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Mercury`s got soul - The Blues Town Sessions

Mercury Live and Lounge has been a cornerstone of the local live music scene for many years and has hosted all the top bands in the country along the way. When I think of Mercury I usually think of these raucous gigs on the weekend with loads of people going off their heads to great music. What some people don’t know is that Mercury also has been pretty innovative in hosting other, more chilled events during the week. One such event, which has become a regular occurrence every second Thursday, is The Blues Town Sessions. For the evening Mercury Live is transformed into a dimly lit blues joint, with tables, chairs, candles and couches scattered around the upstairs area. The house band plays pretty much the whole evening, with special guests appearing here and there for a jam.

Last Thursday we pulled through to check out what the vibe was, and being a particularly long and shitty day were happy to find a nice comfy seat to relax in while some of the top blues hounds in CT entertained. We unfortunately missed the performance by Son of 1000 Blues, but were happy to catch the house band in action consisting of Doc John (The Boulevard Blues Band) as MC/ Vocal, Gerald Clark (Gerald Clark Band) on Guitar & Vocal, Tim Rankin (Bed on Bricks, etc. etc.) on Drums, Schalk (bass) and Henry Steel (Tony & The Trailer Cats) on guitar.

I was totally impressed by the absolute quality of these guys, not only did they play some sizzling hot blues tunes of their own but later on in the evening they just jammed along to anything the guest musicians would throw at them. Guest performers included Shelley McKay-Davidson – guest bass, Johnny Ray – Guest guitar & vocal, Natasha Meister – guest vocal & guitar, Charlie King – guest vocal, Claude Studer (The Studerbakers, CTN) – guest vocal, Colin Johnson (The Studerbakers, CTN) – guest guitar, Midiane L’etranger (The Howlin Shibanski, PTA) – guest vocal and “Mad-Mouth” Mike Crawford (The Studerbakers, CTN) – Harps. Long Time Citizen also performed as a break band. Quite a freakin’ lineup!

For me the most memorable performances of the evening were that of the Howlin’ Shebanski, Charlie King and Natasha Meister. Midaine L’etranger (The Howlin’Shebanski) currently resides in Pretoria but is originally from Egypt. He played a smoking version of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Spoonful” with a gravelly and soulful voice reminiscent of the original singer. Charlie King has been doing the rounds in the CT blues scene for a while now, and is great to watch live. She has a powerful blues voice and puts on a great show, wailing and owning the stage like the best of them.

Near the end of the evening Natasha Meister took to the stage, and she was clearly the big draw card of the evening. This being the first time I had seen her perform, I was utterly blown away. I had heard that she was really good, but had no idea she was THAT good. Natasha has one of the most beautiful voices I have heard in a long time, reminding me of soul singers such as Adele or Aritha Franklin. Not only can she sing but she also plays a mean guitar. After hearing her rendition of “House of the Rising Son” my evening and week was made!

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