This site is a means to introduce myself and my music to a wider audience, and to allow lovers of Blues music to buy my compositions, if they enjoy them.
It charts my love of Blues music, the History of 'Go The Hog', the Blues Band I helped to found, and recognises the untimely loss of founder-member, front-man and long-time friend, Nick Foster. Sadly missed also is the guest saxophonist on Go The Hog's final appearance, Robert Fell.
Thirdly, and very importantly, it is my wish to raise the profile of NMOSD. This rare neurological disease has seriously affected my life,(although I have now been diagnosed with PPMS) and the lives of many other sufferers in the UK and around the world. I have pledged 20% of any sales made from this website to support charities for neurological illnesses.
'Black and White' is respectfully dedicated to the memory of my friend and musical accomplice, Nick Foster (9/12/1946 - 2/9/2011).
Here, he performs with 'Go The Hog' the Sonny Boy Williamson classic, 'Help Me' for the finale of their farewell gig in Manchester in 2003.
Go The Hog play the Granby Arms, Uppermill
A FEW PICS
THIS IS ME
JSL’s early musical influences, like those of so many other aspiring guitar heroes, were Buddy Holly and The Crickets, Hank Marvin of The Shadows, and the most influential of all, Chuck Berry.
JSL’s early interest in blues was sparked by Alexis Korner’s TV appearances; the legendary Granada TV Blues package in May 1964, featuring Sonny Terry & Brownie McGee, the amazing Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Muddy Waters and other greats; and then by listening to The Yardbirds, The Animals and the whole “Chicken Shack, Fleetwood Mac, John Mayall can’t fail” Blues explosion of the late 1960’s.
He had dabbled with numerous ‘nowhere’ bands from his schooldays onwards, spending far more time rehearsing than performing. Meeting Nick Foster at Edge Hill College (now University) in 1967, JSL was impressed by his flatpicking style and knowledge of such esoteric areas as Talking Blues. He remembers sharing just one acapella vocal session with Nick.
JSL achieved considerable satisfaction gigging regularly with his band ‘Reflex’ in the early 80’s, with Steve Murgatroyd on Drums. The band played original songs by Paul ‘Bart’ Bartholomew with songs, composed by JSL with band member Rod Wheldrick, being added later to the Reflex repertoire.
JSL played with several other bands through the 1980s, a highlight being an appearance of ‘Sod the Dots’ at the British Aerospace ‘Air Aid’ event in 1985. It was during this period that JSL met and played with a talented musician and songwriter, Ged Turner.
Eventually JSL sold off lots of gear and ‘retired’, though he soon became involved with friends in cellar recording and improvisational playing sessions. The usual percussionist at these jams in Bart’s cellar was a certain Geoff Sidebottom.
JSL came back to public appearances in the early 1990s as guest guitarist with Tony and Sandy Surdevan’s ‘Hard To Please’ Blues band. He was challenged by Bart’s other half, Debbie, in 1996, to break away and form a new Blues band of his own before senility set in.
JSL and Bart began by recording a low-cost cassette of six ‘JSL-original’ Blues songs, featuring some reasonably good guitar work but extremely tentative vocals, entitled ‘Falling Through the Front Porch Blues’. This is now regarded as a collector’s item, though few collectors seem to be party to this information. The sleeve notes referred to JSL having “Learned to play the Blues on his mother’s knee before switching, perhaps less melodically, to the electric guitar”.
The original ‘new band’ concept was variously called ‘Pig Pen’ or ‘Pigpen Plays the Blues’, and prominently featured the sounds of Blues Harp and slide guitar. Then emerged the infamous 'Go The Hog'.
GO THE HOG
Out of the varied and transient line-ups of ‘Pigpen Plays The Blues’, there emerged ‘Go the Hog’.
The name was adopted at the late Nick Foster’s house in Rochdale, after various choices were considered and abandoned. The runner-up choice was ‘Spill the Beans’.
The line-up was John Loydon (guitar and vocals), Nick Foster (vocals , Blues harp and percussion), Brian Haigh (keyboards), Geoff Sidebottom (bass), Gillian Rouane (Saxophone), and Steve Murgatroyd (drums).
This was the line-up which recorded the demo EP ‘In From the Cold’. The tracks were: ‘The Day I Quit You’; ‘Good Time, Bad Time’; ‘Another Man’s Blues’ and ‘Round The Block’.
Writing credits were given to Go The Hog although 3 of the 4 tracks were penned by JSL. ‘Good Time, Bad Time’ was composed by Nick Foster and Brian Haigh.
The 6-piece played numerous successful gigs, mainly around the Oldham/Rochdale area, featuring songs by JSL, Nick Foster, and a regular show-stopper by Geoff Sidebottom entitled ‘Missing Mississippi’. The original material was interspersed with arrangements of Blues classics such as ‘Dust My Broom’, ‘Help Me’, ‘Smokestack Lightning’, ‘Madman Blues’ and ‘Spoonful’.
Gillian Rouane drifted away to focus on her music degree studies, but the band continued gigging as a successful 5-piece. A high point of 2001 was when the 5-piece Go The Hog opened the bill at Middleton’s ‘Bands on the Stand’ music festival.
The next recording venture was ‘San Diego Woman’ in 2003. The album was credited as ‘JSL and Go The Hog’ on the CD spine, but elsewhere simply as ‘Go The Hog’. It comprised 12 tracks penned by JSL, including a re-recording of ‘The Day I Quit You’, first recorded on ‘In From The Cold’. The sleeve photographs included Gillian Rouane, though she did not contribute to the recording. The Album was engineered by Paul Bartholomew, JSL’s long-standing musical mentor, and Martin Downes, who had briefly been part of the ‘Pigpen’ line-up.
It was in 2003 that Brian Haigh departed the band, taking his strong keyboard contribution from Go The Hog’s powerful live sound. The band recruited Robert Fell, now, sadly, deceased, as guest saxophonist for their second outing at ‘Bands on the Stand’. He was good – very good!
It was to be the band’s swan song.
JSL went on to record ‘No Rehearsal’ in 2005, while already suffering from left hand problems, which were due to a trapped ulnar nerve and the effects of NMO, a rare auto-immune disease. These symptoms had made gigging increasingly difficult for him in the run-up to ‘Bands on the Stand 2003’. The album featured 15 JSL compositions, including another version of ‘Another Man’s Blues’ which had first appeared on the ‘In From the Cold’ EP.
Several members of Go the Hog contributed to the album, as well as a number of excellent guest musicians. Engineering was by Martin Downes and Paul ‘Bart’ Bartholomew, both of whom made musical contributions. Bart in particular defined the powerful bass and slide guitar sounds. Although a ‘solo’ album, ‘No Rehearsal’ was very much a team effort, showcasing JSL’s Blues-based compositions.