We know that many of you like the Blues (and a whole lot of you are keen on Jazz too). But we’re not going to extoll the virtues of these distinctive Men Rock beard oils right now. Instead, we want to plug the music itself, in case the blues lovers among you may have missed this outstanding performer…
Scroll back two years. The sound of Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb guitar solo, expertly played, echoes through Winchester’s quaint old streets. Not a recording, but a live busker. And way better than your average. I was one of the few passers-by who stood transfixed.
Fast forward to Guildford High Street (don’t I get about to the hippest places) on a Monday morning. Turning a corner I hear the sound of a hard driving blues number, complete with rousing harmonica and drum backing and am quickly sucked into a small, appreciative crowd.
Seasick Steve and ZZ Top
In the middle, sounding like a whole blues band, is the man I now know as Rob Berry and the same guy who had livened up Winchester two years previously. But now, the bearded, busking bluesman looks like a cross between Seasick Steve and ZZ Top – and sounds like he could give both a run for their money.
Rob is no ordinary bluesman. He’s playing shimmering slide on a 5-string guitar he made from a cigar box and accompanied by a bearded skeleton automaton playing a drum kit.
That’s not a slight on the percussionist, it really is a skeleton, automated by Rob himself to play the drums.
Rob has lots of surprising clips on YouTube. Among my personal favourites is this one of Hendrix’s Voodoo Child played on a cigar box guitar and a mean harmonica. Minus the skeleton band. This is busking, so you have to imagine the flashing lights, the giant stage and the adoring crowd…
Then there’s this one which prompted blogger Jorge Franca to comment: ‘I saw Rob Berry playing at Reading boulevard and I can say that he is one of the best electric guitar players around and alive, I encourage you to buy his music.’
According to Jorge, Rob has released six (now seven) albums of his own and has worked as a performer, session player, guitar demonstrator and studio engineer. ‘His most notable accomplishment was working as a sound engineer with Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones on Keith’s solo album ‘Talk is Cheap’. Since then he has worked and performed with numerous renowned artists in the UK and abroad.’
So, no ordinary busker.
Holiday gig lasted 13 years
When Rob gave up sound engineering to play guitar in the early 90s he landed a holiday gig in Bermuda and that led on to Florida and New York. His holiday gig lasted 13 years before he returned to the UK. Since then he has recorded seven CDs. The latest, ‘I’d Rather Go Busking’, is available on his website where you can get a link to hear these and other recordings by this extraordinary ‘busker’. Then, you can buy the CD!
While you’re in the mood, check out our Blues and Jazz Beard Oils, if you haven’t already. And if you get the Rob Berry vibe, don’t forget to let us know. You heard it here first.