Dusty Tools at TJ Doyles

 I don't get many opportunities to check out the local live music scene these days ( and i dont do the review thing usually) but on a rare weekend off I took the chance to check out Cliff and the lads on Friday at TJ Doyles and well....totally enjoyed the night, simple as! Having seen the band in a big Club environment two year back I was curious to see them in a smaller pub to see if they "scaled anything down" or lost any of that " polish" in a tighter , more intimate venue. No chance!! The whole show ,from an unbelievable light set up, a marvellous balanced sound with great clarity and a totally polished, professional performance from the band themselves just left me thinking this is what a working band is about these days where gigs are getting scarcer.You get consistent bookings by leaving nothing to chance and delivering the goods whether you're on a big Club stage or playing to 40 people in a smaller Pub. Put bums on seats and play material that they want to hear.....and play it well.That's what this band obviously do judging by their full diary. They aren't a heavy rock outfit by any means but I knew all but one track , stuff from Huey Lewis, The Eagles, Kansas, Fleetwood Mac,John Cougar ,Don Henley,Gerry Rafferty, Gary Moore... and a great version of Steely Dan's Reeling in The Years! There are a handful of fantastic bands locally that ive enjoyed watching from all types of musical background, not just heavy rock..... and The Dusty Tools are one of em. They've had an awful lot of great quality vids posted of em recently and sometimes that can actually make you put off checking em out live, don't let it!! I don't care what " category" some judge-mental folk put em in, they're simply a great band! Geordie

Friday Rocks @ Buffalos Houghton

Playing their first gig of the year for us, The Dusty Tools brought their peerless sound and stagecraft to the Buffalos Herd. From the opening chords of the Eagles 'Heartache tonight' through to the closing echoes of 'Sweet Home Alabama' this was a class show. Playing to a packed house, even with sub zero temperatures outside this band showed that people will always turn out for a guaranteed good night's entertainment that The Tools are reknowned for. With excellent banter between singer/bassist Johnna and the crowd even the breaks between the songs were entertaining. Apart from the 4 members of the band, there were at least 3 other guys making sure they looked and sounded spot on all night. The Dusty Tools have consistently brought the highest standard of music to the Buffalos and just as consistently invested in ever improving lights and sound to bring the best possible show to the Herd. An absolute pleasure to watch and listen to.

Just which top North East band do we go to watch this week?!

After careful deliberation and a scanning of the gig listings it was decided that another venture to Houghton Buffalos club was in order to see The Dusty Tools in action.Now those of you who have read previous reviews will have noticed we have spent a lot of time at Houghton Buffalos recently with two of the previous three articles based on our experiences watching The Rattlers and Borderland at the club in Houghton-le-Spring. The Buffalos club have served up some fine acts recently and when you combine top music along with an enthusiastic crowd who are accommodating and make you feel welcome you are looking at one of the best rock night venues in the area.

It’s no wonder we here at Music Zoo keep going back for more! It was the turn of The Dusty Tools to step up onto the stage and showcase their talents.Dusty Tools are another band who we have seen perform on numerous occasions before but unlike their Borderland counterparts the previous week, we had already witnessed them go down a treat at Houghton Buffalos. Both ourselves and the band were welcomed by another full room (how many venues are showing the house full signs right now?) for what promised to be a good night of melodic soft rock covers.

As the band made their way from the dressing room to the stage the lights were switched off and only stage lighting kept the room from almost total darkness. Having negotiated the dark arena and made it on stage, Johna, lead singer for the band, thanked everybody for coming along and then made a shocking announcement; this was to be the last gig for Dusty Tools! The opening chords of Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd sounded and it was show time but the audience were left wondering if this really was to be the end of the road for band. Could this be the last ever Dusty Tools gig?During a first set which included covers of Jack & Dianne by John Cougar Mellencamp, Carry On My Wayward Son by Kansas, Walkin’ On A Thin Line by Huey Lewis And The News and a rocking interpretation of Big & Rich’s Save A Horse the band seemed to be enjoying themselves and were at ease with their surroundings.

The Buffalo herd were singing along as usual with two of the clubs very own air guitar champions once again climbing the dividing wall in the room and moving across the narrow ledge, attempting to copy the band in their own unique air guitar style.One or two notes were dropped first half but this did not detract from a solid first set. Johna was very vocal in his appreciation of the crowd stating on many occasions the band always enjoyed their gigs at Houghton Buffalos club because “the crowd here are so enthusiastic and get into the spirit of things. There’s nothing worse than playing to an audience who just sit there and go through the motions but you guys put on one of the best rock nights in the local scene”. It was almost as though he was bidding an emotional farewell. The guys took a well earned break and headed off for a sit down and no doubt a nice cold drink to prepare them for the second set.Having been inundated with people asking what was going on and was this really the bands last ever gig one of the committee took it upon themselves to go and get the information everybody craved.

A couple of minutes passed before the announcement was made ... the band weren’t splitting up and putting down their tools for good ... this was to be their last gig before their holidays! Johna would later explain on stage that he was sorry if his announcement had misled people into thinking the band were splitting. Relief all round that it was just a misunderstanding and not the end of The Dusty Tools.The second set continued on nicely from the pace set in the first half with Pete Carr switching on to Saxophone for a cover of Stick Together by local singer Bryan Ferry. Don Henley’s Boys Of Summer, iconic Thin Lizzy tune The Boy’s Are Back In Town, ZZ Top’s Gimme All Your Lovin’ and Down Down by three chord supremos Status Quo were included second half and all covered well.

An impromptu special guest appearance by Colin ‘CJ’ Johnson of Rock Solid fame was the icing on the cake for The Buffalo herd as he was invited up to sing Alright Now by Free. His voice was perfect for the song and having not yet seen Rock Solid perform the Music Zoo team were highly impressed with the vocal range CJ has at his disposal. This was for sure one of the highlights of the night.After thanking everyone for coming along and watching, The Dusty Tools finished off with a cover of Scottish band Del Amitri’s Always The Last To Know, followed by demands for an encore and a final song of the night which was a repeat of Sweet Home Alabama; a song which the band do better than anybody else on the scene.

This show proved just how good Dusty Tools are and why so many would have been sad if the night’s early incorrect announcement of this being the band’s last gig were true.

Johna Johnston is a true showman in both his style of play on bass guitar and his interaction with the crowd. There are few better at putting on a show and involving the audience. The only criticism of him on this occasion is the fact that it was he who had people worrying about the future of the band! Choose your words carefully next time! Pete Carr showed how having a member of the band who can switch instruments is a huge asset, switching from guitar to saxophone on Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty and Stick Together by Bryan Ferry. Being able to play a wider range of songs and using various instruments never fails to impress and Pete did so effortlessly. Any chance of a crack at Local Hero next time like back in the Deek The Juice days? Bobby Tough on lead guitar simply gets on with his job with minimal fuss. His playing is easy on the eye yet still manages to make it sound like the guitar is being played with high energy and intensity. His vocals accompanied the sound very well.Cliff Gills on drums is the unsung hero of the band. Like so many drummers he gets stuck at the back of the stage but his timing and hitting of the pots and pans cannot be faulted. He is also responsible for the overall sound at a Dusty Tools gig and tonight the sound was spot on. A big thumbs up.

The Dusty Tools put on yet another great show and in all the time the Music Zoo team have watched them perform we are yet to see a bad performance.Keep up the good work and enjoy your holidays!gig Fri 21st August 2009

Review left on Big Ginger Gits by Colin Smoult re The Office

Couldn't let this gig go by with out some kind of mention.

Yet again another fabulous gig from these guys. These lot have been gigging locally and have built up a superb reputation as a high quality live act. Their legacy is being formed from 2 top club bands, Six of the Best and Deek the Juice. The word 'club' is not being used in a derogatory term here, but rather a mark of respect for the many years that the band members have spent playing in the high demanding field of entertaining tough audiences across this region & beyond. All that experience, and now combined and brought to the world of pubs to bring about some of the most professional shows that you're likely to see for free admission.

Slow turnout at the Office this night, and the weather was quite perishingly cold outside, yet by kicking off time there was a very decent sized crowd assembled, which grew constantly as the evening progressed. Yet again the P.A. system sounded amazingly stunning, with perfect clarity, large sound (yet never too loud), and about as good as you're likely to hear in venues of this ilk.

The lads are all very fine musicians in their own right, and combined together they have a fantastic chemistry which works so well. Just banging a bunch of talented people together doesn't always get the results that you were hoping for (any football manager can tell you that, ), but with this lot it's like they've been playing alongside each other forever. Cliff on drums has the most marvellous drum sound, and for a 'triggered' kit is has to be the most natural that I've ever heard. Mega-solid drummer, sound to die for, and he just happens to be the guy that does all the mixing too. Bobby on lead guitar has a perfect lead tone, with plenty of dexterity and fluidity in his playing style to match that quality. Pete on 2nd guitar pulls off some lush different settings from his Line-6 guitar & amp, making acoustic guitar & banjo soudns instantly achievable. And lastly Johna on headless bass and lead vocals, who has a really charismatic on-stage personna that is so enjoyable to watch.

Great music all night long, played to remarkabley accurate standards. If you want to know what tunes, ... then get your ar*e along and check them out. It's all brilliant music, yet has a very American almost country vibe to it. Country-rock, ... maybe you could label it as that, yet it's far more accessible than you'd imagine as there are some great pop hooks and rock edges there too.

Dusty Tools are one of the finest bands to have immerged from our region during last year. They have a classy pedigree to start with, and maintain those standards highly for even our local boozers. They should be on everyones 'gotta check these out' list.

Review left on Big Ginger Gits site by 'stickermad' re Farrindon Club

Well... I found out on Saturday 3rd that The Dusty Tools were a band that were put together by Johna and Pete from The Deeks and Bobby and Cliff from 6 of the Best... Now then... You gotta ask yourself what is music all about and what does it do for you? of course we all have so many different opinions on MUSIC and what tastes we love and detest to the extent that it should not be played...Agree? Anyway What does it for me is the LIVE thing! Whether a band plays stuff you like or not its whether they can perform it well LIVE too, how good is the sound, the mix, can you hear that crisp crack of that reverbarated snare? Can you feel the resonance of those beautiful bass notes wrapping around your head and rumbling thru your chest at the same time? the power of that kick drum hitting you where it needs to? those sweet plucked or strummed chords from the gilmour-esc guitars and finally those fantastic harmonies perfectly mixed to sit just above all the music to envelope your brain to think wow now that feels good... Thats what I class as good anyway and Im sure the majority of either true audiophiles or real musicians will agree... Now then to my point in this war and peace review... I'll start by saying ive ran a band myself (working class) and albeit only a club covers band we seemed to go down pretty well wherever we used to play and gained a good following we had a 16k touring rig and a 40channel mixing desk the stones would have been proud of... costs running it, work commitments and politics from concert chairman (some little hitlers) took us to taking a break... Now down to business... THE DUSTY TOOLS... I attended the gig at Farra Club last Saturday night... Ive known all the lads for lots of years and proud to say that I am even associated with them... I'll start with Cliff...I feel the biggest thank you has to go to this guy as he's invested in the band because of the belief in his musicians...how good they are as performing artists and as people to work with... They have a new JBL LINE ARRAY system which for me surpasses any PA ive ever heard in clubland full stop... I had a 16k rig which was good but this sound they produce is simply BRILLIANT! I defy anyone who hears The Tools to say different too...If any negatives come back from a Tools gig it would have to be from jealousy...I say give credit where its due... why do I say this?... The general consensus in clubland is that its dying and most will agree visiting most clubs now the crowds are less (smoking ban maybe) take your own judgement from that...or....Punters sick of the same old same old "Karaoke acts" with the people who produce a "band" to clubland or get band fees anyway...pull up in a volvo and trailer in the back and get their NEXO rig out of it with mini disc player and say were the best band in clubland... well sorry boys and girls who may have done this and seriously p***** off with my comments but in my opinion its that thats killed clubland for me. (Sorry Bill you know its true too)... But...and its a BIG BUT... Bring on The Dusty Tools...People who CARE about the SOUND, people who care about the MUSIC, people who dont insult punters intelligence in clubland by playing some what the average joe might class as obscure but the people who sit and LISTEN and think wow I haven't heard that track in years, their repatoire will grow too as time goes on keep it up lads there are people out there who do sit up and take notice thats why you will get such a following and a full gig date sheet... Cliff your drumming is superb too and I heard every tom every kick every symbol and like I said earlier that crisp crack of that snare... superb mate... Johna...I relate to you more because I sing lead vocal too... Voice,Bass absolutely over the moon you are back performing... a talent wasted when you're not...end of... Pete Vocals, guitar, sax...All superb mate its good to see you up there again too...Bobby Vocals, Lead Guitar...Ex 6 of the Best.. Every note perfect and the people you've worked with in the past says it all...Alexander Edwards for one...for me the best Lead Vocalist clubland has ever had I wish I could lace his shoes... Anyway folks... to finalise...The groove and feel The Tools are creating out there is one not to be missed...Maybe they might not cover every single taste you like but I can GUARANTEE you that what they cover you will like because of how its played and how it sounds... Lads... It really is good to have you all back on the circuit and Im sure as word gets around club and pub land kight just start to make a comeback and people might just stop worrying whether they need to go outside for a knob jockey or what time the bingo starts... with The Tools they'll be coming for The Band, The Music... You have certainly inspired me to think about performing again so if that means anything to you ill finish by saying...THANK YOU...Long live THE TOOLS
All the Best KEV

Review left on Big Ginger Gits site by 'whiterat're The Ropery

Never been a fan of middle of the road American Rock but been wanting to see the Tools for ages cos I knew singer and Bassist Johna and Guitarist Bob Tough since I was a kid. Only caught the first half, but to say the band are professional is an understatement, what a set up and what a sound, they even had a back drop that stretched the full width of the Ropery! Not really knowledgeable enough about their material to list song by song but do know the tracks enough to recognize they were played to perfection. Jonna is a great front man and bassist, superb guitar duelling too all held together by some powerhouse drumming from Cliff at the back. They are a talented band who really pull out all the stops and obviously really enjoy what they do, oh and must mention some great vocal harmonies too. Ironically as much as their music is not strictly my scene, when I was about 16 or 17 Bob Tough was the guitarist everyone I knew admired and I remember thinking if I was as good as Bob I would be happy and that was twenty odd years ago, after todays performance nowt has changed! I still wish i was as good as Bob. However I still left thinking wouldn't it be just great though to see Johna with a Fender Precision hanging down below his knees Jean Jaques Burnell style and Bob with a nice white Les Paul Custom Windmilling his arms around doing a scissor kick and shouting If the Kids are United! I can dream, but I will be back to catch them again. So if The Eagles etc are your bag then you can't go wrong with the Dusty Tools, "Even better than the real thing!!! Another thing that really impressed me was Cliff THE DRUMMER doing the sound from behind his kit! I have never met a drummer who even knows what a PA looks like never mind how to use it so 10 out of 10 for that alone. I have to do everything in my band cos they are bone idle goons, lead vocals, lead guitar, and sort out sound and set the PA up too!!! I am jealous, Jonna has it far too easy!

Review left on Big Ginger Gits site by 'bigrob' re George Stephenson

Hello, Just want to say a big thank you to Johna,Cliff,Robert & Pete of the Dusty tools for a great gig at the George on Saturday night. I got to the venue at 7:30 on cold wet night and the band were already set up and sound checked (pros or what eh) for 9:15 start. Now Johna (Lead vocals/bass) & Pete (Guitar/sax/vocals) were former members of club Band Deek the juice and Cliff (Drums/vocals) & Robert (guitar/vocals) were former members of Six of the best so expectations were high and i was not disappointed, the sound was the best i have heard in a pub crisp and clear. There songs were a wide mix of classic rock to bang up to date stuff. the set list included Hotel California,How Long and seven bridges road by The Eagles Carry on my wayward son by Kansas was a nice surprise and done to perfection and the surprises kept coming with Jack & Dianne by John Cougar Mellencamp and then Men At Work (Down under i hear you cry) no, Who Can It Be Now with some great sax work from Pete. Then Message in a Bottle By The Police, Go Your Own Way by Fleetwood Mac and my fav of the night Sweet Home Alabama.
By the second set the place was full and soon everyone was up dancing to the sound of I predict a Riot & The Boys Are Back in Town. And there was some excellent harmonies by all four lads on Radio & Save a Horse ride a cowboy by Big and Rich.
And i have got to mention the Del Amitri Last to Know and status Quo Down Down were superb.
All in all a great night with a great band check them out this Saturday (29/6) at the Plain Farm Club Sunderland or check out there website

Review In Sunderland Echo Thurday 15.05.05 By Mick Caney re Hastings Hill

The Dusty Tools have become one of the most sought after bands on the club and pub circuit and last week at The Hastings Hill pub I saw the reason why. The atmosphere was electric and the pub was filled to capacity for a band whose members have been part of club history with Six of The Best and Deek The Juice who were headliners in clubs throughout the nineties.Jonna, Pete, Bobby and Cliff have produced a sound that is second to none and a set list that covers some great numbers from the opening Lynyrd Skynyrd classic, ‘Sweet Home Alabama’, The Eagles ‘Hotel California’ and their brilliant version of ‘Carry on Wayward Son’ by Kansas. ‘Baker Street was a highlight with Pete playing a blistering sax solo.Their harmonies have to be some of the best heard and really make each song stand out. All excellent musicians, they had the crowd buzzing and with all four members being lifelong friends, they have a great rapport between them.Such is their popularity that they were booked for New Years Eve at The Hastings Hill after playing their first gig there. Details for tickets etc will follow nearer the time.


Review left on Letters page by 'Mac' re Nunthorpe Squash Club Gig

Dear Riffs,
We booked "the Dusty tools" for a gig last saturday at Nunthorpe squash club,Middlesbrough.I'd like to thank the lads for an absolutely fantastic night of brilliantly executed songs,harmonies & professional performance..A superb night was had by all..The amount of people i've had asking about the band has been overwhelming to say the least!.May i add that although the gig started @ 9 'o' clock the band were there at 6;30 setting the gear up!...Professionalism or what!..No sound checks when the punters arrived ..all done & "dusted" (Sorry about that!) beforehand..Again you could tell that this band know the ropes when it comes to sound quality & delivery!..All in all a completely professional package delivered to your door!
Many thanks to Cliff,Johnna,Pete & Bobby for a great night

Cheers lads Mac

Review left on Big Ginger Gits Site by Colin Smoult (Rockermouth) re The Office Gig

What a cracking night from this band. Absolutely top-notch!

I didn't know exactly what to expect from them, as all I really knew is that they contained 2 ex-members of Six of the Best, and automatically I realised that the quality of this band would be of a d*mn good standard. Truly I was not let down in the slightest. The rest of the group is made up of 2 former members of Deek The Juice, and all 4 of these musicians combined are extremely experienced and totally professional.

The music is very far removed from the old AOR vibe of Six of the Best, and there's a little bit more of a country leaning especially with the likes of the Eagles songs etc. Best numbers of the night were 'Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy' by Big & Rich (awesome number I got clicked on to a couple of years back), and a superb rendition of 'Jack & Diane' by John Mellencamp. The 3 (sometimes 4) - part vocal harmonies were fantastic, the musicianship from all of them was extremely good, and they had a mega sound with tons of clarity.

This was only their 5th gig in so far as the Dusty Tools, and they thoroughly entertained the Office punters. The band played the pub like they'd been there before as they were so relaxed and confident on stage. I'd have this lot back here instantly to play anytime. They are one of the best new bands to emerge in a long time, and I'm sure that they are going to have a tremendous future ahead of them.

Letter left on Riffs site re Gig at Hasting Hill

'Hi Everyone!

I went to catch up with my old bandmates from 20 yrs ago ("Six of the best") at the hastings hill pub in Sunderland.They are are now playing under the name "The Dusty tools" along with Johnna & Pete from "Deek the juice".I travelled up from Middlesbrough expecting a good show & wasnt dissappointed !..They sound as fresh as they did 20 yrs ago!..The sound system was absolutely impeccable to say the least & the variety of songs covered would please any punter anywhere!..I can see this band being booked fairly rapidly at most venues in the N/east..great players & all round nice people.I aint gonna leave it another 20 yrs thats for sure.I just hope they don't end up back on the club circuit as seeing them in a pub environment really suited the closeness of the show etc.....They come highly recommended!

Review left on Big Ginger Gits Forum by Mrs Rock re The Fleece Crook Gig  

'Right!! excuse spelling as I'm a little bit 'tipsy!!

Had the pleasure of watching the Dusty Tools tonight @ The Fleece in Crook!!!


We had everything from the Eagles to the Kaiser chiefs
Sound was lush! if you haven't seen these guys yet you are in for a treat!! great bunch of lads too!! can't wait for their return visit!!  They even got the thumbs up from "the Simon Cowel of the Fleece"

Thanks for a great night guys! see yous soon'

Letter left on Riffs website re Hasting Hill Sunderland Gig 

Witnessed the DUSTY TOOLS 3rd gig last night at a packed out Hastings Hill pub. These lads are 50% Deek the Juice and 50% Six of the best. Jona(lead vocals and bass)Rob (guitar and vocals)Pete (guitar sax vocals)Cliff (drums vocals) Top notch musicians. The pa quality was top drawer. The vocals cut through as they should complimenting some fantastic harmonising. Jona informs me they are lookin for gigs, well after last nights perfomance I don't think they'll have long to wait it was an excellent perfomance by 4 excellent musicians. Personal favourites were Mellencamp,Fleetwood Mac,Del Amitri, Men at Work,Eagles,Crowded House to name a few but take from me all the songs these lads did were great.So go and check em out and any venues out there reading this book them you won't be disappointed. Good luck lads and hope to see you again very soon.‘

Thanks Steve (OLD CODGER)

Review left on Music Zoo NE re Houghton Buffs (Buffaloes)