The Stowe-X Rock & Blues Society has experienced a wide and varied selection of gigs this year. There was an absolute belter at 229 Great Portland Street where we all went along, ostensibly to see NATALIE SHAY and JACKAMAN. Natalie was on brilliant and energised, hair swishing form, whilst Jackaman had us all wide eyed with admiration. Lynne Jackaman is the nearest that I have seen to a latter day Janis Joplin – terrific and powerful stuff and I can’t wait to hear her debut album in the New Year.

As I say, these two acts were the main reason for us being there but just when people were deciding that things could not possibly get any better, a quartet of whom none of us had heard sauntered onto the stage and let rip into one of the most impressive debut sets that I have ever witnessed. We were all standing slack-jawed with amazement. This was BROKEN WITT REBELS. They were so good that we went to see them later in the year when they were supporting arguably one of Great Britain’s foremost blues guitarists JOANNE SHAW TAYLOR. Joanne could be the love child of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Dusty Springfield. She has the dexterous guitar skills of the former and the smoke imbued vocal delivery of the latter.

Talking of guitar dexterity, we were treated to a terrific evening of guitar shredding riffs from the Finish Maestra ERJE LYYTENEN, brilliant and exciting stuff, and well worth catching on her next visit to the UK. Sign up to the Stowe-X Rock & Blues Society for advance notice of recommended gigs.

Old Stoic, Orlando Seale (Lyttelton 91), had us paying attention at The Scala to witness his new metamorphosis as HARPO SMITH – a less autonomous outfit than his previous incarnation as ORLANDO SEALE AND THE SWELL and not as visually dramatic but punching out good original material. It will be interesting to see how this act develops and in which other and varied directions this talented Old Stoic is going.

Other noteworthy gigs were:

American singer/songwriter DIANE BIRCH at Bush Hall.

MOLLIE MARRIOT, daughter of the legendary Small Faces singer Steve Marriott, who has just released an impressive debut album, at The Borderline.

Country rock artist and guitar virtuoso LINDSAY ELL, again at The Borderline, to promote her new album The Project – good accomplished stuff produced by Christian Bush of the amazing band SUGARLAND. Her support act was seriously impressive, a West Country girl called CARLA BOND  who played her own original material to a mightily unsuspecting and impressed audience.

Back to 229 for a terrific performance by the legendary ‘60s star P.P.ARNOLD: woweee that was fun! She was promoting her ‘new’ album that she recorded forty years ago but had not released before now! She also took us back to the Summer of Love with her iconic hits, Angel Of The Morning and The First Cut Is The Deepest. Now, once again, the support act was something to make you sit up and listen. A girl called ENNE playing stylish self-penned songs with solo guitar accompaniment a la Lianne La Havas, whom I love, but somehow this girl has more elegance and sophistication – seriously one to watch.

COURTNEY MARIE ANDREWS showcased her new album Honest Life at Bush Hall. Her sound and story telling is good. Try to imagine Joni Mitchell getting together with Emmylou Harris, having both just been dumped – I mean how much bad luck in love can a girl have?

Indie darlings WILDWOOD KIN put on a terrific show at The Borderline giving full voice to harmonies that only siblings can successfully achieve.

These are just a few of the acts by whom we were entertained during the last year but, ‘hang on’, I hear you say, ‘this report is heavily weighted on the distaff side, what about the blokes?’  Well yes, there are some excellent male artists out there and coming to the fore, however, and I don’t know why it is, but so many of the current male singer/songwriters come over as such whiney wimps that it is hard to get fired up about them! Having said that, there are the Broken Witt Rebel boys whose singer has got a terrific and powerful delivery and our very own Orlando Seale, and there is also a guy with a great voice who performs under the name WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR, playing great Americana with Bob Dylan style phrasing but with infinitely better voice!

Talking of Old Stoics, I am keen to hear, in 2018, just what Caspar Sheppard (Walpole 04) and Orlando Sheppard (Walpole 09), (or Leopard as they are now called), have been up to. Which reminds me, I am sorry to have to report the demise of the Old Stoic band ARTHUR BEATRICE – and just after the release of their excellent second album Keeping The Peace on which ELLA GIRADOT’s vocals, to my mind, have never sounded better – her time will come, it has just got to!

So, what has 2018 got in store for us? I am looking forward to hearing the album release from OS band HUX, and the terrifically exciting but boringly named CONCRETE CAVERNS (hang on, Nige, these are bloke bands!) and also the shy and retiring SAINT AGNES with their neo psychedelic eardrum blasting rock: wonderful stuff!

An interesting development for the Society is that I am in discussion with the UMA (Unsigned Musicians Awards) who are mentoring up and coming acts and hosting regular gigs as platforms for these aspiring artists. I am trying to arrange that we can all attend these gigs for free and catch tomorrow’s embryonic Ed Sheerans and Adeles.

If you would like to join us, please contact either the Old Stoic Office or me directly at and I shall be delighted to include you in all of my updates.

Nigel Milne (Chandos 68)