London Blues Week is six nights of live blues music in the heart of central London at the iconic 100 Club on Oxford Street. The staggeringly good line-up includes Mud Morganfield (A.K.A. Muddy Waters Jr.), Sugaray Rayford, Chantel McGregor, Sharrie Williams, Jo Harman, Sari Schorr, Giles Robson, Lisa Mills, Paddy Milner, plus many more
I was fortunate to be asked to attend and cover the ‘Ladies Sing The Blues’ evening on the penultimate night featuring two of the blues finest females in Brooklyn, New York’s Sari Schorr, and The Princess of Rocking Gospel Blues, Saginaw, Michigan’s Sharrie Williams.
I must confess that Sharrie Williams is a new name on me and with so many great artists around at present it’s easy to understand how one or two names get could missed by my radar.
I’m not sure who I am excited to see the most. I know all about Sari and know exactly what to expect from her and her band which excites me immensely. Sari’s band now includes, to my mind, one of the best guitarists on the blues scene, Ash Wilson, and his guitar playing is a must see.
On the other hand, seeing Sharrie Williams and her funky jazz influenced rocking gospel blues for the first time also sends a shiver down my spine. After binge listening to her music this past few weeks, I can’t wait for her to enter the stage and bring her fun, energetic, and uplifting performance to this nation’s capital. What a night we are in for, Bring it on!
There was something strangely familiar about the stage setup for Sharrie Williams, from the instruments to the actual band members themselves. In fact, Sharrie’s band was Sari’s band but with one exception, the lead guitarist. Sari was kind enough to lend Sharrie her band for the performance with the exception of Ash Wilson who was substituted for Williams’ own guitarist Lars Kutschke.
Williams’ set was all about fun. I don’t think I have laughed so music through a set in recent times, Sharrie is fun and humorous on stage. It did take a while for the Oxford Street crowd to get their groove on but after several prompts from Williams they finally found there feet.
I don’t know often these guys have played together with Sharrie before, if at all, or how how much time they had to practice, but you would have thought they have been together for years. They all played seamlessly together, as you would expect from such professional musicians. Even when Williams’ through in the odd curve-ball the band adapted beautifully and just went with the flow.
The only slight giveaway that the band was new to playing Sharrie’s songs was the addition of instructions for the bassist and I think perhaps the drummer. Not that they seemed to need the sheet music with Bassist Mat Beable only taking a cursory glance form time to time.
Sharrie Williams played a full energetic set of funk, soul and Jazz infused Gospel Blues in the only way she knows how. William’s was ever engaging with the crowd and even had a couple of audience members sing a line or two themselves. William’s set had everything, funk, soul, jazz, and hand clapping foot stomping gospel blues with rip-roaring guitar solos from guitarist Kutschke. That was one enjoyable performance. So enjoyable in fact that Williams has to cut her set short one song due to the impromptu groove halfway through.
Sharrie Williams Set List
- Hard Drivin’ Woman
- I’ll Take You There
- Crazy For You
- Out of the Dark
- Lover By Trade
- World is in Trouble
As much as the audience where there to see Sharrie Williams, I have a suspicion that the real reason everyone queued up in true British fashion on a chilly January evening in London was to see the Brooklyn, New York based blues singer Sari Schorr. Although based in Brooklyn, Schorr seems to spend most of her life over here in England, a real bonus for us.
After a quick rearrangement of the stage, tossing the redundant instructions aside and re-gigging the drums from a two rack tom setup to a one rack tom setup, they were good to go. Bring back to the stage the ever familiar band, this time substituting guitarist Lars Kutschke for the supremely talented and to my mind one of the best guitarists on the blues scene at present, Mr Ash Wilson.
The Sari Shorr Band kicked of proceedings with ‘Welcome To The New Revolution’, a track from their latest release, late 2018’s ‘Never Say Never’. A new revolution was a very apt opener as there certainly does seem to be a new revolution happening with regards the blues, especially female blues. There seems to be more and more female blues artists than ever before and Sari Schorr is certainly at the forefront of this movement, and rightly so!
You can tell that Sari loves the blues, and feels the blues with everything she does. Her signature gutsy, gritty powerful blues vocals combined with the bands world class musicianship makes for some special songs indeed. Schorr is at home on the stage and is in the zone when she performs and that was ever present at London’s prestigious 100 Club on the world famous Oxford Street.
The whole set was a showcase of the blues and from note one the whole band played in harmony and bounced off each other impeccably. Even when a slight technical issued with Wilson’s acoustic failing on ‘Turn The Radio On’, Ash seamlessly switched back to electric and carried on as if nothing ever happened. This was the first time the band had performed this live and despite the malfunctioning six string, they played the song as if it was a staple of their set.
The chemistry between the band members is undeniably electric and you can tell that they are totally in tune with what they are doing, music at it’s best!
The audience did seem to deplete slightly towards the end of the set but there was a hardcore element of Sari fans that stayed to the finish, and they’ll be glad they did. The two song encore consisted of incredibly powerful Leadbelly cover Black Betty, and Aunt Hazel, both from the 2016 debut album Never Say Never, with the former being Wilson’s standout solo performance of the evening.
Sari Schorr Set List
- Welcome To The New Revolution
- Dam The Reason
- King of Rock and Roll
- Thank You
- Demolition Man
- Ain’t Got No Money
- Ready For Love
- I Just Want To Make Love To You (Etta James Cover)
- Kiss Me
- Never Say Never (Ian McLagan Cover)
- Turn The Radio On
- Black Betty
- Aunt Hazel
Friday 18th 2019 at London Blues week was a special moment for blues fans. Two contrasting, but equally complimenting acts provided nearly three hours of sheer enjoyment and musical mastery and despite the winter weather, they blew the cobwebs off the January blues with, wait for it…the BLUES!
Sari Schorr – Vocals
Sharrie Williams – Vocals
Ash Wilson – Guitar With Sari Schorr
Lars Kutschke – Guitar With Sharrie Williams
Bob Fridzema – Keyboard & Hammond
Mat Beable – Bass Guitar
Roy Martin – Drums