Review of "Don't Mess With Me"- Blues in Britain - issue 126 - June 2012
The Maggie Ross Band wear their blues-rock hearts on their sleeves and their SRV hats on their heads. Built around the evergreen, powerhouse vocalist, Maggie, this quartet has built up quite a following in Scotland and the North east of England since impressing at the Skegness Rock and Blues festival. This, their first CD, comprises a dozen self-penned songs. The majority of them are riff-driven, up-tempo rockers with Martin Craggs' guitar to the fore, ably supported by John Chaytor's bass and Dave Dodsworth's insistent drumming.
The love-gone-wrong theme of the lyrics is relentless; phrases like 'abject misery', 'disillusioned', 'more heartache than happiness' and 'evening's gloom' abound in Maggie's blues-momma vocalising. On 'Giving Up On You' though, the power chords diminish, the cymbals still, the tempo drops and maggie's vocal has more room to manoeuvre and demonstrate a soulful inclination. The final track, 'Silver Bird' is described as a bonus track, perhaps because it moves from staple blues themes to a more specific and timely one - that of a grieving widow waiting on the return of a fallen hero. It's written and performed with heart and integrity.
Feedback on album by Paul Jones on his BBC 2 Radio show on April 5th.
" that was the Maggie Ross Band - they're completely new to me until I received the album recently. The album is called "Don't Mess With Me" and y'know ...... the lady can certainly sing ..... she really belts 'em out! She can also do the more subtle kinda stuff too..... Maggie Ross!"
Review of Debut Album by The Maggie Ross Band "Don't Mess With Me" - Blues Matters! - vol. 65 - March/April 2012
www.liveblues.info January 12th 2012
Maggie Ross is a wee blonde bombshell from Newcastle and this is her debut album. This is the full and developed version of the six-track demo reviewed in a previous issue. She presents a dozen original songs - the final one is noted as a ‘bonus track' (we're not sure why it's a bonus as its damned good). This is a good album and much of it recalls a cross between Stone the Crows and Free. The opening track is a boogie song ‘Don't Mess With Me' - rocks nicely and kicks everything into gear. Track 2 ‘I Will Wait' is where the Free influence really shows, a longish drum intro leads into a slowish heavy rock number. We were reminded of songs like ‘Mr. Big' and ‘I'm a Mover' (we are of course aging rockers so could be adrift there) a Kossoff inspired solo sets it all off nicely (there's a nice fat guitar sound throughout but this is the best guitar sound on the album) - good stuff. Hendrix ‘Manic Depression' seems a strong influence on the guitarist on this album - the riff that opens the next song recalls that as we segue into the slow minor blues track 4 ‘Talisman' - a good song this. The album rocks nicely through to track 7 ‘I Can't Stand It' - this is the best track and the best groove on the album (we'd have opened with it - but then wadder we know?) a good riff, solid groove and it swings, what more can you ask.
Bearing in mind the limitations that everyone is having financing albums such as this, producer Stu Emerson has come up with a good sound. He also plays keyboards on the album and it's a significant contribution. He's to the fore on the descending minor ballad track 8 ‘Ain't Got the Blues No More.' It's a good song this with lush synth-ish keyboard sounds but we did feel that the keys jarred a little against the raunchiness of the rest of the album - this would have possibly have been better with piano - it's ok but the keys take some of the edge out of the song. It all moves along through the minor key ballad ‘Sunshine Blues and the SRV influenced ‘Keep Control' to the final track ‘Silver Bird'. This is a very personal and quite explicit song about the deeply felt loss of a loved one on armed service abroad - it's a very brave song and comes right from the heart. We reckon it's the best track on an excellent album which avoids the twin traps of over production and instrumental self indulgence (no long guitar solos we mean). This is excellent bar-room real ale drinking, foot-tapping music and should secure Maggie and Co a fair few gigs. Maggie is undoubtedly the star of this show - she's wee, she's blonde, she's raunchy, with a real gravelly voice. We recall that Joanne Shaw Taylor was voted best female blues singer - well Maggie can sing the drawers off of Joanne, so what more could one ask? Bookers please take note.
Review of "Don't Mess With Me" in 'Blues, Roots and the Shoots' ..http://bluesrootsandtheshoots.webplus.net/- Jan 2012
MAGGIE ROSS BAND
This is the debut CD of The Maggie Ross Band. Maggie first came to popular notice at a Roadhouse jam at Butlins Rock& Blues a couple of years ago. This pretty and gutsy blonde lady walked on that stage and blew punters and her fellow musicians away with her dynamic vocal and stage presence. Maggie decided it was time to form her own Blues band and recruited Dave Dodsworth on drums, John Chaytor on bass and Martin Craggs on guitar to join her. They were soon playing gigs around the UK and Europe. Although they covered the classic Blues numbers with panache, they soon were drawn by the desire to write and play their own songs. Following on the success of their promotional EP, four tracks of which are to be found on this new CD, they have now produced an album of self-penned material. Please see the review in the archive for those tracks. ‘I Will Wait’ is a driven Blues Rock ballad. Where Maggie’s hard lady vocal with all its passion, sustain, intonation, and usage of tones of grit and polish tells of forbidden love. This is one hot number sung by a steamy Blues mama. ‘Talisman’ is a Blues Rock ballad, where Mama Ross digs deep in her vocal tones to entreat her Blues sisterhood to save her from a broken heart at the hands of a lothario. A middle guitar solo takes on the pleading lyrics in an equally compelling musical interlude as if appealing to Mama Ross to stay strong. This is a really classy number. Moving to the track ‘Lover Man’ and a tale of lost love, the listener gets a pain driven song, which has the feel of Bette Midler meets Tina Turner vocal, all topped off with exquisite instrumentals and especially the guitar solo , which digs deep into the solar plexus with its pain. ‘Ain’t Got The Blues No More’, is a tender blues ballad which sounds as if it has come out of a top West End musical, so well is it written and performed but boy it is as true blues, as Johnson himself! Last but far from being least is, ‘Silver Bird’. A classic RnB number dedicated to fallen heroes. It is lyrically superb and topped with an instrumental that is beautiful in it simplicity, thus allowing the lyrics to dominate and portray the dichotomy of the painfulness and glory of war. There will not be a dry eye in-the-house when this song is performed, so painful and magic is it in its essence. The UK has too few true Blues Mamas but Maggie Ross certainly ranks as one of them!
Review of demo album "Don't Mess With Me" by the Maggie Ross Band. In Blues Matters! Magazine - Vol. 63 - Nov/Dec 2011
Maggie Ross is a wee blonde bombshell from Geordie-land - its cold up there - I know; she told me - it snows in July (well OK, maybe she didn't say that) so the music needs to be hot. This certainly is hot, especially the boogie based opening title track ‘Don't Mess with Me'. They got it dead right on this one and its cooking - great boogie feel, fat dirty guitar and wildcat vocal. Seriously if they voted Joanne Shaw Taylor best British female blues vocalist in those blues awards then they were looking in the wrong place because Maggie is by light years a better singer - and she's singing in her own natural voice. It sounds ‘real'.
This is her first album and its is classic rhythm and blues, it's not wildly original, but it doesn't need to be - the sort of stuff you'd go out to hear at your local venue - short raunchy songs - not overloaded with indulgent guitar - just short solos that fit the tune. It's good and live at a gig it'd be good to drink real ale to. It's good-time R&B to lift the spirits, warm the heart and get those feet tapping. Six songs and they're OK, might need a listen or two to get into some of them but they'll be growers. Notable are the title track and the ballady ‘Silver Bird', the rocking ‘Lover Man' and the raunchy ‘I Will Wait'.
As a taster of a first album this is an excellent effort and we look forward to hearing future efforts. Maggie & Co are to be applauded for stepping out writing their own tunes and sticking with it - all power to them - and Joanne Shaw Taylor look out - your vocal crown faces a real challenge.
Vicky Martin (Blues Matters!)
Review of "Work In Progress" in 'Blues, Roots and Shoots' http://bluesrootsandtheshoots.webplus.net/ Aug. 2011
Maggie Ross & Phoenix Blues - ‘Work In Progress’
Self-Produced and available at gigs.
This band is one of those rarities, it is new like the fountain of youth and like the fountain of youth they have been around a long time. It comprises Maggie as vocalist and songmeister, with Martin Craggs as guitarist and songmeister and John Chaytor on bass and songmeistering… All ably supported by Dave Dodsworth on drums.
This is a five track EP of four self-penned tracks and one cover. I begins with ‘Don’t Mess With Me’ which is a driven Blues shuffle with forceful bass riff from lead & bass, leading to Maggie’s vocal. If the feeling in that vocal is any guide, you won’t mess with her as she leads into Martin’s solo which has all the emotive content needed to convince you he knows not to mess with her as well.
‘Giving Up On You’ is a slower urban electric Blues number with a feel and phrasing in the guitaring that has echoes of “The Thrill Has Gone” whilst sounding nothing like it. Maggie’s vocal takes on a more soulful feel to fit with the ambience of the guitar.
‘I Just Wanna Make Love To You’ is the Willie Dixon classic given a more raucous attack both instrumentally and vocally. This styling drives it straight into the arms of Blues Rock and it absorbs the warmth from those arms and feeds it back into the song. Maggie’s vocal takes on an ambience not unlike the style of Maggie Bell Whilst the guitaring has the feel of SRV.
Maggie’s diminutive frame belies a great vocal talent. The names of the rest of the band may not trip off the tongue like the better known greats in their individual fields but in this case that just means that others sometimes have more luck. A first offering this may be but it won’t be long before this band bring bigger offerings to music’s high altar.
Review of promo CD "Maggie Ross and Phoenix Blues"in Blues Matters! Magazine - Vol 50 - Aug/Sept 2009
In January 2009, Maggie Ross walked onto the Blues Matters! stage at session. It is no exaggeration to say she blew the crowd away. Maggie at that point decided she wanted to sing the blues and put together a band called Phoenix Blues. This is their first EP, consisting of five tracks, all classic covers. "Fuel To Burn" is a hot Blues-rock version which Maggie aces with her vocal acuity, power and passion, and great instrumental back-up. "I Just Wanna Make Love To You", the Etta James classic, is
tackled with grit and full vocal belt - there's some pretty impressive guitar work on this track too. She can sing a ballad too - listen to her version of "Loving Arms", which will break your heart.
LIVE PERFORMANCE REVIEWS
Review of Mainsforth Blues Festival in Blues Matters - issue 66 - June 2012. (supporting Chantel McGregor and Danny Bryant)
"....John Chaytor on bass, Martin Craggs on lead and new boy Neal Wood gave great backing to a girl from the North country - Maggie Ross. This diminutive blonde exploded into action putting her heart and soul into every number. She danced across the stage in her silver sandals while Martin provided excellent guitar breaks. Then back to the mic... with three crucifixes of varying sizes around her neck as if to protect her, she sang the Devil's music ...... and can she sing!!!! Covers of Koko Taylor's "Fuel To Burn" and "Blues is My Business" and Etta James'"I Just Wanna Make Love To You" were interspaced with her own material from the recently released "Don't Mess With Me"..... the title track, with its "Spirit In The Sky" riff, "Talisman" and the heart tugging "I Will Wait" . Another alternative take on Willie Dixon, this time "Hoochie Coochie Woman" followed, before the set closed with "Walking The Dog". Strong on both covers and her own material, this little lady and her band are a great live act and well worth seeing again!"
Review of Skegness Rock and Blues Festival - Jan 2012. Blues Matters magazine - issue 65 - April 2012
Butlin's Rock and Blues Weekend... and what great girl blues singers we were treated to this weekend, kicked off by charismatic Helen Turner of Bare Bones Boogie Band .....
They say that comparisons are odious, but the next band, Maggie Ross and Phoenix Blues unfortunately invited comparison and came out the winner for me. Following their appearance at last year's jam session, Maggie and her band were invited back this year to perform in their own right. The band is a four piece out of Newcastle, fronted by Maggie, a diminutive blonde with big throaty vocals, Dave Dodsworth on drums, John Chaytor on bass and Martin Craggs on guitar.With her commanding stage presence, Maggie soon had the crowd under her spell, leading the boys through a tight and well-rehearsed set comprising of original material and classic covers. Maggie's wide vocal range is natural and effortless, and her sultry versions of "I Put A Spell On You" and her tribute to Etta James of "I Just Wanna make Love To You" were sung from the heart and a treat for the audience to relax to after their energetic dancing to "Messin' With The Kid". At the end of the set maggie cheekily plugged her debut album "Don't Mess With Me", a collaboration with the boys from the band resulting in 12 self-penned tracks. However, she didn't need to plug it that hard as the crowd were up on their feet and queuing to buy it before the echoes of the last chords had faded!!! My vox pop quote - "Brilliant - great varied vocal styles!"
"Maggie was a true star! With her rasping vocals and a real tight band behind her, she had the entire crowd going wild!" Mijas Blues Festival 2011, Malaga, Spain
"First time at Colne and they absolutely stormed both venues! ....a ‘must have' for next year." The Great British R & B Festival 2011, Colne
"Consistently great performers and crowd pullers ........ excellent in every way!" Dundee Blues Bonanza 2011, Scotland
"Scorching vocals backed by a terrific 3 piece ...... cracking entertainment from a cracking band!" Darlington R & B Festival 2011
Don't Mess With Me
I Will Wait
I'm Giving Up On You
I Can't Stand It
Ain't Got The Blues No More
More Heartaches Than Happiness
April 3rd 2012
Many thanks to Paul Jones for playing "Misfigured", a track from the album on his radio show last night. You can catch it on BBC iPlayer until 9th. He gave a terrific plug for the 1st Northern Rock n Blues Festival on Good Friday - and had this to say about us.......
" that was the Maggie Ross Band - they're completely new to me until I received the album recently. The album is called "Don't Mess With Me" and y'know ...... the lady can certainly sing ..... she really belts 'em out! She can also do the more subtle kinda stuff too!"