Keighley's INTERNATIONAL BLUES venue
Click on the thumbnail for a full page review of Larry McCray's visit ( www.bluesinbritain.org )
See this report of Larry McCray's visit in September published in the Worth Valley Magazine
Earl Green & the Right Time CD Launch Party -London -24th November
It was Earl Green and the Right Time, live once more at Bronte Blues Club … but not quite! As the last of the rush hour traffic rushed along the busy Islington streets outside, Right Time guitarist Ron Warshow welcomed one and all to this very special performance which formed the launch party for their new CD - Live at Bronte Blues Club. Giving praise and thanks to all at Bronte Blues for enabling their new disc to exist, he then asked the audience, already not inconsiderable, to imagine being in our little village hall atop the Pennines, surrounded by fields and sheep. And the show itself? Well, no need to provide a set list: a splendid soulful rendition of the album, in order, in its entirety.
John Mayall ' The Sage', Gateshead 7th November 2011
Stuart writes -
Earl Green & The Right Time – Live At Brönte Blues Club
Click on thumbnail for the review inBlues in Britain (November 2011)
'A Keith Lee Review'
London Blues CD -The Producers (MSCD/LP1)
When The Producers played at Laycock last year, my only disappointment was the absence of a CD to reflect the knock-out performance by the present line-up of Harry Skinner, Dave Saunders, Ray Drury and Biff Smith.
Now that’s all changed with the release, after several delays, of “London Blues”, their first album for 11 years and a compelling contender for any “Blues CD of the Year” award, which grabs the listener by the throat with the stunning, rocking opener, “Coming Back For You” and finally lets go, twelve tracks later, with the yearning, country-tinged strains of “Bamako”.
In between, we are treated to myriad variations of the genre, all written by Harry Skinner, from the slow blues of “Some People Say” and “Love Gone Bad” to the reggae-inspired “Little Miss Sunshine”, with a cheeky guitar reference to The Beatles’ “Day Tripper” thrown in.
Some tracks are not quite what they seem. The upbeat funkiness of “The Money Lender” belies the misery of living in debt and the manic “Drive This Car” is definitely an invitation – but perhaps not to take a trip round Silverstone!
“Preservation Blues”, on the other hand, is a lament of emptiness and regret, while the stand-out title track is an epic, soulful exploration of bitterness and disappointment in which the band’s formidable talents morph into pure magic.
Guest appearances by Bronte Blues favourites Paul Lamb (on “Tell Me Why” and “Coming Back For You”) and Ben Waters (on “The Wrong Way Home” and “The Money Lender”), together with the legendary Andy Fairweather Low (on “The Wrong Way Home”) are further enhanced by accomplished string and horn sections and the honeyed harmonies of Jenny Russell and Emma Stevenson on backing vocals.
However, my own favourite track has to be “I Get The Blues”, a “strictly” up-tempo number featuring Paul Beavis on percussion, which compelled me to cha cha cha, darlings, all around the room.
The Producers will be with us again in June 2012. Don’t miss them. www.producersbluesband.co.uk
The British R 'n' B Festival, Colne August Bank Holiday Weekend (Friday Sessions)Portrait-'Fingers'
Richard and family write -
Friday 26th August and three generations of the family are in the Muni for the opening night of the 22nd Colne R&B Festival. Bizarrely, the event kicks off with a largely unsuccessful attempt by compère Chris Powers to persuade the audience to participate in a Union Flag- waving rendition of ' Land of Hope and Glory'. So which British Icon of R&B did it welcome? The magnificent Hamilton Loomis, from er.... Texas.
OK, I'm prejudiced, but the Hamilton Loomis Band is high on my list of favourites following two outstanding sessions at the Bronte Blues Club. Today's set included several numbers from the 'Ain't Just Temporary' album, others from 'Live in England', and a few new ones as yet unrecorded. The band are great entertainers, and include a guitar – sax duel between Hamilton and sax player Stratton Doyle, which may be a touch corny but highlights the supreme ability these guys have. Top numbers for me were 'No, No I can't play no more', 'Slow Lover', and 'What it is'. All featured outstanding harmonica and guitar from Hamilton and genius sax from Stratton (3rd generation of family plays sax – she can't understand how he hits the notes in his stratospherically high register). Jamie Little (the only Brit in the band) provided solid and spectacular percussion.
The final number was Johnny Guitar Watson (the American, not the Keighley version)'s Bow Wow, which Hamilton played during a walk-about among the audience, precariously balancing on tables and chairs. This was much toned down from his previous appearance at Colne, when he played his way round the balcony rail, jumped off onto the stage and broke his ankle. The detractors in the bar decrying his showmanship should have been listening to the music, which was sublime. Unusually there was no Bo Diddley tribute, though his influence could be heard throughout the set.
Next up was the Norman Beaker Band. who played three numbers before being joined by Jack Bruce. Back then I was a Cream fan, but was disappointed by a set of fuzzy, indistinct vocals fronting uninspired songs. I guess he plays good lead bass but to me that's an oxymoron. The highlights were a couple of Cream torch Songs ('Sunshine' and 'White Room') which got the old rockers in the audience cheering. I felt for Norman, who played beautifully throughout (2nd generation of family likened his lyrical guitar to Gary Moore).
Compère Powers described the final set, the Wilco Johnson Band as 'mad as a box of frogs'. I'd not heard Wilco before – the compère was right! I loved the music, his stage presence and his unique guitar style; could hardly hear a word he sang but it didn't matter. His final number, a highly individual take on Chuck Berry's 'Bye Bye Johnny' really was a show stopper.
The three generations, amazingly, were in agreement: Hamilton No. 1, Wilco No.2, Norman No.3.
Ian Siegal Band, Wilko Johnson Band, Holmfirth Hippodrome, 24 September
Pic John John writes-
A belated look at an excellent evening spent at the Hippodrome in Holmfirth.
A first visit to this venue, a former cinema, which provides a sizeable yet cosy atmosphere for both performers and audience alike.
Ian's band, possibly unfamiliar with the role of support act, gave a great set which included recent songs such as The Skinny and Hard Pressed and classics like Take A Walk In The Wilderness.
It was clear that many in the audience had been attracted by the prospect of seeing Ian as much as the headline act. The Wilko Johnson band gave a lively, entertaining show which included many of the songs and moves from Wilko's Dr Feelgood days.
Former Blockhead bassist Norman Watt Roy was in particularly fine form.
Read the review of '24 pesos' in September's edition of 'Blues in Britain'
'A Keith Lee Review'
John writes …One Drink, One Town, One Festival -Cognac Festival 2012!
Atop one of the rolling hills of France’s Charente region, the picturesque town of Cognac held its eighteenth annual 3-day Blues Passions Festival in the second week of July. Centred in the municipal park, the festival involved the whole town, with musicians playing in and outside many of the bars and shops commemorating the festival with posters and other decorations.
Headliners including ZZ Top, Jamie Cullum and Moby all appeared in the evening when the park was closed off and only those willing to pay around €42 were admitted. However, for others of us on a more limited budget there was plenty to see and hear during the day and many outstanding performances. Italian trio Veronica & the Red Wine Serenaders were making their second consecutive appearance at Cognac and wowed a substantial crowd with their effervescent whimsical take on the blues. French R’n’B outfit Bo Weavil gave two noteworthy shows and fifties retro band Lazy Buddies had the audience up and dancing in the sunshine right from the off.
However, the highlights were provided by the British contingent, with two storming performances from Ian Siegal and a great late night show from the mighty Hokie Joint.
For Ian’s first session on the afternoon of the second day he was accompanied by his band: Andy Graham (bass) and Nik Bjerre (drums). If the audience was a little small and post-lunch soporific at the outset, it increased considerably as the trio performed a range of classic and self-penned songs. Particular highs were The Skinny, Revelator, Hard Pressed, Take A Walk in the Wilderness and Warren Zevon’s Carmelita. The set’s close was greeted with a deserved standing ovation. By the following morning word had spread and Ian’s appearance for his second, solo acoustic, set was greeted enthusiastically. More great songs, including Mary Don’t You Weep and Guy Clark’s The Cape, along with a Johnny Cash impression and a demonstration that any song could be given the blues treatment, illustrated with a rendition of Bryan Adams’ Summer of ‘69. Harmonica player Andy J Forest guested for Robert Johnson’s Preachin’ Blues, running into Why Don’t You Live So God Can Use You?, first recorded by Muddy Waters. This was followed by Steve Earle’s Cocaine Cannot Kill My Pain.
Hokie Joint (thanks to them for getting me in!) were the penultimate act of the last night, sandwiched between Moorcheba and Jamie Cullum, albeit on a second stage. They began with what has become their signature opening number: Apologise. As the band’s own website puts it: ‘Rolling drums fade in and gradually, the rest of the band join in on the swinging jungle tempo that Stephen is putting down …’. It did the trick and by its end a sizeable lively crowd had been enticed away from the main stage. A great set followed, including favourites such as Back Where We Are Going, This Body of Mine, Aeroplane and the latest album’s title track, The Music Starts to Play.
Throughout the festival the weather played its part and the sun shone almost continuously. A great time was had by all, including the artists, apparently. Chatting post-show with Ian Siegal’s bassist, Andy Graham, he enthused as to how well the band had been treated, adding that he had been given a suite of rooms in a chateau - accommodation far bigger and grander than his own apartment back home. He was only sorry his stay had been so short. Members of Hokie Joint also commented on how well they’d been looked after.
Predictably, the onstage patter of several British acts had references to their consumption of copious glasses of the town’s noted drink. Indeed, the novelty of spirit and location sharing the same name was mentioned on a number of occasions. So, a word of encouragement and warning to future Cognac audiences and performers: Make the effort and go. You’ll have a great time. But leave out the Cognac jokes. They could be wearing a bit thin!
Read the review of 'Larry Garner with the Norman Beaker Band' in August's edition of 'Blues in Britain'
'A Keith Lee Review'
Worthenbury Blues & Roots Festival (2nd July 2011)
Mike writes -
This was my first visit to Worthenbury but I am sure it won’t be the last.
Great Venue, stunning weather and some outstanding music made this a day to remember.
The 2 'stages' were two halves of a couple of artic trailers which served very well to provide staging for the performers. We arrived towards the end of a set by Steve 'Pablo' Jones, which sounded interesting and I was sorry we missed most of it.
A number of the performances stand out as special. Blues Highway impressed with some cool guitar and great harp playing. The bass player was dressed in a very snazzy suit which complemented his excellent efforts.
One band was a no-show, however, an impromptu performance from Blues Boy Dan Owen, a local boy, provided an excellent individual performance. His voice and guitar were surprisingly impressive for such a young performer.
The audience gave a resounding welcome to The Loving Cup and Rock-Blues band Forty 4.
Wheelchair bound Tom Doughty performed twice, giving us a taste of his unique take on slide guitar playing. He had a great voice for the blues and would perhaps have been better suited to a more intimate venue where his writing and playing skills could be better appreciated.
Last seen at the BBC in February, Hokie joint gave a stunning performance of their slightly eccentric and individual take on the blues. They were well received by the crowd and for me the stars of the show.
The Tommy Allen Band gave a well rehearsed and familiar performance with the usual mix of favourites. Great harp playing from Johny Hewitt which as always excelled with the quality shining through. The band managed to fill the dance “floor” and we were treated to some very impressive individual dance styles!!
New to many of us was the Martin Harley Band. A great trio with slide guitar, double bass and drums. A great set which was thoroughly enjoyed. One to watch I feel.
The days proceedings came to a close with Dutch band The Juke Joints. Some great harmonica and an unusual accordion performance marked the band as out of the ordinary.
All in all a great day of blues in excellent surroundings in wonderful weather. What more could you want?
Escaping the Delta by Elijah Wald
Barry writes -
Unlike most other reviews on this site, this one refers to a book, so it might appeal to those of you with a more academic interest in the Blues. Although it does include some detailed discussion of Robert Johnson’s songs and performances, the main purpose of the book is to argue against our mainstream view of the Blues as something originating with impoverished black men in the Deep South sitting on their porches and singing about their miseries.
Given the ephemeral and anecdotal nature of many of the available sources, Wald’s scholarship is impressive. He portrays Blues as originally just a passing style, a term interchangeable with several others early on, a part of the culture of black dance and entertainment music in the early twentieth century, and a part with particular appeal to women. Indeed, many of the artists were women, and not all of them were even black. Robert Johnson is presented as an upcoming, sharply-suited performer adept at the variety of styles needed by a travelling musician of the period, but someone who was not widely known to musicians and audiences when he came to his untimely death.
Wald proposes that our mainstream view of the Blues has been formed by a process of discovery of a black, working-class and particularly female culture by a white, middle-class and overwhelmingly male one. Early on this was led by white American musicologists, and the 1938 “From Spirituals To Swing” Concert at Carnegie Hall is seen as a symbolic moment in this process. By this time Johnson was already dead, and he was the only artist featured by means of recordings. If Wald is correct about Johnson’s relative obscurity, this perhaps suggests that there was something about his material that had a distinctive appeal to the white organisers.
But Johnson’s wider importance to popular music stems from recordings of his performances becoming available during the blues and folk revival in the 1950s and 60s, particularly in England, where he was idolised by a small number of very influential musicians, notably Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones. The English “music invasion” of the US then exposed white Americans to aspects of American black music culture, but through a very selective filter, putting much emphasis on guitar skills and very little on the vocal presentation that is such a feature of the original entertainment tradition. So Wald identifies the development of a “Blues cult”, which many of the original performers were prepared to accommodate for commercial reasons.
It’s a fascinating argument, if largely a historical one, as now the “Blues paradigm” has moved on and diversified, and Wald does not take a purist approach. If you are interested in the wider cultural history of the Blues, this is an engrossing if contentious contribution.
'A Keith Lee Review'
Read the review of 'Groanbox' in June's edition of 'Blues in Britain'
'A Keith Lee Review'
The First Annual Hebden Bridge Blues Festival, 27th – 30th May 2011
(Marcus pic -John)
Well, it seems Yorkshire Blues Festivals are like busses....you wait for ages and then two come along at once!. After the inaugural Scarborough Festival (see below) it was to Hebden Bridge we travelled on a cloudy Spring Bank weekend to seek out blues in that well-established cultural micro-climate.
Unlike many festivals there were no fewer than three pay-to-enter venues supplemented by an embryonic festival-fringe. The Marquee Stage, in the local park, accommodated afternoon and early evening sessions. The music here was provided, in the main, by local bands from West Yorkshire and East Lancashire which gave a real community-feel to the proceedings although ‘blues’ was represented only patchily in their repertoires. However, as the shadows lengthened the big hitters came in to bat. On Saturday it was Sam Hare, suffering badly with a sore throat, who raised the bar. . Following Sam was Larry Miller, who epitomises the Nigel Tufnel -end of the blues spectrum. His Les Paul-through-Marshall-stack-riffing and tireless movement soon had the dwindling crowd clustered around the stage. On Sunday the Scots-quartet Gerry Jablonski and the Electric Blues Band (featuring fine harmonica from Peter Narojczyk) preceded 24pesos. 24pesos, heading for 'the bbc' on 1st July, are the ‘must-see’ band-of-the-moment and are anything but a retro-rock-blues outfit. In addition to clever song-writing and complex arrangements this four-piece have an outstanding front-man in Julian Maitland with Moz Gamble’s keyboard adding subtle variations to the mix. Outstanding songs were ‘Maxwell St. and their CD title-track ‘Busted Broken and Blue’.
The compact, atmospheric, Trades Club was the hub of the festival and hosted music from 8.30 until very, very late once Midnight Jam sessions got under way. Power trio Tony Dowler’s Hell Hounds headlined on Saturday with Paddy Milner and Marcus Bonfanti taking on the role on Sunday. They first played together in Paddy’s big band backing Earl Thomas but have since worked regularly as a duo or, as in this case, featuring a quartet. They are both charismatic performers whether taking on blues classics together (‘Rollin’ and Tumblin’, and ‘I Live the Life I Love’) or showcasing their own material –Paddy from his forthcoming ‘The Curious Case of Paddy Milner’ CD and Marcus from his very successful ‘What Good Am I to You?’. ‘Give Me Your Cash’ and harp-driven ‘God Only Knows’ drew particular applause.
The Hebden Bridge Picture House provided the most formal setting of the event with discrete concerts on two nights. Saturday saw Krissy Matthews and Bex Marshall provide support for nominal festival headliner Lance Lopez. When an artist proudly wears the tag of ‘bad-ass-guitarist’ and hails from Texas you have a shrewd idea what to expect. When he couples that with on-stage-shades, Stetson and snakeskin boots declaring his heroes as SRV and Hendrix then you’re certain! Lance enjoyed his reception and is hoping for a swift return. Sunday saw an innovative ‘Women of the Blues’ line-up featuring Jenna Hooson, Clare Free and, local-hero, Chantelle McGregor.
The ‘Women of the Blues’ night was just one of many, welcome, innovations on this inaugural outing at Hebden Bridge with plans already in the pipe-line for the 2012 edition.
'A Keith Lee Review'
'A Keith Lee Review'
The First Annual Scarborough Blues Festival at the Stephen Joseph Theatre -March 2011
'Ickledot' writes -
Around half ten on the morning of Sunday 27 March, ickledot made a last minute decision to head off along the old A64 to the East Coast,
for this was the main day of the very first Scarborough Blues Festival. Arriving at the venue, the Stephen Joseph Theatre, in bright sunshine,
it was something of a temptation to divert beachwards. However, there were greater musical rewards within.
Besides, the ticket had already been purchased online and we always seek to get our money's worth in Yorkshire. First act up was a trio named The Krissy Matthews Band. An excellent guitarist, Krissy himself is just 18 years old but has already caused quite a
stir in blues music circles. A lively set to start.(www.krissymatthews.com) 'bbc' stalwarts will already be familiar with two of the other acts appearing: Guy Tortora and Hokie Joint. Both gave a good account of themselves.
However, ickledot's favourite of the day was the band known as King King (so good they named them twice, ho ho).
Fronted by guitarist and lead vocalist, Alan Nimmo, a use of keyboards (Dale Storr) and harmonious backing voices enabled a balance of heavy
rhythm & blues and quieter melodies. In fact, one of Nimmo's guitar solos was possibly the quietest ever.
Coincidentally they were featured on the Paul Jones programme the very next day - to promote their latest CD release,
Take My Hand. Must be worth a listen. (www.kingkingblues.com) Throughout the day, Scarborough's own Tom Townsend Band played in the restaurant area. Unfortunately, by nine o'clock it was time to set off on the long journey back to Sunny Oxenhope, so the last act, Never The Bride, was missed. All in all a great event marred only by a lack of numbers in the audience. Stephen Joseph's theatre-in-the-round had only a fraction of its seats filled
throughout the day. The rest of Scarborough didn't know what it was missing. It was a shame as a huge amount of effort had clearly gone into arrangements for the day. Perhaps by next year the word will have spread. ickledot will certainly be there. How about you? More pics at www.flickr.com/photos/ickledot/sets/72157626245327053/
Read Keith Lee's review of ' Earl Green & the Right Time in April's Blues in Britain.
'A Keith Lee Review'
Alligator Records 40th Anniversary Collection (2-CDs -R1103104)
Chris writes -
My ears have been opened, my heart is pumping and my soul has been lifted. I’m sitting at a table in a small, dimly lit but packed club clapping my hands and stamping my feet to the authentic, intimate blues music. Can I feel the atmosphere? Feel it, I can taste it, I can smell it. Close your eyes and see if you’re not transported.
To celebrate their 40th anniversary Alligator have crafted together 38 tracks on 2 cds covering the full range of Alligator’s output, from the ‘ragged glory’ of Hound Dog Taylor to the ‘Gulf Coast’; music of Marcia Ball and all the blues in between. Starting with raw blues from the South and West Sides of Chicago now expanded to cover all across the USA. It includes virtuosos of guitar (Albert Collins, Johnny Winter, Michael ‘Iron Man’ Burks), the harmonica (Charlie Musselwhite, James Cotton) and song (Koko Taylor, Shemekia Copeland) and many more.
Bruce Iglauer, founder of Alligator, has put together, arguably, the most important collection of blues music today. Every track on the album is a real gem, the musicians have been allowed to play and the singers sing. All the artists put their hearts and souls into each piece and you cannot listen without being unaffected.
I cannot recommend this album too highly. If you are a long time blues collector it is certainly one not to be missed. If you are just beginning and do not know where to start then this is the one it will lead you to an untold treasure of musical delights.
I am very glad to say that Alligator have stayed true to their slogan ‘Genuine Houserockin’ Music’.
Featured Artists: Koko Taylor, Albert Collins, Michael Burks, Tommy Castro, Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials, Guitar Shorty, Rick Estrin and the Night Cats, Marcia Ball, Roomfull of Blues, Smokin’ Joe Kubek & Bnois King, Son Seals, Buddy Guy & Junior Wells, Janiva Magness, Johnny Winter, Coco Montoya, Corey Harris, Luther Allison, Anders Osborne, Lonnie Mack & Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robert Cray & Johnny Copeland, Lonnie Brooks, Eddy ‘The Cheif’ Clearwater, Hound Dog Taylor, Elvin Bishop & Little Smokey Smothers, James Cotton, Shemekia Copeland, Professor Longhair, Charlie Musselwhite, Roy Buchanan & Delbert Clinton, Mavis Staples, Tinsley Ellis, Eric Lindell, Saffire-The Uppity Blues Woman, The Holmes Brothers, Kate Webster, William Clarke, Buckwheat Zydeco and JJ Grey & Mofro.
'A Keith Lee Review'
The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise (Caribbean) –January 2011
Michael & Barbara write -
This was the tenth such ‘East Coast’ cruise and after our ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ in 2010 we were back for more!
There was a bewildering array of rhythm and blues on offer –a ‘broad church’ if ever there was one – from the cheerful-cajun of Terrance Simien to the Hendrixesque- pyrotechnics of Kenny Wayne Shepherd, from the West-Coast swing of Rick Estrin to the sweet-soul of Ryan Shaw, from the N’Awlins boogie-piano of John Cleary to the gospel-harmonies of the Holmes Brothers, from the Chigago old-school-blues of Bob Margolin to the funk of the Chicago Playboys; the list goes on-and-on with no fewer than seventy shows in seven days. Bestriding them all is the ‘patron-saint’ of blues-cruisers, Taj Mahal and guest appearances from other legends such as Lonnie Brooks and Matt ‘Guitar’Murphy.
Amongst the great advantages of this against other festivals are the winter sun, the ‘cruise-ship-quality’ of the food on offer, the proximity of your accommodation, the opportunity to see your favourite acts three-or-four times in one week and, uniquely, the flying fish! The artists love it, too, and regularly turn up on each others’ stages to provide memorable jamming (Cory Harris playing frottoir- rub-board with the Zydeco Experience was surreal but not atypical).
Canadian acoustic IBC winner, Matt Anderson, was the great breakthrough ‘surprise package’ with Lonnie Brooks joining his son onstage on his 44th birthday providing the most moving moment. We went ashore to Caribbean islands three times and had open-air concerts on two of them. It’s a heck-of-a-gig –we’ve already booked for our third once-in-a-lifetime cruise in 2012!
More info –www.bluescruise.com
Pic above by Michael shows Bob Margolin, Mac Arnold and Matt Hill playing on the bandstand at St John, USA Virgin Isles.
'A Keith Lee Review'
4th Carlisle Blues Festival, Hilltop Hotel, 12th-14th November 2010
Michael writes -
It was our second visit to the Carlisle Festival and luckily, we'd booked in good time since all three days were 'fully booked'. We missed the Friday since we were enjoying Siegal & Prestage at 'the bbc'. ( Mud Morganfield -Muddy's son-was the one act we missed that we would have liked to have seen.
Saturday afternoon opened with young Lucy Zirins whose charming presence and accomplished slide-guitar playing were too lightweight for this large, and sometimes noisy, room. The Revolutionaires, on next, had no such problems and 'rocked the house' to an enthusiastic crescendo. (Only the drum solo in the encore slowed the momentum they had established.) Ed Stephenson is an excellent front-man for this high-energy combo much beloved of the 'Laycock posse'. Veteran musician Nicky Moore completed the afternoon session. The evening was opened by much-vaunted 'Hokie Joint' who visit 'the bbc' in February. They're certainly different and developing their own strain of urban blues. Giles King's harmonica-playing is a delight, though. Hamilton Loomis was polished, dynamic and energetic but, to us, disappointing. The act was almost note-for-note to the one he performed at 'the bbc' in March. Time to get off the road and into the studio, methinks! Festival headliner Michael Burks was superb (if somewhat tetchy!) He is a brilliant guitarist and, more unusually for 'guitar heroes', a soulful, sensitive vocalist. Watch out for this guy!
On Sunday we were joined by the bbc's 'Ferguson clan' with Gill, 'Fig', brother Pete and 'Cool James' and Kerry. Marcus Bonfanti's Band opened and showed off his excellent guitar playing, songwriting and singing. Unfortunately though, some of his most tender songs concluded with inexplicable heavy rock interludes. He had been more to our taste when he was in acoustic mode in 2009 when he has stolen the show. Ben Prestage was next-up and was very well received. Ian Siegal is 'the patron saint' of the Carlisle Festival and can do no wrong here. (Only once did he have to say -"If you're going to talk loudly at the bar f*ck off somewhere else and I'll give you your ticket money back out of my own pocket!" -but that's once more than he had to do at 'the bbc'.) When Ben joined him for another half-dozen numbers the standing ovation was unanimous and extended. Of the final act 'Never the Bride' (standing in for Chris Farlowe) suffice it to say -never again!
Read Keith Lee's review of ' Sherman Robertson Band in December's Blues in Britain.
'A Keith Lee Review'
21st Efes Pilsner Blues Festival –Jasmine Court, Girne – 11th October 2010
Barbara writes -
“At Last”, in the words of Etta James, Michael having retired, was here, with me, in term-time to enjoy outdoor Cypriot-style but definitely USA Blues.
The opening acoustic act was Samuel James, a young multi-instrumentalist, singer-song writer, who played Skip James’ ‘Cyprus (sic) Cypress Grove Blues’ as his first number. When he belted out “Woooo Rosa”, I wondered where the percussion came from....His resonator became his drum kit with finger picks thrumming the beat...amazing.
Two of the bands were on the Blues Cruise. Mitch Woods & His Rocket 88s had us dancing. You can't beat some Louis (who he?) boogie. They also did New Orleans-style "I hear you knocking" (Are you thinking Elvis?) and "Gumbo" delicious!
Top of the bill, Kenny Neal & family were upbeat, enthusiastic crowd pleasers with Kenny versatile on lead guitar, harmonica and lap-steel guitar. Various talented family members were show-cased, including the ubiquitous daughter’s cover of Duffy. Why?
His sensitive ‘You’ve Got to Hurt Before You Heal’ was very moving and a complete change of tempo.
The final Jimmy Reed medley including –‘Going to New York’ ’Ain’t That Loving You Baby’ and ‘Shame Shame Shame’ had everyone on their feet under the Cyprus stars. Magical.
The Great British R'n'B Festival , Colne - August 2010
Pic s-Charles Waller
John writes -
There was a lot of good music at Colne this year. On Friday I enjoyed the Hamsters, Doctor Feelgood and Nine Below Zero.
My visit to the British stage was brief as the act at the MC could not be heard for the crowd. Saturday was a "must see" day, starting with Ben Waters on top form. I had a chat with him afterwards
and he said he enjoyed himself so much at 'the bbc ' that he fancies coming again, but he has an album to finish and promote first.
Nalle and his Crazy Ivans were an infectious country blues outfit who carried the crowd with them. Magic Slim jammed with them later,
providing an appetiser for his later performance. On the Accoustic stage, Graham Robinson was well received by a packed audience.
Kyla Brox finished the afternoon session in fine style, with a top quality performance from each member of the band.
In the evening, Sandi Thom sounded good, as did Omar and the Howlers, but Magic Slim and the Teardrops stole the show. The solo acoustic guitarist / vocalist Hans Theessink was a pleasing start to Sunday evening, offering good stories
along with his music, while down the hill, Tommy Allen and Johnny Hewitt went down a storm on the British Stage.
I went to see the Pretty Things out of curiosity, and came away very impressed. The young drummer and bassist were a real driving force,
while founding members Phil May and Dick Taylor showed they can still cut the mustard. On Monday afternoon the highlight was Larry Garner, backed by the Norman Beaker Band. Larry proved to be a
charismatic and accomplished performer with a good sense of humour, as did Norman Beaker.
Imelda May and her band brought the house down in the evening with a cracking, mainly rock-a-billy set.
Georgie Fame was next, backed by his sons on guitar and drums. The set comprised of mainly Ray Charles and Mose Allison
material, interspersed with his own work. He finished the set with "Green Onions" and "Help Me", probably the numbers
which inspired many others to take up the Hammond organ. It sounded great! The night - and the festival ended with the excellent Norman Beaker Band, complemented by a superb sax player
and trumpet. Herbie Goins was a guest singer who really enjoyed himself, despite being uncertain as to his
whereabouts (Norman Beaker introduced him as "the only man who has to pay duty on himself when he goes through customs).
Chris Farlowe was the next guest, and Kyla Brox joined the stage to loud cheers. The three of them finished
the festival by sharing the vocals on Stormy Monday Blues.
Read Keith Lee's review of 'Earl Green & the Right Time in September's Blues in Britain.
'A Keith Lee Review'
The History of the Blues ( Francis Davis) -ISBN -0-306-81296-7
Michael writes - This isn't a new book, being published in 1995, but the original and sometimes provocative analysis of the development of Blues music were certainly new to me. He argues that early developments in the genre owed at least as much to the European music-hall tradition as to African polyrhythm, that Elvis Presley, far from stealing from 'The Blues' was actually an outstanding white blues singer, that the music-preservationists of the 1960s ignored 'living blues' in Chicago in their search for 'authentic blues' in the South, that the persona and repertoire of blues performers was a projection of what their audience wanted to hear and that the 'Blues Brothers' "awful movie" was just another example of whites trying to define for blacks what the blues really is. It's an entertaining and challenging read and worth the cover price for one fact alone -that Memphis Minnie used to perform 'The Woody Woodpecker Song' in her live set!
The Cognac Blues Festival Fringe, France July 2010
'ickledot' writes -
The final days of July saw ickledot attending the annual Cognac Blues Passions festival in the Charente region of France.
Obviously, Cognac is most famous for the drink which carries its name, but the festival has also gained a most positive reputation for the town in recent years. The main part of the festival was in the park in the centre of the town. It held three stages, the main one being for the star performers in the evening.
The second was a larger daytime stage and a then there was a third, smaller one, mostly for the acoustic or solo performances.
The sun shone brightly throughout the course of the festival, apart from the final afternoon when there was a dramatic thunderstorm.
What a pleasant experience it was, sitting on the grass in the sunshine with chums and a drink or two, listening to some fine music. Being a 'tight git', ickledot didn't pay to see any of the evening performances from such notables as Seal, Barbara Hendricks and Gil Scott-Heron.
However, the daytime fare was excellent (and free!), so after a long day's listening, it was preferable to return to the cool of the riverside campsite (there were a couple of performances here too) and barbecue the night away. For ickledot, there were three highlights, the first being Scrapomatic, featuring the soulful gravel voice of Mike Mattison.
Then there was Veronica & the Red Wine Serenaders for their light and cheerful brand of New Orleans old time blues and Veronica's much appreciated attempts to explain the story of each song in broken French.
Third was the Ramon Goose Band (remember them at the BBC?) who gave a rocky electric performance on the final morning.
For those wanting to 'have a go' themselves (and many did) there was also an afternoon long jam session outside one of the town centre bars. Here too, there was some great music. Overall, an experience to be recommended. If you're planning a trip to France next year, why not include a few days of blues in beautiful Cognac?
Picture of Veronica's walkabout -John
6th Worthenbury Blues and Roots Festival. 3rd July 2010.
Chris writes -
The festival is local in size but international in its music. It took place in a field in a little North Wales village on a sunny afternoon and barmy evening and with electric and acoustic stages, real ales, hog roast and an appreciative audience, what more could you want?
The line up was varied but the quality was constantly high. One man blues band, Martin Everson, would have given Jesse Fuller a run for his money, to the more sophisticated sounds of the Cadillac Kings, and everything in between.
It was a real credit to the organisers, especially Pete Evans, that the festival ran very smoothly with only enough time between bands for introductions
The festival started with local band ‘Rhythm Zoo’, who got the crowd warmed up, followed by Martin Everson, then the first of the electric blues with the ‘Dave Jackson Band’, who was on good form. ‘Terraplane Blues’ brought about another change to a more gentle picking style. This three-piece enthralled the audience with some classic tracks performed with real feeling. Back to the electric stage for ‘The 44s’, another three piece but with a definite hard edged rocking blues driven by the red Gibson of ‘2bad Jim’, this band brought the afternoon session to a close.
The evening session started with the ‘River Devils’ lead by the formidable guitarist Sandy Tweedale, his highlight being an astounding combination of Bo Diddley and Hendrix. Angus Rose on keyboard added an extra dimension resulting in a sound that drew you into the music. Martin Everson played his second set before the Sean Webster band came on stage. Sadly Sean was unable to appear as he had been involved in a serious accident, we all wish him a speedy recovery. Sean’s place in the band was taken by Ashley Wilson (the drummer’s brother), who did a sterling job and showed himself to be a guitarist of real skill and feeling.
Terraplane blues second set preceded what many thought to be the real highlight of the day, the very aptly named ‘Blues in the Northwest Blues Band’. The band comprised Tommy Allan and Neil Partington on guitars and vocals, Mickey Barker on drums, Russ Williams on double bass, Ken Peace on harmonica and the irrepressible Johny Hewitt on harmonica and vocals. The interplay between the band members was smooth and the fun they were having was transmitted to the delighted crowd. The whole place rocked.
After a short break for announcements and raffle the festival finished with the extremely talented and exciting Cadillac Kings. No wonder this one of the UKs top bands, producing a mixture of blues and jump and jive tracks, the crowd loved every minute and it still wasn’t long enough.
Well done to everyone involved and long may you keep the spirit of great music combined with great fun alive.
Matt Schofield Band 30th April
Paul Johnson writes -
Schofield Band headed into the hills above Keighley on Saturday to
continue the Heads, Tails & Aces tour.
The Bronte Blues Club (BBC), run by volunteers, and located in Laycock Village Hall, is a great little venue. One Friday a month the Village Hall is decorated with pictures of blues greats, and its members get ready for a night of blues music.
Last month it was Hamilton Loomis, next month is Big Pete and the Backbones. Sandwiched in between was the Matt Schofield Band.
The location was a real contrast to the previous nights gig in Sheffield. In the afternoon the guys played at a local school as part of the local "Blues in Schools" program. The band was then treated to a superb cooked dinner (steaks all round) at the local pub, The Turkey Inn. This put them in a great mood for the evenings gig.
The support act was the BBC 4 and they did a great job of warming up the already hot and packed room. The gig had been SOLD OUT for a number of weeks and the crowd were certainly eager to hear Matt play. For myself, it was a lucky night as I won the members draw (a Ray Charles CD) AND the club raffle (a Louis Jordan CD). I was also lucky as I got to see a great performance from the band.
The set was split into to two and the guys seemed to be having a great time. The order of the songs was different to the previous nights gig in Sheffield, but consisted of mostly the same songs. I won't list the songs but all the favourites, old and new, were there. Matt was on serious form from the off and the crowd really showed there appreciation.
If you haven't seen Matt live then I urge you to book for his tour later in the year. I know I will be attending as many as I can.
Read Keith Lee's review of 'The Backbones' (21st May) in July's Blues in Britain.
'A Keith Lee Review'
The Burnley Blues Festival -3rd April
John writes -
With the "sky blues" of
Manchester City trouncing the "claret and blues" 6-1 at Turf Moor on the
same day as the 22nd National Festival, Burnley certainly had a lot of blues
on the 3rd of April!
The main stage kicked off with The Stumble. Preston's fine 6 piece band, comprising 2 guitars, bass, drums,sax, and vocals. They played a very enjoyable set. All good musicians, they rattled through their stuff in fine style.
Next up were Paul Jones and Dave Kelly. Doing the stuff from their two recent live albums, they show what a great sound can be made with just an acoustic guitar, harmonica, and vocals. What they don't do is build up any momentum with the music, as their set is full of pauses and long introductions, which tend to flatten the experience. Shame that, as they really are superb at what they do, and their "traditional" blues are great.
James Hunter and his band had more of a soul feel to them, but hunger called and I missed most of his set. Sounded to go down well though.
Mike Sanchez was brilliant. Playing boogie- woogie piano, rock 'n' roll, and blues NON-STOP, he's a real crowd pleaser. Enjoyed the variety of musicians with him; guitars, saxes, including some of his early mentors, all brought on without interrupting the flow of his good-time music.
I took the opportunity to look in on the downstairs stage where Chantelle McGregor was playing, as I wanted to see Alex who does the sound, and occasionally drums for us at the BBC on stage with her. Nice bass playing Alex!
This was a first visit to Burnley blues, and will not be the last, despite the Police attempt to virtually close down the town. (Burnley had been well thrashed by Man City earlier in the day).
Click thumbnail for Keighley News review of Guy Tortora's visit to Laycock
Click on the thumbnail to read Blues in Britain review of Guy Tortora (5th March 2010)
'A Keith Lee Review'
The Dirty Robbers at The Bronte Blues Club (8 January 2010). Laycock Village Hall
-Music Promoter -Warwickshire/
Gloucestershire- writes in
Blues in Britain Magazine -
Click on thumbnail
The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise –from Ft Lauderdale –January 2010.
Michael & Barbara write -
It’s hard to describe ‘The Legendary Rhythm& Blues Cruise’ on the Caribbean if you haven’t experienced it. People tried to put us in the picture before we went but our mental picture of it was miles out. The acts on board (and sometimes on the beach at the island stops) are impressive enough –Taj Mahal, Keb Mo’, Magic Slim, Kenny Neal, Tommy Castro, Tab Benoit and others all with their full bands as well as acoustic artists such as Rishelle & Raines and Guy Davis –but the fact that you can catch them up to four times during the week in a variety of venues adds lots of value. In addition to the 2.00-12.00 stage-concerts, the piano bar serves up improvised pro-jamming until 5.00 in the morning if you can stand the pace (we couldn’t). There is all the luxury of cruising – several restaurants, attentive waiter service and roomy cabins –without the formality of traditional cruising. We were able to stand right up to the stage for Taj’s on-deck set or sit at the back of a fully-equipped theatre for the fabulous Ruthie Foster’s last night performance. True, you’re surrounded by 2000+ mainly US citizens with a tenuous grasp on blues heritage but they’re friendly, peaceful and helpful to ‘newbies’ and, after all, nothing’s perfect!
PS We’ve already booked for 2011!
PS Picture shows Michael on deck with harpist Billy Gibson -not Barbara!
Click the thumbnail to read the review of Ben Waters' memorable visit to 'the bbc' as featured in February's 'Blues in Britain'.
'A Keith Lee Review'
Click thumbnail for Toby Walker's review in November's Blues in Britain Magazine.
'A Keith Lee Review'
Efes Blues Festival, Girne, Cyprus (21st October)
With the Mediterranean blue, echoed in the Efes displays, the sun went down over the mountains in Kyrenia. A perfect setting for a Blues festival, under the stars. The audience were mostly young Turkish Cypriots and quite a few '60-something' Brits.
Ray Schinnery was the acoustic opener in the Jimmy Reed style. He knew the audience and kept the songs short “You got me running.." and populist .... “Bright Lights Big City” (more appropriate for Istanbul?) Then he got everyone singing along “I know, I know, I know ...." with one of my favourites “Ain’t no sunshine”
Terry Evans and band were the highlight for me. He has a great range and a soulful voice, no more so than in “Dark End of the Street”. The Hammond was a welcome sound and Slick Williams on guitar was great on “You ain’t gotta go” The top of the bill was Shemekia Copeland (as seen at Colne R'n'B Festival). She sang “Dirty Water” in the inimitable Blues Momma style...great.
Your ticket in, brought you a free, cold Efes Beer... sounds like the BBC July gift.
On our wall in Keighley there’s the poster for 13th EFES BLUES FESTIVAL and now there’s the 20th poster on our wall in Cyprus.
Click thumbnail for Peter Greenwood's Keighley News review of bbc5's CD -Keighley Tennessee
Click thumbnail for Roach & Mars review in May's Blues in Britain Magazine.
'A Keith Lee review.'
Hamilton Loomis Band -April 24th 2009
'Ickledot' writes -
Hamilton Loomis. Native of Galveston, Texas. Fine musician and friend of the late Bo Diddley. On Friday, April 24, 2009, he and his band came to play and give their all in
the little Pennine village of Laycock. It was yet another of those nights when one needed to pinch oneself every now and again just to
make sure it was really happening. Such a tight band playing a stratospheric
standard of music in our own back yard, so to speak.
There was something for everyone.
The purists got their share while other
tracks reached those who prefer a rockier style. There
were even songs (such
as the funky Best Worst Day) which, it could be argued, were not really
blues at all.
Drummer Jamie Little must really like the Bronte Blues Club. It was his second visit of the season, his first being with the excellent Sherman Robertson back in November.
was on great form, as was saxophonist and keyboards man
Kent Beatty completed
a line-up that sounded as if it had been together throughout each of its
Hamilton Loomis is a true showman who recognises that fine musicianship is not quite enough for a performance to be memorable. The show included much leaping around, forays into the audience, solos standing on chairs (the village hall tables were not quite up to it) and other antics and asides, none of which compromised the music.
And if that wasn’t enough, there was also a guest appearance by guitarist Alex McKown who is very good and probably becoming increasingly fed up of people being amazed by his age. I’m sure he’s not by ours.
A wonderful evening. Thanks to Hamilton and all concerned
Keith Lee writes - A 'Blues in Britain' Report.-April 2009
The Blues Band at the King's Hall, Ilkley (18th March)
John writes -
"A very enjoyable night was had by all, watching this bunch of very accomplished players performing the sort of music we all love.Led by the virtuoso harmonica playing and vocals of Paul Jones, they kept a nice variety by alternating the singers. As well as being top musicians, Dave Kelly, Tom McGuinness and Gary Fletcher all took turns on vocals.They were backed by Rob Townshend on drums, and Bob Hall on piano.
It felt like a very personalised gig, as their repertoire was similar to recent BBC5 offerings. Starting with “San Francisco Bay Blues” and “That’s Alright Mama”, we were also treated to “Before you accuse me” and a Ray Charles tribute.
Other blues classics followed, but one of the highlights was a piano solo from Bob Hall. I’m looking forward to seeing him close up at the Bronte Blues Club.
This was the third time I’d seen The Blues Band at Ilkley, and it was the best yet!"
Keith Lee writes - A 'Blues in Britain' Report.-March 2009
Peter Greenwood writes in 'The Keighley News' (March 5th)
Keith Lee writes - A 'Blues in Britain' Report.-February 2009
At the risk
of becoming repetitive, it was yet another truly great night at the
Bronte Blues Club.
The headline act was
The Ramon Goose Band,
a trio which, although based in Essex, includes Hungarian wizard bassist
Akos Hasznos. The
line-up, a relatively new version of the band, is completed by Paul
Francis on drums. They were fantastic. The accoustic-electric mix gave a
set which had great variety and also allowed for a quiet start, gradually
building to a wonderfully rhythmic version of In My Father’s House to
complete the first set. I would certainly love to see them again and would
recommend you do the same.
Support act BBC5, due to enter the recording studio on Sunday, reached new heights. They really are becoming a tight outfit. As singer and recent sextaganarian Michael Ford (I take it back Michael - your singing is much better without the cold) mentioned, the band now spans five decades. They are living proof that the generation gap is a myth, in Laycock at least. Long-time members have been somewhat bemused of late at the audience’s early arrival. Could it be they want to make sure they catch the house band?
Bronte Blues Club -Sherman Robertson Band
Keith Lee writes -
A 'Blues in Britain' Report.
Pic -Idris Richards
Sherman Robertson Band - 21st November at 'the bbc'
Arriving early to avoid the forecasted Pennine blizzards, ickledot was lucky enough to catch the closing bars of the Sherman Robertson Band’s soundcheck. I knew then that we were in for a special night. As the audience gathered, the sense of anticipation grew.
Bronte Blues Club -Kent Duchaine
Pic -Charles Waller
Keith Lee writes -
A 'Blues in Britain' Report.
Peter Greenwood's -Craven Herald Review
Doug McLeod @ Iva Lee’s San Clemente CA.
Review & portrait by -Chris Lackey (CA, USA)
Luckily Rachel had suggested that her Mom like to make a reservation at the restaurant hosting Doug…. It would have been a real pity to come all that way and miss him.
This is a regular slot for Doug, and his Tommy Bahama-wearing crowd were out in force, from 7pm – 10:30. Respect was apparent, as we listened to the great raconteur telling us this song goes exactly, (not something) like this.
At a break, Barbara took back the capot that Doug left at the Blues Club. He thought it awesome that she’d come all that way to see him. He remembered you well and is looking forward to a reprise in 2009.
“Those guys are dedicated to keeping the blues alive. The schools thing is so cool. Those kids were great”
When Barbara asked if they could use the photo on the website, he said
“As long as I look good..” Well, in his 2 tone lounge shirt, he sure looked and sounded good. This 30 something bought “The Utrecht Sessions” and keeps playing it in the car.. “That ain’t right” keeps you thinking.
Colne R'n'B Festival -August 2008
Jackie & John write - "..high energy R'n'B..."
Friday saw the start of the much-anticipated Colne R'n'B Festival, particularly as crowd-pleasers Dr Feelgood and Nine Below Zero were on the bill.
Nine Below Zero mixed R'n'B with Rock & Soul in a varied set. Mark Feltham did his harmonica virtuoso bit, particularly on 'Stone Fox Chase' (The Old Grey Whistle Test theme). Dennis Greaves (Gtr) seemed slightly out-of-sorts, by his high standards but they went down a storm. They left the stage to a chorus of boos but only as they'd gone over time and couldn't do an encore. Dr Feelgood preceded them and were at their usual brilliant best banging out high energy R'n'B driven on by Steve Walwyn's excellent guitar work. The 'Feelgoods' - does exactly what it says on the tin!
Seven-piece-band 'Supercharge', opened the night. They played a dynamic set led by Albie Donnelly on sax and vocals. They ripped through Rocket 88, some Louis Jordan stuff, blues and even a mambo! Very entertaining!
Worthenbury Blues & Roots Festival - Wrexham, North Wales -June 2008
Barbara writes - "...the sun shone on the righteous.."
After last years' downpour and subsequent retreat to 'the barn', the 'sun shone on the righteous' at Worthenbury's 2008 annual outdoor blues- fest. A massive turnout approaching 500 consisted of a sprinkling of the NW blues-cognoscenti but mostly local families making the most of outstanding musicians on their own doorsteps.
On our way to the field we passed Worthenbury's Village Hall (a virtual shrine to 'bbc' members 'in-the-know', since it was the blueprint for our own residency at Laycock Institute) before claiming our patch-of-grass for the day. Two low-loaders alongside each other provided the electric and acoustic stages with virtually non-stop music for nine hours.
Sam Payne provided her usual accomplished boogie-piano and abrasive patter and Dave Acari's punk-Delta-blues was as incomprehensible as ever. Tommy Allen has recently teamed-up with Smokehouse Blues harpist Johny Hewitt in an acoustic duo. Both are outstanding blues-musicians and fine vocalists and are developing a good rapport and a classy repertoire . Watch out for these two!
On the electric stage, the Stumble did what the Stumble do, but suffered, for me from following the stand-out act of the festival, Bill Sheffield, over from Atlanta, Georgia, and ably supported on bass by Dave Saunders. He was outstanding. Bill plays a swinging, lyrical, finger-picked Piedmont style of blues-guitar with grace and sings with a range and depth of feeling. He is talented and personable -the perfect combination for t'he bbc', I reckon!
Top-of-the-bill was Texan rockabilly-bluesman Lightnin' Willie (see pic.) and his ever-changing band of 'Poor Bys'. His lively set drew even more dancers to 'the floor', some of them sober! It was a terrific, lively finale, to a terrific day; a credit to the organisers and the people of North Wales.
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