After a short break it was time for Welsh songstress Cherry Lee Mewis and her band. Although only 23 years old and five foot tall, Cherry Lee dominated the stage from the moment she strode on, with an assuringly confident yet unaffected attitude. Her accomplished band of two acoustic guitarists, acoustic bassist and unassuming drummer were the perfect vehicle for the singer, capably switching between mouth-wateringly smooth blues tunes and rousing R&B romps. The previously reserved audience warmed to Cherry Lee immediately and within a couple of numbers she had the crowd chanting and stomping along to a rendition of Janis Joplin's Mercedes Benz, breaking the ice and ensuring the formerly vacant dance floor was filled with appreciative revellers for the rest of her set. As Cherry Lee shimmied and strutted her stuff I was reminded of the compact power of early Tina Turner and, dare I say it, Suzi Quatro, but with a controlled vocal nod towards songbirds such as Emmylou Harris. And when Cherry Lee told me she had lived a few miles from Duffy, current queen of dinner party pop soul, I couldn't help thinking how fickle and unjust the music business can be. But Miss Mewis certainly has the potential for chart success. One to watch.
Cherry Lee Mewis is 23 years old, five foot nothing, but has a voice that belies her diminuitive size. Gutsy and definitely bluesy, there is no other way to describe it, as she began her set with a great rendition of Cherry Wine. She did real justice to well known tracks such as Shame, Shame, Shame and Lord Wont You Buy Me (a Mercedes Benz) ably backed by guitarist Max Milligan who has worked with Cherry on several of her own compositions including Ugly Night, which features on her new album Little Girl Blue. Cherry played the audience well, bantering between tracks and giving an adapted version of Memphis Nights which became Shetland Nights. She admitted that her blues influences came from old and new sources and there was evidence of Norah Jones sitting alongside much older blues artists such as Robert Johnson. Cherry has been described as the "real deal" in bringing a new and fresh approach to blues music in the UK. She rounded off her set by giving an excellent reprise of Cherry Wine, so that the act came full circle. I think the blues circuit in the UK and further afield will be hearing much more of her.
At the age of 9, this North Wales girl was already jamming with her own band and from then on she seemed unstoppable. Accordingly she left school at 16, got a management company at 17 and learned the tricks of the trade in the quiet of a studio. And here she is, Little Girl Blue, an apt title for this album, where not only blues, but mature ballads are eye catchers as well. There's a heavy emphasis on the acoustic guitars, played by Max Milligan and John Verity. Although Mewis herself stands on the cover with a guitar on her shoulder, I suspect that her main merit lies with the voice. Which is, mind you, enough in itself. She shows a great versatility to cope with different approaches to the 'classical' blues as well as to the ballads. Thumbs up to Max Milligan who succeeds in adapting his guitar style to the song at hand, great Piedmont-picking in Robert Johnson's 'Red Hot', though at times ('Nothin' In Ramblin') one might expect a little more fire. Blues harp player Jeff Dakin shows up on the right time and, though he may not be your regular Mister Musslewhite, his interventions are to the point and his technique exactly fits the occasion. The man has a great tone. READ THE REST OVER AT....
(3*) This is a rootsy, acoustic cache of mostly covers from the very talented 22 year old Cherry Lee Mewis. Like Maria Muldaur she's mastered that early, pre-war blues phrasing made famous by the likes of Memphis Minnie - who, obviously, is Mewis' biggest influence. On "Little Girl Blue" she nails two delightful Minnie tunes ("Where's My Good Man", "Nothin' In Ramblin'"). But she also samples later divas like Janis Joplin ("Mercedes Benz"), Koko Taylor ("The Man Next Door"). READ THE REST OVER AT....
All the way from that hotbed of the blues - Colwyn Bay, North Wales - comes 22 years old Cherry Lee Mewis - with a most appealing collection of old-time, jazzy blues - all delivered with her fine husky voice, with just the right amount of grit and soulfulness when required. With excellent production from Max Milligan and ex-Argent member, John Verity, she is able to deliver the songs backed by the sympathetic, non-obtrusive playing of the afore-mentioned Milligan on a variety of acoustic guitars, bass and mandolin; the stand-up bass of Dave Jenkins and harmonica from Jeff Dakin, with John Verity contributing backing vocals and some guitar. The generous 14-song collection spans around 80 years - from the twenties songs of Memphis Minnie and Jelly Roll Morton up to a nice take on the late Jeff Buckley’s “Everybody Here Wants You” - featured here as a bonus track... READ THE REST OVER AT...
Amusingly named Mewis presents a collection of blues standards on her debut CD. Choosing songs made famous by Janis Joplin, Eva Cassidy and Robert Johnson could be risky, but Mewis throws herself fully into each song, aided by some excellent musicians. Her voice may lack subtlety, but she abounds in passion and power. DEFINITELY worth a listen...."
Go on, admit it, you love her name, don't you? No? Cynic! Next time, pick on someone your own size. Mewis's voice might sound powerful, you see, but this Welsh anachronism is merely what my journalist's manual demands I describe as pint-sized. I say anachronism because most of the songs the 22 year old Mewis has chosen to re-interpret on this debut album date back to the earliest days of the blues. I can't imagine anyone quibbling with a single one here - including both the Jeff Buckley composition and the self-penned "Ugly Night" - even if they are slightly predictable. Throughout Little Girl Blue is played with delicate beauty, largely through a combination of the clean, charming acoustic and slide playing of Max Milligan and the hearty, emotive and inventive singing of Mewis. This is an understated album - cool, unfussy, gentle and impossible to dislike. It is anathema, possibly even an antidote, to the modern world, the sort of thing you'd put on towards the end of an evening entertaining your most sophisticated dinner guests. Mewis, meanwhile, while searching for her own musical identity, has chosen to try some pretty fetching, not to mention significant, personas on for size.

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Cherry on the road

Cherry with Morgan Freeman minutes after coming off stage at his Ground Zero Blues Club, Clarksdale, Mississippi

Cherry with legendary songwriter Dan Penn hanging out near Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, Alabama

Cherry with Steve Cropper after opening up for him and The Animals

Cherry onstage performing at the Silverstone British Grand Prix

Cherry recording at Abbey Road Studios guesting on Bernie Marsden's new record

Cherry hanging out in Nashville before performing at Red Rooster's Writer Night

Cherry & the band recording their BBC Radio 2 session at Maida Vale

Cherry with Bernie Marsden & Paul Jones after performing at Paul's charity gig at Cranleigh Arts Centre

"Great voice Cherry Lee!" Imelda May

Cherry with Aled Jones after coming off stage at Proms in the Park

"Thanks for supporting me, great music..." Albert Lee

"Cherry got the blues, that's why I wrote her name on my hand!..." Seasick Steve

"Real great touring with you Miss Cherry, thank you so much..." Mud Morganfield (Muddy Waters Jnr)

"Cherry, you sure can howl girl!" Hanging with Howlin' Wolf's two daughters and niece after performing at Howlin' Wolf Festival in West Point, Mississippi

Backstage with the Walter Trout Band after supporting him on his UK tour

Cherry backstage at Kentish Town Forum after performing onstage with The Quireboys

Onstage with Brad Webb & Blind Mississippi Morris at BB King's on Beale St, Memphis

Onstage at the 2010 Howlin' Wolf Memorial Festival in West Point, Mississippi

Onstage at the 2010 Howlin' Wolf Memorial Festival in West Point, Mississippi, band from l-r Grammy-award winning Billy Earheart, David Parker, Kelvin Holly (Little Richard, Pegi Young), Mike Chain, Cherry & Keith Shaddix.

Cherry onstage with her US band at the 2011 Market Street Festival in Columbus, Mississippi.

Backstage with US blues legend Super Chikan at the 2011 Market Street Festival, Columbus Mississippi