Hot Fingers with Emily Campbell
Tom “Spats” Langham
Wow – what a night. It was one of those evenings that you wish would go on forever. Hot Fingers is truly a tight-knit group in every sense of the word and they play and compliment each other extremely well. All the tunes played had an exhaustive explanation about the history of either the composer or the singer together with the dates of when it was recorded or played. How Spats remembers all this detail is beyond comprehension. He has no aid de memoire notes to refer to – it’s all from his memory. It’s just astounding and so interesting.
Their repertoire this evening contained the following tunes – Filthy Blues, Moanful Blues, Say When (an Al Bowlly song which we all know is a favourite of Spats) and this had a beautiful clarinet intro by Danny. Emily joined the trio to sing and remind us that it was 100 years since Ella Fitzgerald the great American jazz singer was born. She sang Take Another Guess, It’s Only A Paper Moon and the beautiful tune Shakin’ the Blues Away which is an Irving Berlin tune. Spats told us that Ella had worked with the Chick Webb Band and she only went solo after Chick died. I’ve Got the Blues was a duet with Spats and Danny and Danny showed us his talent with the harmonica. We were transported to Paris in the 1930’s with a Django inspired tune called Mysterious – 2 guitars and bass and a waltz tempo – brilliant. When the Folks Up High do That Mean Lowdown another Irving Berlin tune and a Bessie Smith tune It’s a Long Old Road and Crazy Blues which Malcolm introduced in fine fashion brought the first set to a close.
The second set was just as informative and we listened to the following great tunes and Danny told us about Django and gypsy heritage. Norwegian Dance a Grieg classical tune followed by There’s a Rainbow on My Shoulder and a Henry Red Allen tune The Patrol Wagon Blues came before “the Cotswold Canary” as Spats called Emily took the stage again to play the gong with the slick arrangement of Shanghai Shuffle. Emily then sang The Man I Love a Gershwin song and by complete contrast a Sister Rosetta Tharpe tune Who Rolled the Stone Away. An unusual tune originally by the Memphis Jug Band in 1929 called Cocaine Habit Blues with Danny playing mandolin and Emily with kazoo was great. Get Happy, Mad About the Boy brought us to the final number of the evening which was Didn’t It Rain a Mahalia Jackson tune and what an excellent way to end the show.
We have been lucky to experience many evenings at the club where we say top musicians, top entertainment, class etc but Hot Fingers definitely are the full package in terms of quality entertainment.