Skip ‘Little Axe’ McDonald and King Size Slim

Skip “Little Axe” McDonald and King Size Slim join us for the second night of our “blues weekend.”

Skip McDonald learned to play the blues on his father’s guitar from the age of eight but from picking up a guitar as a child, and returning to his roots with Little Axe, there has been a long twisting road. Having completed his high school education Skip left Dayton with a band called the Ohio Hustlers, which broke up not long after relocating to New York City. His first professional work as a musician began when he formed the Entertainers who toured the east coast through to the mid-70s.

Skip made his name as an integral part of the Sugar Hill house band playing on the most influential early rap classics and as part of Adrian Sherwood’s On-U Sound crew he has made some of the most adventurous and praised UK music of the last twenty years.

Little Axe is the return to the blues that Skip grew up with and learned from his father. McDonald, along with bassplayer Doug Wimbish and drummer Keith LeBlanc formed the house band for the pioneering rap label Sugar Hill, providing the music for some of the most seminal records of the era by Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaata, Force M.D.’s and others. From there he worked closely with Adrian Sherwood on many of projects for the On-U Sound label, as well as spearheading the band Tackhead and working with Living Colour.

Skip has been the prime mover behind Little Axe since around 1992. Under a name inspired by Bob Marley’s Small Axe and gospel singer Willmer ‘Little Ax’ Broadnax, the debut album Wolf That House Built was a personal take on blues and dub, and was released to critical acclaim in 1994. The second Little Axe album, Slow Fuse, was also well received. Then it remained silent for far too long. In 2002 Skip’s third Little Axe album Hard Grind became the first release for four years on Sherwood’s revived and re-launched On-U Sound label with a mixture of raw blues and reggae. While Hard Grind no doubt will also draw comparisons to Moby’s Play, it was Skip who pioneered the fusion of blues and electronic music with Little Axe.

Skip is now signed to Realworld Records and has released three albums on the label creating ‘gospel dub’ like you never heard before.

The big warm tones from his resonator guitar along with a powerful and direct vocal delivery are the trademarks of singer/song-writer King Size Slim. Add rolling grooves and percussive hooks and you have a songwriter who delivers original compositions that are steeped in a world of music that is fully conscious of its roots but at the same time has a new story to tell.

Constant touring has built Hastings based Toby Barelli (aka King Size Slim) a reputation as a powerful performer, immensely engaging, passionate and entertaining with a delivery that grips his audience. Toby was performing regularly with local bands at the age of 14, sitting in with anyone who would let him, style or genre didn’t matter, he just wanted to play.

His tenacity paid off, and shortly after leaving school Toby got his first professional work. Later Toby was invited to join the Two Tone legends ‘The Selecter’. This led to four years of worldwide touring and recording with many Ska and Reggae heroes, some influences of which can still be heard in his music today.

Now performing over 150 shows a year either solo or with his 3-piece line up (featuring a potent combination of guitars, bass, percussion and backing vocals), and in the wake of his last studio album, King Size Slim has become a ‘must see’ act on the alternative blues circuit as well as venues and festivals around the country.


Show Details

Date of event:

14th November 2015

Event details:

8pm £12adv/£14otd