Jo Harman

Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh


Jo Harman won't quickly forget her Edinburgh Blues Club debut. The London-based singer and British Blues Awards current Vocalist of the Year endured an eleven-hour drive to get to the Voodoo Rooms and the gig was just warming up nicely when a genuinely concerned looking Harman signalled for her band to stop, walked down into the audience and asked for an ambulance as someone had collapsed.

The room was evacuated and quite a few of the audience left for home but once the casualty was seen to and pronounced "walking and talking", Harman picked up where she'd left off and finished the gig.

Her time in the van had been well spent. As a tribute to former Free bass guitarist Andy Fraser, who died last week, Harman and her band had passed part of the journey learning a suitably rockin' version of Free's Ride on a Pony. It fitted well into the set as her music contains much of the era when bands like Free in their early days spent their lives in transit vans on motorways.

The band rocks tightly and with a good sense of dynamics and mostly measured soloing and the songs are flavoured with a Hammond organ swirl here, a touch of New Orleans grooving there and even something of 1970s pop-soul in the case of the catchy When We Were Young.

Harman sings with conviction, retailing both power ballads and a more sultry approach on the atmospheric Sideways and her take on Bobby Blue Bland's classic Ain't No Love in the Heart of the City, complete with a cappella testifying section, offered a good example of her polished professionalism.