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The Rolling Stones Fan Club of Europe
It's Only Rock'n Roll

The Midnight Special
Ron Wood Performs at Eel Pie Island
London, UK, October 20, 2004

Report By Stephanie Thorburn

It was a night packed with evocative sentiment and rich musical collaborations as Art Wood’s ‘All Stars’ took to the stage of the Eel Pie on Wednesday. This is the second occasion of late that Ron Wood and brother Art have jammed together at the UK’s most influential R n’B club. Eel Pie Island’s pedigree has been assured since the beginning of British blues, playing host to young pretenders including Cyril Davies’ all stars, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers (including Eric Clapton), The Who and Downliners Sect in the ‘60’s. Since it’s relatively recent re-opening in 2000, many elder statesmen of the original scene have generously endorsed the club with some electric performances and spontaneous celebrity jams.

Following a number of recent appearances tracing his musical roots with Rod Stewart and Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings, Ronnie Wood selected a further fitting session. Arriving with his usual larger than life persona, Ron introduced this as a sublime family evening with his wife Jo and adult kids also in the house. Dressed in a striking brown leather hyde and medallion, he was determined to make the occasion a home not far from his own. Ronnie called the tune to an extent, playing five numbers, negotiated with a degree of sibling rivalry- but make no mistake, Art and Ron are the best of friends. “What a great brother he is to have!” declared Art. ‘Smokestack Lightning’ kicked off with Mark Freeman on drums. Mick Avory of the Kinks soon appeared to complete the line-up comprising Don Craine (rhythm guitar), Keith Grant (bass) of Downliners Sect, Pete French (vocals), and Mick Green –Pirates (guitar). This was an awesome orchestra to have in place, as they treated us to Little Walter’s ‘My Babe,’ Ron quipped about Art’s secret life as a teddy boy.. Perhaps the highlight was ‘Midnight Special’ with Ronnie insisting Art take the guitar to reminisce on the first song he taught him; the bait was kicked back to Ron, with Mick Green finally assuming some dexterous guitar work. ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’, a classic Art Wood number took us up to a rousing encore as Mark Freeman returned to play his sticks, thrashing the night to an end on ‘Sweet Little Rock and Roller’ way past closing time!

This was a marvellous night recreating the origins of early blues and rock n’ roll, transposing the venue full circle to the uninhibited gigs of the 60’s with a true community feel. The event was a treat too for the musicians in Art’s All Star band & proved to be “an amazing musical experience, working with the two best rhythm guitarists in the UK” for Mark Freeman. Like the rest of the ‘house band’, he has used the benefit of his talents to support the bricks and mortar of the Eel Pie over the past few years; it’s great to receive such a marvellous reciprocal gift back- but Ronnie has always been altruistic both in and outside of his performances.

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