collard Greens and Gravy
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collard Greens and Gravy

Brunswick, Victoria, Australia

Brunswick, Victoria, Australia
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"Juke Joint Boogie review 2011"

For this quirky Australian blues trio's 5th release – a natural follow-up to their last, if not the three before it – we're talking basic, Delta-based blues but with their own dark twist on tradition. Vocalist Ian Collard possesses and exceptional voice, his eddy, wailing harp sound adding a definitive edge to the band's sound. Despite the lack of a dedicated bassist, drummer Anthony "Shorty" Shortte and guitarist James Bridges flesh out a full band sound – offering endless, buzz-friendly boogie music for those occasions when late nights blur into early mornings. Nothing stands out to distinguish one player over another, except for their consistent ability to deliver a muscular, rough n' tumble sound.
Having absorbed the library of the past, CG&G move things into the future through the careful application of their craft. No fat. No detours. No showboating.

A complex sound for all its simplicity. Controlled passion that transfers the energy to the listener or, more precisely, to the listener's foot.
An element of swampiness is achieved through Collard's reverb-drenched harp coupled with Bridge's eerie effects on guitar as Shortte lays down bulletproof, ironclad rhythms. The result? A rich, dark tone of a style that blues aficionados crave – primitive yet precise. More mood-maker than a collection of individual songs, these tracks blend together in their similarity. However, standouts include their rendition of "Cat Squirrel", familiar to most, as well as the title track, which perks up the pace to drive its boogie home. Another original, "Low Down", leans on a heavier vocal presence, cooking up a fierce squall of harp and guitar.
They achieve a slightly different sound as Collard's voice gets more emotive on his own goin' Back Home", setting up the album's best track, "Out Last Night". This lone song does the best job of illuminating more of the band's personality. Slightly more laid-back, it relies heavily on Collard's vocals as the band burns a little brighter. The absence of guitarist Bridges' fiddle, which distinguished tracks like "Lonesome John" on the last album, plus harnessing more variety from Bridges' guitar (slide, effects) might enhance their next outing, keeping this powerhouse blues trio fresh rather than slipping into any mold they can't break free of.
Eric Thom
Blues Revue, Issue #128
March/April 2011 - Blues Revue U.S.A


"Collard Greens and Gravy - More Gravy"


Black Market Music
240-2

The traditional trio of guitar, harmonica and drums combines the three most important instrumental elements in rural blues, resulting in a stripped-down sound with lots of space for singing and harp riffs - musically, it’s one step past the solo bluesman with his thunking guitar and stomping foot rhythms. Australian trio Collard Greens and Gravy have tweaked their version of this proto-blues ideal into quite a hopped-up little band. Fans of early electrified blues will love this rough-and-ready release.
Ian Collard blows harp and sings on More Gravy!, backed only by James Bridges on guitar and Anthony Shortte on percussion, but what a big, fat sound they get. Bridges’ playing is keyed in to the roots of the blues; his rhythm work, broken up by wry slide riffs and coated with reverb, is down-home, solid and always appropriate to the song. Collard is an aggressive harmonica player whose rockabilly-meets- doowop low tenor voice can switch instantly from a growl to a croon. Add in Shortte’s “boom-boom” style drumming - part psychobilly, part Delta garage - and you have a refreshingly down-to-earth group with zero pretense. It’s all about the music.
These 14 songs dredge up all sorts of influences, starting at rural guitar blues but quickly branching



toward bits and pieces from Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and R.L. Burnside, Red Devils and even a spooky twinge of The Cramps. Opener “You Put Your Spell On Me” is a high-spirited original that leaps into being with a splash of cymbals, wailing harp and rambling guitar rhythms. A raw-boned cut of Bo Diddley’s “Pretty Thing” keeps all the song’s lyrical beauty but straps it into a hard blues arrangement. Another high point is Bridges’ fiddle work on the instrumental “Cluck Ol’ Hen,” an unexpected departure that only underscores the band’s musicianship. Collard completely tears up Muddy Waters’ classic slow blues “:You’re Gonna Need My Help,” on both harmonica and voice, for the disc’s best track.
Throughout More Gravy!, it sounds as if there are more than three players. Bridges’ guitar provides the energy that underpins the band - he’s a unique stylist in his rhythm playing, percussive and always musical. He uses reverb like a separate instrument, building deep washes of wet comping licks behind Collard’s harp solos, his tone sometimes approaching the harmonic complexity of a Hammond organ. Sound quality won’t gather an audio awards, but there's an edginess that hits on the darker side of the late-’50s electric blues, so it’s in keeping with the band’s style.
This well-paced, honest record is full of great ideas but stays right in the blues-trio groove. Collard Greens and Gravy score points both with fans of traditional blues and with those who need a little rock in their music. A cool find.

Ed Ivey
July/August edition
Blues Review 2001 - Blues Review Magazine USA


"Collard Greens and Gravy - Self Titled"

"Australia's Collard Greens & Gravy (Black Market Music 227) has a distinct sound, slightly fractured but not completely bent. In the odd moment, comparisons to Tom Waits or the semi-legendary Treat Her Right strike true and harp player Ian Collard's vocals have more than a little of the late Lester Butler (of bands 13 and Red Devils) in them.
Drummer Anthony Shortte and guitarist James Bridges do wonders with their stark, evocative/ spooky backing. Recommended.
Bonus: Excellent retro art direction in the booklet."

Blues Revue Magazine,
March 2000. - Blues Revue Magazine USA


"Collard Greens and Gravy - More Gravy"

PHEW! Collard Greens and Gravy are back - bigger, better and nastier.
This is blues with serious intent.
It should also address the misgivings some had with the mix of Ian Collard’s vocals on last year’s debut album.
How else did the band improve on last year’s ground-breaking album? Well, for one thing guitarist James bridges is now an integral part of the mix, where before he had seemed a bolt-on addition.
Anthony Shortte is the percussive force driving Collard to hit his spots on harmonica and vocally.
From the first step up to the mike on the opening You Put Your Spell On Me the singer is hitting the back of the room.
And where pop-rock bands might struggle on a second album, Collard Greens and Gravy simply add more originals to some favourite numbers to have a 14-track solid gold package.
Collard penned six songs on the new album and the band arranged three traditional songs to sit alongside Bo Diddley, Little Walter, Muddy Waters and R.L. Burnside favourites.
You can catch this world-class band on Friday nights at the Stork Hotel in the city and Sunday afternoons at the Rising Sun in North Carlton.

Lee Howard
Herald /Sun - Herald /Sun


"Collard Greens and Gravy - More Gravy ****1/2"

Collard Greens and Gravy
More Gravy!
****1/2

I thought this Melbourne trio’s first album was a killer, then I saw them live and they knocked me out. And now their second album is even better! Possibly showing the benefit of a full year of live work and great audience response, this album has a more extroverted sound, as if the band has moved from the back room to the front bar and is mixing it with the crowd more. Songs are shorter and punchier, and guitarist James Bridges is more in evidence, sharing some of the spotlight with the powerful and deeply involving singing and harmonica playing of Ian Collard.
Add Anthony Shortte’s well integrated percussion and this trio are the kings of the primal one-chord groove. And with more than half the track list credited to the band, I feel this effort is more song-driven, where the playing is in the service of the song, rather than the tune being a vehicle for flashy solos. Collard’s song writing continues to be lyrically minimalist, using traditional verse fragments and setting a mood rather than telling a story. These sit well with covers of Bo Diddley, Little Walter, Muddy Waters, R.L. Burnside and Lightnin’ Slim. This solid grooving threesome demonstrate the paradox of deep blues, that it can be so simple and so complex at the same time. The fact that it obviously moves audiences defies analysis. No need to intellectualise it, just let your mind float free and let your body respond.
Collard Greens and Gravy have tapped into some deep subterranean stream that connects us all to the source of the blues. Have a drink.


Mark D.
Rhythms Magazine - Rhythms Magazine


"Collard Greens and Gravy CD Launch,"

Collard Greens and Gravy CD Launch
The Corner Hotel
Melbourne July 18, 2004
Brian Wise (Editor, RHYTHMS MAGAZINE )

Visit Memphis, one of the alleged blues capitals of the world, and you might be disappointed if you are looking for gigs. Outside the annual Beale Street festival you will be hard pressed to find any great blues bands while Beale Street itself harbours a succession of tourist clubs whose spare ribs are a lot tastier than the bands that play a seemingly endless stream of cover versions.
In fact, you can travel the entire length of the Mississippi Delta, from the lobby of the famous Peabody Hotel (where the Delta is said to begin) through to Jackson, and you will be hard pressed to find any decent blues gigs at all. If you are really lucky you might find someone like RL Burnside doing a show but I doubt it.
Transplant this album launch to a juke joint on the Delta and it would be a Mecca for hungry blues fans for miles around. Open also with the idiosyncratic C.W.Stoneking, who sounds like he has just stepped off a farm somewhere near Clarksdale, and you would have everyone intrigued. Then hit them with Collard Greens And Gravy launching their new album Silver Bird and you would have people raving.
The fact that Collard Greens and Gravy have been to America three times now is not so much a case of carrying coals to Newcastle (as some blues aficionados would like to have you believe) as offering something that is a unique take on the blues.
Like some of the great British R&B bands of the 60's CGG take their influences, synthesise them and spit them back with a vengeance. What you hear is their take on the blues, which is not necessarily a reflection of any one style or artist. In their formative years the Rolling Stones appropriated the songs of Chuck Berry, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and others but they sounded nothing like their idols.
It occurred to me while listening to the title song from the new album - a number which might have fitted happily on a Chris Whitley album - that like many of their contemporaries Collard Greens And Gravy have transcended their origins.

A label or category can be incredibly restricting to any musician. Label something blues and you move it even further down the musical food chain. If bands like the Black Keys and White Stripes and local acts like John Butler and Xavier Rudd can play gigs like the Big Day Out you'd feel confident that these guys would equally go down a storm at such events. It is all just a question of perception.
Collard Greens And Gravy utilise the basic three piece format - Ian Collard on harmonica (and occasional guitar), James Bridges on guitar and Anthony Shortte on drums - yet they manage to create a different sound than you might expect. Where the Backsliders are percussion driven (particularly with Rob Hirst now in the band), this outfit seems more of an integrated unit in which no one instrument dominates for very long.
Ian Collard's harmonica playing is outstanding but he often defers to his colleagues, especially Bridges who is afforded plenty of opportunities to show off his considerable skills as he sits quietly, a half smile on his face, looking as though he is ready to burst into a frenzied solo. For all Shortte's head shaking, with his long hair flying in all directions, he is in fact a very subtle drummer who propels the band rather than thumps his way to the forefront.
As you might expect on this occasion the set is top-heavy with songs from the new album Silver Bird. But there are also chances to revisit the past on songs like 'You Put Your Spell On Me' from their second album More Gravy!
Undoubtedly their best album to date, Silver Bird offers CGG the chance to explore a variety of moods. While there are some terrific covers, including Junior Parker's 'I Wanna Ramble', the original songs stand shoulder to shoulder pretty comfortably.
Perhaps the greatest test of Collard Greens and Gravy came as Ian Collard gazed out on the audience just prior to starting the up-tempo 'Driving All Night'. What he discovered would put a shiver down any muso's spine - several hundred people seated on the floor in front of the stage! Not an uncommon sight at a folk festival but at the Corner Hotel for a blues band? Come on! Collard's suggestion that the band approved of dancing was accepted and the static nature of the gig changed immediately.
With any luck Collard Greens and Gravy might get some attention on stations like Triple J and the band will be able to reach a wider audience. They deserve it.

Brian Wise - Dig Online - Brian Wise


Discography

Collard Greens and Gravy
More Gravy
Silver Bird
Devil in the woodpile
Juke Joint Boogie

Photos

Bio

COLLARD GREENS AND GRAVY

Acclaimed for their gritty, driving, down home-home sound, Collard Greens and Gravy play a mostly original repertoire of foot stomping country blues that would sound right at home in a Mississippi Juke Joint. Ian Collard (Vocals ,Harmonica and Guitar) James Bridges ( Guitar and Fiddle), Anthony Shortte (Drums) have been together since 1995.

The trio have received many awards including second place at 2001ʼs International Blues challenge in Memphis, the same year the bands second C.D “More Gravy”, won the Aria award for “Best Blues and Roots Album”.

Their third C.D “Silver Bird” won the “Best Self-Produced CD”
award at the International Blues Challenge (IBC) in February 2005.

“Devil In The Woodpile” the bands 4th release won numerous awards including best C.D and best band at both the Australian and Vic/Tas blues awards in 2008/ 2009.

They have won the Melbourne blues appreciation society "Blues Performer of the Year" award twice, once in 2000 and again in 2008.

In October 2010 the band released their 5th c.d Juke Joint Boogie.

“Eerie, haunting blues...it reminded me of a dark night on the Delta.”
- Alligator Records President Bruce Iglauer describes Silver Bird

“Collard has dug deep into some wellspring of blues... and dug out a sound similar in trance-like rhythms to north Mississippi hill country blues.” - Jeremy Loome, The Edmonton Sun (Canada)

“They do what the Brits did in the 1960ʼs; absorb the work of Delta Blues masters and synthesize those influences into their own sound, while still upholding the tradition” Eric Thom- Blues Revue (U.S.A) Feb 2008.