Federal Charm, Aaron Keylock and SIMO @ The Deaf Institute
Three's a charm as the Planet Rock Roadstars show rolls into town with local heroes Federal Charm heading up a blues fueled evening with Aaron Keylock and SIMO helping to set The Deaf Institute alight.
Words and photos: Anthony Firmin
The huge lump of energy that is JD Simo bounced onto the stage at The Deaf Institute and, apart from a short and unexpected drum solo, he didn’t stop for 45 minutes. Hailing from Nashville I would have expected his blues to be a little more country infused but instead it is raw and uncut, it is positively dangerous but still manages to infuse funk and soul within a heavy framework. His songs cover subjects such as gay rights (kind of a tricky subject in the southern states) and in Long May It Sail he sings about passing away and that we are not gone, we are still here but in a different way. Closing my eyes I could hear Joe Cocker on stage as the set is closed out with a rip roaring rendition of With A Little Help From My Friends, JD bounding all over the stage in a frenzy, his guitar playing is at a blistering pace, at times reminiscent of the late Alvin Lee. This is so good, I have to see SIMO again!
Aaron Keylock has the dubious pleasure of being the second act on tonight as this Planet Rock Roadstars show travels around the country. Although from Oxford, Keylock looks like, and sounds like a Southern boy with his laid back blues and blistering slide guitar work. And oh boy, he is a mean slide player but unlike the frenzied approach of JD, this is all very considered. With an album out on 20th January titled Cut Against The Grain, I am sure this is not going to be the last we hear of Mr Aaron Keylock, very impressive.
Although this is the penultimate gig of the tour, for Federal Charm, this is the gig, their homecoming, and expectations are high as the venue is full of friends, family and supporters. And they do not disappoint. For every minute the band are on stage they are absolutely solid, so comfortable in their performance and so together in everything they play. Nick Bowden’s singing and playing is perfect and Paul Bowe now looks and acts the guitar hero as his execution is on another level.
And with the bag full of songs they play this evening from both their self-titled debut and last years The Great Divide it seems a surprise to include Tom Petty’s I Should Have Known It in such a short set, but live their songs take on a new lease of life such as set closer Silhouette. The band’s swagger onstage is unstoppable, their confidence and self-belief is total. The world’s stage awaits Federal Charm.
And so the three-pronged Planet Rock Roadstars demolition of The Deaf Institute is complete.