The tour started back in November at Southampton and has taken in 16 dates around the country
It’s been a showcase for up and coming new blues rock acts, Simo from Tenesee, Aaron Keylock from Oxfordshire and Stockport’s, Federal Charm.
The idea of this tour is that each act has a 45 minute slot and they rotate each night. I am covering three shows so that I catch each act headlining.
First up was Sheffield and a new venue to me, Greystones. Opening act this time around is Federal Charm who comprise of Nick Bowden, guitars and vocals, Paul Bowe, guitars, LD Morawaski on bass and Danny Riggs on drums.
Nick shouts out to the audience ‘I know its Monday and you all got to work tomorrow’ and before he’d finished someone shouted back ‘we’re pensioners’, Maybe a few were but this wasn’t the case for the whole and it was a diverse demographic of all ages.
The band were rocking so hard that at one point the whole drum kit started moving forward so much that Nick and Paul commented about a sudden lack of space on stage. As they ended the set Nick comments ‘please feel free to spend your pension on our merch’, just outside’.
After a quick change of equipment JD Simo and his band take to the stage, drummer, Adam Abrashoff and bass player Elad Shapiro joins him. This was his second visit to Sheffield and many of the audience knew of them and were keen to have them back. Simo and his music have been described as intense in the past, rather than simple. I agree, the way he plays shows he has a real feel for the music and he put this across incredibly well. His set up is best described as vintage, but for the music he plays it all adds to the sound. Unfortunately due to overrunning his set is cut short.
Headling tonight is Aaron Keylock, a fantastic find. Aaron is incredibly talented and brings his brand of rock n’roll to the show. He is joined by drummer, Sonny Greaves and bass player Jordan Maycock. He plays with enthusiasm but for me personally he doesn’t have the same feel as Simo, Maybe I shouldn’t draw comparisons, but I think as Aaron is young, he still has plenty of time to develop the feel further, and I believe he should keep on rocking as he’s exactly what the genre needs right now.
Next stop the Cluny in Newcastle that reminds me a lot of the Tunnels in Bristol.
Aaron takes to the stage first this time around, while he may be slight in stature, he is making up for that through his playing, tonight the sound mix is kinder and works far better for him. Personal favourite track of the night is the slowed down track Down, before he launches into his current single Cut against the grain to finish his set.
Federal charm are up next and are crowd favourites tonight. ‘How many times have we played Newcastle?’ asks Nick, I didn’t see how many fingers Paul showed, but got the impression it was plenty. They are met with passion and go down as storm. Silhouette, a crowd favourite, as well as a band one too, saw Paul jump off the stage into the audience. All to soon their set ends.
JD Simo and his band are topping the bill tonight and get straight in there with their take on the blues. For a trio they have such a huge sound and seem to go down well with the crowd. JD tells us he has played over 200 gigs this year. It shows as they are a very polished act. After the set I caught up with JD and he’s talking about the vintage valve amps he uses, his guitar as well is a classic 1962 Gibson semi acoustic. Simo have already played over 200 gigs and still have 5 more to go, this is one very hard working band.
Final stop off on the tour for me is Glasgow’s O2 ABC2 venue and its Simo opening tonight. They play with as much passion as an opening act as a headliner, they are incredibly well received by the Scottish crowd and many fans afterwards appreciated JD’s time spent chatting with the crowd. The one thing I love about Simo’s sets is they are completely random, JD himself, prefers it this way rather than play the same songs night after night, and tell the same tales to each audience. Tonight’s audience is made up of old rockers with a few younger fans coming through proving this music appeals to all ages.
This is precisely where Aaron Keylock fits in, a young act, bringing new material to the fold. Aaron plays a set that has several highs, among them tonight my favourite song from tonight’s set Spin the bottle, Aaron tells the crowd this is about finding yourself and he has definitely found himself as an accomplished guitarist and I personally thought of the three nights, his confidence seemed to be on a high tonight, always a good thing.
Closing act and all revved up were Federal Charm, Paul rocking about as soon as they hit the stage. Nick and Paul are a force to be reckoned with creating a very strong twin guitar connection, something that can be seen many times when they rock out together as many photographs prove. From the soulful These four walls to the rockier tracks they go down well with the crowd. ‘We love Glasgow, such friendly fans’ exclaims Nick. But it’s the drinking song with LD waving his beer around that shows the band playing Give me something in almost a bluegrass style that always captures the attention.
All too soon the show is over and as the crowds leave, I’m left talking to band members and crew. The last few nights have been great, an eye opener and I’ve enjoyed being on the road with the bands.
Can I say any night’s been better ? No, each one is different and each has good and bad. Of the venues I’d say I preferred the Glasgow gig, for atmosphere it has to be Newcastle and for intimate and relaxed it has to be Sheffield.