The Ben Waters Hoedown Band
The Half Moon, Putney
29th September 2015
The legendary boogie-woogie pianist Ben Waters returns to the legendary Half Moon with his band and special guest David Lee on fiddle and all the way from Australia. Louder Than War’s Craig Chaligne reviews.
Ben Waters is the best boogie-woogie piano player in the UK. Some of his fellow piano players may be better songwriters (Geraint Watkins) or showmen (Mike Sanchez) but the sheer precision of his playing makes him the most technically proficient of the tree. He regularly plays at The Half Moon with his band (roughly twice a year). Usually backed by a four piece composed of two saxophonist (one being his fourteen year old son Tom), a bass player and a drummer, the line-up was this time augmented by Australian fiddle player David Lee (the Jimi Hendrix of the fiddle).
Starting the set solo with an Amos Milburn tune, he was then joined by drummer Ady Milward to play a boogie woogie instrumental entitled fot the occasion “Putney Boogie”. After inviting every member of the band to join him on stage (forgetting bass player Richard Hymas in the process), the band launched into a great version of the Ray Charles classic “Mess Around” with David Lee on lead vocals, followed by a cover of Ian Dury’s “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick” sung by drummer Ady. Bass player Richard took the lead on Waters own composition “Last Man Alive”. Waters is a big Fats Domino fan and his version “Blueberry Hill” gave him the chance to tell a few stories about one his biggest influences. Two more excellent originals followed including the rollicking “Something Ain’t Wright”. A suprisingly effectice cover of an A-ha song was followed by an hommage to another of Water’s heroes : Jerry Lee Lewis with “Lucky Old Son”, a song first covered by The Killer when he was still under contact with Sun Records.
Original “Tiny Planet” opened the second half of the show on a ecological note. Another great player was honoured with a song about Professor Longhair, a legendary New Orleans piano player who was a huge influence on musicians such as Allen Toussaint or Dr John. Two Waters originals “Hurricane” and “Caledonia” started the build up leading to the end of the performance. David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” and Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell” got the crowd clapping and stomping as did a a tune featuring an excellent solo courtesy of Tom Waters. Ben plays in London regularly and all over the UK, make sure you catch him and his band when they come near you.
All words by Craig Chaligne. More of Craig’s work for Louder Than War can be found in his author’s archive.