C.W. Stoneking It’s 1938. I’m in a bar in Memphis and this young guy’s hollering up a storm, slicked back hair flopping over his eyes and his mouth as wide as the Mississippi he’s singing the blues like a preacher on a mission to convert all the sinners of the world. Okay...it’s not 1938...and sadly I’m not in a bar in Memphis but, shut your eyes and, not for the first time this evening it’s all too easy to find yourself swept away to another time and place. The culprit? Brownbird Rudy Relic, not a ‘half Japanese half American guy’ as one misinformed reviewer recently labelled him (much to Rudy’s bemusement) but a Mexican American with a real case of the blues. After so many great singers and songs it isn’t easy to make the blues sound fresh and exciting but Brownbird does a pretty great job, mainly thanks to the sheer exuberance of his performance. I’ve never seen a guy sitting down (which he did for the entire set) put quite so much effort in to a show. I’ve never seen a kazoo used in a blues performance either, but somehow he managed to rescue it from the Benny Hill of instruments and make it work. An awesome voice, rich and velvety - think shades of Otis Redding singing ‘Try A Little Tenderness’(particular on tonight’s set highlight ‘Your Tricks Ain’t Workin’) - coupled with a self penned songbook of authentic but fresh sounding blues numbers makes this particular Brownbird anything but a relic.

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