Raphael Callaghan at the Islington


After a few essays and an exam, here’s my first post for a few months! I’ll be posting more regularly over the summer, including the second ‘Albums of the Quarter’ (read the first here) – expect a distinctly European flavour this time with a look at new efforts from The Mads (Italy) and ABAY (Germany) among others – and hopefully a live review of Sazzie’s first UK headline solo show at the Camden Assembly at the end of the month – she’s signed to a new management company, released her first single with Beastie Boy Mix Master Mike, done some US dates and a ton of writing for herself and others since I last wrote about her. Whether we’ll get any Lovestarrs classics on the night remains to be seen…

I’ve also got a few posts lined up from my trip to Munich in January which I’ll schedule for the next few days, including a particularly timely one where I went to the Olympiastadion and looked at its safe standing provision – the petition for allowing it in England stands at nearly 112,000 signatures and despite the government’s rigid stance so far a Parliamentary debate is scheduled for the 25th of this month. I also want to give Berlin’s Tempelhofer Feld a fairer crack of the whip at some point, but that’ll probably wait a while.

I can’t wait for next year at uni. I’ve recently been chosen as Sport editor of Concrete, the student newspaper, and I’m looking forward to getting the paper more involved with our BUCS representative teams, something the wider UEA is not nearly proud enough of. As UEA Blog Society’s sexy Secretary next year, I’m planning to resurrect the ‘A Blog for Your Thoughts‘ feature from and have contacted several more bloggers asking for interviews – so watch that space!

Finally, I’ve also been elected as Publicity Officer for Egg Box, UEA’s student publishing society. When I was President this year our Instagram account was my baby which I created and nurtured, and I can’t wait to get my teeth into it even more, as well as Twitter and Facebook! Drop us a follow @TheEggBox if you fancy! Oh, and I’ve also finished working as part of the team editing and publishing Underline, the 2018 Undergraduate Creative Writing Anthology featuring some of UEA’s best poets, authors and playwrights – you can pick up a copy of that for £8 here.

Anyway, enough about me. I need to say something about Raphael Callaghan’s show which I interviewed him about and previewed in April.

I was going to write my own review of the gig on here, but instead decided to submit a write-up to Blues In Britain Magazine. I didn’t want to overlap or write an inferior review for one or the other, so thought I’d leave discussing it here for a while. I was delighted to hear recently that my writing has been included in issue 198 of the magazine, and look forward to receiving my copy very shortly. Being honoured to share print space with Big Boy Bloater doesn’t begin to describe it.

Needless to say, Raphael’s first gig in London for many years was superb. Over two halves at The Lexington, London, we got a variety of performance styles, from a cappella delivery to instrumental accompaniments including superb picked and slide guitar plus some incredible harmonica, Callaghan’s most accomplished instrument among several.

Callaghan traversed a range of material, from his distinctive covers of blues standards (including Holler’s Abraham, Martin and John, Callaghan’s good friend and collaborator Jim James’ Blues Go Rolling On, Callaghan’s hero Skip James’ Special Rider Blues and Sedaka’s Breaking Up Is Hard to Do) through a handful of favourites from his solo album Said and Done (mostly material written by Callaghan, plus his take on Skip’s Kokomo Blues), to other highlights from his career to date which included a sprinkling of superb gospel songs – a format which has borne some of Callaghan’s best lyric writing.

Callaghan’s solo format – appearing alone on stage with just an acoustic guitar and harmonica – demanded he strip back some songs from their studio recorded versions. This exposed the quality not only of his vocal delivery, but also of his songwriting, in terms of lyrics and melody.

Throughout, he shared anecdotes and explained the stories behind the songs, recounting moments from his career. The most touching moment of the show was when Callaghan came down into the relatively small audience, without a microphone, and looked into the whites of our eyes as he sung one of Said and Done’s best tracks Too Much Rain, Too Much Water, a song of concern about climate change.

It was also great to see his partner Christine Purnell in attendance. She co-wrote two songs on Said and Done with Raphael, and has played bass guitar for and written with him for many years (for example the Blue Cee records) before she became unable to play recently.

Fear not if you would like a more thorough review right now, though!

At the show I met poet and lyricist Geoff Parry, who has collaborated with Raphael (and Christine) on a number of projects, and he’s written a super review on his blog Rhymes and Routes which gives a great flavour of the evening and a breakdown of Raphael’s mood-spanning set; highlights from Said and Done, older material from his fifty-year career, covers, gospel songs and all. You can peruse it here.

You can find out more about the June issue (no. 198) of Blues In Britain magazine which includes my review from their website here, where you can order a copy for £6.50 in the UK or subscribe for six months or a year.

Raphael has a few more shows and appearances at blues festivals lined up this year. These start with a slot supporting the legendary US Bluesman Geoff Muldaur in Angelssey this Tuesday, somewhat closer to Raphael’s North Wales home. Find full details of his future dates on Raphael’s website here.

Raphael was kind enough to invite me to the London show and let me photograph his soundcheck and the gig itself. I’ve put some up on my Tumblr page, and here are a few of my favourites:


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Tony Allen

21-years-old, from Norwich.

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