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Songs of the Delta Blues

You know you’re in for a good night of music when the stage is lined with eight different guitars and there are only two guitar players in front of you.

Cal Williams Jr (pictured above) and Chris Finnen are two internationally acclaimed, multi-award-winning blues guitarists hailing from South Australia and coming together for the first time to present Songs of the Delta Blues, where they don’t so much replicate the blues of the Delta region in the US, but show the influence it’s had upon their own style of blues.

And though they’re playing Bukka White and Robert Johnson and Bessie Smith, one cannot help but think of the Allman Brothers Band or Led Zeppelin, even, and question where these bands would be without the Delta blues.

Korey Horwood is a brilliant accompanist on the upright base, adding a down-home, folkier aspect to some of the songs; in others, when he puts bow to string, he adds a bit of storytelling.

Cal Williams Jr plays a swampy bottle-neck slide guitar and there’s no getting out of the foot-kicking, knee-slapping, shoulder-swaying, head-shaking movement of his blues. But for me it is Finnen who steals the show. Oh how this English-born white man feels these black Afro-American blues! His high notes are insane and he is an absolute joy to watch, bringing a delicious energy to each song through his sheer physicality as well as his obvious musical mastery. As he said: “Music transcends age and culture. It doesn’t matter who you are; it just is.”

And so this show is for everyone out there who’s into the blues: the musos, the fans, the young and old. If you fall into that category, or any other, really, I urge you to get out to the Wheatsheaf Hotel on Sunday, March 1, and get there early because it’ll be standing room only. The March 15 date has been cancelled but the trio will make up for it at a later date, to be announced.

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