Witness-reports on:-

From 'Bop while you Shop'
to the Millennium Blues season.

IRAN vs. U.S.A.
Woolwich TJ's - 21/6/98


The Blues Collective first emerged blinking into the light with a series of four
'Bop while you Shop' gigs on Saturday afternoons in the gloriously sunny April of 1996
at Lewisham Labour Club (R.I.P.), promoted by Paul Panic.

I got to two of them, writes Ian (BJ Webzine Janitor), for strange breakfasts on that balcony outside the bar, with sundry Balloons, Brain Of Morbius and Baby Trio personnel, Frank O'Donnell and others ... Several families downstairs, refugees from consumerism fresh from the battlefields of Lewisham High Street offering Billy their shopping lists to sing as lyrics.
Plenty blues there.

The next sighting was another sunny Saturday afternoon that summer in a tent in some park off the South Circular for Lewisham People's Day. More homage to the King (the B*rger King) and a Harry Corbett-influenced 'Stormy Monday,' - "What's that Sweep? Tuesday's just as bad?" Sweep met a sticky end that day as I recall.

Then in December '97, blues instincts honed by too much squinting in daylight,
the Blues Collective ventured into the dark, into Woolwich, suited, tied and shaded,
ignoring the warnings of the coach-driver (played by Michael Ripper).
Two consecutive nights at TJ's, with Orbit Bay (Baby Trio as was, augmented) as improvising guests performing Bay of Orbs and Bay of Bits.

Wednesday 15th December 1999
TJ's, 2a Woolwich New Road, London SE18


Ain't nothing like the flu to give them blues an edge. Over the course of two sets Billy's voice took a tonal slide from Louis Armstrong pitch to Barry White territory. Dylan Bates on fiddle, Mike Pickering on drums, Thad Kelly on bass, half the audience on L*msip and the other half at home hiding from the weather.

So we got a couple of large 'Spoonful's, we had 'Fever,' a blast of Canned Heat to warm the room and a couple of moving tributes to Sir Cl*ff to warm our hearts. 'The Blues Prayer' was tastefully combined with the spirit of 'Abide with Me' - "Art Farmer who art in heaven ... deliver us from crappiness ... oh yeah!"

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