released the CD himself and will be promoting it at gigs and through his website. The 12 tracks here include three tunes from each of those two CDs, one from his 1999 self release All Fired Up, a Bo Diddley medley and what I take to be four new songs.

The CD opens with a brief introduction from the Oxford show, followed by an instrumental entitled Pull Strings which features Stratton Doyle’s tenor sax strongly. If any song sums up Hamilton Loomis it must be "Workin’ Real Hard", an account of the life of a blues player (“sleep all day and play all night”) which also includes a short clip of Stevie Wonder’s "Master Blaster". Next up is "Legendary", slower than most of Hamilton’s material. What it is is a long version of a track from the 1999 All Fired Up CD which includes a snippet from Joe Zawinul’s "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" that gives Stratton Doyle a chance to show his abilities and remind us for a moment of Cannonball Adderley.

"No No No" and "Best Worst Day" are both crowd pleasing songs from the Blind Pig CDs and bookend a short instrumental which features bass player Kent Beatty on his own composition "Come Back To Me".

"Time" appears to be a new song before the longest tune "Bow Wow" appears. Clocking in at over 9 minutes this gives all members of the band a chance to shine, with an excellent guitar solo driven by the drums, as well as what sounded to me like a short taster of "Smoke On The Water" (though it is not credited on the sleeve notes).

Hamilton was mentored by Bo Diddley and played with him on a number of occasions. Given that Bo passed away earlier in the year it is not surprising that Hamilton does a medley of "Bo Diddley/Who do you love?" However, he does so on a signature Bo cigar box style guitar which Bo himself gave him and autographed it “from the man”.

The final track on the CD is another from Kickin’ It called "Get My Blues On". However, there is also a bonus track "Turnin’ Heads" which is also clearly live and not obviously an encore, but which, like the previous track, gives solo spots to all the band.

This is an enjoyable CD which offers a great introduction to Hamilton Loomis’ music. He is a great live act and well worth catching if he passes your way, but in the meanwhile this is a good place to start.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a Blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live Blues music.

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