It’s been a long time coming and they’ve whetted our appetite with a handful of singles along the way but Kent-based hard rock outfit Big River have finally released their debut album.
Meaty guitar, soulful vocals, catchy hooks, great solos and chugging rhythm, not to mention some nice touches of harmonica, Redemption has a pleasingly retro feel to it with echoes of some of the great hard rock albums of the early to mid 70s.
Recorded over a two-year period at Rochester’s Ranscombe Studios in Kent under the guidance of producer Jim Riley, close to thirty songs were written for the album but they’ve narrowed it down to nine (ten if you buy the CD which includes a bonus track). Stand-out tracks include ‘Blues Blood Baby‘, ‘Hometown Hustler’ and ‘Blackened Rain’ – all previously released as singles – alongside the anthemic ‘You Are My Sun’ and the soulful ‘Who Do You Want Me to Be’.
Big River are: Adam Bartholomew (vocals), Damo Fawsett (guitar), Ant Wellman (bass) and Joe Martin (drums). Guitarist, Damo Fawsett, comments: “To capture the energy and chemistry in every track, we record it live, we’re all in the same room playing the songs & that really does make for something special, no click tracks, no gimmicks and very minimal overdubs. What you hear on the recordings is how we sound live on stage.”
Redemption is available in two formats: 10-track CD which includes a CD-only bonus track and as a 9-track album on all digital platforms.
Fans of genuinely classic-era classic rock will find plenty to like on this album.
Released: 16th August 2019 on Trouserphonic
Dave “Bucket” Colwell at Leo’s Red Lion, Gravesend 2016
A consistent presence on the live music scene and and around the south-east these past couple of years, Kent-based blues rockers Big River release their latest single ‘Blackened Rain’. We keep being promised an album but, for now, we’ll have to be tantalised with another single. Following on from ‘Hometown Hustler’ and ‘Blues Blood Baby’ it contains that same blend of meaty guitar, soulful vocals and catchy hooks but this latest offering takes the band into heavier terrain and is an out and out blast of unadulterated hard rock. Think Bad Company with a good dollop of Led Zep blasting out from behind and you’re probably along the right lines.
Vocalist, Adam Bartholomew had decided to take some time out from the band and late 2018 saw the announcement of a new lead singer. However, Bartholomew is back once more, providing both vocals and lyrics here, and the new single has already been picking up considerable airplay.
It seems like these guys have had some ups and downs to contend with of late but ‘Blackened Rain’ is a great slice of hard rock and I look forward to that forthcoming album.
Big River are Adam Bartholomew (vocals), Damo Fawsett (guitar), Ant Wellman (bass) and Joe Martin (drums).
Released: 28th January as download on the Groovy Uncle label
Big River – Hometown Hustler
Big River – Blues Blood Baby
Ahead of an album release this summer, Big River unveil a second single. Meaty rhythm, soulful vocals, catchy hooks and big fat guitar ‘Blues Blood Baby’ is another slice of swampy, bluesy, classic rock boogie from the Kent-based band.
The brainchild of guitarist and session man, Damo Fawsett (who was previously part of another Kent-based hard rock band, Slam Cartel) Big River have been making their mark on the live music scene for a couple of years now. With a vision to celebrate the blues, they bring those classic blues rock sounds of past decades to new and original material and demonstrate some deft song-writing abilities in the process.
The track was recorded on analogue equipment at Ranscombe Studios in Kent, giving it that raw and vintage vibe reminiscent of great albums of the era. I’m looking forward to Big River’s debut album coming out but, for now, ‘Blues Blood Baby’ is a nice taste of what’s in store.
Big River are: Adam Bartholomew (vocals), Damo Fawsett (guitar), Ant Wellman (bass), Joe Martin (drums) Paul Martin (rhythm guitar).
Released: 2nd March 2018
Big River – Hometown Hustler
Dave ‘Bucket’ Colwell at Leo’s Red Lion 2016
Slam Cartel at New Cross Inn 2015
A big, fat, bluesy southern-rock sound, Big River know how to pull off an authentic classic rock vibe. Hometown Hustler is the band’s single release ahead of their forthcoming debut album. A meaty riff, gritty vocals, catchy chorus and delicious harmonica, Hometown Hustler also showcases some fine songwriting abilities as well as, hopefully, providing a real taste of what the album has in store when it’s released later this year. The band maintain Hometown Hustler has already become a firm live favourite after being introduced into the set earlier this year and I can see why.
Having enjoyed the Gravesend-based band last year when they shared a bill with ex-Bad Company guitarist, Dave ‘Bucket’ Colwell, it was clear then that they drew on some impeccable musical influences and could turn out some classic-sounding guitar-based blues rock. This new release has cemented their reputation in my mind. A band well worth checking out.
Big River are Adam Bartholomew (vocals), Damo Fawsett (guitar), Ant Wellman (bass), and Luke Calvert (drums).
Released: August 2017
“It’s as rough as hell but the rock nights are good fun,” the woman in the cab office tells me as I wait to get taken to the Red Lion. Buried away in an industrial estate along Gravesend’s river frontage, it’s a traditional boozer with a large, cavernous old-fashioned function room that’s been given a makeover as a rock venue and a decent-sized stage put in.
The event is billed as 3G and features three bands. First up are young Kent-based band Salvation Jayne (an all-female line-up save the bass player) who instantly channel the vibe of early 70s Humble Pie with covers of Black Coffee and I Don’t Need No Doctor. Great stuff. Next up is modern blues band Big River, fronted by Damien Fawsett who put the whole evening together with the aim of showcasing guitar rock.
And then, finally, it’s the turn of Dave “Bucket” Colwell with fine backing from the Big River boys, who take the stage once more. Colwell spent a number of years in Bad Company and that’s very much reflected in the sound and feel of tonight’s set. This is not only due to Colwell’s excellent lead guitar-playing but also because he’s joined on vocals by the superb Adam Barron, who can normally be found doing vocal duties with another Bad Company guitar hero, Mick Ralphs. I’d seen Barron performing with the latter only two weeks ago at the Butlins Giants of Rock weekend. But tonight, not only does he get the chance to let his vocal chords loose on some Bad Company classics like Ready For Love, as well as some Colwell solo material, we also get to hear some Free classics this time, too, with brilliantly-performed versions of The Stealer, Fire & Water and All Right Now.
Not only has Barron been fortunate enough to work with some genuine guitar greats, like Colwell, he’s also got the voice to take the polished but emotive blues rock of the early 70s well into the 21st century.
Mick Ralphs Blues Band at Minehead 2016
Mick Ralphs Blues Band at Minehead 2015