Something old, something new, something Blues

John Mayall & The New Band
John Mayall & The New Band

AFTER a music career spanning half a century, and with more than 60 albums to his name, you would think there was little left to accomplish for the undisputed ‘Godfather of the British Blues’, guitarist John Mayall OBE. But you’d be wrong.

“I still enjoy it,” admits the 77-year-old from his Californian home. “I’m just very happy there’s an audience out there who not only respect my work, but also come out in force and enjoy the shows and the albums.”

“My job, among everything else, is to make sure I live up to the reputation that I have achieved, and I take it very seriously that I shouldn’t take what I do for granted with the audiences so I want to make them a part of what I do.”

Mayall returns to his homeland this autumn for a 25-date UK tour, which calls at Buxton. And the legendary master bluesman, who was born in neighbouring Macclesfield, is sure to feel right at home in the Peaks.

“Buxton is not a place where you would think you would have a stop-off for a major tour, but I’m glad we’re coming there because it is familiar territory from my childhood. I’m looking forward to a good show there,” he admits.

So what can we expect?

“As always, when I go on the road, I’ve got such a huge catalogue of songs over the years. I always try and pare it down to a good mixture of old stuff and new stuff. As long as we can find good improvisation and good energy out of some of the old ones, that’s what we are all about.”

Since disbanding the Bluesbreakers three years ago, Mayall has launched a new band consisting of Texan guitarist Rocky Athas and Chicagoans Greg Gzab on bass guitar and Jay Davenport on drums. And for his British tour, Mayall will also be joined by rising Blues star Oli Brown as special guest.

Says Mayall: “The guys I’ve got with me now, we’ve been together for three years and its undoubtedly the most exciting band that I’ve ever had, and that’s saying something considering all the people who have passed through the band over the years.”

Such a distinguished list of names includes the likes of former Bluesbreakers Eric Clapton, Fleetwod Mac legends Mick Fleetwood, John McVie and Peter Green, plus former Rolling Stone Mick Taylor, who all have Mayall to thank for helping launch their careers.

But of his dynamic new band members, he adds: “I think we have a real winner. Every night that we get on stage, sparks fly and we are very glad to bring it to the audience.”

l John Mayall comes to Buxton Opera House on Thursday November 17, at 7.30pm. Tickets, priced £25.50 and £27.50, are available on 0845 127 2190 or at www.buxtonoperahouse.org.uk.