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Forget Stevie Ray Vaughan, Erik Parker & The Chapters prove that skinny white guys can play blues

you never know 'till it's too late

You know that time you were sitting alone and you quietly asked yourself, “I wonder what it would be like if John Butler and Muddy Waters morphed into one person and started making new music?” Well, today your question has been answered in the form of Erik Parker and The Chapters. Comprised of Erik Parker, Peter Bouwman (Melody Pool) and Christopher Windley (Mangelwurzel), the band deliver a soul twisting blend of blues that will have you all philosophical and melancholic in a matter of minutes. So crack out the whiskey, pull up a table and prepare to be schooled on just how to make four and half minutes of wistful regret sound eloquent.

Erik Parker and the chapters

Blues music is arguably the most enduring musical genre to date and Erik Parker & The Chapters make some pretty genuine blues. Grab a chair and some whisky and sink into You Never Know ‘til It’s Too Late.

This band is yet in its infancy, but their formation was somewhat serendipitous. Says Erik on the topic, “Christopher Windley (drums) and I had been doing a few gigs in the acoustic format… I met Pete Bouwman (bass) at the open mic night I host at the Balaclava Hotel, and we got around to jamming and…bonding over Game of Thrones on Monday nights. The first rehearsal as a band for You Never Know ’til It’s Too Late was the first time Chris and Pete had met and we were quick to realise that there was something special in the dynamic of the band and a future for the project.”

Parker sure doesn’t sound like a skinny white guy, so when you watch the live video for You Never Know ‘til It’s Too Late, you’d be forgiven for being surprised at what you see. There is such a captivating richness to his tone that I found myself almost paralysed while listening, which was inconvenient because I was trying to write this article at the time. It’s rare that I’ll abandon my focus simply to sit back, close my eyes and get lost in a song when I’m trying to review it. But that sure happened with this track, and when you hear it I’ve no doubt you’ll see why.

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Listing Hendrix and Creedence Clearwater Revival among its influences but sounding more like Muddy Waters or Stevie Ray Vaughan have inhabited the body of a 19th century poet, You Never Know ‘til It’s Too Late literally wraps you up in its soulful arms and carries you on a journey through the hardest parts of finding love. And while Parker’s voice is smooth and velvety, it is all at once also raw and charged with emotion; the kind of emotion one needs to deliver a truly convincing blues performance.

As goes the vocals, so goes the music. Peter and Chris have a highly developed understanding of the kind of dynamics that a song like this demands. Sections of lazy, sauntering melody are accented by energetic fills and crisp stabs when the mood of the track calls for it. And that’s not to mention Parker’s mastery of his Telecaster. Erik Parker and the Chapters might have started as the brainchild of Parker, but it has clearly benefited from the collaboration. “The new single is an Erik Parker original, with arrangement and development by the rhythm section. We have rearranged a lot of my material in this way but the new songs are much more collaborative at the writing stage. I get my best work done in collaboration, as there’s more drive to finish songs,” says the frontman.

I’ve serious doubt that you’ll find a more authentic blues recital anywhere in the modern world. And look out for their live set, Parker says it’s a diverse affair: “As well as the bluesy side of our music, we move through folk, soul, dub and psychedelic with a progressive approach to incorporating these elements.” Sounds pretty damn alright. Get down to their single launch this Saturday the 14th November at The Workers Club.

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November 11, 2015

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