Now in its fourth decade, the Blues Giants trio play authentic classic American Blues with Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Jimi Hendrix, Robert Parker, Johnny Guitar Watson evident in their set, all played with a cheeky smile on their faces.
Steeped in the Blues and Jazz all his life, Birmingham guitarist Steve Ajao and his Blues Giants (Mike Hatton – Bass, and former Au Pairs drummer Pete ‘Washboard’ Hammond) have been thrilling audiences for over 30 years and Steve is regarded by many as one of the hottest Blues guitarists in the UK. Close your eyes one moment and you’d think you were listening to a band direct from the Mississippi Delta, and the next, to Jimi Hendrix. Few players around offer this kind of guitar genius and this powerhouse three piece remains an absolutely must-see act, especially when the band wander off, New Orleans marching band style, and mingle with the crowd while playing Number Nine or Travelling Riverside Blues!
From Blues In Britain magazine, Nov 2014: ‘There is always a good feel to any Blues Giants gigs, plenty of cheesy humour and classic Blues, played with a sparkle in the eye, enjoyable fun sessions are mandatory’
Born in 1952 in Birmingham, England, Steve was brought up listening to his dad playing drums and guitar in 50’s and 60’s.
His father, Bobby Ajao, had a great record collection and Steve was listening to people like Lightnin’ Hopkins, Charlie Parker, Wes Montgomery, T Bone Walker, BB King, Buddy Guy and all the best blues, R&B and jazz at some of his dad’s parties long before the so-called "British Blues Boom" happened in the early 60’s.
Steve started off playing drums, but by the late fifties, when he was just eight, he was given his first guitar, a "Selmer 222". By the age of thirteen, Steve was playing non-stop and beginning to develop his own style, which was strongly based on Lightnin’ Hopkins. He even managed to fool his dad into thinking some tapes that he had made were actually by Hopkins!
That was enough to persuade Steve’s dad to bring him into his band as lead guitarist. Still just thirteen, Steve was playing soul, R&B and early reggae together with a smattering of blues in black clubs and dances all over the UK at weekends.
...the Blues Giants...
Bassist Mike Hatton began playing in 1978 and within a very short time became recognised as an exceptional player with an extraordinarily good ear. Within three years, Mike had teamed up with Steve Ajao and embarked on a journey in the study of Jazz as well as the Blues. Before long he was performing every weekend in a band that could metamorphose from a gritty Blues band in set 1 to a Bebop band in set 2, with Ajao playing guitar in the first and saxophone in the second. The early 1990s saw Mike as regular bassist for former Chris Barber Band member and much loved and missed guitarist, Roger Hill in his Blues line ups. Since then, extemporisation has been at the heart of Mike’s approach and he is one of the few bassist around capable of performing solo, using a chordal approach on the bass. He has always been a creative player and has made two albums of self-penned material – The Commercial Blues in 2004 and later in 2009, his Jazz Funk project MJHQ which produced the album So What’s Up? He has a broad and wide ranging experience in Jazz which saw him perform extensively around the country in the 80s and 90s with several combos. He can often be seen with the Blues Giants playing both six string fretted and fretless basses and his soloing in the Blues Giants set illustrates the debt he owes to Jazz with a tasteful sense of harmony and soulful phrases in the playing. Mike is continuously recording his bass-led compositions and you can check out some of these on Soundcloud
Tub thumper and kitchen utensil player Pete ‘Washboard’ Hammond brings an eclectic rhythmic chaos to the Blues Giants with hard, powerful and funky modern chops with his foot well in the traditional past in addition to some jaw dropping stomp and washboard wizardry. The ‘Washboard Pete’ segment of the Blues Giants set always raises a smile and is one of the many features of a Blues Giants set that becomes a memorable talking point for audiences. Pete was a founder member of the seminal agitprop influential post punk band the 'Au Pairs'. The Combo recorded three albums including the infamous debut 'Playing With A Different Sex' which has sold over 200,000 copies to date. After three American tours and countless European and UK treks and media appearances including the much loved Old Grey Whistle Test and John Peel radio sessions, they folded. After three years of self-induced hibernation to hone his craft, Washboard Pete emerged to join popster Bitty McLean for a five month European Tour with UB40,recording traditional African drums with Fenu Monu, Touring with Latin band Mambo Taxi, Global trekking live drums with dance dj's and playing jazz with Mr Ajao and presently Tim Amman Xtet. He also does your washing for a small fee during the gigs.