When you think of the country South Africa, blues music may not be the first thought that comes to mind. The blues is synonymous with areas of America and areas such as the Mississippi Delta, Texas, Chicaco, & New Orleans and of course the British blues of Clapton, Page & Plant.
When thinking of blues musicians, names that immediately spring to mind are Rory Gallagher, B.B.King, Eric Clapton, Robert Johnson, Howling Wolf, Muddy Waters, Son House, John Lee Hooker, T-Bone Walker, Freddie King, Albert King, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jimi Hendrix, Joe Bonamassa, and many others.
Dan Patlansky may not be a name that rolls of the tongue when waxing lyrical about the blues and to my astonishment, Patlansky is only a relatively recent discovery for me. However, Dan Patlansky is a name that you should firmly plant into your blues vocabulary.
Not a natural hotbed for the blues, it makes you wonder how South African born Patlansky came to be a lover on the genre. It was his parents that planted the seed, and Dan grew up listening to the blues greats such as Stevie Ray Vaughn and Jimi Hendrix.
Patlanskys influences are abundantly obvious all over his work and whilst listening to his back catalogue in preparation for this gig I could hear many a great guitar slinger in his material. If anyone was unknowing that I was listening to Patlansky, you would forgive them for thinking I was listening to the aforementioned Vaughn, Hendrix, or B.B King.
This is not to say the Dan Patlansky is a copycat blues player without a style of his own, far from it. Over the course of his 8 albums Dan has developed a style of his own and whilst still soaked in the greats, there is no denying that the South African is standing on his own two feet and making his way all by himself.
When arriving at the Venue in the heart of Islington, there was already a long queue to get in and this wasn’t even 7pm, Patlansky wasn’t even on until 8:30pm. This was because the knowledgeable crowd knew there was something else special on the bill, young British blues guitarist Ash Wilson.
Although Wilson has only recently released his debut album ‘Broken Machine’ it has been received and reviewed with critical acclaim from industry greats and Ash is causing a real buzz on the scene.
7:30pm is upon us and queue Wilson, entering the stage wearing his already trademark jacket and scarf ensemble. From song one ‘Show Me How to Love You’ to the last, ash ripped through songs from his debut album and commanded the stage with such authority and presence that you would have thought he has been doing this for decades. Ash was so comfortable and at ease, even with the close proximity of the crowd and very intimate nature of the venue. Ash admits that he was slightly late arriving at the venue as it was a hard place to find, but hey no biggie, he states, we’re professionals. Ripping through blues riffs and searing solos it’s clear that Wilson truly loves what he does. This energy, passion and enthusiasm translated to the ever appreciative audience and they were living the moment just as much as Ash. Ash Wilson came across as such a genuine, lovely and down to earth bloke with nothing to prove even in this early stage of his career. Ash interacted with the crowd like a seasoned pro and the little time he had to play was clearly not enough for him or the fans as they truly warmed to the British guitarist. Did I say that Dan Patlansky was a name to firmly implant into your blues vocabulary? Yes I did and now I’m telling you to ad Ash Wilson too.
Blues music is usually about heartaches, breakups, deaths and is generally a depressing subject. ‘Words of a Woman’ is such a song and Wilson recalls a story about watching a break up that inspired the song. ‘Words of a Woman’ is a beautifully tragic song and showcases Wilson’s pure and soft vocals as well as his clear & undoubted talent as a songwriter. ‘Words’ takes you on a rollercoaster of an emotional journey and the goose bump inducing Bonamassa esque solo at the ends finishes the song and sadly the relationship just perfectly. Well done Ash, a truly stunning, although beautifully tragic song.
Ash left the stage to rapturous applause and this only heightened the excitement of what was to come, the is the moment we had all been waiting for, Dan Patlansky.
Two hours of in your face, mind bending blues rock ensued and Patlansky played his heart out to a packed and sold out audience.
Patlansky and his backing band have only been together for a month for this tour but you would have thought they have been together for several years. The band are such a tight unit and one comment I heard compared them to being ‘As tight as a ducks ar*e!’
The three lads behind Patlansky are from Hamburg, Germany and go by the names of: Felix Dehmel – Drums, Jonathan Murphy – Bass, Tom Gatza – Keyboards & Vocals. Yeah, Germany is also not a name synonymous with the blues.
The band were having as much fun as Patlansky and the constant interaction between Felix and Tom was infectious and I had as much fun watching them as I did Dan.
What more can I say…I was truly blown away by Dan Patlansky and the sheer genius of his guitar playing. Patlansky seamlessly blends the guitar greats of old and well as the new and I hear shades of John Mayer in his playing as well as his Stevie Ray Vaughn style, gruff, husky and smokey vocals.
“That bloke never ceases to amaze me, he gets better and better every time I see him” was a comment that came my way after the show.
This was my first experience of Dan Patlansky live and as well as DP comes across on his albums, nothing compares to seeing the South African bluesman live. Keep an eye out for this guy and get to a show where you can, your head will truly spin! I don’t know who was more worn out, Dan after being on stage for a good 2 hours solid or myself just listening to the man. I had to stick my head under a cold tap to bring myself back to reality and I still could not comprehend what I just witnessed.
Do yourself a favour and become familiar with these two! Ash Wilson & Dan Patlansky!
Photos and words by Richard Bolwell