Tuesday, 26 February 2013

What's on? Looking at the local music scene: Number 71 Bar, Stalybridge!

On Friday night, I called into the Number 71 Bar on Mottram Road, Stalybridge, to watch the Alex Mckown band. The venue was formerly the Mottram Road, No1 Conservative club. About two years ago, it was transformed into a snooker and sports lounge and there are live concerts every Friday, when admission is free. Concerts and functions also take place on Saturday's, but these are ticket events only.

Alex McKown's first gig was at "The Moon and Sixpence" in Glossop in 2008. The 17 year old, who comes from Glossop, first started to play the guitar when he was six years old but started guitar lessons at Tameside Music Academy, when he was eleven years of age.

Since his first gig in 2008, McKown has acquired something of a reputation for being a guitar prodigy and has performed with his own band at the 'Great British Rythm and Blues Festival' in Colne in 2009, the 'Newark Blues Festival' and the 'Ramsbottom Blues Festival'. In 2011, he was nominated for the British Blues Award.

Whether or not Mckown is a guitar prodigy, is questionable, but he's certainly a good blues guitarist. When watching him and his band perform on Friday night, I was not disappointed. Playing second lead guitar with McKown, was Tony Auton, of the Cheyenne social club.

The band played a set list which comprised their own songs from their CD's as well as covers including a song by Billy Preston and 'Texas Flood', by Stevie Ray Vaughan (SRV).  Many guitarist would have given this song a wide birth, simply because it is notoriously difficult to play well, because SRV was a guitar prodigy, and possibly one of the best blues guitarists of all time. Nevertheless, I enjoyed Mckown's version of it and enjoyed listening to the band. For  a lad aged 17 years old, he's got a lot of talent as a blues guitarist, and he's certainly worth watching.

In April, Steve Whalley, - who played with Slade II replacing Noddy Holder - will be performing at the same venue. Whalley originates from Stalybridge but moved down south many years ago. He was lead singer and guitarist with the Stalybridge band the Puritans and also played with Greasy Bear who were regular performers at the legendary 'Magic Village' in Manchester. For further details contact the Number 71 Bar.

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