The Mike Hatton Commercial Blues Band is a three piece line up of guitar, bass and drums and highlights Mike’s unusual bass style, a style that has evolved over time from playing the conventional low end role towards a more chordally based ‘rhythm bass’ style that he often uses whilst taking the lead vocal role. He also is a gifted improvising soloist and his performances always illustrate his desire to promote the bass guitar as a melodic instrument as well as percussive.
The album of original songs that spawned the name of the band – The Commercial Blues (Hatsoff Music 2004) illustrates perfectly how this fits together.
The band features Nick Cleverley on guitar, an experienced and gifted blues guitarist who has enjoyed spells and sessions with some top players in the midlands region who specialise in the genres of blues and rock. He also leads a band of his own - Red House - ( http://www.red-house.net) who are well known in the midlands blues scene.
There's a close family connection in Mike's band, his son Jeremy Hatton plays drums and is young and exceptionally talented, and more than does justice to the demands of the genre, showing maturity in his playing far beyond his years.
Of his performance as a solo player, The Birmingham Post said in Sept 2003: ‘The concept might be strange – an electric bass player who also sings and often chooses to perform on his own – but once you’ve heard local boy Mike Hatton do just that , it sounds like the most natural thing in the world’
In his jazz line-ups and using the bass guitar in a rhythmic, chordal style, Mike sings his way through an array of jazz favourites that cover many decades of compositional styles - from classic early blues styles such as Bessie Smith's Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out and Mose Allison's Your Mind Is On Vacation through standards such as There Will Never Be Another You and Girl Talk, to more contemporary styles like Van Morrison's Moondance, Leon Russell's Masquerade and Eric Bibb's Gratefully Blue. He also features a number of original compositions in the set.
Mike also has been prolific in writing original songs in the last couple of years, ten of which are featured on his blues-based album The Commercial Blues. Both jazz and blues approaches are handled with equal sensitivity and passion, and the mix of piano and the chordal bass style are an interesting and unlikely yet natural sounding combination. Mike also performs a number of instrumentals that feature his high tuned 5-string bass as lead instrument.
In November 2004, Mike completed his first album of original material called The Commercial Blues which the Birmingham Evening Mail's jazz correspondent, Alan Cross, described as 'a landmark in the region's music'. It features some of Birmingham's top jazz and blues players including former UB40 producer and Steve Gibbons Band drummer Bob Lamb, John McKinley on guitar, former King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys keyboardist Dan McCormack, and rising jazz trumpet star, Bryan Corbett (see www.bryancorbett.co.uk).
Mike describes some of the lyrics on the album as 'mildly subversive' but contains serious lyrics that centre around the shallow nature of modern contemporary living embodied in the world of consumerism and the accompanying ideologies that promote materialism. There is also a cynical approach towards the short-termism of modern politics in the lyrics and commentary about the loss of trust in those that govern.