Sherman Robertson Live At WORCESTER PARK CLUB

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Tuesday 11th April 2000

It's good sometimes to be reminded of what real blues is. It's not a young pretender trying to recapture the elusive magic of Robert Johnson 60 years after his death, and it's not an ageing star putting on a blues cabaret in a concert hall. No, what it really is, is someone such as the hard-working Texas guitarist Sherman Robertson playing 50 weeks a year and putting on a great show whether it's in downtown Houston, Utrecht or, as tonight in suburban Surrey.

The venues and the countries many change, but the music doesn't.

Straightahead, no-nonsense guitar blues, played loud and direct by a 51-year-old performer who paid his musical dues as a member of the zydeco bands of Clifton Chenier and Rockin' Dopsie.

A powerful-looking man with the demeanour and physique of a middleweight boxer, he has now left that Louisiana influence behind him

to create his own brand of muscular Texas blues - although there is a dash of Chicago brio occasionally on such numbers as the Elmore James-influenced Don't Want No Woman.

That's not to say that Robertson lacks subtlety. He has been blessed with one of the great voices of modern blues, a pleading, gospel-like tone that makes him sound like a cross between BB King and Robert Cray on the soulful and intense Am I Losing You or the equally persuasive Everybody Loves Somebody.

His guitar work, right from the opening strains of the far from pedestrian Sherman's Walk, is equally impressive as, with eyes closed, head arched back, and sweat darkening his pale-blue shirt, he coaxed one impeccable solo after another from his guitar.

Happily, he had also brought his American band with him, including Kim Foreman on keyboards, rock-steady bass from Robert "Freight Train" Parker,

and some sterling work from drummer, Jason West, the baby of the group at 24. They provided the seasoned and trusted support he needed as Sherman, like the tank of the same name, blasted the assembled punters with numbers such as Driving All Night, Home of the Blues and the Albert King standard Don't Throw Your Love On Me So Strong. There was also, à la Buddy Guy, the odd excursion into the crowd, allowing the audience to gawp while both musically and physically Sherman executed another Texas shuffle.

It's five years since his last visit here and his new album has yet to be released but Sherman still has a lot of fans for his no-frills brand of roadhouse blues. This man is a working blues musician. Support him and find out what you've been missing.

John Clarke, The Times