I must confess to not having heard of you before the Rhythm Festival this year, but I enjoyed your concert so much that I thought you might appreciate the support. I loved everything you did, the band was just right, you have a lovely balance and sound, and Linda Hall is beautiful ! I've since bought a couple of your C.D.s and am really enjoying them. I'll try and catch another of your concerts if I can, so please don't change a thing - you're the real deal Richie ! Keep it going man !
Phil B*** (Isle of Man)
100 Club, London
Recent Indigo signing. Richie Milton and his band, The Lowdown, onto the stage of the 100 Club, resplendent in his dusty pink jacket and shades, his guitar hung on a huge strap. The evening was to celebrate the launch of his new album, Coming Back Far More.
After that, it was 'Straight Ahead, No Stopping', to quote the title of the earlier album re-released by Indigo. The set included a wealth of Richie's own excellent material and some fresh takes on great standards. The first four included "Dressed to Kill", which he was, and "Money's Getting Cheaper". Then on came the lovely Linda Hall. Slender, long black crinkle cut hair and honey skin she has a voice like a bell and the set went up another notch. Starting with "Don't Mess With My Man", the numbers included a lovely arrangement of "Fever" with a great guitar solo from Richie and a trumpet solo from the excellent Dick Hanson. "It's Getting Harder" was dedicated to Judge Dread who had died suddenly, a short time before. Former Animal, Dave Rowberry on keyboards had the solo on "Gotta Getcha Offa Ma Mind", as I wrote it in my notes. The set ended with a mixture of "How Sweet It Is" and "1234 56789", demonstrating the band's soul roots, and sweet it was!
The second set started with the instrumental "Peter Gunn". After "Straight Ahead, No Stopping", Ms Hall came back to do the vocals on "Dancing In The Street". Among the familiar songs, were "Something You've Got", "Early In The Morning". "Sweet Home Chicago", which the audience. catching the band's enthusiasm, sang along to very well, and "Hit The Road Jack" which had the excellent Mr. Rowberry again doing the honours. "Funny How Time Slips Away" announced the end of the set but there was a little time left for the encores. An excellent evening!-
Painswick Blues Club
This was the first performance of Richie Milton at the Painswick Blues Club, and by all accounts it won’t be the last. A good crowd of both regulars and newcomers alike graced the venue once again, and were entertained, surprised even, by the polished professionalism of this group of seasoned musicians.
The Painswick centre, on a somewhat dark and gloomy English February evening, is fairly stark, fairly cold and, it has to be said, dubiously uninviting "village hall". Only the warm and courteous greeting from Paul and Barbara (whose brainchild and labour of love, the Painswick Blues Club is), gave a hint that this was merely a temporary state of affairs. By the time the first visitors filtered into the hall, it had been quite miraculously transformed. A clever approach to the layout of the candlelit tables, the shadow lighting of the arched, beamed ceiling, and dare it be said, the opening of the bar, created an atmosphere of agreeable ambience. And with the additional colour, both audible and visual, emanating from the stage, as Richie Milton & the Lowdown turned on the power, the picture was complete.
The first couple of numbers were received with an appreciative expectancy, and in no time at all, with people still arriving, the dance floor began to fill. And it stayed that way until the lights went up at the end of the evening.
Richie describes his show as a 'good time rhythm & blues revue', and it was soon clear that this message was getting through, as the band announced their arrival with soul determination.
Their live shows invariably include a mix of R&B 'standards', interspersed with Richie's own compositions. On 'Don't Mess With My Man', if the dancers weren't exactly stopped in their tracks, they certainly had their heads turned, when the keyboards of Dave Lennox burst to the fore, with a solo which was impossible to ignore. Similarly, on the original and entertaining adaptation of 'Fever' the masterful trumpet playing of Dick Hanson brought rapturous applause, for a solo of imperious improvisation. The rock steady foundation provided by Phil Lucas on bass, and Paul Atkinson on drums; the virtuosity of Dave Lennox' keyboard playing; the inspired understanding and interplay of the horn section, Dick Hanson an trumpet and Steve King on sax'; vocals from Linda Hall, whose voice and smile light up the room; Richie's showmanship pulling it all together. This is Richie Milton & the Lowdown.
Their fourth CD, 'Bluesique', is due for release within a matter of weeks, on the note-records label. A preview of 'Bluesique' promises a mature section of songs crafted by Richie, combining root R&B, swinging blues, smoky jazz vocals from Linda Hall, catchy melodies, and even Richie’s own attempt at a Balearic holiday anthem - New Orleans style!
At the end of the evening the applause willed the show to go on a lot longer, and there was never a question of the band not reappearing for an encore. The festivity continued with the invited audience participation of 'Don't You Just Know It' and finally, a rousing 'Sea Cruise' which had the dance floor overflowing. It could have gone on through the night!
Jagz at the Station, Ascot
Bukka White gave his young cousin Riley B King this advice at the outset of his career: "When you go out to perform, dress like you are going to the bank to borrow some money." Well I think Richie Milton must have overheard him because he looked like a million dollars when he took the stage in his bronze mohair fronting his six piece combo.
"Are you ready for a blues journey tonight?", he enquired of the well packed house. "Yeees!" came the reply. "Okay then, all aboard the Night Train" and launched into the tune of the same name. When the train pulled into the station they went straight into "Things Won't Be The Same", a Milton original, followed by another. "Dressed To Kill". Things then slowed down for a great arrangement of Solomon Burke's "Hanging Up My Heart".
Richie then introduced the willowy Linda Hall, who performed a gutsy "Don't Mess With My Man". Where does this slim young thing summon up such astonishing vocal power from? Ex Animal Dave Rowberry's jazzy piano break was exactly right for the mood.
There followed a Milton on Milton when Richie and Linda traded verses on "We're Gonna Make It", while "Fever" featured a scorching guitar solo from Richie, challenged by a Dizzy-esque, high register solo from trumpeter Dick Hanson. Linda and Richie then held an 'Any-note-you-can-hold-I-can-hold-longer' duet with Linda having to capitulate; Richie winning hands down.
The first set's closer, "How Sweet It Is", featured a marvellous tenor solo from Steve King, followed by Linda making a key change up, heightening the tension to a big finish which earned tumultuous applause.
Set two opened with Richie's anthem to sacro iliac sufferers, "Doggone My Aching Back" followed by the first album's title track, "Straight Ahead, No Stopping". with Richie taking to the floor amongst the dancers while playing his guitar. Half a dozen movers' to keep the floor busy were segued into one crowd pleaser, with 'bassist Phil Lucas and drummer Paul Atkinson keeping it all together.
Eventually the clock on the wall told us that it was time to go and Richie appropriately led off "Funny How Time Slips Away". The dancers were in raptures and they let the band know it. I don't know if, as Linda had predicted they were "Dancing In The Street", but they were definitely bopping in the car park. .