Category Archives: Rock Music

All manner of this and that.

Rehearsals with The Crow Bone Chorus have been going very well indeed, with some covers added to the mix. They’re sounding good and fit well with the set. There’s already enough material there to play as long a set as is needed with a varied set list from gig-to-gig. We’ve also started work on a demo which will likely be a YouTube/Soundcloud only kind of a thing.

While there’ll be a self-promoted gig or two announced very soon, we’re also looking for a booker to help us out (particularly with gigs further afield). Although I intend to concentrate my efforts on full band gigs, The Craig Hughes Two will soon be back up to speed for more stripped-back live work. A couple more rehearsals and we should be there.

I’m also having thoughts on a maybe-kinda acoustic-ish project, a solo thing. More on that when I’ve clued myself in!

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Jim Dead Pray For Rain album launch. 13th Note, Glasgow. 4th December 2015

Dog Moon Howl had the pleasure of playing at Jim Dead & The Doubters’ album launch a couple of Fridays ago.  Despite technical problems with guitar effects and unusually crappy onstage sound for The 13th Note, our set went down a treat, Jim and co. played a blinder and a good time was had by all. Thanks to Paul Kerr at Blabber’n’Smoke for posting this splendid review …

Blabber 'n' Smoke

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When Blabber’n’Smoke reviewed Jim Dead‘s new album  Pray For Rain  a few weeks ago we called him a “shamanistic weatherman.” We was only joking, honestly, but of course the album launch took place on one of the filthiest nights of the year, gale force winds blowing horizontal sheets of rain that numbed your cranial nerves. Think his next album should be called “Here Comes The Heatwave.” Anyhoo (as Mr. Dead likes to say) a grand crowd donned appropriate gear and headed to the basement of the 13th Note, attracted perhaps by the prospect of seeing three fine bands and getting a copy of the new disc all for the princely sum of a fiver, one bright spot on such a dreicht nicht.

The bloody weather actually meant your intrepid reviewer missed the opening act, Traquair & the Tranquilizers although verbal reports from the early birds were all positive. We…

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Dog Moon Howl: The Story So Far

I’ve been meaning to write a post on Dog Moon Howl for a long time now and although various snippets have made it into my WordPress ramblings I’ve never quite gotten round to it.  So, here’s a potted history of the band.

Dog Moon Howl was formed in late 2011.  I’d been trying to put together a heavy psych/stoner rock type band for a while when my old mucker Bryan, who’d been living in Ireland, moved back to sunny Scotland.  Bryan also wanted to put a band together, would I be up for it, aye.  We’d been kinda-sorta in three bands together in the 90s, most conspicuously a three piece called Smotherparty.  We advertised for a drummer with an ad quoting a comprehensive list of influences including – but not limited to – Black Sabbath, The Groundhogs, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top, Funkadelic, SAHB, Primus, Blue Cheer, Thin Lizzy, Soundgarden, Status Quo, Motorhead, RHCP, The Cult, Rush, Kyuss, AC/DC, King Crimson, Queen and Hawkwind.  Who should express an interest other than Smotherparty’s old drummist, Ally, who we hadn’t seen since that band split and who was now living in Edinburgh.

Sorted.  Ally on drums, Bryan on bass/co-lead vocal, me on guitar/co-lead vocal.

We rehearsed a fair old bit, played our first gig at the end of 2011 and a few more throughout 2012 and 2013.  Somewhere in there we released a demo EP called Strip-Lit Hell, produced by Tommy Duffin of Headless Kross at 16 Ohm in Glasgow.  Much to our surprise, the EP picked up great reviews online.

Some of you reading this will have arrived at the blog via my music which you’ll therefore know to be rootsy alt.blues.  Mostly acoustic slide guitar, the rockier moments gnarly and loose, soloing kept in check where it happens at all, mostly song-based stuff.  The occasional banjo.  Well, Dog Moon Howl is largely the opposite of all that.  As a band we all get different things out of it, of course, but for me it’s more-often-than-not an excuse to crank up the electric and have at it.  Very much a lead guitar-based, heavy rock approach with long songs allowing plenty of scope for extended soloing and the likes.  So, you know.  Be warned.

Early this year, we decamped to Alloa to record our first full-length with Alec Pollock of Chasar co-producing at his studio, The Boathouse.  Delays in post-production, combined with/partly due to my coming down with a debilitating eye-infection, left us largely out of action until the album’s launch at the end of June, since when we’ve been playing around and about to promote it.  Again, we’ve picked up some great reviews for the album.

So that’s you about up-to-date.  If you want more information on the band check out www.dogmoonhowl.com or better yet, buy the CD here.  There’ll be a blog about the band’s plans for 2015 coming soon – in the meantime here’s the first video from the album, Blues Like a Hammer.


Johnny Winter

I must’ve been about thirteen or fourteen when I first heard Johnny Winter. My pal Mark had access to his big brother’s record collection and in there was a copy of Captured Live, a gnarly 1976 live set featuring the man with what was apparently one of the less celebrated lineups of his band. Of course, I didn’t know anything about that. All I knew was that this stuff rocked, and hard. Mark’s favourite track, as I remember it, was the storming version of Bony Moronie, an old rock’n’roll track that I knew well from my rockabilly obsessed childhood. Johnny tears it up on that one. My favourite was the massively long object lesson in electric slide firepower that was Highway 61 Revisited.

I hadn’t heard anything quite like it. I’d heard some slide, of course. Most of my early favourite rock bands – Zeppelin, Queen et al – employed a bottleneck here and there to some degree of cool, but not like this. Damn! It was hearing that track in particular that prompted me to first try playing slide myself. I saw in photographs that Johnny used a metal slide which directly influenced my initial decision to do the same – it just looked cooler than glass (in the end, after experimenting with various types over the years, I did indeed settle on brass as my slide of choice).

As the years went by I picked up more of Johnny’s classic albums – among them the brilliant self-titled major label debut, and its indie predecessor The Progressive Blues Experiment as well as a couple of his Alligator label releases, various compilations and so on. Late in the mix though was Second Winter, the three-side second major label release. It featured the studio version of Highway 61 Revisited, more concise than Captured Live’s take and just as good. By this time – a decade on, at least – I was fully aware of Dylan’s original, and a fan of that too, but Winter’s version, like Hendrix’s All Along The Watchtower, is The One. Second Winter is jaw-dropping, one of the great electric blues albums, one of the great guitar albums. A host of quality covers includes the definitive take on Percy Mayfield’s Memory Pain but it’s arguably the original material that stands strongest. Album closer Fast Life Easy Rider is a blues rock masterclass, seven minutes of attitude and musical muscle. Just about perfect.

My first taste of Johnny Winter live was an unfortunate one. We know now that into the 2000s, he was struggling with prescription drugs and alcohol but that wasn’t common knowledge at the time of his appearance at Bishopstock, an English blues festival, in 2001. On the third and final day, Johnny was expected to close the show, on a fantastic bill that had seen stellar performances from Gary Moore, Ben Andrews and Booker T. & The MGs (sobering thought: Moore, Andrews and Donald ‘Duck’ Dunne from the MGs are all gone now too).  However, in the end his ‘set’ consisted of him being supported up to the mike to make a barely coherent apology for not being able to play due to hurting his wrist backstage. It was all over so quickly that my mate Michael who’d driven us down there missed it as he’d gone to get the teas in. Although there were updates on the condition of Johnny’s wrist injury on his website for a while after that, rumours abounded – mostly along the lines that he’d just been wasted or, worse, he’d had a stroke.  Either way – things weren’t looking too good for him.

Over the next few years however things took an upturn and word got around that he’d cleaned his act up after extricating himself from a dodgy management situation. He started touring regularly and released his first studio album in years. The album may not have been a patch on former glories but it was a step in the right direction, earning awards and nominations on the way. With every year there were reports that, although now frail and performing seated, he was getting the fire back in his playing and his singing. Happily I got to see him at The Ferry in Glasgow around that time, up close and personal. It was a great experience. Maybe the lead work wasn’t quite as incendiary, the slide work not quite so sure as in his heyday (how could they have been?) but there was a new sense of worldliness there, helping propel his performance to the level of ‘veteran class act’. He had reached that position now occupied by Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Keith Richards, once by John Lee Hooker and Johnny Cash, going on to consolidate it with constant, well received touring and a more surefooted album with the obligatory all-star guest list.

After that gig at The Ferry, I had the chance to meet him but I didn’t take it.  I believe it was common for Johnny’s tour bus to stay outside the venue for as long as it took to meet and greet the fans who wanted a picture with the great man. I know a few folk who have those very pictures and I’ve seen a fair few more posted on social media this past few days. It’s a measure of the man that he was happy to do that for people. Still, on the night I thought he looked pretty tired, though happy, at the end of the gig. I didn’t want to impose.

So, Johnny Winter died on July 16th 2014, aged seventy. Very sad, for sure, but there’s a sense of triumph in his story too.  In the aftermath of that infamous 2001 Bishopstock appearance, it seemed we’d be reading his obituary any time and it would have been just another sad story of ‘how the mighty have fallen’.  Instead he pulled through, writing his own final chapter, one of overcoming adversity and growing into the deeply deserved status of living legend and elder statesman of the blues.

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This and that.

Been a while, so here’s an update:

Recorded the Dog Moon Howl album in January at The Boathouse in Alloa, started mixing it and then came down with the mother of all eye infections which was supposed to clear up in a fortnight but went on for over two months, becoming increasingly debilitating due to seriously affecting my vision.  Seems to have left me with some permanent problems in that regard, too.  Oh well.

Anyway, had to cancel gigs and the likes but since then have played a solo set at The Vagabond Social Club in Glasgow and a duo set at Record Store Day in Stirling (@ Europa Music), both of which went down rather well thank you very much.  Finished the mixes on the DMH album, getting the masters completed just now, and starting work on the cover art to boot.  Looking at a June release.

Actively booking for the band, the duo and myself so more live dates to be confirmed soon.  Playing (solo) @ Slouch, Glasgow on Wednesday.  Getting into a whole guitar design/business thing as well, Zentone Guitars, more news as-and-when.

Right, that’s your lot.  Blogging, eh?  Fucking doddle.


Dog Moon Howl update (and a live Craig Hughes Two video).

Work on Dog Moon Howl’s first album is in the mixing stages.  Currently sitting at nine tracks, produced by Alec Pollock of Chasar at his studio in Alloa, it threatens to be rather good.  Release and promotion details will start to get hammered into shape in the next few weeks (current thinking is a May release but that’s far from set in stone) – in the meantime, we have a gig on the books for Saturday, March 22nd with Glitterball Vegas and Traquair at The 13th Note in Glasgow.

I’m currently hitting up festivals and the likes for bookings (solo/duo and DMH) and the first solo booking of the year is for Foakies @ The Royal Oak in Edinburgh on June 2nd. Tying all this together, here’s a video of me and Ally Tennick (DMH drummist) playing as The Craig Hughes Two late last year, from the smartphone of Bryan Campbell (DMH basser).


Winter News Round-up

So, my Mail manager-thingmy isn’t letting me send Newslist emails out anymore.  Fuckity-fuck-fuck-fuck.

Anyway, here’s the main body of what should have been this winter’s newsletter…

The Blues Magazine #10

There’s a full-page interview with me in #10 of Classic Rock Presents: The Blues Magazine and there’s also a great review of the new album in there.  Available now from WH Smiths etc., or order online.

Reaction to the new album

Reviews and reactions to Losers and Bastards are coming in and I’m pleased to say that so far they’ve been overwhelmingly positive.

“A diamond in the rough, with a poet’s soul.”

            The Blues Magazine (UK)

“It’s bloody brilliant.  Not just Hughes’ best, but one of 2013’s.”

            Resurrection Songs (UK)

His lyrics too are a mix of despair and grim humour and on a couple of the songs here he proves himself to be a great chronicler of Glasgow life with one of the songs, Future After All, reading as if it was an excerpt from a James Kelman story.”

            Blabber’n’Smoke (UK)

“…one of the most honest blues albums of 2013, leaving no doubt as to why Craig Hughes has often been compared to some of the past greats including Blind Willie Johnson.”

            Blues Underground Network (Canada)

And check out Charlie Bear’s video review of the album on her first Vlog, which also features some exclusive live footage.

The album entered the Blues Underground Network’s UK/Europe/Australia Top 10 Blues/Blues Rock Chart at No.1 and stayed there for four weeks running! Which brings me, slightly smugly, to some end-of-year charts/critic’s lists:

Blues Underground Network’s Year End Review – Best UK Blues Album : Losers and Bastards

Blues Underground Network’s Top Ten International Blues/Blues Rock Albums – #3: Losers and Bastards

The Third Class Ticket’s Festive 60 – #33: A Strongman and an Acrobat

Resurrection Songs’ Top 10 of 2013 – #5: Losers and Bastards

If you’ve yet to get a copy of the album or fancy giving one as a belated Xmas present (cheapskate!) please do check out my Bandcamp store for CDs and downloads – or download only via CD Baby, Amazon, iTunes and all that good stuff.

The Craig Hughes Two

The final few of 2013’s gigs were good ones.  I had a busy night in Slouch playing on a bill with the splendid Estonian/English trio of Andres Roots/Steve Lury/Peter Piik and last month’s “Craig Hughes Two” debut at the Vagabond Social Club with Ally Tennick from Dog Moon Howl on percussion went down a storm.  Look!  A picture!!

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Dog Moon Howl

Talking of Dog Moon Howl, it’s been a quiet year on the band front for various reasons but we played our first gig in months at Pivo Pivo, Glasgow in November and it was a great night.  We were at Pivo again in December for our last gig of the year (another good one, a very different set to the previous month’s) and are preparing to record our first album in January 2014.  Which, come to think of it, is really soon.

New videos

There’s a video for the album track Everybody’s Got to Cheat and Lie Sometimes, culled from live footage taken by Dog Moon Howl’s Bryan Campbell available for your viewing pleasure HERE.

Also, a live performance of album track Beans and Bread from that Craig Hughes Two debut gig can be found HERE.

Tungstone Guitars

I recently had a meeting with Jordan Campbell of new guitar business Tungstone Guitars.  Something exciting is in the off – watch this space for updates.  In the meantime, Tungstone are just starting up and they have a new Facebook page so if you’re a Facebook sort of a person check them out and give them a “like” and/or follow them on Twitter.

Plans for 2014

Next year is going to be busy on both the live and recording fronts.  I’ll be continuing to play solo gigs but the live focus for my blues/roots stuff will be on the duo with Ally.  Dog Moon Howl will also be stepping up the live work on the release of our first album as mentioned above.  There are a couple of other projects in the offing which will likely happen in the second half of the year – more on those as and when.

So, that’s it for the time being.  Please do keep checking the website for updates, “like” the Facebook page and check out the YouTube channel as there’ll be a lot more content added there over the next wee while.