Last weekend I had the opportunity to photograph Greg Copeland at the Blues Garage in Hannover. I had seen Greg a couple of times but never on a big stage and never accompanied by his band.
Greg Copeland is a seasoned, hardworking singer/songwriter who has collaborated with artists such as Gerry Williams, Pete Budden and Big Daddy Wilson. Greg and has also graced the stage with some of Europe´s finest musicians. His current band was formed in 2012 and they are almost constantly playing venues and festivals all over Europe. I have been fortunate enough to have seen Greg Copeland a couple of times, either as a guest artist or doing an intimate acoustic set. Tonight was my first opportunity to see him in full flow with his band, being a blues fan I was looking forward to it immensely.
After a bit of a detour we found ourselves driving round an industrial estate not too far from Hannover Airport. In amongst the car dealers and repair shops sits the Blues Garage. Entrance through a stable type door and into one of the coolest venues I’ve seen for a long time. The walls adorned by massive artworks of Frank Zappa and Jimi Hendrix, and lined with the guitars of past performers. The Blues Garage in Hannover is the self proclaimed ‘home of the blues’ in Germany, and not without good reason. Artists such as Wishbone Ash, John Mayall, Buddy Guy & Joe Bonamassa played here.
Large in stature, Greg has a voice to match. His deep tone could not be a better matched to his Jazzy, Funky, Blues style. The show kicked off with a few select tracks from the 2013 album ‘Who’s Afraid of the Black Man?’ including ‘A Womans gotta have the last word’ and ‘Celia’. Song after song the band confirmed their skills as musicians and showmen, filling the hall with Blues riffs and rhythms. A song that stuck out for me was not an obvious Blues classic but a reggae influenced number and the albums title track ‘Who’s Afraid of the Black Man?’ Inspired by Greg’s experience of prejudice in everyday life, sitting on a packed bus when the seat next to him was empty. Deciding to ignore the negative connotations Greg looked for the humour.
A fantastic rendition of the classic ‘Rollin and Tumblin’ allowed Julian Braun to take centre stage for a blistering guitar solo. I also have to single out Julian Trempel (bass) who is entertaining in his own right with the obvious passion displayed in his expressive style of play. Greg Copeland and his band know how to put on a show. Their sound is polished, their tempo is upbeat and their work ethic is obvious, even to a non blues fan. If I am honest the turnout was a little disappointing, however this did not in anyway put the band off and it certainly didn’t put those that were there off either. All in all a fantastic evening at the Blues Garage. I look forward to my next encounter with Greg and his band.