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Out of the varied and transient line-ups of ‘Pigpen Plays The Blues’, there emerged ‘Go the Hog’.

The name was adopted at the late Nick Foster’s house in Rochdale, after various choices were considered and abandoned. The runner-up choice was ‘Spill the Beans’.

The line-up was John Loydon (guitar and vocals), Nick Foster (vocals , Blues harp and percussion), Brian Haigh (keyboards), Geoff Sidebottom (bass), Gillian Rouane (Saxophone), and Steve Murgatroyd (drums).

This was the line-up which recorded the demo EP ‘In From the Cold’. The tracks were: ‘The Day I Quit You’; ‘Good Time, Bad Time’; ‘Another Man’s Blues’ and ‘Round The Block’.

Writing credits were given to Go The Hog although 3 of the 4 tracks were penned by JSL. ‘Good Time, Bad Time’ was composed by Nick Foster and Brian Haigh.

The 6-piece played numerous successful gigs, mainly around the Oldham/Rochdale area, featuring songs by JSL, Nick Foster, and a regular show-stopper by Geoff Sidebottom entitled ‘Missing Mississippi’. The original material was interspersed with arrangements of Blues classics such as ‘Dust My Broom’, ‘Help Me’, ‘Smokestack Lightning’, ‘Madman Blues’ and ‘Spoonful’.
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Gillian Rouane drifted away to focus on her music degree studies, but the band continued gigging as a successful 5-piece. A high point of 2001 was when the 5-piece Go The Hog opened the bill at Middleton’s ‘Bands on the Stand’ music festival.

The next recording venture was ‘San Diego Woman’ in 2003. The album was credited as ‘JSL and Go The Hog’ on the CD spine, but elsewhere simply as ‘Go The Hog’. It comprised 12 tracks penned by JSL, including a re-recording of ‘The Day I Quit You’, first recorded on ‘In From The Cold’. The sleeve photographs included Gillian Rouane, though she did not contribute to the recording. The Album was engineered by Paul Bartholomew, JSL’s long-standing musical mentor, and Martin Downes, who had briefly been part of the ‘Pigpen’ line-up.

It was in 2003 that Brian Haigh departed the band, taking his strong keyboard contribution from Go The Hog’s powerful live sound. The band recruited Robert Fell, now, sadly, deceased, as guest saxophonist for their second outing at ‘Bands on the Stand’. He was good – very good!

It was to be the band’s swan song.

JSL went on to record ‘No Rehearsal’ in 2005, while already suffering from left hand problems, which were due to a trapped ulnar nerve and the effects of NMO, a rare auto-immune disease. These symptoms had made gigging increasingly difficult for him in the run-up to ‘Bands on the Stand 2003’. The album featured 15 JSL compositions, including another version of ‘Another Man’s Blues’ which had first appeared on the ‘In From the Cold’ EP.

Several members of Go the Hog contributed to the album, as well as a number of excellent guest musicians. Engineering was by Martin Downes and Paul ‘Bart’ Bartholomew, both of whom made musical contributions. Bart in particular defined the powerful bass and slide guitar sounds. Although a ‘solo’ album, ‘No Rehearsal’ was very much a team effort, showcasing JSL’s Blues-based compositions.

My 'Black and White' album is respectfully dedicated to the memory of my friend and musical accomplice, Nick Foster (09/12/1946 - 02/09/2011).

You can witness his talent here as 'Go The Hog' perform the Sonny Boy Williamson classic, 'Help Me', for the finale of their farewell gig. The location is Jubilee Park, Middleton, in Greater Manchester.
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