Sherman Robertson was the quality of artist needed to headline the weekend and he displayed the effortless class of the master as he dominated the auditorium with his own brand of Texas Blues. Wonderful guitar and that trademark slightly scratchy high vocal provide a distinctive sound. This actually was my first experience of seeing him live and I was thoroughly impressed by the man who served his musical apprenticeship with Clifton Chenier. An awesome UK based band of keys, drums and bass was totally at home with slow emotive or rocking blues and his class walkabout meeting and greeting as he went around the hall was a moment to die for. A consummate and first rate showman and entertainer and a thoroughly contented end of weekend crowd.
Blues in Britain Magazine November 2010
Sunday’s atmosphere was dominated by the lingering excitement of Jools’ arrival. However, Mr Boogie Woogie did have quite a hard act to follow.
Sherman Robertson took the stage by storm proving that guitars do indeed sing, playing a sensational set of blues-rock. His stage presence dominated the crowd and he rocked solid for over an hour and a half.
Robertson graced the stage in a shirt nearly as bright as his personality. The American guitarist got up close and personal, making the best use of his wireless guitar receiver. He dismounted the stage and took a walk along the front of the barrier to a barrage of waving hands to greet the man.
Sherman was clearly having a blast, as were the audience, who greeted him with a roar as he repeatedly asked if “we were alright”. We sure were, Mr Robertson.
BBC Cumbria Website By Guy Little (Sherman Robertson Supporting Jools Holland, Maryport 2008)
Just like on Friday the schedule would have a serious delay. But I didn't mind, neither did the crowd. By this I mean, everybody has someone who he admires musically. Someone you adore all the way. In my case it's Sherman Robertson, but not only for me because he is also the favourite of the Gaildorf Bluesfest. Also for this gig he was accompanied by the English rhythm section Blues Move, fantastic choice. 'Shake, Rattle and Roll' was Sherman's first song and I felt in a superior mood. Sherman brought his thing like he always does. Passionate and very powerfully, a real Texas blues tornado! With no compassion he drove his band to the limit. Sometimes powered, then again in a more easy way, but always full of passion. What a guitar player, what a singer, what a stage animal, this was enjoyment from start to finish. He even played two encores, one in duel with Deborah Coleman. And the crowd, well they went mad!
Bob at Bobtje Blues, August 2007 Newsletter.
Sherman Robertson, Support by Adam & Derek of “The Mustangs”, The Cellars, Eastney. 13th September 2006.
Tonight the Cellars, Eastney, played host to the husky-voiced-bluester that is Sherman Robertson, with support by Adam and Derek of “The Mustangs”.
Having achieved a full integration of back catalogue material, Adam and Derek played acoustic tracks from three Mustang albums including their ground-breaking new album “Split Decision.
We were treated to acoustic versions of “Turn the Lights Back On”, “Baby Oh Baby”, “I Can’t Let Go” and “Double-Headed Romeo”. The songs lost none of their energy or vigour, as Adam’s voice one moment soars, another it swoops; both a whisper and a holler, showcasing his vast vocal range.
Strikingly, the songs stand up in their own right; testament to their accomplished structure and melodies, enhanced by Adam’s sensitive guitar-playing and Derek’s tuneful, loose-lipped harp. Proof if ever it was needed that The Mustangs write songs that draw inspiration from the blues, but take it a step further.
Standout tracks included “Countryline Special”, performed as a tribute to Cyril Davies, and new Mustangs track “Taking My Water Upstairs” which, judging by its reception, is a definite for the next album.
With the crowd suitably warmed-up, Sherman Robertson took to the stage, with a full band including; Gary (guitar), Mr Jools (piano), Mike Hellier (drums) and Roger Inniss on bass.
Opening track “Victim or Circumstance” set the scene of what to expect; electrifying bursts of guitar, a tight nimble band merged with the soulful melodic quality of Sherman ’s voice.
Within a couple of progressions they started grooving like only a band with their experience can. The tracks “Salty Tears”, “Out of Sight Out of Mind”, “Home of the Blues” and “Make it Rain” came next, and Sherman had the audience firmly on side. He has a charismatic and energetic stage presence, and the remarkable ability to make each member of the audience feel as if he is singing to them alone. The broad smile never wavered from his face as he sang from the soulful depths of his heart and played rolling liquid lines from his telecaster.
During the track “Texas Cuties”, Sherman decided to get down and dirty with the audience by walking offstage and into the audience, prompting screams and whoops from the hyper-excited Eastney faithful. A lucky blonde was the focus of Sherman ’s attention during this song.
The remaining band members onstage really delivered the goods and were a tight solid unit. Sherman introduced the song “Long Way from Home”, by describing the unique set-up of the band. Sherman lives in the States whilst the other band-members are UK-based and they only come together on tour. This makes their tight-playing and harmonising even more credible and astounding.
The band completed their hour and half sweat-drenched set with the floor-stomping tracks “Linda Lou” and “Tin Pan Alley”.
I was lucky enough to grab Sherman after his blistering set, for a quick chat about tonight’s gig, and his new album “Guitar Man – Live”, recorded live at the Kwadendamme Blues Festival in 2005.
”The gig at Cellars tonight was fantastic!” he says, wiping his brow with the towel slung over his shoulders, “People were receptive and we really respond on that level. It’s supply and demand; if they want it, I’m going to give it to them”, he continues. “It’s a small venue, but intimate, but we have to perform like its 2,000 people. The stage is like the game of life; there is a struggle and you have to get over the hump and feel that you have achieved something – it’s the same in music.”
“My thing is to make people happy, and I see my concerts as a ‘gathering of happiness’, in a similar way as being a preacher - which was my original calling in life. I remember playing one gig last year and noticed a guy in the audience who looked really depressed with hunched shoulders; afterwards he came up to me and said how much he had enjoyed the concert, and those words meant more to me than having played in front of thousands of people”.
He goes on to talk about his current album and how the band have a emotional bond and spiritual bond, which translates to their performance on stage.
“Guitar Man was recorded live on tour last year, we played the studio-based tracks live and the record is the closest thing to experiencing our live gig. We put 110% into it and pushed it to the edge in terms of energy and passion. In the band, we try to bring a family feeling to things; we are souls that are plugged in and are trying to achieve the same thing. Although we live on different continents we are spiritually tied together until the next tour”.
Written by: Siane Daley
I've done the blues nights for almost five years now and I thought last night was the best one there's been. I've had time to reflect now and none of the others even came close! Thanks for a magnificent night!
Nick Westgarth, Penrith Blues Club Nov 05
“How ya feelin’ - did you get your groove on?” asked Sherman towards the end of this rewarding gig. We certainly did, and the singer and guitarist from Texas and his 4-piece band deserve credit for gradually building a superb atmosphere. Not that Sherman just played blues - there was a big helping of soul and rock in his set, and his guitar playing was sweet, mellow and subtle.
A number of the songs in Sherman’s set were from his latest album “Guitar Man - Live” - songs like “Make It Rain,” a slow lament about a woman who could invoke precipitation when there was not a cloud in the sky. In fact, many of the songs were on familiar blues territory - travelling on the road, troublesome women and so on, but Sherman’s stage presence, intense vocals and varied guitar work added a new dimension to the genre. A highlight of the set was when he left the stage to reappear amongst the audience still playing his guitar as he roamed around the venue a la Otis Grand. Another highlight was a charming song “Everybody Loves Somebody” which Sherman dedicated to his mother - “She’s only about 4’5” tall, she’s mean as hell, but she loves me!” quipped Sherman. Definitely the best blues performer I’ve seen this year, and a phenomenal band.
The Brook, Southampton - 23/11/05 from Playingoutloud.
I've seen some great artists in Penrith in the last few years but I've
got to say Sherman tops the lot, The man is a truly magnificent
guitarist - not that this is news to you.
And he really put himself out for the fans. I can't praise him highly
enough, for the value he gave to people. As for meandering through the
crowd, giving a close up show to everyone, even the woman sitting
outside at the table by the cloakroom...! And not a note missed at any
point. Great band, too.
Mark - Penrith Blues Club Nov 05
Not sure when you will pick up this message, but I just wanted to confirm how much we enjoyed the gig last night. I always like going to see good bands when I can as I always learn from it and get lots of ideas and inspiration from the way other people do things.
What particularly struck me on the night was the quality of everyone in the band, the tightness of the performance, and the empathy with the audience.
Sherman has a great voice and is a consummate guitarist and performer, but what stood out was his stage craft and the way he connects with people which was exceptional and something I can definitely learn from. Nice touch also with getting the young boy up on the stage and encouraging him.
Terry - Cranleigh Arts Centre Nov 05
Just wanted to say that Friday nights don't get any better than that! Listening to the album as I write, Wow what a performer and the band is really tight. Thanks to Sherman and the band for a great night.
JH Penrith Blues Nov 05
Just wanted to say that Blues Move did Sherman proud last night at the
Boom Boom (20th Nov). We were completely in awe of
Sherman and his mastery of the blues, I realise now how far the band and I
have yet to go to reach a true understanding of the blues after seeing him
perform. Well done mate, the Blues is safe in the hands of Sherman Robertson and BluesMove.
MB - Boom Boom Club Nov 05
I have been an avid follower of Sherman Robertson for a long time now and last night at the Boom Boom witnessed a man at the top of his game. I was shocked at how good he was and wanted to thank you for bringing him over and giving us the chance to see such a renowned and major talent, one of the best gigs I have seen.
RJ Boom Boom Club November 05
Sometimes in life the best things happen when you least expect it. And so it was that on a bitterly cold foggy night in November, and in the company of the incomparable bass player Roger Innis, Sherman Robertson was reborn as the vivacious blues rocker of old.
Well over a decade has past since Sherman announced his considerable talent to the world, and Europe in particular. Aside from cutting a brace of fine albums in the 90’s Sherman’s profile was further extended by his being featured in the Fender guitar anniversary film and book, projecting this passionate blues rocker to international fame.
Yet since those halcyon days things haven’t panned out as planned, and he all but disappeared from public view.
Eighteen or so months ago Sherman was suddenly back, playing an exhaustive itinerary but still with no new album in tow. Last May he came back to Europe again again, and was close to hitting the heights of yore, but last night’s show proved that he has shed his personal demons, and the smile and effortless guitar style has returned.
Together with his European tour band Blues Move, Sherman weaved his magic spell over an eager audience who by the end of the night were on their feet baying for an encore. At the close of the show Sherman went walkabout past the dressing room into the car park, reappearing at the back of the room, sneaking up on his audience with a tap on the shoulder - a great finale to a brilliant show.
Along the way he gave us Texas soul shuffles, full of real feel, undulating funk, and a slice of blues. Sherman’s beautiful guitar tone rang like a bell as bass player Innes provided sumptuous bass lines and drummer Mike Hellier gave rock solid support. Keyboard player Jools Grudgings has in the past been elevated to a front line instrument in the band, but last night he contented himself with tasteful fills as it was all about Sherman’s delightful guitar flurries and his passionate vibrato, never better illustrated than on the funky “Out of Sight Out of Mind”, and the tough shuffle “Guitar Man”
An extended version of “Tin Pan Alley” revealed all Sherman’s poise, delicacy and true blues feel. There are many great players on the live circuit but few have the intuitive feel and sheer ability of this King of Texan soul blues. This was nothing short of the rebirth of one of the most talented blues men of our times.
Pete Feenstra At The Boom Boom Club 20/11/05
Right from the very first note you knew you were in for something special. The band were 15 gigs into a 21 date tour of Germany, Belgium, Turkey, Denmark, Italy, Holland and Britain and well and truly bedded into a relaxed soul-blues groove with the confidence to stretch out and jam a bit. Sherman said they'd had fantastic crowds (well deserved on tonight's evidence) and proceeded to show just what an expressive performer he is, throwing that superb husky voice into each song and making you believe he meant every word - like OV Wright, James Carr and, more recently, Charles Walker. Great artists form a bond with their audiences who take them to their hearts and, believe me, this happened tonight. His guitar work was masterful, supernaturally gorgeous - there's no other way to describe it! 1001 influences but wholly and gloriously his own, sweet, cool, jazzy, tough and tender, it swung from start to finish, was never forced, just nice 'n' easy, the perfect way to relax towards the end of a working week. I've said it before, but doctors should prescribe this stuff. "Let me hear you say Yeah!" he sang and we sang it back at him, as if auditioning for his backing band. "I wanna talk to the ladies" he said and by golly his music was doing the business by the looks of 'em! It was great, all of it, from irresistible fast shuffles like "Shake, Rattle and Roll" and "Twenty-one Twice", slow-burning blues ("Dust My Broom", "Haven't Got A Clue", "Am I Losing You?", "Victim of Circumstance" and "Find A Way To Make It Rain" were all spellbinding), funked-up swingy things like "Special Kind of Loving" and the barrelhouse "Texas Cutie", the menacing urban blues of "Tin Pan Alley", boogie, Louisiana rumba ... and so on, you couldn't fault a damn thing! Sherman is a generous bandleader and brought a wonderful performance out of Blues Move, swirling keyboards adding bags of atmosphere and the funkiest backline we've had this year. Points? A perfect 10.
Dave Kingsbury - Running Horse Thursday 12 May 05
The best thing about the closing day was the welcome and long overdue return of Sherman Robertson also, we were shocked to learn, back after cancer treatment. Seemingly a little disappointed at having an afternoon spot (though, in fact, this was merely the result of his late booking), he obviously decided to go for the grandstand and gave possibly the best performance I've seen him give - which is really saying something. From staples like 'Tin Pan Alley', through soul blues ('Special Kind Of Love' and 'Make It Rain') and vicious axe-slinging in 'These Things Keep Happening' and 'Let Me Drive Your Automobile', he gave them the lot and they (and I) loved it all. So good to see him back and, with a bit more new stuff, he really ought to be up there giving the big guys a run for their money.
Brian L Smith - Songbook Magazine
... I was sitting with The Bros Os again and we were looking forward to seeing the final band for that night Sherman Robertson. Now I have seen this Texan before both here in the Kings, Newport many years ago, Hastings Blues Festival some years ago but then also in BB King's club in Memphis when Blues Trailing America with friends. I was looking forward to seeing him again. His British pickup band was BluesMove. What an excellent choice - they were cracking! Sherman was in dark grey slacks and "T" shirt and white Panama hat and the sexiest black cowboy boots with silver tipped toe pieces! He strode defiantly about the stage fixed the audience with those piercing eyes of his and laughed and smiled wining us over in no short order. He even brought Little George back for a fine harp/guitar duet. Most memorable songs with beautiful guitar soloing were "Looking up at the Bottom" and "Make it Rain". Shake Rattle and Roll" was a great audience participation number. But before you knew it - it was all over. A great show man with a great set of lads backing him in the form of BlesMove. Never mind I thought, I'll see them again when they play Ebbw Vale later that month - but I was wrong and in for a surprise.
...During this quiet period sitting on the side lines as the sun was getting ferociously hot I spotted Sherman R. wandering around. Thought he would be miles down the road by now but no - he spotted me and we talked for a while and that's when I discovered that he and BluesMove were staying on and doing another gig at the end of the afternoon as an addition to the programme! WOW!
...Next up was, of course, Sherman and BluesMove - again! The opening bars - just had your spine tingling and you knew you were in for the business. He attacked the music and audience simultaneously felling riffs and runs and people in general with stunning showmanship and with those hard stares he holds their attention just as your old headmaster could. Then he diffuses the situation immediately with that grin and asks you "Do you want to hear some Blues". He is left in no doubt that we DO! Despite aching feet and hunger pangs I danced away the remainder of the afternoon with the others in front of the stage. I bopped till I dropped to another juicy set of Blues tunes - some familiar from the previous evenings set and a few others thrown in for good measure for today's audience. It was an extra treat much appreciated and that was almost the festival over - except for the last night acoustic set.
Diane Gillard, Bluesmatters 24 Feb/March 05
A newish venue as far as Blues is concerned is the wonderful High Barn in Great Bardfield, nr Braintree in the North of the county. Here Richard Pavitt has been working with the High Barn folk to put on some top class gigs in top class surroundings. High Barn is an 800 year old timber barn which has clearly had a load of money spent on it and now has a superb sound system, great lights, smoke machine etc. together with a first class recording studio. They also serve really good food so you can eat as you enjoy your Blues.
I was fortunate enough to catch two of the excellent gigs here during 2004. The first was Sherman Robertson with Blues Move, the band which features my good friend Mike Hellier on drums and is a top class band in their own right. I had heard much of Sherman, the man who played for five years with zydeco giant, Clifton Chenier and who Paul Simon chose when he needed a guitar player to add some sounds to his “Graceland” album. Soon after this, legendary British producer Mike Vernon (John Mayall's Bluebreakers with Eric Clapton, Freddie King, Fleetwood Mac, David Bowie and many many more) signed Robertson to Atlantic Records. Robertson's first solo recording, “I'm The Man”, was nominated for a W.C. Handy Award.
He strode on stage and from the word go set the place alight! He was obviously having a ball and you really would not have thought this was only the fourth gig he had played on this tour with the band, but then Blues Move are a top class band who are nowhere near as well known as they should be. During the second set, Sherman was joined by the young virtuoso, Matt Schofield for a couple of numbers and a hot evening became tropical. A fabulous evening at a great venue watching some superb musicians. It does not get better!
Indeed, I was lucky enough to catch Blues Move in their own right as it were at the Retreat in Bocking, their first Essex gig I believe. The handful of people who turned up were treated to a stunningly good evening from these four super musicians, Howard Smith on guitar & vocals who, even on the Retreat’s tiny stage, still managed a good Wilko Johnson style stage walkabout, Julian Grudgings on keyboards who is nothing short of brilliant, the amazing Roger Inniss with his big six string bass from which he produces the most wonderful sound and, at times, plays as if it were a lead guitar.
I find Roger mesmerising to watch, I have seen him a number of times and I reckon he has to be up there among the top UK bass players at the moment. And, of course my good friend Mike Hellier on drums, about whom I must measure my comments for fear of further accusations of favouritism. If ever you wanted to demonstrate how important a drummer is in any band, take Mike as your example. You have only to watch him to realise how fit drummers need to be, how important they are to the rest of the band and how they influence the whole performance. And Mike is good, damn good!
Phoenix FM's Digital Blues Presenter, Ashwyn Smyth
By now I was a tad hungry so went and had a bite to eat and a cuppa and prepare myself for what was going to be my favourite act of the day - Sherman Robertson! On arrival back at The Muni friends Meryl and Dawn waylaid me to ask if I had seen the amazing Delta Moon. On my confession to having missed them they gave me a severe talking to and went on raving about them as they were also to do when I did the very same thing later when I missed the fabulous Sharrie Williams and the Wiseguys!!!
Sherman and BluesMove came on and soon the whole atmosphere was electric and I forgot my aching body - feet and knee especially. I had, by then, seen Sherman and the boys four times on this tour! I could have happily gone to every concert given the chance. Like Mr. Kipling's cakes he is exceedingly GOOD! Leaner and meaner and playing fantastic low down, groin grinding Blues - just the way I like it he performed to perfection that afternoon. The Swansea girls up in the balcony were totally enamoured by his performance. Once again his magnificent vocals coupled with sensitive guitar work along with that of BluesMove as a brilliant backing band played the classics and wrung every emotion from the audience and me in particular. Some of it was spine tingling and exciting and then again there were moments of great rocking fun as with "We're Gonna Shake Rattle and Roll". I swayed, danced and rocked my way all through the set.
Monday night saw the appearance of Sherman Robertson and BluesMove. Now this was blues. We are always asking ourselves "is it Blues?", the usual answer is, I don't know, but I like it, here the answer was "yes and I love it". This is a group of big men and they make a big sound. Sherman plays lead guitar interspersing riffs with his own powerful singing Here's a man who likes an audience, chatting with us, playing with us, even walking amongst us doing that wireless guitar trick. Standing on stage at the beginning in his palm tree T-shirt, he said that he was "going to take the roof off," and I reckon he did. BluesMove is Howard Smith: rhythm guitar, "Bugsy" Moloney: bass, "Jools" Grudgings: keyboards, and Mike Hellier: drums. Sherman is said to be "a young master of zydeco, hard-swinging Texas electric blues, R&B and swampy Louisiana blues." Well, I wouldn't know about that but he certainly gave a fitting performance to end the 20th anniversary with great renditions of "Singing the Blues All Day", "Fall In Love", "Texas Beauty" and even "Shake Rattle and Roll". He had us all dancing. I even danced with my wife! In the second half he was joined by award winning guest drummer Sam Kelly and guitarist Matt Schofield. This combination of players was great too, like a jam but top-notch stuff. The blinding guitar playing of Matt backed by Sherman, Sam and the band was a fitting peak to a glorious two-day event.
Final act of the night was Sherman Robertson with, for this night only, Gary Shaw standing in. Support was well and truly provided by the excellent UK band BluesMove. Showing no after effects of being at the end of a 40-night tour, they were as tight as you can get. Sherman Roberson exudes star quality to such an extent that when he tells the lady in pink to "get that coat off and come and dance on the stage", you know exactly what she's going to do! For fans of the great man, myself included, this appearance ended a long wait for Sherman to tour again on this side of the Atlantic.
East Grange Loft is well off the beaten track in Forres, an hour from Inverness, and it might seem an unlikely place to find Louisiana-born Sherman Robertson, but his consummate professionalism and warm, energetic personality made this venue his, within minutes of appearing on stage. Sherman was ably backed by the excellent BluesMove, now tighter than ever, who had just performed an excellent set of largely their own material, fronted by Howard Smith, himself no mean guitarist and singer. Like Sherman, Howard gives every ounce of energy to both playing and singing.
Sherman acted and sung his way through some very varied original songs, establishing his authority over the band from the start, demanding the same total concentration as he naturally seems to give. As he said to the audience "I'm not easy to work for but I just want it to be right for you." Rest assured it was. Every riff, chord, change of tempo and dynamics, intros, outros, wherever he led, BluesMove were right there behind him. I really hope this band will become the band of choice for visiting artists because they are obviously ready for it.
Sherman displayed equal mastery as both singer, and guitarist. His singing reminded me of Freddie, Albert and BB King, married to early James Brown, but in the end he is completely his own man, convincing humorous and soulful. He talks and plays directly to people, sometimes literally when he walks the room, and he is able to incorporate improvised local comment into his performance in a totally infectious and natural manner. A physical performer, he acts out the lyrics so that one minute he is flapping his arms while the next he is dancing from side to side as he sings "talking, talking, talking, talking" - at break neck speed. At one point in mid-song he gave an immediately recognisable impression of our flustered venue owner, depicting a man running round on the spot, simultaneously advising him in a folksy manner to "Stand still in the same spot where your father stood!" He achieves whatever vocal sound he goes for, always in perfect expression of the lyrics. In short, he is a master. His guitar solos and fills are equally accomplished and heartfelt, whether he is building layers of emotional responses to a poignant story, or confidently spitting out fiery phrases in some up-tempo rocker. He led the band in an inspiring way. His musical asides with keyboardist, Julian Grudgings brought out some excellent Hammond and piano solos, and similarly he induced Howard Smith to play some wonderful up-front guitar. Drummer Mike Hellier has got to be one of the best on the circuit. He drives the band with his impeccable timing and obviously pleased Sherman with his lightning response to his signals and his ability to always find the right tempo. Bass player John Maloney also proved very capable and held his own, completely unfazed by anything that Sherman threw at him.
A great gig, a marvellous venue, outstanding music, and only an hour and a half's drive home to the highlands.
Jon Hall - East Grange Loft, Forres, Scotland 20/8/04 (From Blues in Britain Magazine)
As can be seen from the enthusiastic response on the Contacts page, this
gig was an absolute belter. First up, Donnie Johnson and Tim Disney delivered
a powerful set of harp and guitar blues, with both in fine voice and playing
superbly. The Howard Smith fronted Blues Move did a couple by themselves,
performing with a drive that boded well. Sherman took to the stage to
great applause. He didn't get far, though, before gremlins attacked the sound.
Never mind, he promised us we were in for a good night and he wasn't
kidding. The sound was soon sorted and we were treated to a masterclass in
Louisiana and Texas blues which could have gone on all night as far as the
audience was concerned. Sherman's soul-drenched vocals were delivered with
passionate intensity, his beautifully fluid guitar playing made your hair
stand on end and he brought out the best in the band - wonderful rhythm
guitar from Howard, Julian magnificent on keyboards, the rhythm section
tight as a duck's derriere. The real test of a blues band is how they
handle the slow stuff and there were two numbers that simply smouldered. First
gig of the tour, huh? They're gonna be one hell of an outfit by the end. Get
your tickets early for the return gig in September when the CD they
recorded tonight will hopefully be on sale. Will the pleasure never end?
Dave Kingsbury Running Horse Review 29 July 2004
I finally walked out of my flat at about half past nine on a Thursday
evening and just started walking. I needed to walk. I wandered aimlessly,
not sure of my own mind or what to do. Someone big was on at the Runner,
but wouldn't it look a bit odd, turning up late, alone? A number 59 bus
cruised down Mansfield Road, I hopped on.
I hopped off, randomly, somewhere near the Royal Centre. Tired and
exhausted my feet took me up Derby Road, I don't even remember walking there. The
familiar figure of Barry greeted my weary soul at the door, like St Peter
at the pearly gates, he ushered me in promising a good gig.
The bar was packed. All faces turned towards the stage. A guy on the
stage, in a white hat, playing, singing. But first things first, coat off, beer,
look round. A couple of friendly faces have been spied. I slip between the
pressing crowds to stand between my friends
and got blown away.
I know you've heard me say that before on these pages. But this time was
different. I was absorbed, I was taken away from everything else. We all
were. I was over-tired, hungry, but I didn't want to miss any of this
performance, that I'd walked into quite by chance. I find it hard to still
the mind and become absorbed, yet I was only one of a crowd of people with
their heads nodding in agreement to the lyrics and bodies moving to the
music. There was no politics, no talking, just a sea of rapt faces turned
towards the stage. I haven't heard a lot of blues before and what I did
hear I didn't really get. But for some pain, deep aching real pain, when you've
lost your hope and your heart, only the blues will do. And thats what we
Let me set the scene a bit. Sherman is a big man, pencil thin moustache,
high-waisted trousers, shiny silver tipped cowboy boots. All on the stage
were wearing cowboy boots, which is usually a good sign. Keyboards to the
right and, to his left I am informed, Howard, whose black shirt was
dripping by the end of the night has .
There was a chap with a fine selection of cameras snapping around the
players feet and Sherman played up wonderfully making faces and striking
poses for the camera. Part of Sherman's great charm is the way he includes
the audience in his performance. Making eye contact with each and every
person in the room, working the stage and at the end of the night walking
out to play right in the centre of the room where the girls were dancing,
with a guy creeping behind him fearfully doling out cable.
And the banter. He connected with us. He shouted across the room for a
drink from the bar, he told us stories. It started to rain outside and he told
us a story that 'where I come from, if it starts to rain when you are
playing, its thought of as a blessing'.
Eventually, it got a bit too warm, I was fading in and out, so I went out
for some fresh air. And indeed it was belting it down with rain, in the
quiet and dark of the night, with the clean smell of rain I pondered what
to do while my feet made their way to the chip shop. Bed and home were
tempting, but I knew I'd regret it for a long time if I didn't catch the
rest of that performance. So after a good dose of weather and some warm
food, back we go.
Water dripped off my hair onto the back of my neck. The rain hadn't soaked
me, just the top layer of hair. The rain was dripping off my hair long
after I would have thought it would have dried, especially with the frequent
running of hand through it that I was doing to stop the cold dripping on
my back. It was only way later that someone pointed out that it was moisture
dripping from the over-worked air conditioning. We stood and we watched
the band, people danced, all were entranced.
When Sherman finally left the stage, the crowd gave an enthusiastic and
heartfelt applause as our ringmaster took to the stage and thanked the
performers and crew. We had a much appreciated encore. Amongst great
applause and back-patting the band slipped away through the crowd. Some
who went home, some stayed to put the worlds to rights, finally walking home
in the early morning through warm, rain scented streets.
Running Horse Review 29 July 2004
I have to admit that this was a much anticipated show for me: one of America`s finest contemporary blues guitarists backed by one of the UK`s best contemporary blues bands.
Bluesmove warmed up themselves and the healthy crowd with three numbers, If Love Was A Train, Get Out Of Jail and Slow Train, with Howard Smith on sparkling guitar and vocal form on the bookend tracks and Julian Grudgings leading on the sandwich filler.
And without further ado Sherman Robertson was up there with them. He`s originally from Louisiana but is now resident in Houston, Texas. His guitar sound and songs represent both and much more besides.
From the opening Guitar Man, you know you are in the company of greatness – and he knows he is in the company of a well above average pick up band. It is the last of three shows that also included appearances in Newcastle and headlining the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival, and it is obvious that everyone on stage is more than happy with the outcome. Outta Sight, Outta Mind keeps things moving nicely, and once you have marvelled at Sherman`s guitar playing (on a magnificent old Gibson) you can appreciate what a fine voice he has too. The usual blues motifs of longing (Driving All Night), depression (I Wonder Why) and rejection (Am I Losing You) are all handled in a fresh way with depth of song, skillful playing and Sherman giving the band plenty of opportunity to contribute and shine over and above the call of duty. Drummer Mike Hellier would say later that this is the band he has waited all his life to play with, as he and bassist Bugsy build the solid foundation from which this mighty sound can be built.
Home Of The Blues is joyous; Me & My Guitar, a thrill and Let`s Go To Texas…it makes you want to do just that. The set closes with Fall In Love but you know there`s more to come. Mama Told Papa is pure ZZ Top Texan boogie (At the soundcheck it made me feel instantly intoxicated!). The crowd responds accordingly knowing that, apart from everything else, Sherman has been on stage for far longer than anticipated – over 2 hours. The final song, Looking Up at The Bottom, is about as inaccurate a song title as you could get. Sherman Robertson looks out from the top at one of the truly great Lemon Tree gigs in recent years..
As a postscript: Sherman may have been staying in a hotel but he still came back to Chris` House of Blues after the show to socialise with his new European band. I disappeared in the wee small hours but for all I know he may have stayed there all night.
The groundwork has been done. Expect a full European tour next summer. Sherman Robertson and Bluesmove is a mighty powerful combination.
Chris Simmonds (Scots Blues News)
QUOTES FROM PROMOTERS
“Sherman Robertson’s live shows are the most spellbinding musical experience I’ve ever witnessed since Luther Allison. The perfect blend of blues, soul and rock delivered with unparalleled passion.”
Steve Walbridge, Pioneer Valley Blues Festival
“Robertson put on the best set of the 1997 King Biscuit festival. Sparks were flying. It was great entertainment. I would recommend Sherman most highly, not only for his professionalism but also for his love of the music, which comes through very clearly.”
Jerry Pillow, music director King Biscuit Blues Festival
Had a blast when this fabulous musician was in Paris.
Ended up dancing on stage. He's funny, sexy, and good.
Go hear him play! Have a good time!
Susan Chadwick, art critic/writer, Houston TX.
QUOTES FROM GIG GOERS
“Better than having Eric Clapton playing for you in your front room!”
“Best since Hendrix in the 60’s”
“The whole thing was fantastic – I could have listened to the music all night”
“Can’t believe it – getting the best Blues act in the world to come and play for your mates!”
“It was a great experience – even if our ears are still ringing!!”
“This guy is sensational – where did you find out about him?”
“Fantastic evening in every way”
“After the way Dave had described a Sherman performance, my expectations were very high but even these were exceeded”
“Muchos Gracias. AWESOME!!” (Friends who came over from Spain!)
“Never seen guitar playing like that before”
“The experience of a lifetime”
“I’m going to play the CD all night until I go to school tomorrow” (One of our younger guests)
“World class drumming”
“The solo on ‘Am I losing you’ was out of this world”
“One of highlights for me was when Sherman introduced the band and then proceeded to kick the absolute s**t out of the guitar!”
“My wife has become a follower and is playing loud renderings of Sherman music! She wants to know if he is coming to the New Year’s Eve party!”