Skip “Little Axe” McDonald and King Size Slim
Skip “Little Axe” McDonald and King Size Slim
Skip "Little Axe" McDonald and King Size Slim
Skip McDonald is Little Axe. He made his name as an integral part of the Sugar Hill house band playing on the most influential early rap classics and, as part of Adrian Sherwood's On-U Sound crew, he has made some of the most adventurous and praised UK music of the last 20 years.
It says much for his musical dexterity that he links artists as varied as Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaata, Lee 'Scratch' Perry, James Brown, Robert Plant, Mark Stewart & The Mafia, Sinead O'Connor, and Megadeth.
Little Axe is the return to the blues that Skip grew up with and learned from his father. McDonald, along with bassplayer Doug Wimbish and drummer Keith LeBlanc formed the house band for the pioneering rap label Sugar Hill, providing the music for some of the most seminal records of the era by Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaata, Force M.D.'s and others. From there he worked closely with Adrian Sherwood on many of projects for the On-U Sound label, as well as spearheading the band Tackhead and working with Living Colour.
Skip has been the prime mover behind Little Axe since around 1992. Under a name inspired by Bob Marley's Small Axe and gospel singer Willmer 'Little Ax' Broadnax, the debut album Wolf That House Built was a personal take on blues and dub, and was released to critical acclaim in 1994. The second Little Axe album, Slow Fuse, was also well received. Then it remained silent for far too long. In 2002 Skip's third Little Axe album Hard Grind became the first release for four years on Sherwood's revived and re-launched On-U Sound label with a mixture of raw blues and reggae. While Hard Grind no doubt will also draw comparisons to Moby's Play, it was Skip who pioneered the fusion of blues and electronic music with Little Axe.
Skip is now signed to Realworld Records and has released three albums on the label creating 'gospel dub' like you never heard before.
‘a collection of song-jams on a par with 1994’s startling debut … channelling the Mississippi blues of Howlin’ Wolf and Son House via the cavernous dub of Keith Hudson and King Tubby, this set further ekes out the raw, heartfelt and otherworldly elements common to both genres.’
‘Combining ex-Roots Radic Style Scott’s tight-but-loose reggae rhythms, Alan Glen’s eerie gob iron and McDonalds nuanced weathered blues guitar’
‘The mood flickers between foreboding and playful; blues for modern times’
‘a set that sounds both effortless and adventurous, with McDonalds gutsy vocals and bluesy guitar work matched against drums, harmonica, keyboards, bass and impressively subtle, edgy dub effects that transform even well known material.’
‘dub-blues grooves that manage to be soothing yet unsettling.’
KING SIZE SLIM
Acoustic roots singer songwriter scoops British Blues Award 2014, Emerging Artist category, and that’s just part of the story.
It has been a big year for King Size Slim (aka Toby Barelli). The last 12 months has seen the release of his first studio album, an incredibly busy gig diary (including 27 shows in just 31 days during August) and it’s now been capped of with a British Blues Award.
Announced as winner of the inaugural Emerging Artist Award sponsored by Blues in Britain Magazine, King Size Slim was unable to make the awards ceremony at the Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival in Colne, Lancashire. Instead he was playing a support show for The James Hunter Six in London – just another sign that he’s made the important transition from being “busy gigging” to “in demand”!
Constant touring has built King Size Slim a reputation as a powerful performer, immensely engaging, entertaining and challenging. Now performing around 150 shows a year either solo or with his 3-piece line up (featuring a potent combination of guitars, bass, percussion and backing vocals), and in the wake of his new studio album, King Size Slim has become a ‘must see’ act at venues and festivals around the country.
Other 2014 highlights include just signing an endorsement deal with Rotosound as well as collaborations with Steve Finnerty (Alabama 3), support slots for Son of Dave, Heritage Blues Orchestra, and Paul Lamb and the King Snakes, festival appearances at Love Supreme, Celebration Days (France), Gloucester Blues Festival plus a whole heap of radio play and media support across the UK and Europe!
Debut studio album “Milk Drunk” was released late 2013 and was chosen by the Independent Blues Broadcasters Association as album of the month February 2014 as well as being a “personal pick” by Huey Morgan for his Radio 2 show (it is available from iTunes as well as being distributed by Proper Music).
The big warm tones from his resonator guitar along with a powerful and direct vocal delivery are the trademarks of singer/song-writer King Size Slim.
Add rolling grooves with multi-layers of percussion and vocals, harmonica, hand-claps, foot stomps, myriad shakers, even sweeping brooms and pots and pans, as well as some enriching guest performances (including Andy Newmark, drummer for Sly Stone and Lennon’s “Double Fantasy”), then you have a debut studio album that truly shines a light on the original compositions of a song-writer steeped in a world of music that is fully conscious of its roots but at the same time has a new story to tell.
“Taking lactose intolerance to new levels... I really like this record!”
Huey Morgan, BBC Radio 2.
“A talent out of the young and bold blues bag who can show those old delta boys a thing or two. Wonderfully fresh and energised, a crowd grabber who whips up a storm....watch out for this guy.”
Barry Marshall Everitt, House of Mercy Radio
Skip "Little Axe" McDonald and King Size Slim perform at The Grand on Sunday, November 15th, 2015
Price: £12 ADV
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