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Concert Review by Nick Morgan
 
PAUL LAMB AND THE KING SNAKES The Borderline, London, June 17th 2006
Left to right, Paul Lamb, Raul de Pedro Marinero, Ryan Lamb and Chad Strentz
I couldn’t help thinking that ‘the best blues band in Britain’ somehow deserved a little better. I mean I know it’s summer, it’s hot British barbecue bedlam time (“mmm…like those rare chicken ribs Dad…”), people are saving up for their holidays, there’s football on the TV every night and in about a week’s time Festival Frenzy grips London, with it appears just about every public space available in the City being used for day or evening events. But even so that’s no excuse for an audience of around twenty, miserably failing to make the Borderline look anything other than empty. Now when I first saw Paul Lamb and the King Snakes, in one of those forgotten and very dirty Edinburgh Masonic Halls that only comes to life for a few weeks each September, the place was buzzing. Everyone had come to see the blues band that had won more awards than any other blues band, the blues harmonica player who had won more awards than any other blues harmonica player, and the blues guitarist who’d won more awards than any other blues guitarist.

Jimmy Hill
Well it’s been a few years since the last plaudits rained down on the King Snakes. Paul Lamb is still fronting them up, playing his remarkably full sounding ‘urban’ or Chicago style of harp, switching deftly (and often mid-song) between harps and chromatic harmonicas. He’s still a great showman (‘though it does lack a bit of conviction in front of such a small audience), but I have to observe that age has not served him well, and the alarming resemblance that he now bears to former TV football pundit Jimmy Hill sits uneasily with his reputation as a bluester. Sadly Whitehill has gone – now that’s not to underrate the performance of lead guitarist Raul de Pedro Marinero, whose T Bone Walker style licks were worthy of any stage, or ‘guest’ guitarist Ryan Lamb (almost a flock then) who added a hard British Blues edge to the band when he joined them.
It’s just that Whitehill was pretty remarkable (you’d have to be a guitarist to understand, but just how he played like he did with such stubby fingers I shall never know) – I swear that when I saw him if you’d shut your eyes you might have thought it was Peter Green.
So in short the King Snakes seem to have lost a bit of edge over the years, and also gained a bit of a novelty act feel – not to be encouraged – don’t go there boys. But even with twenty of us in the Borderline they belted out a raucous set and did their best to act as Ambassadors for the Blues. And as I’m sure I’ve observed before, if it wasn’t for bands like them, where would the Blues be? - Nick Morgan (concert photographs by Kate)



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