Reviews Old

JohnCee by Simon-48

“…a very English nod to the blues”                        [DOOB]               Morgan Hogarth – R2 magazine – Dec 2013

“… an easy CD to recommend”                              [RIVER]            Norman Darwen – Blues In Britain   –  Feb 2017

“… well written and performed … ever
present wit … creating a genre that is
unusual stylistically, if not unique.”                         [RIVER]            Morgan Hogarth – R2 magazine –  March 2017

“The gospel tinged title track is nothing short of classic …
Blues fans shouldn’t let this one pass them by.”      [RIVER]         John Roffey  –  Maverick  –  April 2017


“… Stannard is a phenomenon with the pen and subtle humour …”                                            [RIVER]      Luc Meert  –  Rootstime magazine – Belgium – February 2017

” … a timeless beauty…”                                                                                                               [BUS]         Steve Braun – Rocktime – Feb 2015

“… The authentic songs are full of originality … injected by the Country Delta blues
and ragtime style… John Cee Stannard knows how to play the country blues”                           [RIVER]     Philip Verhaege – keysandchords  –  Holland  –  January 2017

“… stunning … utterly brilliant … perfection …”                                                                           [STONE]     Ian D. Hall  –  Liverpool Sound & Vision  –  July 2015

“… exceptional class… Enormously original lyrics and music …
… these British musicians breathe music …”                                                                                [RIVER]     Country Jukebox – Germany – February 2017

“… superb album … infectious … a hearty piece of fulfillment …
… lifts the spirit in an odd peculiar and insanely gorgeous way …
… a set of songs so in keeping with their impressive catalogue so far …                                     [RIVER]    Ian D. Hall  –  Liverpool Sound & Vision – January 2017

“John Cee Stannard is a unique kind of guy, not one to stand on ceremony
x                                                      …  beautiful to listen to, a star on the top of the tree.”           [Christmas E.P.]    Ian D. Hall  –  Liverpool Sound & Vision Oct 2016

“… cracker of an album … a unique and enjoyable niche…”                                                         [RIVER]      Andy Sniper – UK Music News – January 2017 

“… another stunner from John Cee Stannard & Blues Horizon…”                                                 [RIVER]     Rootsville – Belgium  –  February 2017

“… tasteful blues .. Julia Titus delivers stunning vocal contribution …”                                          [RIVER]     Muziekwereld  –  Holland –  January 2017 

“… a delicious, slightly addictive album… ”                                                                                    [STONE]     Moors magazine – July 2015

“… It might be blues but it’s happy music … John Cee understands the music he’s working with …
…  really original lyrics … fun album … also has depth and character …                                      [RIVER]   Dai Jeffries  – –  January 2017 

“… the songs … sparkle with originality.”                                                                                          [BUS]      Marty Gunther – Blues Blast Magazine

“… delightfully unclassifiable … no shortage of musical talent …
… super version of Jelly Roll Morton’s classic ‘Winin Boy Blues’ – George Melly
–  did a version many years back – this is comparable …
John Cee Stannard has a unique and enjoyable niche.                                                                    [RIVER]  –  UK –   2017

“A truly great CD”                                                                                                                                [BUS]      Country Jukebox – Germany – February 2015

“… lively country blues … deserves a high rating.                                                                               [RIVER]       Roger Bengtsson  –  Ung Tro  –  Sweden –    January 2017

“Quirky, distinctive and certainly a little eccentric – English blues …”                                               [STONE]    Norman Darwen  –  Blues In Britain   –  Sept 2015

“… the happiest blues record I’ve heard in a long time.”                                                                       [BUS]    Dai Jeffries – – November 2014

“… proof the blues really can make you happy…superbly played…
.                                                     …elegant jazzy blues…foot tapping…thoroughly English.”         [STONE]   John Bottomly – Blues In The North West –  August 2015

“Downright brilliant…”                                                                                                                           [STONE]    Luc Meert  –  Rootstime magazine – Belgium – September 2015

“Instantly you know the band is having fun…”                                                                                      [BUS]                Luc Meert – Rootstime magazine – August 2014

“… (the songs) keep the blues faith in a manner so peculiar to themselves …”                               [STONE]     Alan Clayson –  R2  –  UK  –   September 2015

“A homage to the blues performed in cafes and  jazz clubs in the 40′s and 50’s”                             [DOOB]     Tetsuo Uchida – Euro-Rock Press – Sep 2013

“… unadulterated straightforward British folk blues.”                                                                             [STONE]    Rudolfs Music –  Holland August 2015

” …  radiate an immense sense of fun”.                                                                                                     [STONE]    Lambert Smits – Keys&Chrods –  Belgium August 2015

“… humour … steeped in real world truth”…                                                                                            [STONE]    Bluesdoodles  –   August 2015

” … an entertaining  folk and country take on the blues.”                                                                         [BUS]      Cis Van Looy

“… wonderfully diverse… foot-tapping good…”                                                                                        [STONE]   Alternative Country – Belgium – August 2015

“There is plenty of fun… ”                                                                                                                           [STONE]    Dai Jeffries – – August 2015

“If you like your blues with a smile on its face, then this one is for you”                                             [STONE]   John Knighton – Fatea – July 2015

“… the musicians lively approach is joyful …”                                                                                           [BUS]      Roger Bengtsson – Ung Tro –  December 2014 

“Tremendously enjoyable!”                                                                                                                            [BUS]      Ian D. Hall  –  Liverpool Sound & Vision

“This album is a courteous diversion into foot-stomping tunes that are guaranteed to conjour images of a past time …”
                                                                                                                                                                             [BUS]      Gareth Hayes – R2 magazine – November 2014
“… a fine album of unpretentious laidback country blues.”                                                                       [BUS]      David James Innes  – Flyingshoes – November 2014 

“… at times serious; sentimental; humorous; … very British”                                                                    [BUS]      KK – Blues News – German magazine – July 2015

“… unmistakably British … echoing the era of the American Piedmont tradition …”                      [STONE]    Magnus Eriksson – LiraMusicMag – Sweden – September 2015

“… quintessentially English …  humour is in evidence. A very entertaining release…”                     [BUS]       Norman Darwen – Blues In The North West –   November 2014

“A truly great CD”                                                                                                                                              [BUS]      Country Jukebox – Germany – February 2015

“Exceptional musicians”                                                                                                                                  [BUS]      GD – Sur La Route de Memphis – France – March 2015

“Prime cut”                                                                                                                                                          [BUS]      Musicworld magazine – Holland – March 2015

“Blues was always meant to give people a better feeling …  this album is totally successful!”      [BUS]      Johanna Bodde – Real Roots Cafe   –  Holland – March 2015

“… echoes of skiffle, Mungo Jerry and the blues a la Terry/McGhee …”                                          [STONE]    Jefferson Blues Magazine – Sweden –  September 2015

“Highly entertaining…fun songs and a fresh look…                                                                                [BUS]      Pieter Wijnstekers – Heaven magazine – Holland – February 2015

” … this ingenious and impulsive team brings real fun to the album …”                                            [BUS]      Mladen Loncar  Soundguardian –  Croatia – Sept 2014

” … key elements that makes this album so enjoyable is the Stannard vocals.”                               [DOOB]   Mladen Loncar  Soundguardian –  Croatia – March 2014    

” … more than exciting…”                                                                                                                             [DOOB]      Luc Meert – Rootstime magazine – February 2014

“… exudes a powerful charm…”                                                                                                                  [STONE]   Country Jukebox – Germany – September 2015

“… an entertaining folk and country take on the blues.”                                                                         [BUS]      Cis Van Looyj – Keys A nd Chords – Belgium –  December 2014

“Great craftsmanship”                                                                                                                                     [BUS]      Om Country – Swedish magazine – June 2015

“..curiously affecting … uncomonly listenable … highly enjoyable … recommended …”               [DOOB]   BluesBlast magazine – Rhys Williams – USA – January 2014

“Beautiful, nice and fun.”                                                                                                                              [STONE]   Ung Tro magazine – Roger Bengtsson –  Sweden – August 2015 

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John Cee Stannard & Blues Horizon     TO THE RIVER     CastIron Recordings
4 stars

Great Blues from the Reading veteran
Hot on the heels of his EP It’s Christmas Time (Maverick December/January 2017), Reading’s veteran blues man comes up with another gem. A generous 12 tracks with just two covers; the traditional House Of The Rising Sun, given an up-tempo makeover, and Jelly Roll Morton’s Winin’ Boy Blues; otherwise everything is all his own work. The gospel tinged title track Run To The River is nothing short of classic whilst Separation – 2 finds Stannard juggling his affections between three women; a great number with some novel twists. More gospel with the sad The Good Lord Didn’t Tell Me; listen out as Julia duets on this one. Hallelujah! The Wretch has JC confessing to his partner how badly he’s treated her (with justification, of course) – tell me what I mean to you and I’ll tell you what you mean to me’. The Blues Horizon line-up remains constant; Mike Baker (guitars) and Howard Birchmore (harmonicas) together with rhythm section Julian Bown (drums) and Andy Crowdy (bass). Special guest Julia Titus adds her charming vocals and there’s occasional support from Simon Mayor (fiddle), Matt Empson (piano), Jason Manners (guitar), James Billinge (drums) and the Farnham Voices community Choir. Blues fans shouldn’t let this one pass them by.

John Roffey – MAVERICK  April 2017


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John Cee Stanard & Blues Horizon – To The River – March 2017
*** R2 magazine – Morgan Hogarth

Now on their fourth album, Stannard and Blues Horizon colleagues Mike Baker and Howard Birchmore perform a brand of music that, although well written and performed, doesn’t appear to want to be taken too seriously.  Superficially a blues band, a mere scratch of the surface exposes Stannard’s ever-present wit and folk roots.

To The River serves up ten new original tracks, a revised take on Jelly Roll Mortons’ ‘Winin’ Boy Blues’ – an album highlight, and a less successful reinterpretation of the classic ‘House Of The Rising Sun’. To his credit, Stannard never attempts to put an American spin on his vocals, creating instead a genre that is unusual stylistically, if not unique.

Opener, ‘Do It All Over Again’ is a mid-tempo, humorous track steeped in English folk, while ‘Separation – 2’, a rag-like tale of numerous girlfriends, features fine harmonica courtesy of Birchmore. The title track offers a gospel feel delivered by guest vocalist Julia Titus and the Farnham Voices Community Choir, both returning for the overly sombre ‘The Good lord Didn’t Tell Me’.

The more upbeat ‘Let The Train Whistle Blow’ with its driving rhythm adds fiddle from Simon Mayor.  Fans of light folk-blues with an English twist will appreciate this latest outing from JCS.


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John Cee Stannard & Blues Horizon: To The River  Feb 2017
Blues In Britain magazine.

John Cee Stannard has a fine folk-blues sound on this CD, his fourth studio album, with his guitar and very English, if conversely, vaudeville-blues inflected vocals ably backed by his group Blues Horizon: [Mike Baker on guitar,] Howard Birchmore on harmonica and his usual rhythm section of [Julian] Bown (drums) and Andy Crowdy (bass).  The sound often has a raucus ragtime influence and is filled out with various guests such as pianist Matt Empson, Julia Titus on vocals, and the Farnham Voices Community Choir, who add a strong gospel feel to “Run To The River”

Although John’s blues finger-picking tends to set the tone for the majority of the tracks, ‘Have Your Fun’ steers a little towards a rockerbilly sound – or is it Big Boy Crudup? – and ‘The Good Lord Didn’t Tell Me’, with Julia Titus making a very significant contribution, leans towards Americana.  ‘House Of The Rising Sun’ is given a radical re-working, becoming almost an old-timey hoedown.  Julia duets with John on the driving ‘Let The Train Whistle Blow’,almost up tempo rocking country thanks to guest Simon Mayor’s fiddle playing.  Although much of the music is good-time, knockabout blues, John’s songs sometimes have a rather pointed political content, which is also good to hear and makes this an easy CD to recommend.

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ROOTSTIME  February 2017  by Luc Meert

When reviewing “Bus Depot Blues” we learned that John Cee Stannard had already written a hundred songs since 2011.  It is therefore not surprising that the man has now launched his fourth album since his debut in 2013.  Let’s get directly to the point: with his band Blues Horizon, this Country-Blues artist has, with the release of “To The River” given us a very beautiful album.

With his permanent companions, Make Baker, guitar,  and Howard Birchmore, harmonica, he presents ten new original songs and two covers: a super version of Jelly Roll Morton’s “Winin’ Boy Blues” and a subtle adaptation of the traditional (best known by the Animals) “House Of The Rising Sun”.  We have already said that John Cee plays and brings the music as he feels it, Blues purists may not be convinced but we recognise it and are always happy and excited to hear his Country Blues.

The fantastic “Run To The River” would justify purchase of this album.  It is a kind of Bluegrass – Gospel with a great job by the ‘Farnham Voices Community Choir’ making it an ‘earworm’ track.  The song is easily memorable and will stay with you all day, but in a cheerful mood.  God is never far away on this record as with the haunting “The Good Lord Didn’t Tell Me” with another appropriate contribution from the choir, but Stannard is also a phenomenon with the pen and subtle humour.  “Separation-2” is an example with a story of coping with several sweethearts at the same time.  Birchmore underlines this again masterfully.

John Cee Stannard has a distinctive voice and at the first notes of the songs you hear immediately that this work is by John Cee Stannard. Influences of Delta Blues, Ragtime are the same as with the predecessors, but time and again, resulting in a fascinating end result. So nothing new, but why would you change something you are good at? “To The River” is a great album from a very talented musician.

Luc Meert


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John Cee Stannard & Blues Horizon, To The River. Album Review.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10

There is almost nothing that can touch the feeling of the unhappy or dejected cry in the dark that is wrapped in the tune of the unforgiving and delighted jig; the dichotomy of two states of mind that we find ourselves in when something upsets us but we know it is for the greater good that it happens.

For John Cee Stannard & Blues Horizon that sensation of beauty wrapped in sadness and inside a mood of utter joy is what carries the superb album To The River to its conclusion, to its satisfying end, one of great importance because it is a recording that does not shrink from its responsibilities to the listener but also one that lifts the spirits in an odd peculiar and insanely gorgeous way.

The music is infectious, it seeps into the veins like a friendly, banner waving, cheerleading bacteria, the good stuff, the ones that make you feel the groove of existence and keep you coming back for more. It is nothing less than anybody should expect when knowing full well that John Cee Stannard is in town and ready to open up the musical medicine cabinet.

To savour the drops of the musical remedy, to cope with the questions of loss, frustration and inward despondency is to feel that hand upon your shoulder urging you believe that everything will turn out just right, that to come through the dark and see the eventual light growing brighter and more alluring is what To The River is all the medicine you need.

The added bonus of having a different take on The Animals classic, House of the Rising Sun, being performed is an impressive and cool moment in the album’s life; a song of angst, of anger and regret is turned into anthem of rejoice, of knowing that every young adult will go through a sense of growth made possible by forces beyond any reasonable adults control.

In tracks such Separation 2, the gospel imagery of Run To The RiverThe Wretch, the mourning and abandon in The Good Lord Didn’t Tell Me and the enormous satisfaction which comes with the final track Nothing Is What You Get, John Cee Stannard & Blues Horizon unleash a set of songs so in keeping with their impressive catalogue so far and one that is a hearty piece of fulfilment

Ian D. Hall

Review. on January 8, 2017.
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Run To The River  –  Keys and Chords – Holland – January 2017

Singer-songwriter John Cee Stannard has been performing for more than 50 years. He actually had always been privileged to work with talented musicians. John [had already been] for many years a member of the folk band Tudor Lodge, when he also his solo blues-based album on the market. In the year 2017 John Cee Stannard is still very popular and with the release ‘To The River’ he has a worthy successor to the album ‘Stone Cold Sober’ and his Christmas EP. Together with his soul mates Mike Baker (guitar) and Howard Birchmore on harmonica John presents ten original songs and two reworked covers with Jelly Roll Morton’s ‘Winin’ Boy Blues’ and the traditional but extremely subtle interpretation of ‘House Of The Rising Sun’. Drummer Julian Bown and bassist Andy Crowdy were also invited on this occasion, as well as some occasional ‘special guests’. The acoustic songs are brightened up by John Cee Stannard warm but somewhat rough voice. The authentic songs are full of originality, though they are all definitely affected and injected by the Country Delta blues and ragtime style as in songs such as ‘Separation – 2’ and  ‘The Wretch’, and in ‘Run To The River’ John Cee is inspired by the Gospel. We all also get here satisfaction of songs like ‘Let The Train Whistle Blow’, with Simon Mayor’s rallying violin settlements and Julia Titus vocal support and the concluding ‘Nothin’ Is What You Get’.  John Cee Stannard knows how to surprise us again!

Philip Verhaege (4)

We keep absolutely a mature feeling about this album. John Cee Stannard knows how to play the country blues


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It might be blues but it’s happy music. Sometimes my wife’s initial reactions to an album are perfectly insightful and To The River, the latest waxing by John Cee Stannard & Blues Horizon, certainly has more in common with the string bands of the 1930s than the urban howl of Chicago. The first of the two covers, Jelly Roll Morton’s ‘Winin’ Boy Blues’, is a perfect example. With John Cee are his regular sidesmen, guitarist Mike Baker and Howard Birchmore on harmonica with Julian Bown on drums and Andy Crowdy on bass and among the guests he has one of our local community choirs adding sweetness to the quasi-gospel title track.

John Cee wrote most of the songs and he really understands the music he’s working with. Occasionally he drops in one of those floating lines that turn up all the time but that just adds to the authenticity of some really original lyrics. The first song that grabbed me was ‘Separation-2’ which takes a series of women’s names and almost-rhymes for the verses. It’s very simple but clever in way the old blues singers were. ‘The Good Lord Didn’t Tell Me’ is another gospel style song with slide guitar and the choir and Julia Titus on backing vocals.

The second non-original is ‘House Of The Rising Sun’, a title that can really turn into a dirge and usually sends a shudder down my spine when I see it in a track-list. Although John Cee starts at a funereal pace he quickly picks up speed and with the harmonica snarling alongside him the song really rocks. ‘The Wretch’ is more guitar driven and ‘Let The Train Whistle Blow’ is – well, you know don’t you? – an old-fashioned train blues with Julia Titus sharing lead vocals and Simon Mayor’s fiddle adding a new texture to the mix.

Finally we have an exposition of the philosophy that “if you don’t ask, you don’t get” in the up-tempo ‘Nothin’ Is What You Get’ with fiddle, harmonica and piano driving the song along and more clever word-play from John Cee. To The River is a fun album but it also has depth and character and that will take it a long way.

Dai Jeffries


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John Cee Stannard & Blues Horizon
To The River           CastIron (label)               27 January 2017 (released)
Andy Snipper

John Cee Stannard has been a busy boy – this is his fourth album release since he debuted in 2013.

It’s one of those delightfully unclassifiable albums – ostensibly this is Blues but there is plenty of Trad Jazz in there as well as New Orleans early grind but it all makes for a really enjoyable listen and there is no shortage of musical talent on offer.

Mike Baker supplies most of the guitars and Howard Birchmore’s harmonica playing is quite superb – skittering around in the background and supplying a great melody line at other times. Stannard has brought in a guest rhythm section of Julian Bown on bass and Andy Crowdy on drums and they work to give the music a jaunty and up-tempo beat with Bown’s bass right on the mark – a heartbeat to the music.

The title track has a real bluegrass gospel feel to it with the Farnham Voices Community Choir and Julia Titus really bringing a sense of old-style churchism to the number (it is available as a free single – see the link at the end).
‘Separation – 2’ is a rag that describes the traumas of having multiple girlfriends and trying to keep them all separated. The harmonica has a real sleazy edge to it and the number is great fun.

The majority of songs here are originals but they include a super version of Jelly Roll Morton’s classic ‘Winin Boy Blues’ – I remember seeing George Melly do a version many years back and this is comparable.

The darkest number on the album is probably ‘Ain’t No Living With The Blues’. Moody and dense with fine guitar playing from Jason Manners and piano from Matt Empson really bringing the hurt.
The version here of ‘House Of The Rising Sun’ cleverly stays well away from the Animals desperate Blues – still a cautionary tale but not as pleading as before.

All told, a cracker of an album. Not exactly your standard Blues but the scene today is wide and covers many different forms and John Cee Stannard has a unique and enjoyable niche.


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John Cee Stannard & Blues Horizon
To The River           CastIron (label)               27 January 2017 (released)

John Cee Stannard has been a busy boy – this is his fourth album release since he debuted in 2013.

It’s one of those delightfully unclassifiable albums – ostensibly this is Blues but there is plenty of Trad Jazz in there as well as New Orleans early grind but it all makes for a really enjoyable listen and there is no shortage of musical talent on offer.

Mike Baker supplies most of the guitars and Howard Birchmore’s harmonica playing is quite superb – skittering around in the background and supplying a great melody line at other times. Stannard has brought in a guest rhythm section of Julian Bown on bass and Andy Crowdy on drums and they work to give the music a jaunty and up-tempo beat with Bown’s bass right on the mark – a heartbeat to the music.

The title track has a real bluegrass gospel feel to it with the Farnham Voices Community Choir and Julia Titus really bringing a sense of old-style churchism to the number (it is available as a free single – see the link at the end).
‘Separation – 2’ is a rag that describes the traumas of having multiple girlfriends and trying to keep them all separated. The harmonica has a real sleazy edge to it and the number is great fun.

The majority of songs here are originals but they include a super version of Jelly Roll Morton’s classic ‘Winin Boy Blues’ – I remember seeing George Melly do a version many years back and this is comparable.

The darkest number on the album is probably ‘Ain’t No Living With The Blues’. Moody and dense with fine guitar playing from Jason Manners and piano from Matt Empson really bringing the hurt.
The version here of ‘House Of The Rising Sun’ cleverly stays well away from the Animals desperate Blues – still a cautionary tale but not as pleading as before.

All told, a cracker of an album. Not exactly your standard Blues but the scene today is wide and covers many different forms and John Cee Stannard has a unique and enjoyable niche.

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To The River  –  CountryJukebox   –  Germany  radio and mag  February 2017

With his British folk-blues-country-trio BLUES HORIZON,  JOHN CEE STANNARD seems to be able to do mothing other than demonstrate his exception class as a musician as with each new album. This fourth album production is no exception (since its debut in 2013). Fascinating as the country-blues singer Stannard moves between the various genres and changes made without distracting for one second. Stannard, Mike Baker and Howard Birchmore will find it easy to tap into new audiences with this CD titled ‘to the river’. Enormously original lyrics and music are demonstrated by means of ten (of twelve) songs from the pen of the bandleader. Here you can hear more than just a band that plays only music – these British musicians breathe music.

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After the album Stone Cold Sober was there last year also the Christmas ep, with which John Cee Stannard managed to entertain us. Fortunately, the Brexit nothing negative in John Cee Stannard brought about because the entry of 2017 we get a new album of these British countryblues singer.

Read the full review on 4 February 2017
Published on: 21 January 2017

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To The River   January 2017 – Ung Tro

This new album from John Cee Stannard and Blues Horizon is in keeping with what we have heard before.  Engaging lively country blues as exemplified by Have Your Fun.  In perfect context, the Farnham Voices Community Choir appear on the tracks Run To The River and The Good Lord Didn’t Tell Me, and in both songs the choir adds so much extra spice that you want to hear them even more.  Even the wayward cover of House Of The Rising Sun gives a good vibe and deserves a high rating.
Roger Bengtsson

Inga större avsteg men ändå lite extra krydda

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John Cee Stannard    IT’S CHRISTMAS TIME    CastIron Recordings
3 start out of 4

This five track EP has its embryonic beginnings in 2013 when veteran blues man John Cee Stannard wrote It’s Christmas Time.  In the ensuing years Stannard came up with Christmas On My Own and Winter Love, and a Christmas EP was born.  The title track is, as one would expect, classic blues and sets the scene for a rather listenable 19 minutes.  B K Turner’s Christmas Time Blues is given a John Cee Stannard makeover and gets a new lease of life as Beggin Santa Claus and Shifty Henry’s Let Me Go Home Whisky gets a similar treatment resurfacing as Let Me Go Home – It’s Christmas.  Christmas On My Own veers away from blues into the realms of soft country rock with the crooner Winter Love closing the album.  John Cee’s Blues Horizon, Mike Baker and Howard Birchmore are featured together with rhythm section Julian Bown and Andy Crowdy.  Special guest Julia Titus adds her charming vocals to a couple of tracks whilst Jason Manners’ slide guitar and Simon Mayor’s fiddle embellish the album nicely.  Not a classic by any means but listenable all the same and with 50 years in the business, Stannard is surely entitled to a little indulgence.  John Roffey – MAVERICK  December 2016


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Liverpool Sound and Vision

John Cee Stannard, It’s Christmas Time. E.P. Review.     October 2016

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10

The dread of Christmas seems to come earlier every year, the small step of commercialism sneaking a peek into the wallets of the many who cannot afford it, to the tiring spectacle of it being so demanding, the forced smile on the face of the wary and without it letting up for a single minute and should you complain, should you point out the obvious, you become a pariah, a figure of damnation that is shunned and called out for all sorts by parents, friend and society alike.

Thankfully there is John Cee Stannard to remind us that Christmas is not about the mass produced, the wave of the magic wand which says to feel loved requires the very best that money can buy, when what it really should be compelled to offer is love, the moment of a held hand in the darkest of days, celebrating not the over-abundance of commercialism and want, but the generosity of spirit, the force of naturally occurring essence that lifts us to a place where we see beyond our own mistakes. Christmas, as highlighted superbly by John Cee Stannard is about sharing time, not greed.

It’s Christmas Time is the arrangement of those thoughts turned into dramatically posed songs, of sweetness and a light brush of the allusion to life’s imperfect nature when it comes to the loss of relationships and desires; it is the strength in holding on to what you believe in that carries the five strong E.P. through the towering character of the season and makes you want to hold it in a different and more sensible way.

With special guest Julia Titus on vocals and featuring the talents of Mike Baker, Howard Birchmore, Julian Brown, Andy Crowdy, Jason Manners and Simon Mayor, the Blues at Christmas becomes more of a determination to get it right than to wallow in the abyss too much.

With Beggin’ Santa Clause, Let Me Go Home-It’s Christmas, Christmas On My Own, Winter Love and It’s Christmas Time, John Cee Stannard takes the time of year out from its comfortable picture box setting and the chaos that actually occurs in nearly every home and offers a different perspective, one that many will find themselves attracted to and the feeling of fulfilment strengthening their resolve to search for a better meaning than is currently available.

John Cee Stannard is a unique kind of guy, not one to stand on ceremony but beautiful to listen too, a star on the top of the tree.

Ian D. Hall

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Blues In Britain   September 2015

John Cee Stannard began life as a recording musician back in the early 70s with the folk band Tudor Lodge, but in the last few years he has become known as a blues artist.  This is his third CD since 2013 and it features John’s unmistakably English vocals – he makes no attempt at all to sound American, which underlines that some do, but John’s singing works well.  The folk influence still persists on many of the numbers here – all originals with the exception of Blind Bake’s ‘Lead Hearted Blues’ which John has adapted from veteran UK-blues guitarist Mike Cooper’s cover.  However, the sound in general has evolved a little from John’s previous acoustic based touch.  There is an almost Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup sound to some of the material, (though for some reason it also makes me think of music hall!), with the big sounding rhythm section of Andy Crowdy on upright bass and Julian Bown on drums reprised from the earlier “Bus Depot Blues”  album and powering along ragtime flavoured songs.  John’s regular musical partners of Mike Baker on guitars and Howard Birchmore on harmonica fill out the sound, as do Simon Mayor on violin and mandolin (who adds a fine rural flavour) and the vastly experienced Matt Empson on piano and Roger Cotton on Hammond organ, with Nicole Johnson on backing vocals.

Take a look at ‘Poverty Blues’ for a good example.  Quirky, distinctive and certainly a little eccentric – English blues, but not of the “UK blues boom” variety.
Norman Darwen

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Country Jukebox September 2015

The twelve new numbers from the folk-blues-country trio JOHN CEE STANNARD & BLUES HORIZON exude a powerful charm.  No wonder: For this new CD release STONE COLD SOBER, The British thoroughbred John Cee Stannard builds the success of the previous album BUS DEPOT BLUES, by once again co-opting the services of the Andy Crowdy and Julian Bown who provide their rhythm section skills throughout Stannard’s highly artistically varied and humorous song writing.  He does dot rely on the usual blues components and formats, but relies entirely on his own sense for the right flow.  The end result as an album from which you can tell that everyone involved had a lot of fun.

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Three Star

If ‘John Cee Stannard’ as a blues name didn’t have the same ring to it as, say, ‘Cripple Clarence Lofton’, or ‘Scrapper Blackwell’ or ‘Funny Paper Smith’, it’s commendable that he makes no attempt to sing in anything but his native Berkshire accent – even on Blind Blake’s ‘Lead Hearted Blues’, this self-produced album’s only non-original.

Neither is he too self-consciously streets-of-Reading on, say, ‘Rum Ol’ Do’. A number earmarked initially for Bus Depot Blues, the previous album by this ensemble that also embraces guitarist Mike Baker and, as a sort of Hammie Nixon to Stannard’s Sleepy John Estes, mouth-organist Howard Birchmore.   Among other familiars pitching in are organist Roger Cotton – once of Peter Green’s Splinter Group, the celebrated Simon Mayor on virtuoso mandolin and violin, and |Julian Bown’s striking unobtrusively cohesive drums.

Such competent accompaniment frames song that, within their stylistic limits, hold sufficient attention upon initial hearing, although I found my index finger poised over the Skip button at certain points during subsequent spins.  Nevertheless, because they keep the blues faith in a manner so peculiar to themselves, subsequent offerings by John and the boys could be rich with intrigue.

Alan Clayson           R2 September 2015
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ROOTSTIME MAGAZINE – Belgium – Luc Meert – September 2015

We already said in our review of his previous album “Bus Depot Blues” that it must be nice to be able to attend a performance of the trio live in a club. Preferably in the company of an attentive audience, because, despite the light hearted nature of the album, again, we could not ignore the great lyrics of John Cee Stannard. The man had then also let us know that he had written a hundred songs since 2011 and that we would soon welcome a new album. Barely a year later it is delivered:  “Stone Cold Sober” the latest product of Cee John Stannard and Blues Horizon!

In addition to John so we get to admire the fantastic harmonica player Howard Birchmore and Mike Baker on acoustic and electric guitar.  In addition to the vocals, John himself also plays acoustic Gibson J-200, various resonators and banjo.  The record itself is broadly in line with its predecessor. That is, it already is an album that you listen with pleasure and again, the fun of the musicians seems to drip from every track. Lyrically overflows, all through the humorous, incisive and striking gems. Make no mistake because Stannard is a master at even wrapping thoughtful stories into subdued humour.  Setting the stories into beautiful, catchy music.

The whole album actually reads as one story. Of the twelve tracks there are eleven of the hand of John Cee, just “Lead Hearted Blues” by Blind Blake is a clever cover that perfectly fits into the whole. And what affects is how wonderfully the guest musicians have been able to identify with the mind / mood of the album. The music is best described as spiced with Country and Folk Blues. The violin adds a true melancholic, dreamy accent to certain songs illustrating the movement and the character.

You can then can say that the inspiration seems to come from the Great Depression of the 1930s, John Cee has to translate this knowledge into our modern times. The Opening track is the swinging, jazzy “I Do not Want You Anymore” where Howard immediately showcases his skills.  We soon hear that this is not the most impressive song on the album, but that’s mostly because what follows is even better. Downright brilliant; “The Story” tells the story of a man who, because of his gambling and alcohol abuse, falls into a downward spiral, marriage hits the rocks, and he loses his job. With wistful violin, superb backing vocals and great lyrics, this is a song gets you sucked into the story, almost as if you were immersed in the man’s life and then, typically, John Cee ask for understanding .

It’s really awesome to describe all the songs but in line with previous description, we cannot ignore the equally impressive “Worse Off Than You”. Do not throw in the towel there are still who have it worse than you is the message of John Cee, and this was all back musically coloured grandiose with the blues harp in an naturally appropriate lead. “Poverty Blues” was inspired by a BBC documentary that was about a number of middle class in America who, hit by the crisis in 2008, lost their jobs and were forced to live in tents. The story chills as John Cee cries out his heart and underlines the gloom on his resonator guitar. The bass seems completely still to squeeze in a darker texture and what that text gives to this music, or vice versa if you prefer, the same to me. Brilliant is in any case.

“Stone Cold Sober” is a record that stores and anoints simultaneously. The music is more cheerful to listen to, which seems to stand in contrast to the sometimes melancholy lyrics. This is so sought after by John Cee, and makes his messages easier to relate to. Can we classify it under the heading of “Blues”? Yes because some playful nature of the music makes it all as I said a little more accessible. John Cee Stannard & The Blues Horizon have created an album full of diamonds for you. It’s up to you to pick them.

Luc Meert


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Lia Music Magazine  by  Magnus Eriksson   September 2015

John Cee Stannard has been a workhorse on the English folk and blues scene for half a century. He founded the Tudor Lodge folk group in 1968 whose members at one stage included a young Linda Peters before she married Thompson.

For several years now John Cee Stannard has concentrated on the blues, though he treats the blues with a distinct folk touch – unmistakably British in his vocals and echoing the era of the American Piedmont tradition.

New album with his trio Blues Horizon is named after the title track Stone Cold Sober, and somewhere maybe we can find some kind of harmony between the playful name and the music, one the one hand, playful, yet at the same time chastened and conscious of traditional heritage.

Stannard’s vocals give the music a laid back atmosphere supported by guests including Simon Mayor on violin, acoustic bass and John Cee’s own efforts on resonator guitars. Their take on the blues has much in kinship with Ronnie Lane and Bryn Hawarth.

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Jefferson Blues Magazine  September 2015

John Cee is an English veteran of folk group Tudor Lodge who recorded an LP for Vertigo in 1971. The following year they changed their singer to Linda Peters, who would later marry Richard Thompson. So much for the background. John Cee has continued through the years playing folk and blues. The music on this CD is the English version of the blues, in a sophisticated way. A trio of two guitars and harmonica, extended sometimes with guests who contribute mandolin, violin, piano, bass and drums. There are echoes of skiffle, Mungo Jerry and the blues a la Terry / McGhee. All are skilled musicians who have great fun together, such as on the title track where most of the guests are in joining. However, it is difficult to see this CD having success beyond the local pub.

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Alternative Country  August 2015
Barely a year after issuing his last album, the fine “Bus Depot Blues”, the Briton John Cee Stannard treats our ears again with another handsome collection of songs, once again recorded with Blues Horizon partners Mike Baker on acoustic and electric guitars and Howard Birchmore harmonica.   They are once again joined by the previously proven rhythm section of bassist Andy Crowdy and drummer Julian Brown. Simon Mayor (fiddle and mandolin), Matt Empson (piano), Roger Cotton (Hammond) and Nicole Johnson (backing vocals) complete the line-up.  Together they support Stannard through eleven new originals and a fine cover of Blind Blake’s “Lead Hearted Blues”.  The result is a wonderfully diverse pot of blues focusing primarily on the acoustic, ranging from sparkling and extremely catchy to be rather reluctant.  From the up-beat bouncy numbers such as the opening track – “I Don’t Want You Anymore” to the more shuffling arrangements as enhanced by the well placed harmonica playing of Birchmore on “Don’t You Worry None ‘Bout Me”:  And from the seasoned gipsy-jazz influences as found in “The Story”” to the deliciously swinging and catchy “Rum Ol’ Do” to the very low key grooving as in the jazzy “So Long”.

Then we have the extremely likeable title track “Stone Cold Sober”; the particularly swampy atmosphere of “Poverty Blues”; the almost grim story-line of “Right Back At The Start”; the slow shuffle in “Worse Off Than You”;  the extraordinarily atmospheric slow “Dream The Blues”;  and the contribution from Simon Mayor who adds some fine violin playing to the excellent closing track “This Rag Of Mine”.

The production of “Stone Cold Sober” was done by Stannard himself.

Foot-tapping good!


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Review: John Cee Stannard & Blues Horizon – Stone Cold Sober
Friday, Aug 21, 2015  (CastIron recordings: CIRCD 025)

Here’s proof the blues really can make you happy. Stannard and friends dish up superbly played and elegant jazzy blues with a joyful swagger that will get the foot tapping and bring a broad grin. Despite obvious roots elsewhere, all Stannard’s songs are delivered with a totally unaffected vocal that makes the whole job sound thoroughly English. Confidence and real style fills every track.

Backing duo Mike Baker (guitars) and Howard Birchmore (thoughtful harmonica throughout…and I mean throughout) add impeccable backing. In lesser hands some of this stuff may have sounded lightweight. Stannard takes centre stage on guitars, resonators and banjo.

“I Don’t Want You Anymore” and “Rum Ol’ Do” are the most ‘up’ of the upbeat with harmonica filling gaps and chugging the rhythm along. Mandolin king Simon Mayor guests on impeccable jazzy violin to enhance “This Rag of Mine” and the sassy slow blues “So Long” (featuring nice chunky electric guitar from Baker).

Mayor’s violin also helps make “The Story” sound like a 1920s standard before he returns to his instrument of choice to solo nimbly alongside Matt Empson’s barrelhouse piano which helps fuse the title track. “Poverty Blues” rolls along with Stannard’s resonator ringing above a dense instrumental sound, heightened by Nicole Johnson’s urgent backing vocal.

The only non-original is a triumphant, thumping and suitably rustic version of Blind Blake’s “Lead Hearted Blues” with ringing, ragtime guitar underpinned by more insistent harmonica.

Stannard is a veteran of folk band Tudor Lodge. This trio’s eponymous 1971 LP is one that older record store vets may remember cropping up in the racks while flicking past albums by the likes of Taste, Third Ear Band and Trees. If you do, you should have bought it. Not only is it apparently a delight but it’s the third rarest album released on the highly collectible Vertigo label and valued in this year’s Record Collector Guide at no less than £1,750 (though I’m sure you could persuade some sucker to part with it for a grand!). Meanwhile, Stannard has ensured Tudor Lodge continue as a duo with a handful of new CDs to their name. He seems to be having the time of his life.



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CD Review: John Cee Stannard & Blue Horizons – Stone Cold Sober

August 12, 2015 by Bluesdoodles

Stone Cold Sober is an album that makes you smile with warmth and pleasure, melodic country infused blues where the lyrics tell a tale and the melodic interweaving of fiddle, harp and percussion join into the party feel. The album is full of wit and perspicacity as the trio that is the base of John Cee; Mike Baker & Howard Birchmore are joined by guest performers and the rhythm section that was so powerful on his last album Bus Depot Blues. The eleven self-pen tracks are full of originality and refuse to be cornered into a blues cul-de-sac as he weaves in influences from the Southern States roots scene the music is as fresh and clean as clothes blowing on a washing line under a deep blue sky. John Cee’s version of Blind Blake’s Lead Hearted Blues suits the album as rag-time style guitar was the signature style of Blind Blake. The humour throughout the album works as it is steeped in the real world the truth that shapes all our lives. the tone and shaping of the album has a feel of The Great Depression and dust bowl of the 1930’s but not mimicking the American experience this is British blues inspired by a period of history and reflecting the experience in the here and now.
Opening with I Don’t Want You Anymore, there is a hint of jazz and the harmonica playing from Howard Birchmore is sublime with the feet tapping and the smile is present you feel that you definitely want more of John Cee Stannard & Blue Horizon. Closing with This Rag Of Mine you are left with a party feel with Simon Mayor’s fiddling driving this rag tune along and singing “you need a little more action”; the answer is just play the album again you know you want to. There are many gems in between the opening and closing track The Story stands out with its narrative style, strong lyrics and a melody that flows with a harmonious mix of percussion and violin pulling you so you want to know all about the man the tale is shaped around, full of a downward spiral of gambling and drinking and a woman who wants him to change his way is a classic! Another track that shines is the harp intro and slower tempo of Worse Off Than You a song that has that element of hope again gambling a loss is interwoven into the narrative; “don’t sit there moaning when there is something you can do always someone worse off than you..” the track ends with a curl of the harp and what a great way of looking at life in general
The resonator guitar darkens the tone and tempo on Poverty Blues and this is a track that makes you sit up and listen as John Cee plays guitar and sings ‘did you hear my news’ a cry from the heart; as the reality of homelessness and how you are ignored and shunned a powerful song the double bass gives a backdrop shaping the music to fit the emotion behind every word sung.
The feeling of joie de vivre created throughout Stone Cold Sober does not mean simplistic and chorus heavy lyrics it is the exact opposite every emotion you would expect blues music to explore lost love, hurt, poverty, and so much more in the dozen uplifting, inspiring tracks. There is a change in tempo and influence throughout Stone Cold Sober making every track exciting whether listening for the first time or on the ‘will be oft repeated’ returns to listen to an album full of blue sparkling gems. If you love blues with feeling driven by the song and melodies that underpin the words but never dismal then Stone Cold Sober is the album for you.

Bluesdoodles gives this CD EIGHT doodle paws out of TEN ….

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Stone Cold Sober kicks off like a great party album with ‘I Don’t Want You Anymore’, a stomping old-timey blues. Like most of the album it’s written by John Cee Stannard, with his voice and guitar supported by Mike Baker on second guitar and Howard Birchmore’s harmonica which is such a big part of the band’s sound.

Of course, there’s more too it than that. At number three is ‘The Story’, a rather more heavyweight song. It could have been waltzed up into a country song or pared down to a simple singer-songwriter piece but John Cee sticks to the blues. The song is augmented by Andy Crowdy’s bass and Julian Bown’s drum and a perfectly gauged fiddle line by Simon Mayor. ‘So Long’ is long; a slow, languid blues that gives everyone the chance to show off – including Mayor again – with Birchmore’s harp wailing over the top. John likes to include an authentic track and here it’s Blind Blake’s ‘Lead Hearted Blues’, originally recorded in 1928. Unless you know that you’d take if for a contemporary of the other eleven tracks.
There is plenty of fun, of course. ‘Rum Ol’ Do’ is the sort of blues that only an Englishman could write – more four-ale bar than saloon – and the title track follows it up neatly with Mayor switching to mandolin. There’s a sort of serious message, though – “I’d rather be smashed to pieces than stone cold sober with you”. There is some of the defiance of Bus Depot Blues here but this is the deep down blues.

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8/8/2015 Keys & Chords      4.5 out of 5

John Cee Stannard and Blues Horizon is an English trio consisting of John Cee Stannard, Mike Baker and Howard Birchmore. Besides the vocals John also plays the acoustic Gibson J-200, various resonators and banjo. Mike plays both acoustic and electric guitar and Howard is the man behind the mug slider. From the first track, the swinging, jazzy ‘I Don’t Want You Anymore’ it is clear that there are excellent musicians at work, and that they also radiate an immense sense of fun. With 12 songs, including one cover, namely Blind Blake’s ‘Lead Hearted Blues’ you know this trio is captivating from start to finish. The 11 songs written by John Cee all offer a glimpse into his talented song writing. Although the album leaves a light hearted impression, Stannard also complains about prevailing abuses.  In “The Story, with an excellent violin performance from Simon Mayor, he asks for understanding for those with alcohol problems and a wrong way of life.  The song sees the man’s marriage collapse as he loses his home, his job and he ends up as a busker.  The plight of the American middle classes who faced job losses and house reclamations, gets highlighted in ‘Poverty Blues’. One of the best songs is undoubtedly “Worse Off Than You,” which shows that others often have it worse. A smart piece of country blues is on offer in ‘Rum Ol’ Do ‘, while in the swinging title track Simon Mayor once again shines, but now on the mandolin.

Despite the often contemplative lyrics, this disc breathes out a certain feel-good feeling and light-heartedness. With ‘Stone Cold Sober’ Cee John Stannard and Blues Horizon definitely provide us with a high-end semi acoustic blues album. Listening to the musicianship here, both by Stannard, Baker and certainly by Birchmore on the harmonica you eagerly look forward to a performance by this trio. Lambert Smits (4½)

John Cee Stannard and Blues Horizon are three excellent musicians. The pleasure of playing together makes ‘Stone Cold Sober’ a cheerful sounding semi-acoustic blues album. The lyrics are meaningful and contemporary. John Cee denounces poverty and asks for understanding for victims. After listening to this album, you can hardly wait to see them perform live.

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Published 6 August 2015 by ROGER BENGTSSON

BEAUTIFUL, nice and fun
Last year’s album Bus Depot Blues was a nice breath of country blues, where the age is not proved to be an obstacle to vitality. Stone Cold Sober continue in the same positive beaten track but my feeling tells me that it is even a little more folk influences now. Anyway it’s lovely music to listen to, and the combination of nice features and very funny lyrics, for example I Do not Want You Anymore and Stone Cold Sober scores many points.

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RUDOLFS MUSIC                 John Cee Stannard and Blues Horizon – Stone Cold Sober – August 2015
Stone Cold Sober is an album that makes you smile. The music is warm and full of palpable fun. The album is filled with humorous and incisive lyrics.  John Cee Stannard and Blues Horizon play unadulterated straightforward British folk blues.  ‘Stone Cold Sober’ features twelve tracks including 11 tracks of his own. An important source of the power of the music is the originality of the lyrics, besides, of course, the fact that we are dealing with good musicians. All this makes it very pleasant album to listen to and appreciate textual discoveries.  With Stone Cold Sober John Cee Stannard has again made an excellent album.

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BLUES NEWS      German Magazine        July 2015          BUS DEPOT BLUES
This British guitarist, singer and songwriter has been performing for half of a century and was active on the early Folk Scene.
You can hear this: his Acoustic Blues are folky, almost “skiffle” like, if you will. His “Blue Horizon Buddies” with whom he also tours with, are Mike Baker on guitar and Howard Birchmore on harp. For these studio recordings the Trio has added an acoustic bass and discreet brushes on the drums, along with other guest musicians playing here and there.
No instrumental highlights are offered here, rather the focus is on Stannard’s sometimes serious, sometimes sentimental and sometimes humorous songs. The whole thing sounds nimble-footed and the singing very British which may not be everyone’s cup of tea. (kk)

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RICHARD SHIDE   –   flyingshoes blog
Maurice Hope – August 12, 2015

Nothing too fancy just good old straight ahead honest as the day is long homely British folk blues. John Cee Stannard & Blues Horizon could just as easily have shared school studies with Chas & Dave such is their loose, instant musical style. Decked out in chugging rhythm, harmonica, acoustic, electric and resonator guitar, banjo, violin, double bass, Hammond organ, mandolin, drums and harmony vocals Stannard and his band (Mike Baker; electric, acoustic guitar) and Howard Birchmore (harmonica) strike up a friendship with the listener from the off.  Such is the material of their industrious leader and all-round performance of everyone aboard here is a friendship set to outlast most. Stannard though new to the blues game he has been performing music (folk) since the late 1960s, and to date has Stone Cold Sober and The Doob Doo Album and Bus Depot Blues and he’s taken to the new genre in incredible fashion, like a duck to water.

Bustling “Rum Ol’ Do” with smart resonator guitar and Hammond organ licks to go with the usual harmonica and flowing beat “Stone Cold Sober” skip-along at a nifty rate of knots, and with the likes of earthy “Poverty Blues” banging on a few doors in the lower quarter a high benchmark is set. Followed closely by melancholy ode “Worse Off Than You” and sweet as a nut “Dream The Blues” as John Cee (& band) show sufficient variety to ensure there’s no dip in attraction.

Others of note on only the boys second recording you have swing plied “This Rag Of Mine” and with delicious fiddle, harmony vocals (Nicole Johnson), harp and chugging rhythm revealing composition “The Story” slides home in effortless fashion. Nice work everyone…! One couldn’t ask for a more easy accomplished listen.

Maurice Hope

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John Cee Stannard & Blues Horizon
Stone Cold Sober
28 Jul 2015 // release date: 3 Aug 2015 // label: Cast Iron
reviewer: Andy Snipper

The first thing that strikes you about this album is the terrific sense of fun and enjoyment of the music that they are creating. It isn’t lightweight in any way but these highly accomplished musicians are clearly doing a thing that they love and that thing is a style of Blues that harks back to the depression and thirties but with a real British sound.

12 tracks on the album, 11 written by John Cee and a cover of Blind Blake’s ‘Lead Hearted Blues’ and in the main they are superb.

From the jazz influenced ‘I Don’t Want You Anymore’ with super harmonica work by Howard Birchmore, told in classic story mode, to ‘The Story’ which talks about a guy who is down on his luck and in a downward spiral, beautifully played with a great violin by guest artist Simon Mayer and lovely backing vocals by Nicole Johnson.
‘Poverty Blues’ sees John Cee playing an Ozark resonator guitar with massive backing featuring double bass and electric guitar from Mike Baker – this one was inspired by a BBC documentary about the middle class Americans who had lost their jobs after 2008 and ended up living in a tent city in cities like Detroit.

The title track is a lovely ditty with yet more super harmonica about marital disharmony – “I’d rather be drunk as a skunk than stone cold sober with you”.
The aforementioned ‘Lead Hearted Blues’ has a very Memphis feel about it and not a long way away from the original – Blake was famous for his ragtime styled guitar – but with a deft touch and great, simple playing.
My favourite track on the album is probably ‘Worse Off Than You’ – played sparely and with great honesty, no big playing and the solos are sympathetic. It is closely followed by ‘I Dream The Blues’ and the pairing is classic and a great example of Blues.

This probably won’t appeal to the Blues/Rock fraternity but this is music with real feel for the Blues and I’d love to see this in a small club or folk club.

Really does hit the spot.  4/5                                                  

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Reviews    July 2015

John Cee Stannard & Blues Horizon
Album: Stone Cold Sober
Label: Cast Iron
Tracks: 12

You can’t help smiling when listening to this new album from John Cee Stannard.
He says he wanted recreate the toe-tapping good-time feel he had on his previous album. Bus Depot Blues, and I am pretty sure he’s achieved that and more.

The world of country blues is delivered with a swing and a swagger as John is joined by Mike Baker (guitar) and Howard Birchmore (harmonica) as well as host of guest musicians.
The opening track, the unequivocal Don’t Want You No More, sets the tone for the majority of this album with its upbeat backing.
Most of the tracks follow a similar vein, and there’s a sense that the guys had a great time recording this. The Story, not the most imaginative song title, tells the tale of someone down on their luck, with a neat twist.
All the songs are originals except for the cover of Blind Blake’s lead Hearted Blues.
For the most part the playing is top notch, however I did feel that on some tracks – So Long, for example, there was too much instrumentation. Less is often more, I find.
It’s quite a surprise when we get to Worse Off Than You, as it’s a slower number. More so when it’s followed by an even slower number the excellent Dream The Blues.

If you like your blues with a smile on its face, then this is for you.
John Knighton

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John Cee Stannard & Blues Horizon – Stone Cold Sober
Moors Magazine  July 2015   –  Dutch magazine

John Cee Stannard sings and plays the blues in his own unique way with lots of energy and enthusiasm.  With his blues Horizon he plays as a trio, but on this album you get the sound of a full band as he is joined by guest musicians on bass and drums as well as mandolin and fiddle, and even a Hammond organ on one track. This is not regular ordinary blues. STONE COLD SOBER is a delicious, slightly addictive album.

john, john, john, jon en cousin john – een gevarieerd pakketje muziek


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John Cee Stannard & Blues Horizon,  Stone Cold Sober.

Published on 24th July 2015                      Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9.5/10

In amongst the solemn, the serious and the ultra cool that the world of music has to offer, there are moments when all you want is the significant and the curious to open their hearts and deliver with open arms and a beaming smile, a set of songs that really let you see life as the witty and wonderfully absurd place that it is, even when Stone Cold Sober.

A world that existed without John Cee Stannard would not only be bleak and desperate, it would also only confirm that the toxicity of life would become very boring, very quickly. Like a man who finds himself at a party hosted by the gregarious and the fun loving where the buffet is all you can eat, the entertainment provided the best in the world and the Guinness flowing all night long but whose lot in life decrees that he can only stop 15 minutes as he has a cat to feed and the news to watch; the peculiar is sometimes not even sitting in the world of beige.

Following in less time than it takes to bring a child screaming into the world, John Cee Stannard & Blues Horizon have seen the Blues as not just a chance to write more songs in the same beautiful creative abundance as their previous album Bus Depot Blues but to expand upon that creative wealth, to pump it with more genuine joy and give it a reason to infect the listener with amusing tales of life and to kick the Hell out of the genre in what can only be a radical and upstanding notion.

There are those who believe that you cannot be that intoxicated with life all the time, or even for a partial segment of it unless you have something to hide; the only answer that you can give to that is to shake your head and hand them the key to existence, the irreverent but always respectful Stone Cold Sober. 

The album is not only littered with the rich deposits of a musical seam but even after three albums it doesn’t seem to be abating or falling into the type of disrepair that must come to us all and with songs such as I Don’t Want You Anymore, the utterly brilliant The StoryPoverty Blues,Worse Off Than You and Right Back at the Start lining up with patience and fortitude to be heard, the music never feels anything less than perfection wrapped up in a jewel case.

The point though behind any humour is the truth that it contains and it is that truth, bold stark and genuine that makes Stone Cold Sober so elegant and eloquent a listen; for humour can only exist where candid appraisal dares to venture.

A stunning follow up to Bus Depot BluesStone Cold Sober is an album of warmth, humour and sincerity; it doesn’t get much better than that.

Ian D. Hall

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Om Country                    Swedish magazine           June 2015      (paraphased)

… The Cd “Bus Depot Blues” had a strong appeal to me … in trying to define the album based on geographical concepts it is easy to get lost: West Coast; Memphis; New Orleans; it sounds like authentic Delta Blues … this album is loaded with happy blues – great craftsmanship of a happy man …

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Real Roots Cafe              Dutch magazine             March 2015

“I have been a professional singer-songwriter for more than fifty years” says John Cee Stannard. He began his career as a member of the English folk group Tudor Lodge in 1968. Three years later, he saw 150,000 people on the Weeley Festival. Linda Thompson was part of the group briefly before everyone went their own way. In 1980, a reunion took place and after a few personnel changes Tudor Lodge became the duo it still is today with John and Lynne Whiteland who provides them with material.  After the first Tudor Lodge album in 1971 John wrote very little until, in January 2011, a creative burst produced six songs including a blues number. This set the directing he was to move in.  The result was the 2013 release of “The Doob Doo Album2 by the John Cee Stannard Blues Orchestra.

John then formed Blue Horizon for live performances of the material (Mike Baker guitar and Howard Birch,ore harmonica), together with guest musicians on the new CD “Bus Depot Blues”; Traditional acoustic folk blues with hints of skiffle (“Bus Depot”) and ragtime (“I’ll Take Care Of Mine” and “When You Need Them Most”, a rich, yet cutting view of friendship.)

With his unmistakable accent, the subjects of some of the songs are also inspired by British politics and social injustice.  Like a good teacher, there is polite and restrained anger – playing with words.  My favorites are “Lady Luck” (reminding me of “Midnight Special”) and more than five minutes of the threatening “Flood Water”, the slide guitar playing beautifully together with an enthusiastic harmonica on a rhythmic base.  In “Bad Like Rain” there is a lovely Spanish guitar, and later in “Best I Can For You” a violin.

The only cover is Arthur Crudup’s “That’s Alright”, with an appreciative nod to the performance by Elvis Presley. The album ends with the catchy uptempo “Not Until It’s Gone” which makes me want to grab a tambourine … Blues was always meant to give people a better feeling and in that, this album is totally successful!

John is determined not sit still, because in the meantime he has written a book, he presents a radio show and he thought that it would be fun to play small parts in movies. We can see him in ‘Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire, ” “The Da Vinci Code” and “James Bond – Skyfall’.

(Independent)  Johanna Bodde 26th March 2015

John Cee Stannard & Blue Horizon, Bus Depot Blues

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worldMuziekwereld                Dutch magazine                           17th March 2015  (paraphrased)

Stannard began to write blues-based material in his living room in 2011, and this became a fully-fledged album in 2013.  Following that ‘dream come true’ comes the release of an acoustic blues album “Bus Depot Blues”.  We get to enjoy twelve songs including one cover; the Authur “Big Boy” Crudup song “That’s Alright” made popular by Elvis Presley or more recently, Rod Stewart.  Prime cut.

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Sur La Route de Memphis n°118  (France)               First quarter 2015                       page 32   (Paraphrased)

It was in England that John Cee Stannard played in a folk group called Tudor Lodge from 1968 to 1972 and was then reformed in 1980 and still plays although John Cee stannard undertook a (parallel) solo career in 2011.  If Tudor Lodge were to be considered as folk training, then that is evidenced on “Bus Depot Blues” which is not blues in the usual sense of the term.  Whilst it contradicts expectations. Listening to the CD it is clear we have exceptional musicians.  50 years of activity leaves its mark. John does not have a voice, but sings blues without complexity and with ease, and is accompanies by Howard Birchmore on harmonica who did an outstanding job on all tracks, as did Mike Baker on guitar who played with finesse throughout the recording.  Of course they used bass and drum, and also added violin which adds a remarkably swing feel.  There are jazzy songs like “I’ll take care of mine” and “Best I Can For You”, others are more bluesy, such as the pleasant “Solitary Vacation With The Blues” or “Bus Depot”, then there are more up modern tracks such as “Flood Water” and songs with a country feel such as “When You Need Them Most”, all presented with a good dose of swing. Note that the only cover on the album “That’s Alright Mama” is presented with great results.  The arrangements all make for a relaxed atmosphere – a particularly cool and agreable CD.   GD

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Country Jukebox (Germany)   Feb 2015

Released in 2014, the album “Bus Depot Blues” by John Cee Stannard & Blue Horizon breathed new life into the British music scene – really strong! The blend of traditional, almost old fashioned country blues with New Orleans / Memphis Blues, Folk and Old Time music is driven by a magnificent energy that immediately jumps out to the listener.  The enjoyable and mostly original acoustic based songs there is one cover – a wonderfully thrilling remake of the classic “That’s Alright” originally written and recorded in 1946 by the Delta Blues singer Arthur Crudup.  A truly great CD – there is definitely no foot that can stay still.


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Heaven – Dutch magazine   –  February 2015 – Pieter Wijnstekers

“If Gregory Page and Pokey LaFarge can be successful by connecting all sorts of old blues, jazz and country styles then there’s no reason why I could not do likewise,” the Brit John Cee Stannard must have thought judging by his CD Bus Depot Blues. In a most highly entertaining way, with fun songs and a fresh look, Stannard, veteran of seventies folk formation Tudor Lodge, transports us to a time that never existed because it combines the twenties with the fifties and sixties, and without making any excuses that it has stayed there. And so of course it must, because if you do choose to make retro music, you should not try to put a modern spin on it.

Meer Extra Blues/Soul/Jazz/Wereld Recensies Bij Heaven 2 2o15 Mississippi HeatWarning ShotDelmark/Music & WordsTe…

Posted by Popmagazine Heaven on Thursday, 19 February 2015

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By Fabio Cerbone (26/01/2015)      RootsHighway

Except for the very well-known classic That’s Alright by Arthur Crudup, which Elvis brought to new glory whilst working with Sun studios, the twelve tracks which comprise Bus Depot Blues all have the original imprint of John Cee Stannard. And it is without doubt the best compliment that you can make to this seasoned English musician, who makes the repertoire credible and faithful to his sources of inspiration, the country blues of yesteryear.  He is devoted to the language of the country blues genre but without giving up a jazzy sophistication (and this shines most of all, with Bad Luck Rain and I Can Best for You). Stannard presents his blues orchestra blues trio, called Blue Horizon, featuring Howard Birchmore on the harmonica and accompanied by Mike Baker on the guitar. They have fun singing the porch blues in Bus Depot and 83 Hard Times, echoing old resonator guitars in Lady Luck and indulging in a retro style in I‘ll Take Care of Mine, with a certain easy-going irony which is perfect for such occasions. The voice is not exactly a miracle for the genre, and it is less raucous than one might expect for an experienced musician, although it is reflective of Stannard’s roots in the English folk circuit. His breakthrough into the blues is recent, and judging by the results, this was a good move. His discography includes a rather long history with Tudor Lodge, including an album for the prestigious Vertigo label back in ’71, collaborating with Linda Peters as well as playing at the Cambridge folk festival. After years of anonymity, his love for rural America was born: the basic trio was enhanced in Bus Depot Blues, with the addition of Julian Bown and Andy Crowdy in the rhythm section, and with some support from Melissa Lynch on the violin. The formula is simple and true to the essence of the material, reminiscent of our own Red Wine Serenaders, Veronica Sbergia in the revival of certain jug music from the American “deep south” and brings home a truly enjoyable experience from days gone by.

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Rocktimes             2nd Feb 2015         –            Steve Braun   –     With unavoidable para-phrasing in the translation from German

I have to admit that the name John Cee Stannard was new to me, and I’m probably not alone.  A little research then connected him to the much loved progressive folk band of the early seventies, Tudor Lodge, which remains active, now as a duo, to the present day.

In this solo project, this Briton from the Southern English town of Reading provides contrast with a modern take on the traditional country blues. A year after his debut solo album “The Doob Doo Album” Stannard launches his new album “Bus Depot Blues”.

Once again, his interpretations are old fashioned – in a positive way, and transport you back to the fifties. This may be quite logical as his musical development started in the era of Arthur Crudup’s ‘That’s alright’ as delivered by hip-swinging Elvis.  This is the only cover on the album “Bus Depot Blues” and it sets the scene for the entire album.

Like the music, the old-time feel is maintained in the artwork for this digipack release which could have been an album cover from the fifties or sixties.  This does not seem contrived as it remains very stylish and touches on the realities of life which are described authentically.  These twelve songs comprising “Bus Depot Blues” are not just the sound of Reading, but also of Memphis, St Louis and New Orleans.

There are folk and country blues threads throughout these recordings, which were all played largely acoustically.  Acoustic guitars dominate the sound, with semi acoustic slide used to enhance.  The bass bubbles and the drums are largely played with brushes.  The rhythms would often suggest a washboard or cajon would not be out of place.  With the squeals of harmonica and touches of fiddle, you feel transported back to a time when life still flickered in black and white and Al Capone fired his machine gun from his armoured 38er Series341-Cadillac.

The first seven tracks are tight and spirited – like the resonator dominated ‘Lady Luck’ or the previously mentioned ‘That’s Alright’- arranged and produced in a foot-tapping country blues style.  The atmosphere of ‘Flood Water’ makes you believe that this song could have come from the banks of the Mississippi.   And then you get a glimpse of Stannard’s folk roots (When You Need Them Most) or traditional jazz (Best I Can For You).  ‘Flood Water’ and ‘Bad Luck Rain’ are my two favorites from this section of “Bus Depot Blues”.

John Cee Stannard’s new album, with its gorgeous old fashioned musical content is completely out of time, making it a timeless beauty.

Steve Braun                       Rocktimes   02/02/2015


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Keys And Chords    30th December 2014   Cis Van Looy

In his homeland, guitarist and songwriter John Cee Stannard enjoys cult status as a founding member of Tudor Lodge, a folk group that, four decades ago, was making quite a stir on some prestigious stages, even outside the folk circuit.  Linda Peters (later Mrs Thompson) figured briefly in 1972, and her departure marked the provisional end of the group.  Then in 1980, the original group, Stannard, Lyndon Green and Anne Steuart reunited for a few months. Since the mid 80’s, Tudor Lodge has continued as a duo featuring Stannard and Lynne Whiteland.

Blue Horizon, as the name suggests, is a blues trio formed by Stannard which looks more at music’s blues corner, and the opener ‘Solitary Vacation With The Blues’ leaves no doubt as to which corner we are visiting.  In a dozen songs, with Mike Baker, Howard Birchmore and a number of guest musicians, Stannard explores the blues world – specifically, an entertaining folk and country take on the blues.  The only cover, the Crudup song ‘That’s Alright’ immortalised by Presley, gets a dynamic treatment which is closer to the original and fits seamlessly between songs like ‘Lady Luck’ and ‘Flood Water’ – whih we thought was located in the vicinity of the Mississippi Delta – but could it really be somewhere in Reading, England, on the banks of the Thames?

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3rd Coast Music Magazine | FREEFORM AMERICAN ROOTS CHART |FAR#185 (December 2014)
BUS DEPOT BLUES appears at No 21  

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John Cee Stannard And Blue Horizon – Bus Depot Blues | Album Review                      December 21, 2014            Marty Gunther

Cast Iron Recordings CIRCD 024          12 songs – 44 minutes   

One of the biggest stars in the folk music movement in Great Britain during the 1970s, John Cee Stannard attacks the blues format to deliver this collection of 11 originals and one cover, his second work in the format in a career that’s stretched back more than 40 years.

A solid guitarist and songwriter, Stannard achieved cult status in the 1970s as founding member of Tudor Lodge, a folk ensemble featured at festivals drawing crowds of up to 150,000 music lovers, which toured through the 1980s. He’s worked as a radio host and actor, appearing in small roles in several box office blockbusters, including The DaVinci Code, James Bond Skyfall, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy and Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire. He began shifting to the blues in 2011 after penning several songs in the genre that struck a positive chord. “It’s as if I’d finally found my voice,” he says. It was a dream he’d nurtured for decades.

Those tunes and several that followed comprise his first blues release, The Doob Doo Album, out of which Blue Horizon was formed. The band’s a trio, featuring Mike Baker on second guitar and Howard Birchmore on harmonica. They’re joined in the studio by drummer Julian Bown, bassist Andy Crowdy and violinist Melissa Lynch with Alex Steer appearing on tambourine and Alison Rolls contributing backing vocals. The sound they produce is modern while being somewhat a throwback to that of many of the small folk-blues groups that played coffeehouses in America in the 1960s. The material’s highly original, and is delivered clean, in a straightforward manner with Birchmore’s harp prominent in the mix throughout.

Available through CDBaby or any of the major download sites, the album kicks off with “Solitary Vacation With The Blues,” a sweet number about meeting a woman who appears out of nowhere to turn the singer’s life around in a positive way.” It features a bright, upbeat acoustic guitar line with harp response. The trip continues with “Bus Depot,” a syncopated country blues memory of a dark, damp wayside where Stannard’s character landed after the end of a love affair. The theme continues with “Hard Times – 83,” about an investment in a company that fails. The figure in the title refers to the age of the subject at the time the firm failed…and the age at which he wishes he’d died, too.

“Lady Luck” is a heartfelt plea for better times, followed by “I’ll Take Care Of Mine,” which affirms the singer’s resolve atop some solid brush work on the skins and an all-too-brief guitar solo. A spritely cover of Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup’s “That’s Alright” precedes “Blues In My Life,” an image-filled complaint about how the mood colors the singer’s life. The moody “Flood Water” features a repetitive slide line to drive home the feeling of the water rising steadily since the singer’s woman’s left home.

The music brightens for “When You Need Them Most,” while the theme of lost love and life lived in reverse gear carries forward as the singer yearns for friends to lift him up when they’re only letting him down. “Bad Luck Rain” features a Spanish-style guitar intro before Stannard addresses his troubles as the personification of the title and demands it leave town. The album concludes with “Best I Can For You,” which delivers a lounge band feel, and “Not Until It’s Gone,” an uptempo country blues number that about being unable to understand the depth of loss until the separation already has occurred.

If your tastes run toward acoustic folk blues, you’ll enjoy this one. The instrumentation is sharp throughout and the songs, which being familiar in theme, sparkle with originality.


Marty Gunther has lived a blessed life. His first experience with live music came at the feet of the first generation of blues legends at the Newport Folk Festivals in the 1960s. A former member of the Chicago blues community, he’s a professional journalist and blues harmonica player who co-founded the Nucklebusters, one of the hardest working bands in South Florida.

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Style : Blues
Rate (1-5) :   ***
Bus Depot Blues is the second album By John Cee Stannard. He released his debut about 11 months ago and wrote more then 30 songs for his debut. Naturally not all of them made on his debut and after some thinking (and a little pushing by his friends and band mates) a second selection was made. Enter “Bus Depot Blues”. “Bus Depot Blues” is a collection of different blues genres including Field Blues and Swamp blues amongst others but most of all it’s a blues album that toys around with old fashioned blues styles. Amongst my favourite tunes on this collection you’ll find title track “Bus Depot,” “Flood Water”, “Bad Luck Rain” and of course the cover version of Big Boy Crudup’s song, “That’s all right” that was immortalised by Elvis Presley. While this album is not strictly for blues lovers, it’s certainly aimed at that audience, so you be warned…the rest, please enjoy Bus Depot Blues!

Mr. Blue Boogie –

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Published December 25, 2014 at 14:40 by Roger BENGTSSON (Para-phrased)

John Cee Stannard was one of the founders of the English folk group Tudor Lodge who released their first album in 1971. A year ago he released his first solo album, and to tour the album he subsequently formed his Blue Horizon which have just released the sequel to the first album presenting similar songs but the emphasis is clearly on the live band and overall the songs are more catchy.  The tracks are country blues with the emphasis on blues. Overall it is a fine album where Stannard’s vocals together with the musicians lively approach is joyful and shows that they have fun when they play together. It is nice and lively even though they are beginning to get on in years.  25 Dec 2014

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Rock n Reel  R2 magazine November 2014

Bus Depot front for web bHeading back to a time before electric blues and to that genre influenced by the English folk scene , rather than, say, plantation blues, John Cee Stannard is a cultural guru of sorts, as his adventures include roles as a radio presenter, actor/extra and writer of novels.  Folk fans will know him for the 60’s group Tudor Lodge.  This album is a courteous diversion into foot-stomping tunes that are guaranteed to conjour images of a past time, but one which Stannard clearly embraces.
Recruiting Mike Baker on guitar and Howard Birchmore on harmonica completes the Blue Horizon combo and their experience in the game is reflected in their unambiguous, tight and loose performance.  With one exception, ‘That’s Alright’, the songs are originals and Stannard shows a penchant for the songs of the time, notably ‘Lady Luck’ and ‘I’ll Take Care Of Mine’.
Interestingly, he states that he has been influenced by Hugh Laurie, with a desire to emulate his understanding of light and shade in the genre.  Perhaps given the opportunity, the same might be said in reverse, as his half a century of singing and playing ought to receive greater recognition.

GARETH HAYES – R2 magazine November 2014 

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A TOTAL Winner… this is so straight unpretentious… this is what most recent music lacks…”
Lord Litter – Broadcaster and musician          December 2014

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JOHN CEE STANNARD & BLUE HORIZON. Bus Depot Blues CD review   

Posted by David James Innes on November 11, 2014 at 17:00

For forty years, John Cee Stannard composed no songs despite having more or less written Tudor Lodge’s eponymous album in 1971. His belief is that the completion of his first novel, The GRiPPENHAM Tales – The Hidden Truth, in 2011 rekindled his musical creativity. Bus Depot Blues follows on from The Doob Doo Album where Stannard reveals that he found his blues voice.

It’s a blues voice that is unmistakably English. Stannard emotes almost politely, as if these are blues for the grey generation, who continue to live by a code of lost manners.

The country blues laze of ‘Solitary Vacation With The Blues’ is an evocative opener, setting the relaxed tone, and Stannard sings from the heart of his resignation to ageing with good grace. That’s not always positive though, and the gentle ragtime of ‘When You Need Them Most’ masks the loneliness, where ‘my life changed from top gear to reverse‘.

There’s thinly-disguised bitterness in the protest of ‘Hard Times – 83’, the lyrical content of which rails resignedly but with barbs, at the corporate financial betrayal of the baby-boomer generation by the post-consensus amoral greed-is-good sharks.Bus Depot Blues does get low-down, and if not dirty, at least slightly unhygienic with the swampy, sleazy-sounding snakiness of ‘Flood Water’.

The one slight drawback of the album is blues harp player Howard Birchmore’s over-exuberance. He is an excellent player, perfect for the band but he might have reined back his contribution somewhat. His instrument should flavour and season songs without dominating as it tends to do. Less is more.

Overall, Bus Depot Blues has that uniquely British skiffle feel of musicians enjoying themselves paying tribute to the enduring Afro-American-based melting pot that is the blues, all the while putting their own home-grown stamp on it. Gratifyingly, that means that it sounds natural, organic, and largely free of muso hyperbole or histrionics. That’s very British too, at times evoking that marvellously self-effacing tongue-in-cheek Flanders and Swann atmosphere on a fine album of unpretentious laidback country blues.
DAVID JAMES INNES   – Flyingshoes – November 2014 

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Marshtowers – blogspot

This acoustic trio was formed to tour John Cee Stannard’s first solo album in 2013. The gigs were a success and new songs continued to flow.
John is going through a very productive period. ”I have been asked several times where the songs come from. The truth is that in 2011 one day a door opened and they all started coming through.”
The songs on Bus Depot Blues are all originals bar a single cover ofThat’s Alright by Arthur Crudup.This is a slice of feel good music, pulling the standard blues trick of making sad songs sound happy. Pop it into your CD player, tap your feet and forget your own troubles for a while.

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Review: John Cee Stannard & Blue Horizon

Bus Depot Blues

Posted on: Saturday, Nov 8, 2014


Singer and guitarist John Cee Stannard was a member of the folky outfit Tudor Lodge, who recorded a number of John’s songs back in 1971 on the Vertigo label but he then put his song-writing skills largely on the back seat; just over forty years later, John got together with some session musicians and some new blues songs he had written, and recorded a solo album.

Touring soon followed and John has now made this very appealing follow-up. The sound is generally acoustic based, though there is a band on some numbers and Mike Baker plays second guitar throughout. Forget trying to sound American – John has a quintessentially English accent, as for example, on the ragtime inflected ‘I’ll Take Care Of Mine’. There are elements of skiffle to be heard here (try the title track for a good example) and a more generic “East Coast” fingerpicking based style, including hints of jazz in a couple of places, with the resulting recordings conveying – mostly – a sense of fun.

The only non–original is a chugging cover of Big Boy Crudup’s ‘That’s Alright” that owes a lot to Elvis, though Howard Birchmore’s harmonica playing keeps it grounded in the blues. ‘Flood Water’ relies on a heavy, electric slide guitar riff to create a menacing atmosphere, but most of the remaining numbers are less threatening and John’s sense of humour is in evidence. A very entertaining release…

NORMAN DARWEN    November 2014

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John Cee Stannard & Blue Horizon, Bus Depot Blues. Album Review

Published on November 4, 2014 by Admin in Music

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10

The light at the end of the tunnel is always best illuminated by missing the last bus home. The dejection and disappointment of having to walk the miles from the last chance saloon to the cold and unfriendly home is always punctuated by the chance to listen to whatever music infects your ears and take in the natural air that dances sickly in urban abundance as you walk the walk home and keeping the eyes firmly fixed on the way ahead; only your ears press ahead with learning something new.

For John Cee Stannard & Blue Horizon, Bus Depot Blues is a mix of inspiring greatness tinged with the cold harsh reality that life in 21st Century Britain is singed, shattered and broken like a burnt, smashed mirror with the inflexibility imposed upon each of us and the con that somehow we have signed up for.

For John Cee and his travelling players, Mike Baker, Howard Birchmore, Julian Bown, Andy Crowdy, Melissa Lynch, Alex Steer and Alison Rolls, Bus Depot Blues represents a critique on the way life has become in many ways something insidious but delivered with the cunning punch of a genius comedian who knows how to play with words and subtle imagery. Bus Depot Blues should be seen as repository for the affable anger that resides in us all but at times we are just too comfortable to rise above the rage that builds at the stupidity in Government to do anything but give a non committable tut.

Nowhere does this anger hurt more than in the songs Hard Times 83I’ll Take Care Of Mine,When You Need Them Most and Best I Can For You. Hard Times 83 is a damning indictment to the way that no matter how hard you try to get ahead of it all, someone, somewhere, normally with intellect that inspires Mammon and with the legal jargon in which to hide behind, is able to place you in the position of pauper. The unfairness of it all is astounding and yet this legal robbery, the way in which insurance firms protect themselves against all eventualities, much like the gambling dens that doubled as whore houses and molly shops in 19th Century London were able to do.   

If the last bus has made it to the depot, if the Blues have got you wondering just who has won in the wacky world of the Westminster Empire and the conglomerations that whisper slowly in their ears, then John Cee Stannard & Blue Horizon have succeeded in their mission to educate, entertain and inform. Bus Depot Blues should be the first port of call in any thought of departure from the way we have been shuffled around like a badly drawn pack of cards. Tremendously enjoyable!

Ian D. Hall

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Bus Depot Blues (CastIronCIRCD024)

Bus Depot BluesFrom the Thames delta area of Reading comes the debut album by John Cee Stannard & Blue Horizon; a set of original blues songs with one standard – Arthur Crudup’s ‘That’s Alright’. Alongside John in the band are guitarist Mike Baker and Howard Birchmore on harmonica and they are joined on the album by a group of sidespersons including drummer Julian Bown who is a major part of their sound.

John Cee is a fifty year veteran and readers with long memories may remember him as a founder member of folk band Tudor Lodge back in 1968. He’s done a lot since then, finally arriving at this particularly English take on the blues. This isn’t straight 12-bar, in fact there is as much skiffle underlying the songs – I swear there’s a washboard in there – and most of the songs are taken at a cracking pace. The themes are traditional enough and expressed in titles like ‘Solitary Vacation With The Blues’ and ‘Bad Luck Rain’, but often with a twist: ‘Hard Times – 83’ is clearly rooted in modern financial fraud and heartless bureaucracy. ‘Flood Water’ immediately contradicts everything I’ve said by being a heavy, grungy 12-bar in the classic style.

That aside, this is the happiest blues record I’ve heard in a long time. ‘I’ll Take Care Of Mine’ is a defiant message to the world to back off and leave the man be, a new take on ‘Nobody’s Business But My Own’ and ‘When You Need Them Most’ is almost comical in its portrayal of misery. The playing has a fluidity that comes with experience and the band conjures plenty of variety from a few simple ingredients – and sometimes simple is best.

Dai Jeffries       November 2014

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John Cee Stannard And Blue Horizon
Album: Bus Depot Blues
Label: Cast Iron Recordings
Tracks: 12

Well there is one word to sum up this great collection of good old country blues and that is – jolly!

It’s a jolly well good collection of songs which have a good-time feel with some excellent playing.

With eleven original songs and a solitary cover of That’s Alright, this is an album bursting with bonhomie.

If I had to turn my nose up at one thing it would be some of the harmonica is a little too eager, particularly in the laid-back lounge blues Best I Can Do For You.

But overall this album is a credit to all involved.

John Knighton     FATEA – records      November 2014


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Attentive readers will note that John Cee Stannard has come back very quickly with a new album. It’s actually not even a year ago that we could imagine since we introduced “The Doob Doo Album” to you with great enthusiasm. And it’s been no different with this “Bus Depot Blues”.

Stannard was started 2011 with a flurry of blues-based material, enough to produce a fully-fledged solo album, true. When that album appeared he had written around thirty songs, but at that time, had no further plans with the songs that ultimately did not make the album. Two of his musical friends who also were to be found on the previous album, however, managed to convince John to do a few appearances. A group was quickly formed: John Cee Stannard & Blue Horizon. The acoustic blues trio was so successful that hit the gig calendar began to fill with performances.

Plans for a new record on which to reflect as much as possible the sound of the live performances, was the next logical step. So besides John, this album features the two great musicians Mike Baker, guitar, and Howard Birchmore, harmonica, who also previously did such great work on “The Doob Doo Album”. The trio is for this occasion assisted by bassist Andy Crowdy and drummer Julian Bown. Other sporadic but successful contributions fall to record Melissa Lynch on violin, backing vocals by Alison Rolls and tambourine Alex Steer.

The twelve songs we get to admire include one cover. Written by Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup “That’s All Right” and you may recall the familiar sounding version of Elvis Presley or later Rod Stewart. However, the arrangements of John Cee make us regain a refreshing version of this here classic. The trio is indeed very successful in such a “feel good” atmosphere to create this release. A CD which it is pleasant to play many times. After each number you will get a spontaneous smile on your face.

It’s the kind of album where you are feel that it you are listening to them live in a club you are lucky to attend. Instantly you know the band is having fun, and you imagine, preferably in the company of an attentive audience, because despite the somewhat light hearted character of the record we can not forget he great lyrics of John Cee Stannard. There is also more than to admire. Enough variety in the songs Wonderful Country Blues as in “Bus Depot”, the swampy, boggy, great sliding “Flood Water”, at the same time our favourite track this fantastic laid back song “Best I Can For You”.

And what is again high musicianship here! The inventive guitar parts and at times the quite brilliant blues harp licks. Meanwhile, we have also learned that John Cee has almost a hundred (sic) songs has written songs since 2011, which will most likely say that we have a new release again soon. Great. Foreseeable future. That is certainly a fact that we cheer!

Luc Meert                    August 2014

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‘Bus Depot Blues’ is an outstanding album. Each track is a delight to the ear. The songs are catchy, the humour flows from start to finish. Many of the lyrics are drawn from most unlikely sources. The ideas work though. I recommend this to everyone looking for a refreshing change from tired blues clichés. Give it a listen. My audience on Thursday afternoon certainly will be.

Jolly Roger                          October 2014

Jolly Roger’s Blues & Roots Show

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Before releasing this blues album, John Cee was a founder and long time member of folk duo/ group Tudor Lodge, based in Reading, UK. By his own admission, John “wrote the majority of the songs for our first album back in 1971, [but] I wrote very little in the intervening 40 years.

Then in 2011 John Cee wrote a few blues based songs which he was pleased with and this CD is one of the results (John Cee is also a radio broadcaster, published author and occasional film extra!).

Here, working with Mike Baker,(g) and Howard Birchmore (h) and a select group of guest musicians, Mr Stannard gives us eleven of his own songs (some of which are more country than blues) and one cover (That’s Alright, the Arthur Crudup song famously covered by Elvis Presley).

That’s Alright quite rightly has echos of Scotty Moore’s axe work but is enhanced by some driving harp work from Mr Birchmore. Bus Depot. the title track, reminds me of Sleepy John Estes while Bad Luck Rain has IMHO shades of jazz embedded in it. Blues In My Life is a skiffly piece with clever lyrics and a busy harp part.

Don’t expect anything like pure blues but there’s some fine music here nevertheless.

Ian McKenzie                   October 2014
Founder Member of the Independent Blues Broadcasters Association (IBBA)
Editor Blues In The South (

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After the last album “The Doob Doo Album”, which was supported by a large number of fans of traditional acoustic blues, John Cee Stannard in June this year announced the release of his new album, “Bus Depot Blues” for the same record label (Cast Iron Recordings). What is it?

After his initial success, John Cee founded the band Blue Horizon, which consists of Mike Baker on guitar and Howard Birchmore on the harmonica.  Both musicians had contributed to the last album, and they did a really great job.  On Bus Depot Blues they are joined by two other excellent musicians the bassist Andy Crowdy and Julian Bown on drums, Altogether it points to a winning formula, so this new album is not just an ordinary bus stop, but it is a place where this ingenious and impulsive team brings real fun to the album and provides the audience with a great opportunity to really spend their free time in a fantastic way. I should not forget to point out the contributions made by Melissa Lynch on the violin, the backing vocalist Alison Rolls and Alex Steer on the tambourine.

Eleven of the tracks are original with one cover song by Arthur Crudup will take us back to the time when the blues was not like the current and thunderous noise. It takes us back to the time when, somewhere the 30s and 40s of the last century, such blues was performed in the basement, smoky bars and to a time when rhythmically kicking was the only expression of intoxication with this music. John is no stranger to musical expression and has been on the folk scene since 1968.  Actually, John Cee founded the famous folk group Tudor Lodge.

But now on this album John Cee combines blues, jazz and a mild influence of ragtime. And so it was in 2011, that John Cee began to focus intensively on his solo career, and concentrate on a traditional blues expression. He was absolutely correct to do so and in fact, this opened up some new and exciting possibilities for him. These twelve songs offered an impressive package which must be listened to in your leisure time – it will be well spent. The team at SoundGuardian discovered the recording of this album, and the audience was given a unique atmosphere to listen to music which they will not give up so easily. Is not that the main task of each album – to entertain the audience?

RECOMMENDATION: This is the kind of album that remarkably transfers you to the live band sound, with an appreciation of each musician, each of which shares their obvious good fun on the album with you. “Bus Depot Blues” takes you into the safe and long-trodden routes of this demanding blues style; you just relax and listen to the music coming out of the speakers.

Mladen Loncar – Mike  –   The Sound Guardian   –  Croatia- September 2014

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Doob front Me from MBM00063_digipak adjusted



Maybe he is known to some of you as one of the founders of the English folk group Tudor Lodge. In blues circles, the name John Cee Stannard will not ring a bell immediately, but this could change with this CD release “The Doob Doo Album”. Although his folk roots are clearly present on this album, he nonetheless embarks on this solo project, looking for the old-school blues – in the broadest sense of the word.

Alongside being a musician and songwriter, Stannard is also a writer, actor and radio presenter. His healthy curiosity for different blues styles has resulted in this CD of thirteen captivating songs bathed in an atmosphere of blues and jazz clubs in the late ‘40s. Likewise, you will find Soul and Latin influences. There were a total of sixteen musicians involved in this project, which took almost two years to complete from writing the songs to the CD being released.  Stannard also plays the guitar, bass and sings vocals, wrote most of the songs and chose “That’s My Way” by Gary Fletcher for a surprising but, at the same time, sublime cover song.

The various musicians provide support including harmonica, accordion, banjo and piano, as well as saxophone, trumpet and trombone. This gives you an idea of ​​the overall framework.  This style also hits you as being roughly that of CW Stoneking, and what Stannard shows us here is how easily he can be compared with this successful artist.  You could place all the individual songs, in the timeline cited, and they sound as smooth as a whole.

The enthusiasm with which the whole project was anticipated and completed is impressive. The enthusiasm drips as it were, off the CD. There is a fascinating variety between songs with the horns in a prominent role and, say, more sober songs with guitar and harmonica like “Lost Lover Blues” which Stannard has arranged beautifully on this Blind Boy Fuller classic!

The lovely acoustic intro to “Second Chance” is the run-up to a brilliant song with wistful accordion and John Cee which proves how phenomenally well his voice is suited to catchy, haunting, fragile songs. He is equally able to vocally explore numbers in a way which conjures up comparisons with Tom Waits. “Wrong Side Of Town” is such a song that could be credited to Waits.  It therefore goes without saying that this man’s compositions (or songs) are more than exciting?

Blues purists might suggest that the “The Doob Doo Album” is not pure blues but we are inclined to imagine that John Cee Stannard  presents the blues as he feels it, and in this case there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, quite the contrary. The whole CD was released with a very nice booklet where you can explore all the session musicians easily, and come with an excellent text to follow. We are certainly impressed with this record and can only recommend that you discover this fantastic artist.  Indeed, we bet that after listening you’ll be as equally enthusiastic and be singing along with “Doob Doo Be Doo Wah “.

Spread the word to your friends…….
                                  Translation of Review by Luc Meert – Rootstime Magazine – Belgium – February 2014               

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John Cee Stannard: Folky Albion Blues
Heading for interview by Michalis Limnios  – –  Greece – 6th March 2014  

John Cee Stannard: One DozenQ
In depth interview for eyeplug – – 12th March 2014  

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When I received this album I immediately started to listen and as usual during the process, I made notes.  “The Doob Doo Album” is the name of the album, and the musician coming to us from the UK is called John Cee Stannard.  The album was released last May on JohnCee’s own Cast Iron Recordings label.

JohnCee is not too famouse here to blues fans, although he has been on the music scene for more than forty years.  He is the founder member of the English folk group Tudor Lodge, he is also a radio presenter, novelist and actor.

“The Doob Doo Album” is his first solo album and is an inspiring effort for which he gathered a large band, actually an orchestra of sixteen members, calling it simply Blues Orchestra.  Consequently, his music resonates a rich sound, depth and passion generated by these seasoned session musicians.   With this in mind, the album sounds surprisingly coherent.  Equally, there is no doubt that all of the muusicians involved on this recording were one hundred percent dedicated to the music, and enjoyed presenting it to the audience.  So, although this is a blues album, it was imperative that they hear and feel the strong and forcefull effects of other traditional music forms of jazz, soul and even latin.

John Cee Stannard wrote ten of the thirteen songs on the album, which bodes well for future copyright.  Another is co-writted; one is his arrangement (of a standard Blind Boy Fuller song);  ” That’s My Way” was written by Gary Fletcher of The Blues Band.

As my journey through the album developed, more and more I realised that this sound track reminds us of an earlier period, and takes us back to an ear of swing.  There are some very impressive moments, for example, in the song “Devil’s Own Store” and “Hid Behind The Door”, where the sound is simply suberb, with a short acoustic guitar solo, piano and harmonica.

Certainly, one of the key elements that makes this album so enjoyable is the Stannardov vocals.  In fact, unlike many British singers, JohnCee does not prefer an American accent while singing.  His vocal is clearly English, steady and stable.  At the same time it is open and responsive, which is good to hear!  The lighter pieces contrast gently with a huge amount of passion and sentimentality.  There are tracks rich in maturity and understanding of life – telling us that therefore if you get a second chance at life, then you know just what you need to do – so why not do it now.  This is a question I ask myself – listen to the song “Second Chance” and you might get at least part of the answer.  Next, I have to mention “Better Days”, “Lost Lover Blues”, “Doob Doo Be Doo Wah”, “Wrong Side Of Town” and “Separation Blues”.

Of special note is the label with the following warning:
“This album is protected by copyright, and sharing, copying or downloading whilst avoiding payment is very naughty and we’d really prefer that you didn’t do it – thanks.”

So do not be naughty, but nice, honest and buy “The Doob Doo Album” – you will not regret it.
Translation (with some paraphrasing) of review by Mladen Loncar  SOUNDGUARDIAN  Croatia – March 2014    


John Cee Stannard is a fascinating fellow, although his name is probably not well known to many blues fans.  A founding member of the English folk group, Tudor Lodge, he has been part of the folk music scene in the UK for over 40 years.  He is also a radio presenter, novelist and actor – you may have seen him (briefly) as an extra in movies such as “Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire”, “The Da Vinci Code” or “Skyfall”.
The “Doob Doo” Album is Stannard’s first solo album. It was written in 2011, when Stannard found himself taken in the direction of the blues by the nature of the songs he was writing, recorded in 2012 and released in 2013.  Featuring Stannard on guitar, bass and vocals, it also features 16 different musicians providing support on vocals, electric and double bass, drums and percussion, saxophones, trumpet, trombone, banjo, piano, Hammond C3, harmonica, accordion and acoustic and National guitars. The musicians are all renowned session musicians, but even so, the result is a surprisingly coherent album, with a depth and passion that one might not necessarily expect. It is clear that everyone involved in the release loves this music and enjoys playing it.  And, although it is definitely a blues album, The “Doob Doo” Album also has strong influences of Trad Jazz, soul and Latin music. Stannard wrote 10 of the 13 songs on the album himself, co-wrote one, and arranged another.  “That’s My Way” was written by The Blues Band’s Gary Fletcher. And none of the songs would have sounded out of place on a recording from 70 or 80 years ago.

This music harks back to an earlier, pre-electric period, sometimes evoking the swing era with the horns featured prominently, although songs such as “Devil’s Own Store” and “Hid Behind The Door” manage to fit in delightful, short acoustic solos for the guitar, piano and harmonica.

One of the key elements that makes this album so enjoyable is Stannard’s singing voice. Unlike many British singers, Stannard does not affect an American accent when he sings. His voice is plainly English, even on a song like “Regular Guy”, which could easily be an out-take from an early Tom Waits session (other than in respect of the vocals). However, there is an openness and vulnerability to his voice that makes songs such as “That’s When I Get The Blues” curiously affecting.

A number of songs lean towards the slower end of the spectrum, but there is a drive and passion to these songs that makes them uncommonly listenable.  The lyrics, as befits a man who has been writing songs for over 40 years, have a sense of maturity and perspective, so the protagonist of “Second Chance” warns the listener that “if you get a second chance to live your life again, take care that what you ask won’t lose everything”, whilst at the same time as suggesting that “every path will lead you here to me. I believe the picture always will show you and me.”

There is also a sharp wit at work on this album.  It can be seen in the medley of Patrick Sky’s “Separation Blues” and Stannard’s own “Separation Blues” (no, that isn’t a typo), which contains the delightful line “Staying out all night well that was bad enough, finding your number on my cuff, well I ain’t saying no-one seen us, but that was enough to put a wall between us.”  The same wit can be seen in the cover art.  The CD is beautifully packaged, with a detailed lyric booklet, which dryly categorises each song as a bucket blues, a groove blues, a dinner blues, a country blues, a café blues, or a latino blues.  It also has a cover that appears at first glance to be a reproduction of an old-fashioned ’78, whilst still containing the legal statement that “This album is protected by copyright so sharing, copying or downloading whilst avoiding payment is very naughty and we’d really prefer that you didn’t do it – thanks.”

For those whose tastes extend to the jazzier or swing side of the blues, The “Doob Doo” Album is highly enjoyable and warmly recommended.
Rhys Williams – BluesBlast Magazine  – USA – 15th January 2014

Founder member of cult 60’s and 70’s folk outfit Tudor Lodge, Stannard turns his attention to old-school blues – in its broadest definition – with The Doob Do Album. … His folk roots are very evident throughout this very English nod to the blues, with tracks ranging from folk ballads to old-time crooning plus country-blues, jazz and even latino influences.  Stannard is clearly an accomplished musician and songwriter, but the sheer diversity of the styles he has tacklet dilutes the impact of those he excels at. …
                                                                                      Morgan Hogarth – R2 – Rock’n’Reel  excerpt November/December 2013

JohnCee from Tudor Lodge has released a new album.  He has finished his solo project which took a long time to complete.  The tracks are a homage to the blues which was performed in cafes and jazz clubs in the 40’s and 50’s.  Richard Hudson from the Strawbs, and Nigel Portman Smith from Pentangle were the rhythm section; altogether, 16 musicians were involved with this project.  Various blues styles which take you back to older times are featured alongside solo performances which sound tight.  The music reflects John Cee’s folk career.  It’s very interesting and I’m into it.
                                                                       Tetsuo Uchida – Euro-Rock Press – Japan. September 2013

                                                                        HENLEY STANDARD
John Cee Stannard gave us a lively set of original blues-based tunes on Sunday at the Saracen’s Head and the positioning of the band right next to the Gents, right in the middle of all the hustle and bustle, added an air of authenticity — if you’ve ever played you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Mike Rowbottom – Henley Standard – 25th November 2013
Henley Jazz and Blues Week, Sunday Nov 10: John Cee Stannard at The Saracens Head. An excellent set from this veteran player and writer, supported by two fine musicians. Good writing, inventive chord progressions and melodies and a touch of showmanship. This was as authentic in the blues as you are likely to get in Henley with a no-nonsense pub and the performance area situated right next door to the gents. We’ve all been there and there’s something reassuring about it.
Mike Rowbottom – Henley Jazz & Blues Week  media manager – November 2013

“Folk’n jazz” went “moody blues”. Our special guest for the evening was John Cee Stannard on a visit from England. John plays and sings mostly his own material in what he describes as a blues – based style. The audience really enjoyed his brilliant guitar playing. Lets hope he visits again too!
                                                                                        Sue Carter, Folk ‘n jazz – tag on line update  – 27th September 2013

John Cee Stannard – Best known as the main man of Tudor Lodge.  Stannard’s solo work will appeal to a wider range of audiences.  The folk rock influences are still there, but tempered with everything from jazz to blues to lounge-pop crooner influences. An unexpected delight.
IPO Liverpool festival – Official magazine – July 2013

“………this sounds awesome, I like the sound of every track, I don’t normally like everything on an album.”
                                                                                        Catriona – buyer’s review

“Just been listening to John Cee Stannard track “Doob Doo Be Doo Wah” – sounds great – kinda Dr John feel.”
Janet Robin – Rock/Americana singer-songwriter – guitarist

“……just last week we were lucky enough to be invited to the launch night of folk legend John Cee Stannard’s new record Doob Doo Be Doo Wah.
John’s blend of up tempo blues and folk with wry lyrics and sing-a-long melodies is just as good live as it is on record, and believe us when we say that is very good indeed….. Be sure to check it out.”
Matt & Alex – Whitehouse Studios monthly round-up – June 2013

Extract from iTunes top 100 chart of new blues releases.  On 13th June 2013 the “Doob Doo” album made an appearance .

 by John Cee Stannard

Just had my first chance to listen to the whole of the new album.  What a brilliant job.  Great composing, interesting range of styles/backing instrumentation.  Can’t fault it.  Still think “Separation Blues” is my favourite but I suspect one or two others may push it into second place over time.
Stuart Tester – buyer’s review

I have got to tell you that “Doob Doo Be Doo Wah” was one of the most interesting songs I’ve heard in a long time, and I listen to a lot of music.  Watching the video put a smile on my face that lasted past the song’s end.
Peter Lauro – Blues Reviews – Ft. Pierce, Florida

… it’s a work of art and should sell in bucket loads …
 g.p.hall – guitar virtuoso

John Cee Stannard at Boars Bridge festival June 2013

John Cee Stannard at Boars Bridge festival June 2013

……………..  Finally, continuing with the National, John Cee, Mike and Howard presented the title track of the album “Doob Doo Be Doo Wah” …an amazing song which is still reverberating in my head. It is difficult to fit this song into a category, I think it crosses many boundaries, taking the best out of each it touches. How can this album fail to be a success…it can’t…and I’m sure it is destined to be a “classic”.If you buy no other music this month, make sure you buy John Cee Stannard’s “The Doob Doo Album”!  ****
excerpt of launch review by Badger Music Media