House of Blues – Guitar Special
The Gov, Kaurna Land
8pm, 24 February 2022

Despite some agonising cancellations and postponements, through Covid, The Gov has retained its bona fides as one of Adelaide’s most devoted music venues; the redevelopment of Bowden and ongoing revitalisation of the inner-western suburbs have meant proximate crowds in the right demos to bolster the venue’s popularity and cred.

The newly bedecked beer garden was appropriately festooned, expanding the outdoor seating and performance spaces, well-suited for covid-conscious crowds congregating cautiously. And so they did, this balmy first-Thursday-of-the-fringe, for an extended set of honest to goodness live music.

For some, the Blues headline may be deceptively narrow; for, on this night, the revue repertoire sprawled from roots, country, rock, swing and a smattering of funk-adjacent riffs, but of course it did: the blues forms a truly primary colour of the musical genre colour wheel – at the root of so much of modern music, in terms of both sound and culture.

This evening’s show was an ode to the guitar, with special guest players JJ Fields, Nick Kipridis and Billy Bob Rankine, joining staple Gumbo Room blues players in turn across three brackets in the corner stage on the Gov’s oasis of an outdoor deck.

Fields’ coiffed hair and tailored mod swag matched his clean jazz vocals and melodic guitar. Moving through classic blues and rock numbers, with a smattering of the obscure, arranged to take advantage of the double bass (bounding with timeless cool) or, later Fields’ seven-string guitar (strumming true and clean).

The crowd settled into a swaying and nodding groove (in their chairs) as the unassuming, trucker-cap capped Nick Kipridis tuned in and kicked off the second bracket, which was probably the most bluesy-blues of the night. Kipridis’ gravelled vocals and twanging guitar, striking the quintessentially soulful notes of loss and heartbreak channelled through the steel strings. The pendulum swing of the electric bass, across the metronomic drum rhythms held up the snake charming guitar picking, entrancing an enamoured crowd.

What Fields & Kipridis set up, Rankine knocked down, in a steep-rolled white ten gallon hat, he breezed in like a southern sirocco, with bigger than life charisma and a strum to back it up. With some party blues (and some cheeky Dash Rip Rock), Rankine kept toes tapping and heads bopping with his crescendo of a bracket.

Over the night, our tour turned down country lanes, passing through rockabilly and swing sounds, twanging haughtily all the way, catching up with familiar refrains from artists like John Lee Hooker, Otis Rush, Elmore James, all met with fine form.

The crowd got as raucous as they could, while seated and socially distanced, as we rounded the night off with a communal encore, with all of the performers uniting to play-off one another for a joyous farewell.

The House of Blues sessions continue through the Fringe, each date showcasing a different dimension of the genre, and will undoubtedly continue to bring life to some classic sounds as Adelaide’s festival season rocks on.

– Ran Boss

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