After a short support slot by talented Derry singer-songwriter Hollie Rose, who impressed most with her own song the Ed Sheeran-influenced ‘Alone’, Dana Masters, who has just finished recording a new album in a Dublin studio, then strolled up to the Black Box stage with her band.
Warm love in the room, the place was full, the Roosevelt Jamison song ‘That’s How Strong My Love Is’ set the OV and Otis mood, Masters not afraid to ramp up the power, Paul ‘Hammy’ Hamilton on drums providing a velvet touch.
Songs in the early part of the show included best of all a new Masters original, ‘Feels Like Love’, allowing the band to stretch out and take it higher. There was also a good version of the Chris White-arranged ‘Motherless Child,’ Hammy Hamilton showing his jazz chops a little more.
The band had a new guitarist and featured Linley Hamilton as the only front line horn player plus, besides drums, bass guitar and keys in the instrumentation – Johnny Taylor’s raindrop touch and apt deployment of augmented chords as subtle as his timing.
Masters is an unapologetic ‘talker’ and interspersed lit-up treatments of songs that ranged across soul and classic protest song – significantly including Sam Cooke’s ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ and jazz standards such as Eden Ahbez’s ‘Nature Boy’ – with confident storyteller chat, references to the US civil rights era during which time the singer’s grandmother was an activist. Bringing her history more up to date she spoke of her own family joy in travelling to attend the inauguration of President Obama. That’s being there. Stephen Graham
Updated 25/1/2016 with new ‘Feels Like Love’ video footage from the gig... Johnny Taylor on keys above left, Linley Hamilton who arranged the song, on trumpet, Dana Masters, centre, Hammy Hamilton on drums, Garth Hughes on bass guitar and Colm McClean, rhythm guitar.
Video: Tremaine Gregg