After picking up the guitar in his late teens, Tom Dale
(influenced by the likes of Robert Johnson, Woody Guthrie,
Blind Willie Johnson and more contemporary artists such as
Kelly Joe Phelps and Nick Drake) went on to co-found
Sugarland Slim, an acoustic blues-based drummerless outfit,
as a singer-songwriter and slide guitarist.
The band quickly achieved notoriety on the UK blues and folk circuit,
regularly supporting such artists as Peter Green and Paul Jones,
and performing at blues and folk festivals across the UK and in France
(such as Cropredy, Burnley Blues, Colne, Larmer Tree, Beauvais Blues Festival etc).
Now living in Cornwall, Tom continues to write, record and perform as a solo artist,
captivating audiences with lap-slide guitar, rack harmonica, 5-string banjo,
Puerto Rican cuatro and uke, singing his own songs and songs from his vast
repertoire of folk and blues tradition, both on the streets as a busker
and at venues and festivals across the country
The music of Sugarland Slim captures the sound of the 1930's Mississippi 'bluesman' era with traditional acoustic slide guitar, blues harmonica, walking bass and gritty vocals. Having only formed late in 1999 they are already carving their way through the UK Blues scene (not least of which - a recent support for Peter Green) with a unique sound and a stunning collective ability rarely seen on the circuit today.
"This is a four wheel drive band. Everyone is a master of their craft and we are all in awe of each other. That's what makes it so much fun to be on stage together."
The philosophy is clear. Take young guys with a respect for the traditional sound of Delta Blues and drag it kicking and screaming into another century.
Jeff Adams' harmonica work truly captures the spirit of the Mississippi Delta, conjuring up images of chugging trains and howling winds. Influenced by the great Sonny Terry, he has the rare ability to fill the background of a piece of music with great subtlety and then produce a howling solo when needed.
As Jeff points out, "Harmonica playing requires a surprising amount of discipline given it's humble origins as a childs toy. To play good Delta harp you need to take time out to discover and control the diverse range of sounds this little instrument can produce"
Jeff's wealth of experience includes a European tour with John Lee Hooker's nephew - Archie. This took him to blues venues in France, Germany, Belgium, Luxemburg and Holland.
Like any great player his style is unique and unmistakable, so sit back, relax and let the colourful and hypnotic Sounds of Jeff Adams' harmonica transport you to another place.
Vocals, acoustic, slide, lap, Dobro, 12 string & electric guitars, banjo, mandolin...
Tom Dale is unarguably one of only a handful of people in the country who can play traditional slide guitar to such a phenomenal standard. What makes this more infuriating for those of us who have to work hard at things in life is that he has never had a lesson and is only twenty four. Not that these factors are apparent during his live performance as his rapidly expanding army of admirers (most of them musicians) will be quick to tell you.
"I looked back into the audience when Tom started playing as if to say - 'can you believe this guy?' Well I've never seen so many glazed eyes and open mouths in one place!" (James Sargent - audience member, The Stables).
Tom's musicianship, from his percussive slap and finger picking to his gentle lap slide, forms the foundation of Sugarland Slim's traditional roots and it is all too easy to hear the overwhelming influence of Robert Johnson.
"If it weren't for Robert Johnson I probably wouldn't have picked up a guitar" he says.
Quiet, modest and unassuming, he is a musician who will be talked about on the blues scene for many years. The man who's talent can only be described as 'God Given'.
Lead vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards, percussion & tap improvisation...
The shear power of Sean Kingsley's voice is awe inspiring. With a range of over three octaves he has been singing professionally since the age of Fifteen covering a variety of styles. "I suppose it all started with Graham Bonnet (Rainbow), I heard him sing 'Since You've Been Gone' and it just blew me away. I started singing along to his records, it was the vocal equivalent of sparring with Tyson."
So with roots in Rock music why is he singing in a Delta Blues band?
"I went to college to study voice so as a professional singer I've sung everything from Lloyd Webber in the West End to Cole Porter for the BBC. I don't believe in catagorising music, good music is good music. When Jeff and Tom sent me their demo I knew this was going to be something special and different. I am usually called on to wail the high notes and although I have my moments on the new CD this music is much more about creating an atmosphere, so I get to use the husky lower register considerably more".
Sean's gritty voice is perfect for the blues but along with bassist Darren Power he provides the more modern sound that gives Sugarland Slim their unique, progressive edge. What comments have other people made?
"Well a critic once wrote that I had a voice like a bag of spanners being rattled and just a few nights ago the boys and I got up for an impromptu jam in a music pub and they took the mike off me. They told me I didn't need it, I'm hoping they weren't just being kind. Seriously though, we played the Half Moon in Putney a few weeks ago, a famous starting point for a lot of bands. A guy came up to me after the gig and said he lived above the venue and had worked there for two and a half years and we were the best group he'd heard there. When you think of how many bands he's heard during that time then you've got to assume we're doing something right".
5 String Electric bass
Darren Power, bassist, has without doubt got to be one of the
most proficient and solid players currently on the circuit. Darren's cool sense
of timing and steady bass patterns provide the essential back bone that so often
goes unnoticed by the outside observer.
Tighten your seat belt and prepare to be Dazzled!!