Live at Jug & Barrel on Friday, 16th September 2005
If blues-rock is as close as you like to get to the blues and you like it revved-up and with the occasional touch of rowdiness, then a pretty positive forecast can be made for The Raindogs. They're straining at the leash with some admirable guitar playing from Andy Cope on lead, Tim Lyttle on rhythm/lead and band leader Simon Tipple on bass : that's an awful lot of leading and it can take you to drummer Mark Old (who's done music in the army, and the peripatetic teaching bit before settling here), or to frontman Johnny Graham, notable both as singer and irrepressible bopper. His solid, clear and well-toned voice expands a good song and he has plenty in reserve for when the heat is on. At the Jug and Barrel this five-piece produced a show with no evident need of a bigger line-up, but if I'd chosen a different gig there might have been the additional powers of keyboard whizz-kid Stuart Garden and harmonica wonderboy John Burr.
The band's choice of material shows class: from BB King to Curtis Mayfield by a route that includes numbers by or with the feel of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robben Ford, Eric Clapton, John Hyatt and Robert Cray. In some of these and elsewhere they demonstrated the skills to fully absorb some tricky licks while having the maturity to avoid over-using them; and it's worth saying that their own original material stands up well in the company it keeps. I had to come away from another musical event to get my little bit of the Raindogs, and I'm glad I did it.