John Crampton

January 4, 2008


Hastings Arms, Hastings. 17-12-2007

John Crampton is one of those idiosyncratic British musicians like Lol Coxhill or Evan Parker maybe, who have taken a musical form, in this case Blues*, and adapted and evolved it into their own per-culiar voice. John’s music is essentially blues but replaces the standard characteristics with his own idioms: shuffling 12 bar blues rythm are replaced with up-tempo 4/4 beats metronomically measured out on a simple foot pedal. Instead of the formulaic flattened guitar chords, John’s playing is an eclectic mix of Flamenco, West African Ju-Ju slide, country and Punk, the tin  guitar occasionally  treated as a percussion instrument augmented by hand claps and foot taps. Layered over this is Crampton’s gritty, growled minimal vocal and harmonica playing which again avoids blues stereotypes and  harmonically adds to the range of the music creating a ‘big sound’ like an Irish string section moving loosely along with the guitars.

Micklepage Stomp (excerpt) MP3 file   John Crampton Website

*Not my kind of thing, “The Blues”. I like the idea of “The Blues” but my ears refuse to listen to it – don’t get me wrong, i can see why it is good; i understand the whole ‘west-africa-to-america’ relevance, complex harmonies and rhythms and root importance to rock and pop music – i’d just prefer that it sounded better. Maybe it’s what happened to Blues that makes me uncomfortable; when played amplified by white blokes it tends toward bombast (and that unforgivable crime; the creation of Heavy Metal). When it’s purity is preserved it becomes sterile and ironically further away from it’s roots; becoming the sole domain of aging middle class  males.

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