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James Walbourne and Carwyn Ellis, The Boogaloo, Highgate, January 10th 2010

January 12, 2010

My friends know that I can get obsessed about certain artists (chief among them being Neil Young) and young guitarist James Walbourne is one such talent. I’ve seen him in a host of different bands (Royal Gun, Peter Bruntnell Band, Son Volt, The Pernice Brothers, The Walbourne Brothers, The Pogues and The Pretenders) and have tracked down obscure MySpace-only tracks to download. Rest assured I draw the line well before the stalking stage…

James Walbourne


Anyway, James is back on his old stamping-ground, North London, and has a Sunday night residency at the Boogaloo this month. This first night was sparsely attended, although the excellent jukebox and the Newcastle Brown warmed things up nicely.

James was accompanied by Carwyn Ellis, fine guitarist and frontman for up-and-coming Welsh band Colorama, and the two of them launched into a blistering set of mainly old blues standards (Jimmy Reed, Albert Lee, Mississippi John Hurt) and a lovely – if unexpected – I’m Your Puppet.

The irritating noise-limiter was glanced at nervously each time the volume increased, but it didn’t dampen James’s fabulous solos, soulful singing and a twitchy stomping leg that almost rivals Neil Young at his most spasmically energetic. He has a huge range of styles, from moody thrumming, r’n’b chopping, slide and soloing, but he wears his talent casually. At no time do you feel he’s showing off – everything is just right, which is how it should be. I’ll be back for more next week.

There are no YouTube links that do James justice, but for all the guitar buffs out there, here’s a pic of his lovely Creston Gold B-bender

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