The first week of January is always a tough one. What better way to get through it than by embracing the Blues wholeheartedly?
Not all blues are bad; sometimes the blues can be cathartic and uplifting and that was just what I was looking for on a bitterly cold Thursday night this week.
My Dad and I were planning on meeting up for the first time in the new year. I suggested that we headed to The Platform Tavern as they had a live show from an American Blues / Country / Roots / Jazz / Bloody good singer named Jim Almand.
I picked my Dad up and he had his blue suede shoes on, so I knew he was looking forward to our outing. I love The Platform Tavern. It’s a small, warm and cosy bolt hole in which to escape from the world. It’s an assault on the senses as you walk in; the lighting is low, candles and a fire are burning, music drifts through the air and everywhere you look there is stuff. There are pictures, posters and wall-hangings adorning every inch of spare wall and odds and ends are strategically placed to make the place feel like a lived-in, much-loved home. I think one of the reasons that I love it so much is that it takes me back to being in my Nan and Granddad’s living room. That’s not to say their house looked exactly like that, it’s more that The Platform recalls the atmosphere of their busy homestead.
If you haven’t been to The Platform, I suggest that you plan your visit now: http://www.platformtavern.com
When we arrived, it was quite busy and seats were limited. There were some spare ones sharing a table with two gents so we approached and asked if we may use the space. Of course the other patrons were more than happy to share the table; it’s that sort of pub.
We chatted and then Jim started playing. I knew immediately that this was the type of music both Dad and I would love. Jim’s deep, soulful, voice filled the air as he walked his fingers up and down that six-string like he was playing just for fun. Then the ‘Louisiana squeeze-box’, as Jim called it, came into play. Man, I love a harmonica and Jim had handfuls of the things ready to switch up between songs. A harmonica can tear at the heartstrings that you didn’t even know you had.
Pretty soon Jim was joined by a buddy called Randy who played the mandolin like a demon. Together, they played for over two hours, running through a back catalogue of Jim’s own songs and covers of more familiar songs with a Blues / Americana twist. It was a fantastic evening of the highest quality music. They made everything look easy and they seemed to be having a ball the whole time. And I know we certainly were.
You should check out Jim here: http://www.jimalmand.com
Just before the end, another guy, a huge mountain of a man who’s a regular at The Platform and sings occasionally, joined them for some songs. He was given one of the many harmonicas and proceeded to accompany the guitar and mandolin with some of the finest, wailing harmonica I’ve heard in a long time. You could hear the emotion and the pain in every note. You would never guess that they had only just met.
I love the fact that this sort of thing happens at The Platform. You never know what music you’re going to get or who you’re going to see play there. But you do know that whoever it is that plays live music, they’re going to be a quality performer and you’ll leave in a better mood than when you arrived.
And isn’t that what we all need for the January Blues?