Ricky, 'The Musician'
Richard Bacchus returns to the UK for his second tour in 2 months! Prior to his support slot on Jesse Malin’s January sell-out tour, Ricky had never played a show in the UK despite the fact that he was born in the UK, & lived here until the age of 9.

This time Ricky’s here in support of Mad Juana, Sami Yaffa’s band. Sami is best known as the original bassist of legendary Finnish glam punks Hanoi Rocks, but Ricky & Sami have been friends for many years, & have a band together called Vasquez. Ricky has also played guitar for Mad Juana in the past. So, as on the Jesse tour, there’s a long, involved friendship that is obvious from the moment that we walk into the Leicester venue The Musician, on the first night of this tour.

Mad Juana had arrived in the UK the previous day, & spent the night before at London’s Boogaloo being plied with copious amounts of alcohol by none other than Shane MacGowan, resulting in an extra London date being added to the end of the tour! Ricky, on the other hand, had only just arrived in the country on a flight from NYC at 6:00 in the morning, followed by the journey up the M1 to Leicester… Yes, Ricky looked ready for a drink!

The Musician is a great little venue, beautifully decorated with tables right up to the stage & providing the perfect atmosphere for this evening’s show. The entertainment was kicked off by Steve Singh from Toronto, who by a strange, unplanned twist of fate turns out to be another friend of the bands.

Richard Bacchus introduces his opening song, ‘Long Lost Debby’ as being about the girl who broke up the Ramones… I never did get to the bottom of that story. I guess I’ll have to save that one until next time! ‘Waitin’ Around’ & ‘Twisted’, the song that didn’t make it on to Ricky’s album The Bicycle Diaries, follow. Ricky’s D Generation classics ‘Waiting For The Next Big Parade’ & ‘Capital Offender’ slip perfectly into the middle of the set, proving their untapped potential as acoustic arrangements as is the case with ‘How You Gonna Ball’ & ‘Age Of Confusion’. ‘Pugnacious’ with some impromptu lyric changes closes a 30-minute set as Ricky heads for the bar in search of tequila… But the only Tequila to be found tonight is the barman!

Jimmy Vespa & Danny Ray

Mad Juana are probably one of the best live experiences you will find these days. They are a six-piece band who mix blues, reggae, rock & flamenco, taking influences from the Stooges, Dylan & the Velvet Underground taking you on a musical journey to another world! As I’ve said before (many times!), music should be as visually exciting as it sounds, & Mad Juana are captivating on every level. Their brass section, Danny Ray on saxophone & Jimmy Vespa on trumpet, are a delight to behold throwing poses & facial expressions born of generations of Rock’n’Roll Blues experience & history, while drummer Tony Mann is definitely the light-hearted joker in the pack! The band is completed by viola ace Amalia Daskalakis, Karmen Guy’s vocals, melodica & finger cymbals, & Sami Yaffa on acoustic guitar. For an hour, Mad Juana enchanted Leicester with their semi-acoustic set that included many of the songs from their new album Acoustic Voodoo as well as covers of Velvet Underground’s ‘Venus In Furs’, & Bob Dylan’s ‘Everybody Must Get Stoned’. After the show there was time for a few drinks & a chat with Richard Bacchus & Mad Juana…

Then before we knew it, it was time to celebrate again in Nuneaton of all places, home of George Eliot & Larry “shut that door!” Grayson. When we arrive Mad Juana are still sound checking due to their delay in arriving at the venue because of the obligatory Easter traffic jam on the M1. So when Richard Bacchus takes the stage straight afterward with no time for a sound check, it isn’t clear whether the show has begun while Ricky battles with the sound engineer during the first two songs in an attempt to get the mix right! Eventually the sound is sorted out, but the difficult start seems to have changed the feel & delivery of the songs; there’s definitely less humour in Ricky’s set & I think 'Capital Offender' benefits from the more aggressive tone in Ricky's voice tonight. Things start to lighten up during Mad Juana’s set & by the mid-point everybody’s back in the party spirit as Ricky proceeds to fill the band’s glasses from a bottle of tequila!

Ricky serves up the tequila in Nuneaton!

After the show, the party spirit continues to flow before the bands have to finally head off to get ready for their long trip to Cornwall for tomorrow night’s show… After that, the tour falls apart somewhat: the announced shows for Saturday & Sunday night are cancelled, as the promoter had failed to book them. Needless to say, the promoter was duly sacked, & the bands headed back to London for an impromptu show at London’s Nambucca followed on Easter Monday by the show at The Boogaloo which had been hastily arranged on their first night in the UK.

Both Mad Juana & Richard Bacchus suggested that they would be back in the UK later in the year so hopefully we won’t be ‘Waitin’ Around’ long before the tequila flows freely & we can do it all over again… Oh, & now they’ve sacked the promoter, maybe next time they’ll make it a little further north!

Scotty Ramone