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Mayall, Simmonds bring ‘The British Blues Explosion’ to Big Island


Tribune-Herald staff writer

Two living legends of British blues, John Mayall and Kim Simmonds, will take the stage Saturday night at the Honokaa People’s Theater as part of a four-night, four-island tour billed as “The British Blues Explosion.”

The 79-year-old Mayall is a legendary vocalist and multi-instrumentalist whose Bluesbreakers served as a springboard for numerous musicians who went on to stardom including Eric Clapton, Peter Green, John McVie, Mick Fleetwood and Jack Bruce.

Simmonds, a 65-year-old Welshman, is the founder and longtime lead guitarist of the iconic blues-rock band Savoy Brown, and will be performing an acoustic solo set, something he’s done the past five years or so between gigs with the band.

“I originally started doing it as an antidote to carrying a band around for years and years,” said Simmonds, who’s released four solo acoustic CDs. “I find that a lot of ideas and inspiration that I get solo acoustic goes back to the band. Sometimes, with the old Savoy songs, I find a way to bring it into the 21st Century, as opposed to copying what I did in the past. It’s a way of playing an older song and finding a way to embrace it.”

Savoy Brown’s 2011 album “Voodoo Moon” received critical kudos and delighted the band’s devoted following. Their label, Ruf Records, released a live DVD/CD package last year called “Songs from the Road,” featuring the band on the “Voodoo Moon” tour. Simmonds said Savoy Brown has put the finishing touches on a CD called “Goin’ to the Delta” which is slated for release in January 2014.

“It’s a straight blues record,” he said.

Simmonds, who describes himself as “not very sociable” has reinvented himself over the past decade or so, taking on more vocal duties with the band as well as doing the solo acoustic shows.

“If you’re playing solo acoustic, you’re doing smaller, more intimate venues,” he said. “You can tell stories. You rely on your personality as much as your music. I think you have to. It’s just you. You have to communicate on both a musical level and a personal level. And I think that’s helped me with the band, as well, when I do band show. I think it’s helped me develop my personality.”

Simmonds called touring with just his voice and guitar “a remarkable way of performing” and “liberating.”

“I’ve heard other people say it, as well,” he said. “You can have a set list together; you can have a plan. But as soon as you hit that stage, it’s out the window. You can have a set list and a plan with a band, and it’s fairly loud, so you can sort of force the issue. But as soon as you’re up there by yourself, you’re completely aware of the vibe, the audience, the atmosphere, yourself. All of a sudden, it changes completely. And most nights, you fly by the seat of your pants.”

Doors open at 7 p.m. The show is at 7:30. Tickets are $40 general, $55 gold circle, available at CD Wizard in Hilo, Music Exchange in Hilo and Waimea, Taro Gifts in Honokaa, Sound Wave Music in Kailua-Kona, Kiernan Music in Kainaliu and online at For more information, call 896-4845.

Email John Burnett at


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