Playing one musical instrument is a talent; playing three or four at once is jaw-dropping. Mike Whellans certainly dispelled stereotypes about one-man bands in this performance: as a one-man blues band, Whellans is not a novelty act but a talented musician. How does Whellans carry out this multi-tasking? He tells us a story. One of his friends suggested he must have had a tape-recorder hidden somewhere. There are no hidden recorders here though, just one man and a whole lot of instruments.
Even then, Whellans doesn’t need an instrument to make music. His beat-boxing was unexpected but a highlight of the performance. It was sharp, unusual and spontaneous and it’s amazing that Whellans sounds like a whole band without any instruments at all. His harmonica-playing is also terrific and he’s obviously a man who knows his craft well. Whellans’ singing isn’t spectacular and he doesn’t have a strong tone. It’s a weathered, unassuming voice, which never overpowers his own music and fits in with the upbeat blues tunes.
This is old-school blues and Whellans often plays what he feels like spontaneously. Feel-good bluesy tunes like ‘Shim Sham Shimmy’ certainly go down well with the audience. Whellans has a laid-back personality which means that, regardless of the music, an hour in his company is enjoyable.