Tuesday 7 May 2013

Phil Stevenson Trio - First date frisson

Phil Stevenson - Guitar
It had been a 10 year hiatus but I stepped back into the underground den of first dates last Friday (03/05/2013) when I visited the Archduke in Waterloo once again. Now before you phone up my wife and grass me up this wasn't a romantic date but a musical rendezvous with the Phil Stevenson Trio in this long established depot of late night jazz and drunken yet sophisticated snogging.

An old haunt from those dates in my twenties, The Archduke remains a crossing point for late/early eater drinkers and nervous singletons who are casting their opening gambits in love and jazz.

As a lone wolf I stood out as though wearing sheep's clothing on the first warm plump night of Spring. Add the extra incentive of the imminent Bank Holiday weekend and London's Southbank was a heady mixture of those post-work toilers rubbing shoulders with couples exploding from Waterloo's gates like racehorses bolting from starting stalls.

As Phil Stevenson talked to us through his barely audible microphone it reminded me of my ill-fated night club conversations with women, and like them, I smiled politely and looked like I knew what had been said and what was coming next. Stevenson despite the clamour of shouting couples displayed a light touch on his guitar, swaying frequently at the knees like a Thunderbirds puppet but without any signs of woodenness. He was flushed with nerves and avoided eye contact with the audience, instead looking and smiling coquettishly with his fellow performers. Of course this only made us want him more.

Pat Levett - Drums
The alpha male of the trio was Pat Levett, an imposing yet warm looking chap, drumming with surprising restraint despite the background noise, as the first wave of drinkers headed over Hungerford Bridge and into  London's West End. He still had the power though and more than once a courting couple bagged the last two free seats in front of him, only to rush off once he got in full swing. His subtlety was obvious during the Stevenson tune 'Red Minor' when he introduced his cowbell into this sprawling cattle market of love.

Between the first and second sets I cast my eye around the ever shifting clientele and wasn't surprised to see amongst the couples some Jazz fans including singers Chantel Reading and Jenny Green. I met Mervyn Peake fan Hannah Wildsmith, and we discussed Michael Hrebeniak and Jazz Poetry. Although she was the most beautiful of women I was surprised to find it was my intellect that was sated in this den of bubbling sexuality.

Bill Mudge - Organ
If Bill Mudge was a first date he wouldn't be the Amazonian lioness of my teenage dreams, more a slow burner like his organ playing. The kind of girl who once was just-a-friend and by falling in love with her over weeks and years, she gets under your skin. Bill Mudge, the self confessed introvert and 'mildly misanthropic' (to quote the man himself) is one of Jazz's smouldering nuggets. Give him the time and you'll fall for his grooving and hopefully the man himself.

The Trio's second set was a more relaxed affair, we had run out of small talk, bypassed tales of ex partners and at last got to know each other a little better. The Trio came out of their shell with Stevenson's self penned 'Krait' and I felt I'd got to know the 'real' them at last.

Like a good first date I wasn't ready to jump into bed with the threesome but they gave me enough of a tickle to come back for more. Who knows whether this will be a long love affair or a one night stand, just give me the chance to reach second base with the Phil Stevenson Trio sometime soon.



  1. Hi I'm listening to you right now at the Archduke on Friday night and myself and my husband think you do not need to amplify the bass or drums. The Piano should be your voice it kinda ruined it for us sorry! Less bass/drums more piano!

  2. Hi Jenny, Was this the Andy Trim Trio?
    I'll pass on the comments to the Archduke when I drop by next time.
    When I was there the trio were guitar, drums and organ.