Blues! Roots of the Blues

Toby Mottershead presents an excellent selection of blues tracks in a 50 minute display of musical talent in the SpaceTriplex venue on Nicolson Square. The show is a superb exhibition of differing styles of the early blues and is a joy to watch, with Mottershead as at ease on stage as he is playing the music you hear.

Undoubtedly the highlights are when he abandons his instruments and relies solely on his voice

Mottershead is a supreme talent, with musicianship on the slide and acoustic guitar of the highest quality. He’s eminently watchable with an extremely well-rounded stage presence. He’s not too polished to come across as overly serious, and not too rough to feel overly staged, and he is more than comfortable interacting with an expectant audience.

For those who enjoy the blues, or any sort of folk music, Mottershead’s set is a varied and vivid journey through the differing styles of blues music, with the usual morose slide-guitar heavy sounds featuring prominently in the early stages of the show with songs from Blind Willy Johnson, Charlie Patton and Fred MacDonald.

It’s not all just what you’d instantly recognise as blues either, with Mottershead including train songs that bring about a lovely change in emphasis and tempo, quickening up the overall feel of the show.

Undoubtedly the highlights are when he abandons his instruments and relies solely on his voice. Firstly the opening song, Short Time Here, Long Time Gone is a superb exhibition of his raw and emotive vocals. In the middle of the set is an example of ‘chain gang’ music with the song Rosie which is a beautiful and haunting performance. Finally, and fittingly, he gives us a rendition of The Parting Glass, a Scottish folk song, and leaves us with the message “good night, and joy be with you all”.

The show is a superb exhibition of blues, which, twinned with a focused and knowledgeable guide, makes it a real highlight of the Fringe’s music offerings.

Reviews by Conor Matchett

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The Blurb

A new addition to the Blues! family, Roots of the Blues presents a musical history of early blues and roots music, featuring Toby Mottershead of acclaimed Edinburgh roots band The Black Diamond Express. ‘Toby Mottershead is a commanding presence on stage.’ (Daily Record). ‘The Black Diamond Express are an amazing band.’ (Jim Gellatly).