Canadian Musician Magazine – July 2009
THE BRADLEY/MCGILLIVRAY BLUES BAND
“The words “overnight sensation” and “blues act” seldom appear in the same sentence.
Many acts who’ve chosen to follow in the footsteps of the Muddy Waters, the Buddy Guys, and the Stevie Ray Vaughans of the world log a lot of miles together before they begin to experience the kind of success their talents warrant–but those years can make you strong.
A case in point is North Vancouver’s Bradley/McGillivray Blues Band, a wickedly good act fronted by guitarist Sheldon Bradley and powerhouse vocalist Ruth McGillivray.
Over the space of some nine years Bradley, McGillivray, and company–namely bass player Paul Freeman and drummer Hoto Parker–have crafted elements of classic blues, jazz, gospel, and soul into a formidable, groove-driven sound with some very original twists and turns.
You can’t help but be impressed by a band that takes a country classic like “The Tennessee Waltz” and transforms it into a great slow blues tune–one, I might add, that showcases McGillivray’s most impressive pipes to perfection. But this is no one-man lineup. If you can shift your focus away from McGillivray’s vocals you’ll find Bradley to be a very fluid, very natural player, and the rhythm section of Freeman and Parker is rock solid.
Their last album, the Bill Buckingham-produced Livin’ This Way, was cited by Real Blues Magazine as one of the best Canadian blues albums of 2008. Based on repeated plays of several tracks, I’m inclined to agree.”
Real Blues Magazine – December 2008
BRADLEY/MCGILLIVRAY BLUES BAND: LIVIN’ THIS WAY (SENSE AND SOUL PRODUCTIONS)
“…Of the dozens of Vancouver-based bands we’ve heard in the last 16 years the Bradley/McGillivray Blues Band is one of the strongest. Actually, they’re Top 5, based on this powerhouse CD…
Right from the first notes of track #1 “Do It For Love” you get hit with an exceptionally tight and funky sound. It becomes very evident how/why Bradley/McGillivray survive the dog-eat-dog circuit; they’re the Best of the Blue-collar working bands (they really should be elevated above the bar circuit thanks to their unique sound and overall talent) and the original “Do It…” eloquently states their existence and philosophy…
The rhythm section is rock-solid bass and drums and Bradley exhibits taste way beyond his years playing all the right stuff on lead and rhythm. Ruth M. avoids all of the many pitfalls that usually trip-up female vocalists i.e. Joplin scream/shriek fest exercises. She has a big ‘athletic’ voice that emerges effortlessly (or so it seems!) and it’s also a voice that one can’t get tired of. “Tennessee Waltz” (yes, the “Tennessee Waltz”) gets a slow Blues treatment, which proves that if you’re really good enough you can transform just about anything into a powerful Blues. “Changes” is a very marketable number thanks to its hybrid Funk/Rock/Blues identity (virtually every track is written by Bradley/McGillivray) and dance-floor strength.
“It’s Always Rainin’” is a tune everyone in Southern B.C., Oregon and Washington can relate to and it’s an exceptional minor masterpiece with its Country Blues-meets Funky town identity. Excellent material and performance. Ditto for “Just Like A Woman”, a hip-movin’, toe tapper that’ll fill the dance-floor in seconds. “The Hardest Thing” is a slow Blues with mucho atmosphere akin to late 1960s B.B. King-meets-Jimmy Smith (thanks to smoky Hammond organ). Sheldon says so much with just a few notes picked on his guitar.
“That Ain’t What I Need” is a potential standard for ‘exotic’ dancers thanks to its strutting attitude and Funk foundation. Ruth really sings her heart out on this one. I’d put this track (and the next one) up against any other Canadian band’s creations and feel confident that Bradley/McGillivray would kick butt in any type of ‘contest’ or comparison. “Blues Is My Affliction” is a powerhouse finale that should be shopped around aggressively as I think I know a Blues ‘standard’ when I hear one. Many of the ‘Star’ Blues talents don’t have repertoire material as good as this.
“Livin’ This Way” is easily one of the Best Canadian Blues albums not just of 2008, but also of the last several years. We can hope that this excellent Band gets ‘pole-vaulted’ out of the tough grind of club gigs and get their wonderful sound in front of Festival audiences (especially in Europe where they’ll be appreciated for their talents). 5 Bottles for a surprisingly tough, tight and totally enjoyable CD that’s as fresh and unique as it gets.”
Bradley/McGillivray Blues Band – Livin’ This Way
Bradley/McGillivray Blues Band – Livin’ This Way
— Tom Harrison
Ruth McGillivray: River of Soul
– L.C. Di Marco
The Vancouver Sun
Ruth McGillivray – River of Soul ****
“Never judge a book, or a CD, by its cover. River of Soul, recorded in a Surrey studio, pictures vocalist Ruth McGillivray and guitarist Sheldon Bradley on the banks of a rural stream, and one expects a folk album. Who’da thunk we’re in for an hour of full bodied R&B in the spirit of early Bonnie Raitt? Things get off to a great start with the get-down I See Purple, Bradley’s (McGillivray’s songwriting partner) guitar and Steve Soucy laying down a good groove. Jewelry Box makes a shuffle beat sound funky, while Starin’ Down the Road has great acoustic slide guitar work from Bradley and a rousing vocal from the singer. McGillivray does her most soulful singing on I’m Leavin’ , a slow blues delivered with great feeling, and Ain’t Gonna Miss You, which begins quietly and ends with the house rocking. Because this is self-distributed, not all stores will carry the disc. It can be ordered on McGillivray’s Web site (ruthmcg.com).”
– Marke Andrews
Blues Free Press
– Judge Jones (www.bluesfreepress.org.uk/Issue14)
Sunshine Music Festival, Powell River, B.C.
– Don Bowes, Artistic Director
A powerhouse River of Soul
“Yikes! This woman has a big voice and a commanding onstage presence, as evidenced by her appearance at the ManiFest Arts festival last November. The sheer force of her sound is a bit reminiscent of Janis Joplin’s approach, but her voice has none of Joplin’s harshness. This album, produced by Roy Salmond, features mostly original songs, several co-written with the singer’s gifted guitarist, Sheldon Bradley. These are mainly love songs; several deal with no-good men, while others affirm solid relationships. There is some social commentary, with ‘I See Purple’ addressing varying interpretations of reality; and ‘Beautiful and Sexy,’ which states: “Beauty, clothes and brains / Will open any door / But self-respect will help you choose / The one worth waiting for.” Curiously, as impressive as McGillivray’s powerhouse performances are, the highlight is an achingly delicate song of comfort titled ‘Cry,’ dealing with the pain of childbirth. Speaking of her newborn daughter, she writes: “Jesus said that God loves us / Like a father loves his child / If God loves me like I love her / Think about that for awhile.” The album ends with reverent takes on two hymns, ‘What a Friend’ and ‘Amazing Grace.'”
– David F. Dawes, canadianchristianity.com
“A voice born to sing The Blues. I have never run across a voice that has such an immediate and visceral impact. Riveting… ‘I’m Leaving’ is spine tingling. Literally. It stands up beside any blues performance by any singer of any era. ‘I Still Love You’ is wonderfully intimate and gentle. ‘Cry’ makes me. Ruth is a future blues legend.”
‘River of Soul’ – Listener Review
“A power of unsettling enormity. Immediately upon hearing this CD, you can sense the power in Ruth’s voice. It’s like the subdued churning of a big V8 at idle. As she gently finesses through delicate passages, your anticipation builds and soon enough patience is rewarded with the power, the fury, that is Ruth McGillivray. While the CD does not produce the sonic clarity and breathy dynamic that Ruth has in live performances, it is a fine showcase for some solid songwriting and brilliant interpretation. I rate this one a ‘must have’.”