Tim Aves and Son Henry at The Coach & Horses Blues Jam 01/04/09 by Stevie King

The crowd at the Coach & Horses were treated to a double helping of the new Tim Aves/Son Henry team this week, first backed by the House Band, then later in a showcase spot with their own recently formed band (TASHB for short) as part of their Spring Tour of the South. Veteran Essex Bluesman and deejay Tim's imposing and charismatic figure has been no stranger to the Jam in its previous incarnation at The Heathcote, and house band regulars Reg Patten and Terry Duggan slotted in very comfortably behind the duo for three numbers at the start of the night.

Tim kicked off with a lively shuffle called ‘One Step At A Time' and Alaskan-born Son followed on with the classic ‘Baby What You Want Me To Do' before they brought the short set to a close with a powerful version of Magic Sam's ‘Easy Baby,' Reg's drums driving the choruses to one pulsating crescendo after another. Then, after three sets of Jammers had taken the stage, Tim and Son returned with their hybrid outfit, half Son Henry Band and half Rockin' Armadillos, featuring Dean ‘Dino' Stewart on bass, and Paul ‘Lazy' Lester on drums replacing Kev Oliphant, who died tragically and suddenly earlier this year.

The Texan Blues style that gave the award-winning Armadillos their name was still very much in evidence as Henry kicked into a 'Cold Shot'-type shuffle titled ‘Always The Last One To Know,' stamping his boot heels on the stage to encourage the rhythm section, and Aves replied with a version of Bruce Springsteen's ‘Cover Me,' re-arranged in a similar vein. Tim then changed to slide guitar while Son returned to the lap steel for a twelve-minute performance of Sonny Landreth's ‘Wind In Denver,' which magically morphed into Joe Jackson's ‘Is She Really Going Out With Him' before slipping back into its original form.

Whistles and applause greeted Henry's solos as he discarded his slide and fretted the strings with a soft drinks bottle. His technique on the lap steel is exciting and dynamic, bringing to mind the sound of Glen Campbell from The Misunderstood and Juicy Lucy, and on a six-string, Son's playing is still fluid and electrifying, though at times his borrowed Fender Bassman threatened to drown out Tim's Trace Elliot. It's plain too, that Son is the joker of the pack, whether he's making bunny ears behind Tim's head or pretending to de-tune his pal's guitar, providing the sound effects for his japes on the lap steel. But there's no mistaking the camaraderie between the two men, or the obvious enjoyment that they get from playing together.

Their Blues has a raw, unrehearsed quality that relies on striking personality, strong improvisation, and a tight, solid rhythm section, but despite Tim's complaint that after six days on the road they were beginning to feel a little frazzled, there was still a great energy and exuberance to their performance that communicated itself instantly to the audience. Four more sets of jammers later, they returned to the stage for one last song, a very uptempo version of ‘I Can't Be Satisfied' with Son at the lap steel and Tim on harp, which still left the crowd eager for more. The tour is over now and Son's returned home to Scotland, but I hope we won't have heard the last from this talented and entertaining team.