Last weekend marked the end of a ten year live performance hiatus of 'The Bluetonics', a blues band I was fortunate enough to be part of for a number of years. The band formed in 1998 out of a common love of blues music by each of its members - Peter Nessfield and myself on guitar/ vocals, Stewart McAllister on bass and Bruce Savage on drums.
Our repertoire drew from Chicago blues classics with songs from people like Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf as well as contemporary artists such as Stevie Ray Vaughan, Little Charlie & The Nightcats and Bondi Cigars. We also played a number of our own original songs which were written around the style of the band and always in the blues genre.
Our first performance was at The Swanbourne Hotel in April 1999. We shared the bill with a band called 'The Sleepy Jackson' which later went on to have international success. The Swanbourne Hotel had been one of the more popular live music venues during eighties pub band era and was sadly closed and demolished soon after our above show. Not sure if we had anything to do with it.
We played regularly over about a six year period around the usual traps in Perth and the South West of WA. Highlights for me were performances at Bridgetown Blues Festival in 2001, Ian Moss support also 2001, the first Araluen Blues Festival with 'Blue Shaddy Band' and regular spots at The Perth Blues Club at The Charles Hotel.
After six years and 134 gigs we decided to hang up our guitar plectrums and so performed our last show at The Parkerville Tavern in April 2004. Two years later we rose from the ashes and did the same again.
Fast forward about ten years to January 2017 and here we are again, this time playing at a private show on a property in Casuarina (not the prison). The guitar strings may be a bit rusty and there may be a little grey hair that has appeared since last time but in my opinion the band was firing on all cylinders and sounding better than ever, helped out with the addition of David How on harmonica to give us an even more authentic blues sound.
Playing the old tunes was just like riding a bike and it was a great night catching up with old friends. Looking forward to the next gig, if and when that may be who knows?
Below: The Bluetonics, January 2017.
Below: The Bluetonics, April 1999 at the Swanbourne Hotel (first ever show).