A Thousand Horses In Conversation with Bluesdoodles

A Thousand Horses In Conversation with Bluesdoodles

 

A Thousand Horses In Conversation with Bluesdoodles

 

 

BD: I was delighted when Wilful PR sent me a review copy of your new album Bridges and the opportunity to find out yourselves, influence and lots more. When I saw you play live at Rockstock last December for me you were the band of the Saturday night.

A Thousand Horses, have answered the questions as a team hence four bands of fantasy and delight. Read more for an insight into Michael Hobby Lead Vocals; Bill Satcher Lead Guitar,  Zach Brown Guitar and Vocal & Graham Deloach Bass and Vocal

BD: What were your first musical influences growing up?
Thousand Horses:

Graham: I loved all of the classic rock n roll growing up, and still do! Led Zeppelin       is my favorite band of all time
Zach: My parents listened to oldies in the car when I was growing up. The first concert I can remember going to was The Beach Boys out at the lake near our house. I didn’t learn that there was music made after 1970 until a friend played the song Breakfast at Tiffany’s for me when I was 10 years old.
Bill:  The Beatles
Hobby: The Black Crowes

 BD: A Thousand Horses are making an impact, how did you get together and form the band and what is the significance of the name?

Thousand Horses:
Hobby: We formed the band in Nashville in 2010. Bill and I grew up together in Newberry, SC and met when we were 12 and 13 years old in a local music store. Graham is bills cousin so we would all 3 hang out every summer and play music. We formed ATH when we met Zach through a mutual friend in 2010. We named the band after a song we wrote when we formed the title A Thousand Horses.

We all write in the band together, separately, and with other writers here in town. Everyone in the band brings a great deal of creativity to song writing and our sound whether it be lyric, melody, or music, it’s a group thing. You never know where a song can come from or inspiration can spark!

BD: Bridges, is your follow-up album to your success with your debut Southernality last year. Produced by the Band, Corey Crowder & Dann Huff. With many involved in producing the sound who gets the final production say?

Thousand Horses:
Bill: Well, Corey Crowder and Dann Huff both really wanted to make the best A Thousand Horses record that we could, so at the end of the day we were the ones with final approval on the album and they wanted it to be that way. But they’re so badass that there wasn’t much to be debated about in the end.

BD:  How did you choose the tracks and then decide that Preachin’ To The Choir should be the single to proclaim the album?

Thousand Horses:
Graham: We love every song that is on the new album. We are always writing and creating new music and these are some of our favorites that we wanted our fans to hear. We chose ‘Preachin’ to the Choir’ as our first single because we thought it was a great song for our fans and a great first impression and representation of the new musical project (Bridges) as a whole.
 Bill: I think that every new song we write, record, lyric we jot down or melody we try and refine, we are always pushing it and ourselves to be better than what we have done before. So, in a way, yes it’s more challenging because we are pushing harder to be better. So most the pressure or challenge comes from within ourselves. As far as the album title “Bridges” goes, we decided to name the project that because we feel that song’s meaning encapsulates everything we have been through in the process of creating this new music. It’s a song about light heartily looking back and being able to laugh at the mistakes you made along the road of life. It kind of defines our point of view at this time in our lives.

BD: Bridges has seven of the thirteen tracks recorded live. Six of them at Metropolis Studio in London what do you feel this approach adds to the music and what made Metropolis the place to be for Bridges?

Thousand Horses
Zach: I think we wanted to show something real and raw with the Metropolis sessions. So much music coming out these days is so computer heavy that sometimes people don’t even know what artists actually sound like. We wanted to do something stripped down, one take, just us and our instruments. Metropolis has one of the only direct to vinyl machines left, so it was the perfect place to capture the live half of the record.

BD: I have always been interested in the lyrics of a song. Where do you get your inspiration for your songwriting?

Thousand Horses:
Hobby: Song writing has always been a passion of mine since I got my first guitar and learned to play it. Instead of learning other people’s songs I would make my own up. Lyrically I always wanted to have truth in my stories. A lot of what I write about is real life things that I have lived or been a part of.

BD: The music Industry is constantly evolving with changes often not for the better, how have the changes impacted on Thousand Horses Country Rock style of music?

Thousand Horses:
Graham: I think that the music has become more accessible as the industry and the genre of country music grows. This allows us to reach more people with our music.

 BD: I am sure you have many plans for 2017 and beyond for the band do you plan to tour UK and Europe?

Thousand Horses:
Zach: We love playing in the UK and are really looking forward to getting over to the rest of Europe. We have a few things in the works so stay tuned!

BD: Is there anything you want to say to your fans reading this interview?

Thousand Horses:
Hobby: Thank you for your continued support and believing in our music. We love ya and can’t wait to rock with you soon.

BD: If you were putting together the perfect fantasy band with members from across the years (dead or alive) who would you have playing

Thousand Horses:
Graham: Steve Gorman of The Black Crowes on drums, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd on bass/vocals, Billy Powell of Lynyrd Skynyrd on keys, Mike Campbell of The Heartbreakers on guitar, Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin on lead vocal.
Zach: Gotta start with the rhythm section cause it’s the backbone of the band. I always wanted to play drums like Keith Moon growing up so I’d have him on drums and Ashton Barrett, who played with Bob Marley, on bass. Then I’d add my favorite guitar duo, Keith Richards and Ron Wood, because they sound cool playing anything! I’d round it out with Freddie Mercury as the front man.
Bill: Rich Robinson – Guitar, vocal. Joe Walsh – Guitar, vocal. Liam Gallagher – vocal. Steve Gorman – Drums. Benmont Tench – Keys. Paul McCartney – Bass, vocal. Produced by Jeff Lynne.
Hobby: Tom Petty, Dwight Yokam, Max Martin, Jon Paul Jones, Steven Tyler and Prince on drums.

 

Thank you for taking the time to chat with Bluesdoodles.  read the review for the latest album Bridges – HERE

A Thousand Horses In Conversation with Bluesdoodles

Chocolate Free Music Fueled HRH Blues Easter

Chocolate Free Music Fueled HRH Blues Easter

 

 

Chocolate Free Music Fueled HRH Blues Easter

 

Back in the O2 Sheffield for the second year HRH Blues III promised with a deep blues infused line-up to be an Easter full of music. They certainly delivered across the two stages, as ever clashes were at times frustrating, demonstrating the wealth of blues in town this weekend.

HRH Blues once again created an ambience, professional on the outside, inside pure unadulterated fun of listening to live music. The two days had a mix of blues from heavy and raw through to delicate and everything in-between. More people this year stepping on the bright blue HRH Blues Train crammed with live music in Sheffield.

With two stages, we heard a total of twenty-two bands and for some Royalty Passes & Media an extra five acoustic acts early on Sunday morning. The one disappointment for many was the missing act. King King had to pull out at the last-minute – now we know it was due to Alan Nimmo having acute Laryngitis.  With the number of King King T-shirts in the audience you could have expected annoyance, but all you heard and saw on social media was empathy, love and get well. The bands that did play filled the gap with extended sets from Simon McBride and Ten Years After and a slightly early Saturday.

Getting the Easter music fest started was Dani Wilde who set the scene with quality opening act it was going to be high quality blues form the first to last note. Highlights in the main stage on Saturday were…

Chocolate Free Music Fueled HRH Blues EasterFor the vast majority that I spoke to the stand out band of the first day and the festival were Billy Walton Band, they bought fun, blues and music that just gets every one excited.  Following on from the band that wowed the audience and were still being talked about as the festival closed. Why? A full on band who really get that good-time vibe flowing the boys from New Jersey bring that East Coast joie-de-vie. Billy and the band want you want to party all night. With a horn section adding texture and tone they are just very entertaining and totally enjoyable. They were ready to party with the festival a fan supplied an array of hats and they were delighted to play with the donated headgear. The atmosphere was now loud, electric with blues flowing through the O2.

Follow that, well this is HRH nothing safe, nothing out-of-bounds as The Graveltones, a duo took to the stage. Heavy, raucous, energetic and loud they divided the room just as Marmite on toast would! The guitar was raw and the drumming hard with splinters of wood being torn from the sticks. Heavy, hard with complex rhythms and bucket loads of feel, delivering a punchy set that re-defines duos and the blues.

Chocolate Free Music Fueled HRH Blues EasterAll aboard the next station on the blues train journey to Finnish Blues with Erja Lyytinen and her band. For many of her fans the first time we have had the opportunity to listen to the music from her acclaimed album Stolen Hearts. I was definitely excited having given her the full 10-doodle paws. High class set from the renowned queen of the blues slide guitar. In the set is Black Ocean for me a highlight and favourite on the album now a live favourite as prog meets blues under the charms and skills of Erja.  We joined her on the rocking Chair, sang along with Stolen hearts. Then the trained steamed up the hill with her interpretation of Tina Turner’s Steamy windows. This was blues that sparkled as Erja smiled, played and won our hearts.

Chocolate Free Music Fueled HRH Blues EasterThis year with the addition of food stalls and coffee there was no need to leave the arena and miss a single note of blues that was weaving their magic over the audience.  Now we had two stages running parallel always a conundrum what to stay and listen too. Quick run upstairs to catch some of Will Wilde, this was the decision of many as the second stage was rammed and Will’s harmonica playing won him many new fans. For some the band of the weekend having never heard him play before. Will delivers more ‘authentic’ blues almost a match for Erja, a shame about the clash of blues titans. Will is one of the best blues-harp players on the UK circuit. Now we had a festival exploding under the glories of blues in full flight.

Back downstairs for Pig Iron returning for the second year. Describing themselves as Blues Metal this was pounding heavy blues that incorporates some delicate harp playing. Upstairs was Troy Redfern, the Welsh slide guitar troubadour.  With tracks from his current album Backdoor Hoodoo. His rendition of John The Revelator is always a crowd-pleasing winner as it was tonight in Sheffield. The HRH Blues train was now gathering speed and pulling in a wide variety of acts.

Chocolate Free Music Fueled HRH Blues EasterNow back to the main stage for Simon McBride and the headliners returning for the second year Ten Year After. First, a stunning blues rock guitarist Simon McBride. The set saturated with scintillating riffs and licks making Simon’s PRS guitar sing and squeal. An accomplished set strewn with covers to extend the time on stage and numbers from his last two albums.  What a set it was a tone the festival wanted to hear that mix of SRV, Hendrix woven together with McBride magic. The dueling between bass and guitar was magnificent. As he played Good Times Roll, following a McBride favourite Down To The Wire we were definitely having a great Easter Saturday as he closed with Deadman Walking we were all alive with festival fever.

Chocolate Free Music Fueled HRH Blues EasterAfter fifty years of touring with Ten Years After Chick Churchill & Ric Lee are now joined by bassist Colin Hodgkinson and the charismatic Marcus Bonfanti.  Marcus’ vocals are full of power, tonal texture, his guitar playing sharp and the harp adds another dimension to the Ten Year After sound of 2017. No Ten Year After set is complete without The Hobbit, Ric Lee and his drumming acrobatics. A wonderful set blending old stalwarts and new numbers from the forthcoming album A Sting In The Tale out later this year.  The whole set is a perfect platform for showcasing what a great and oft underrated guitarist Marcus is.  Wow moments of the festival with Love Like A Man and Good Morning Little Schoolgirl. Ten Years After strong after Fifty-years and the thrill of a new album. What a Saturday now for Sunday’s delights.

Chocolate Free Music Fueled HRH Blues Easter

Sunday, started with a Smörgåsbord of acoustic showcases, including Chantel McGregor; Big Boy Bloater, Crow Black Chicken and Dan Patlansky who we would be hearing in full amplified glory during the day. The sets were chilled whilst also demonstrating the varied sounds achievable from the acoustic. This was personified by the difference between Big Boy Bloater and Dan Patlansky, same guitar totally different tone and approach.  We heard hollers, blues and songs given new shapes a perfect slow wake up call to join the main blues train downstairs on stage one. Into the mix the wonderful vocals and charm of Jack Hutchinson a welcomed addition to any blues gathering, with a new band album, Set Your Heart For The Sun, let’s hope he is back electric in 2018.

 

Chocolate Free Music Fueled HRH Blues EasterWhat a stunning set once again from the mighty Sean Webster with his new band The Deadlines. Having heard Sean many times he never disappoints, unsurprisingly he was the find of the weekend for many. His rendition of I’d Rather Go Blind moved many to tears with the raw, intense emotion he puts into every word sung and note played. Sean has the winning combination of a superb blues voice and plays the guitar with lightning blue touch.  Now living in Netherlands, Sean is the enigma of the British Blues scene never reaching the heights his playing should be taking him. Let’s hope the station stop on HRH Blues Train will be the launch pad for a renaissance of Sean the bluesman. Following on from Sean, in a bright red dress is Chantel McGregor always a firm favourite with her many fans. The set was a mix of favourites and her latest album. Anyone hoping for some new material would be disappointed, though there was a new drummer in the band. The set was safe, definitely rockier than the early days of   Chantel. She still smiles with warmth and affection and Freefalling was a guitar blazing delight as were the other guitar improvisations. Her rhythm section gives her a solid platform, bassist Chocolate Free Music Fueled HRH Blues EasterColin Sutton and Ollie Goss on Drums. The mischievous Chantel was ever present with ‘Aving A Giraffe a fun out take celebrating the April the Giraffe giving birth the story that Chantel has been following on Social media. The set overall felt a little flat, come on Chantel lets have some new McGregor gems soon. This is the nuances that makes live music fun a have to be there moment. British Blues celebration continues with Laurence Jones with his new band.  Laurence is maturing the new band seems to fit his style and the addition of Bennet Holland on keys certainly adds some textures to the music complementing Laurence’s stinging guitar. We are enjoying this stop on the train. Yes, this is British blues-rock personified; what is great to see Laurence continuing to grow in stature, developing his sound and staying fresh. The longer lead breaks played with growing confidence adds interest and variance in the live sound. Fantastic audience participation during JJ Cale’s Cocaine, conducted with vigour and winning smile from Laurence more Cream and Clapton than Cale. That is no bad thing in a stalwart of the blues circuit who wins fans whenever he picks up his guitar and plays. .

Chocolate Free Music Fueled HRH Blues Easter

Quick sojourn to Stage 2 for StoneWire a band from the South coast that I had heard about. This is a five-piece led by a big voice. Another great female vocalist out front shaping the StoneWire sound.  Whilst on stage one, young gun Aaron Keylock, was completing the very British Blues opening to the day.  Solid set as this man’s stage presence grows. He is full of potential and the setlist was a perfect showcasing opportunity for Across The Grain his debut album. The slide guitar was over loud and the vocals slurred but every time you hear him there is improvement, Spin The Bottle a set residence that suits this young man who is truly motivated and shaped by the blues.  Not to be missed, if you get the opportunity another HRH Blues festival favourites are definitely Black Crow Chicken. The sound is earthy, dirty blues. Every song has a colourful story as they take the blues train down an Irish lane as roots blues collide with Irish Tradition through the amplifier. The humour is dry and all-encompassing that follows through into the strong lyrics. With Jonestown and a tribute to Pat Chocolate Free Music Fueled HRH Blues EasterMcManus from Pariah Brothers, the latest album. This is a band I could have listened to for longer. A definite bring back next year request.  With Big Boy Bloater following, his acoustic set was superb so we were looking forward to electric Luxury Hobo. The sound was too loud for the small stage area and that meant the music lost its edge. That said what a rendition of bloater blues pushing them to the limits and he knows how to entertain the crowds vital for any set and sometimes missing. The superb track from his album Luxury Hobo, It Came From The Swamp won him many fans another strong contender for stage one 2018.

Chocolate Free Music Fueled HRH Blues EasterNow back to Stage 1  for South African, Dan Patlansky who always delivers fireworks from his Strat.  Tonight, with a band of session players from Germany we were treated to a stand out set of guitar acrobatics. Old Red is the signatures Strat of Dan, and is off for a refurb after this UK tour.  With his latest single from Introvertigo, Sonova Faith given a live airing we hear the clever improvisation that is part of the live show. Never expect to hear the songs the same, chords and lyrics are a constant but the interpretation every time is a certainty. Dan can rock his blues, and then with an application of the blues breaks will slow it right down. Then you listen with care as it is as good as it gets. Dan Patlansky is a showman. He brings Laurence Jones back to play Bright Lights, Big City that sees a guitar dueling that sparked with jaw dropping intensity. Closing the set, instrumental My Chana is a majestic exploration of the every sound a strat can make. As he experiments with feedback, ringing single notes. The audience are spellbound, a collective holding of breath with wonderment. No one wanted the moment to end. Sadly, it did one more act Stan Webbs Chicken Shack and 2017 HRH Blues fell silent.

Chocolate Free Music Fueled HRH Blues Easter

Easter Sunday, this year more music that chocolate. What a tasty day once again HRH train ride was full of blues hooks, licks and riffs, laughs and friends the perfect festival journey.

HRH Blues III blues train was full of exciting stops along the complex musical map that incorporates The Blues. The festival does not rely on have the same favourite acts returning each year. Weaving into the acts surprises and variance in the sound of blues.

With such an array of blues it is unsurprising, with not a single act announced HRH Blues IV; 14-15th April 2018 is already over eighty percent sold. People want to come back, reserving there spot for when the HRH Blues train leaves the station once again in Sheffield 2018. HRH Blues a definite for Blues lovers diaries.

 

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Blues Shone Bright at Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival

Blues Shone Bright at Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival

Blues Shone Bright at Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival 2017

Colston Hall was buzzing to the sound of live music from the Foyer, through The Lantern and into the Main Stage. Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival has become a regular event in music lovers diaries from Bristol and beyond with its sparkling mix of Jazz & Blues.

Bluesdoodles dipped into the weekend for a Smörgåsbord of blues on offer, from Sari Schorr to Mud Morganfield and we had listening fun and the magic of live music, festival delights of food, beer and meeting and making friends.

Blues Shone Bright at Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival 2017Blues Shone Bright at Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival 2017

Thursday Night Double Header

Northsyde

Sari Schorr & The Engine Room

The Lantern shone bright as Lorna took the vocal lead for Northsyde and their distinctive blending of blues, funk twisted with the free flow of blues jam tradition weaving in the Allman Brothers and a rocky edge…………………….

No gentle warm up with Sari and her band, she hit the ground running and the tension power and sheer beauty of live music just kept coming. The set list was dominated by tracks from her critically acclaimed debut album Force Of Nature. The album title perfectly describes Sari’s voice it is a true force of nature. Read more HERE

Triple Blues Power Saturday.

Whilst we waited we were treated to Bristol based Elles Bailey in the Foyer deliver blues with power and emotion not surprisingly the applause was warm and loud after every number.

Robben ford was the first act on the main stage today, as blues touched the soul of Jazz we heard a trio on top form as Jonny Henderson’s Hammond and Evan Jenkins drumming provided the support for Robben’s vocals and glorious guitar.

No one would argue, Robben Ford was on fire this afternoon for the Bristol Jazz &
Blues Festival. This was a masterclass in blues guitar playing full of timing, emotion and the soul that makes blues blend and bend around the lyrics. Read More HERE

With a short gap, we had time to eat and chat and listen t the music flowing through the venue this is what a festival is all about what every the weather the music is the force that binds us all.

The next double helping of blues from two renowned artists Kirk Fletcher former lead guitarist of The Fabulous Thunderbirds. Followed by Mud Morganfield, bringing to Bristol the legacy of his father Mud Morganfield.

Kirk Fletcher – The set was smooth a cocktail of blues guitar with a new song included with Kirk exploring the eternal question Wish I Had The Answer. This is blues that is full of the whole palette and warmed the hall up for the second helping on the double bill Mud Morganfield………..

The blues were hollered up in every shade with lead breaks and play from all the instruments in turn as hooks for Mud’s vocals as he delivered his father’s catalogue of classics. Mud Morganfield is the legacy that keeps the legend live on stages across the world. We definitely got our Mojo Working, as we met the Seventh Son and left with the Backdoor Man. Read More HERE

Photo Galleries captured the moment:-

Northsyde – HERE
Sari Schorr – HERE
Robben Ford – HERE
Kirk Fletcher – HERE
Mud Morganfield – HERE

Blues Shone Bright at Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival 2017

Bluesdoodles Listening to Live Music 2015

GIG & FESTIVAL REVIEWS 

Bluesdoodles Listening to Live Music 2015

 

Bluesdoodles Listening to Live Music 2015Northsyde @ The Convent, Stroud – December 2015
Stark @ The Convent, Stroud – December 2015
Chantel McGregor @ The Tunnels Bristol – December 2015
Waterboys @ Colston Hall, Bristol – December 2015
Planet Rockstock 
Jamie Smith’s Mabon @ St David’s Hall. Cardiff – November 2015
The Grahams @ The Convent, Stroud via Netgig November 2015
Spikedrivers ~ Pontardawre Arts Centre – Pontardawre November 2015
Joe Satriani with special guest Dan Patlansky ~ Live at St David’s Hall, Cardiff Nov 2015Bluesdoodles Listening to Live Music 2015
Steve Hackett ~ Live at Colston Hall Bristol October 2015
Joe Bonamassa Live @ Motorpoint, Cardiff October 2015
Glenn Hughes & Special Guest Jared James Nichols @ Robin 2, Bilston – October 2015
Steve Earle @ Colston Hall Bristol – October 2015
Martin Simpson & Dom Flemons @ St Davids Hall Cardiff October 2015
Simon Campbell & Suzy Starlite @ The Convent, Stroud – September 2015
Crosby Stills & Nash @ The Motorpoint, Cardiff – September 2015
Kirk Fletcher @ The Convent Club, Stroud – September 2015
Aynsley Lister @ The Tunnels, Bristol – August 2015
Bluesdoodles Listening to Live Music 2015Babajack & Marcus Bonfanti @ The Cube, Malvern – July 2015
Cara Dillon @ The Convent Club, Stroud
James Hunter Six @ The Lantern, Colston Hall, Bristol
Brother Strut @ The Globe Cardiff, July 2015
Coolhand Album Launch @ The Globe, Cardiff July 2015
The Jar Family @ The Convent Club, Stroud, July 2015
Amy Wadge & Pete Riley @ St David’s Hall, July 2015
Elvis Costello @ St David’s Hall, July 2015
Suzanne Vega @ Colston Hall, July 2015
Dave Arcari @ Beaufort Ballroom, Ebbw Vale June 2015Bluesdoodles Listening to Live Music 2015
Doug MacLeod @ The Convent Nr, Stroud, Glos June 2015
Blues on The Farm
Ben Poole supported by The Della Grants @ The Flowerpot, Derby May 2015
Larry Miller @ Beaufort Ballroom, Ebbw Vale May 2015
Dana Fuchs Live @ The Tunnels, Bristol May 2015
Gill Landry Guest of Laura Marling @ Colston Hall May 2015
Kara Grainger: Live @ The Convent Club May 2015
Beth Hart: Live @ Colston Hall May 2015
Dan Patlansky with Tristan MacKay Opening @ The Borderline, London April 2015<a
Mike and The Mechanics @ St David’s Hall. Cardiff April 2015
Band Of Friends @ The Globe, Cardiff April 2015
Duke Garwood @ The Louisiana, Bristol April 2015
Kenny Wayne Shepherd @ City Hall, Salisbury, April 2015
Ben Poole @ City Hall, Salisbury, April 2015
Grand Opening @The Convent Club, Stroud, April 2015
Ian Siegal @ The Tunnels, Bristol March 2015
The Handsome Family @ The Globe, Cardiff March 2015Bluesdoodles Listening to Live Music 2015
Ian Siegal @ The Flowerpot, Derby – March 2015
Oysterband @ The Garage, Swansea – March 2015
King King with support from Laurence Jones @ The Globe, Cardiff – March 2015
Joan Armatrading @ St David’s Hall, Cardiff – March 2015
10cc @ St David’s Hall, Cardiff – March 2015
JAKS & Introducing Stage @ Great British Blues Festival ~ Skegness 2015 – January 2015
Thomas Ford @ West End Club Barry
Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman @ St David’s Hall, Cardiff – February 2015
Marcus Bonfanti @ The Prince Of Wales, Ledbury – February 2015
Chantel McGregor @ Beaufort Ballroom, Ebbw Vale – Jan 2015
Paul Carrack @ St David’s Hall, Cardiff
Johnny Cash Roadshow @ St David’s Hall, Cardiff

Skegness Solid Live Music More Blues than Rock in 2017

Skegness Solid Live Music More Blues than Rock in 2017Skegness Solid Live Music
More Blues than Rock in 2017

January drawing to a close, Christmas lights a fading memory. Then your calendar clicks around to Butlins, Skegness for the Great British Rock & Blues Festival, the next year of musical journeys begins. This year the emphasis is on Blues, Rock has fallen if not silent but reduced to a whisper this year, upsetting some and definitely changing the balance and feel of the weekend.

The Introducing Stage got the show underway from 4pm Friday until the early hours of Monday morning. The gaps were minimal the music quality, meeting of friends chatting about what stood out and having fun was the order of the day.  The grumble about the lack of rock was justified. The title of the weekend is Rock & Blues so you would expect a balanced mixture. Everyone who knows me knows that I love my Blues of every hue, but I love the energy of Rock, the power of Rock and energy of the stage shows and this year this injection of power was missed. Without the balance of Rock and Blues, we didn’t have the contrast of razor-sharp, sparkling blues guitar and the full-on power chords and stinging licks of granite fueled rock.

Bluesdoodles, Liz Aiken enjoyed the weekend visiting the stages catching acts, missing others. With four stages this was a hectic few days.  Starting off with the highlights across the days on Introducing Stage, run by Steve Stanley, of Solid Entertainments with the help from Paul Stiles and the Blues In Britain Team to hand out the voting disks.  The Skeggie road takes us to Centre Stage – designated as ‘The Rock Stage’ by the Butlins programming team. The journey continues with a visit to Jaks with its late night sessions jams and a distinctive atmosphere, organised by Blues Matters. Finally, our travels and weary feet take us to Reds, 2017 the Blues stage.  The programming was without argument patchy by the Butlins team what was good was very good, interspersed by mediocre and poor. The Road was definitely a Blue cobbled street rather than a rocky trail throughout the 2017 weekend. Let’s hope this is a transition year and next year the balance between Rock and Blues is restored. There are so many young exciting bands on the circuit that would be delighted to entertain the Skeggie crowds.

Now, for the music. GT’s Boos Band got the show under way and they were one of the thirteen excellent bands who delighted the crowded area at the heart of the Skyline Pavilion.  The bands played for the chance of performing on a stage at Butlins 2018, decided by public vote.  The three successful bands this year were Friday Night – Tom Walker Trio, Saturday, Southbound and the final finalist on Sunday was Greg Coulson Band.  The competition was tough every band bought an interpretation of blues and rock that shows the depth of live music in the UK today. Tom Walker Trio, played a set that sparked including originals and an interesting, entertaining interpretation of Joe Bonamassa’s John Henry. Hitting the authentic blues spot Backwater Roll certainly pleased the audience in a packed area. Saturday night showed that this stage is getting more popular every year as the place to find new festival gems that you will want to see live again. Southbound were great on the night with a live performance showcasing the power of the rhythm section as they delivered their distinctive Blues Rock with a bucket of soul sound thrown in for good measure.  Matt Edwards Band with Stuart Dixon on bass impressed as did their 2015 album Four Berry Jam. Matt has a voice that makes you listen and his guitar playing has an infectious tone. Amy Eftekhari’s performance of Somewhere Over The Rainbow got the crowds purring with delight. Then it was Sunday two performances really stood out and on another day Elles Bailey would have won. Her vocals have power and the addition of Nick Garner on harp added another dimension to this class act; for me the winner of Sunday night. But the popular vote went to Greg Coulson, who delivered by surrounding himself with excellent musicians and a confident stage presence on the day. His experience as keyboardist with The Selectors shone through combined with strong numbers from his forthcoming debut album. This was party music that lit up the Introducing Stage.

Centre Stage is where queues form every night long before the doors open. At least now they are entertained by the adjacent Introducing Stage. This year designated The Rock Stage for the first time had one certainty rock would be hard to find. Friday night opened with one of last year’s winners Sugarman Sam & The Voodoo Men. Wow, the transition to main stage fitted the band perfectly with a strong set. The music was hefty blues-rock, punctuated with authentic blues licks that curled around the rhythm section. Sugarman Sam, is growing as the new number She’s A Woman demonstrated. The following act was Eric Sardinas & Big Motor highly anticipated and deeply disappointing in the delivery.  Yes, a string did break, but why the length of time off stage, as so many said surely someone of this calibre should have a spare guitar tuned for slide, do a different number or have a guitar tech. It was left to the bass player, Paul Loranger who held the fort not once but twice as Sardinas left the stage and flounced off again. What the band played was good but the flow of the set was disjointed and definitely an off night for this colourful performer of Rock-blues.

Saturday with two sessions the afternoon opened by Texas Flood another winner from 2016. What a winning Rock n’ Roll set. Texas Flood definitely washed away any cobwebs with a rip-roaring high octane set that rocked. This is the rock we want to hear at Skeggie, but why the early timing? It was not as if the evening bands were that exciting. The energy was high, the timing sharp they certainly did Wales proud! The interplay between guitar and bass was sharp and entertaining.  Closing the afternoon the Helen Hardy Band entertained. A good R n’ B band the covers we know and flowed through the auditorium as Saturday afternoon drew to a close.  Saturday night. Kenney Jones & The Jones Gang, may not be classic rock but this was a band that delighted the crowds with songs from his vast back catalogue. Kenney Jones, the drummer who was the heart of three of the great bands The Small Faces, Faces and The Who. The crowd sung along with delight to Itchycoo Park and more.  Leafhound, a rock band were well received with Luke Rayner’s guitar sounding superb, the most underrated of the weekend. (Bluesdoodles spent most of the time in Reds and Jaks this just didn’t rock our boots)

Last day of the festival with a feeling of the night after the day before.  The last of 2016 Introducing Stage winners the Rainbreakers started things off. This is a band that never rains on your parade but brings a ray of sunshine Once again proving what a great launch pad the introducing stage is as they also stepped into Centre stage limelight delivering a storming set. The testimony to this was the queue for the merch as people wanted to get their hands on the latest E.P.  Rise Up. This was R n’ B with attitude, full of tasty riffs and delicious licks in the eclectic selection of numbers. A class act with loads of potential to be a name on everyone’s lips. Popa Chubby Band closed out the afternoon with his own brand of Blues and R n’ B with his trademarked lead breaks, held together by a solid rhythm section. The crowd really warmed to him many hearing him for the first time. Definitely class blues BUT definitely not Rock as Poppa described his music as Working Class Blues.  The night was not about rock but there were three acts that delighted the audiences. Kicking off the double celebration of the Rocking Blues was Laurence Jones with his new line-up. He built the energy, excited the packed house, the guitar was sweet. Laurence full of confidence gained from years of touring and playing live across Europe and the UK. The set was one-hundred percent Laurence with ribbons and bells as he showcased his latest album Take Me High. That is definitely what he did he took us high in to a dazzling blue encrusted music with the edge of rock  With Joanne Shaw Taylor up next we were going to be in for a Wild ride. Reflecting her current album, the set was full of deep blues riffs and licks that curled around the audience with a sensuous and stylish flow.  The interaction between Joanne and her bassist Luigi Casanova adds energy a visual focal point. Then she breaks away and soars into her renowned guitar solos that hit the spot where musical memories are made. Tonight, was the best I had heard her vocals the balance was perfect so voice and guitar were in balanced harmony. Closing out the festival on Centre Stage was Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel where many re-lived memories and reminded many of the sound track of their youth.

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The weekend selection at Jaks was vast, full of delights and festival gems plus the fun of Saturday afternoon Jam. Ranging from the gently harmonious blues from Fran McGillivray to the dynamic sounds of blues with a punk attitude and sassy energy from the Husky Tones as this duo caught your attention. With a new album out soon this is a band we will be hearing lots of as they ask  Who Will I Turn To Now? Closing the night as the other stages fell silent we danced into the early hours with The Revolutionaires led by the charismatic and energetic Ed Stephenson.  Saturday afternoon is all about the Jam which two young men, Mikey Maclennan and Steve Liddle ran with style as unfortunately Jam stalwart Gary Boner from Roadhouse was unwell following a recent operation. Everyone wishes Gary a speedy recovery and a hearty welcome back to Skegness 2018. Saturday evening was a night of magic live-music. With two of the acts for many the bands of the weekend. Firstly Catfish who played a blinding set. Deep emotional blues full of verve and style as Matthew Long with his voice and guitar dominated the stage capturing the audience so that no-one was tempted away. Catfish’s rendition of Make It Rain was stunning and the emotions were charged and there were tears of joy as the passions of the audience and the band connected. Their new album, out 28th January, Broken Man will be a hit of 2017 there is definitely nothing broken about this band.  How do you follow that with Dom Pipkin & The Ikos and some New Orleans infused music. Closing the night and welcoming in Sunday were LaVendore Rogue. A band that is like marmite with the supporters outweighing those who cannot connect to their interpretation of the blues. Mixing up the set with old Hokie Joint numbers and tracks from the debut album, Light Up With they definitely shone music into our soul tonight.  Sunday evening, without Roadhouse they pulled a blinder by filling the gap with Ash Wilson. The anticipation was high, many had seen him play dual guitar in the Sean Webster Band. On stage he was joined by Bob Fridzema and Roger Inniss who played on his debut album, Broken Machine. Joining him on drums tonight was Wayne Proctor sitting in for his brother Phil Wilson who was otherwise engaged playing drums with Laurence Jones on Centre Stage. The set was mature, accomplished a quality performance of R n’B from everyone on stage. We heard covers like My Babe done the Ash way.  Ash’s vocals are strong at times sounding like molasses with the bass drum the heartbeat like cotton popping in a sun-drenched field as he  Holding Hands was sung. The Revelator a Jesse Davey number picked up the tempo. There was a pure synergy between these top drawer blues musicians a delight to behold and listen to.   Be delighted to see him on the Blues main stage next year.  Following this Will Johns & Friends, with Mikey Maclennan once again coming to the rescue as stand-in drummer. He met Will and the band a few minutes before stepping on Jaks stage with them to play a festival set. What a brilliant job he did. Very entertaining with witty repartee, brilliant guitar with a fantastic tone. What a high quality set of blues. The festival had one more act as the clocked turned into Monday, Jaks was packed as everyone squeezed a few more musical memories out of The Great Rock & Blues Festival 2017. Kris Barras Band, who delivered blues rock with power and a force to be reckoned with. Another live act that delivers every time building on the studio sound heard in their current album Lucky 13.  Blues Matters once again delivered music that will hold many memories and hats off to the DJ Clive Rawlings who each year acts as the glue that held the sessions together.

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Reds this year was coloured with Blues of every hue and shade.  With Friday and Saturday dedicated to firstly to the harmonica and then to Alligator Records. Opening the festival for Reds was A Harmonica Explosion, a night where this German folk instrument was re-shaped in tone and playing by Southern States Blues musicians to be forever connected. Blues and harmonica are a perfect pairing. Opening the night was Giles Robson Band, a very entertaining set engaging the audience who were delighted to participate when asked. The music was an explosion of blues harp as we stepped on board the steam train and followed Giles on a ride full of tonal twists and turns of the blues-harp. Later on in the evening he was joined by three more renowned harp-players Magic Dick, who for some reason was not on top form, James Harman beset with frustrating technical issues so his harp was silent for far too long and the cream of the night a musician on fire Billy Branch. When they all played together at the end of the evening we were treated to a harp firework display.  The acoustic set from Martin Harley opening on Saturday afternoon was a melodic delight as he explored the tonal ranges of his lap Weissenborn guitar. The covers took us deep into the Delta full of acoustic twists and turns gently kick-starting a harmonious Saturday in Reds turned Blue.  The tempo then changed and Reds was packed as loyal fans of Nine Below Zero were once again caressed by the band that knows how to deliver. The only disappointment was this set was on in the afternoon many felt it suited an evening slot. The music drew you in the blues was delivered and everyone left with a deep sigh of contentment. The evening was a celebration of all things Alligator. With a first for Skeggie a Q&A session with Bruce Iglauer President and founder of Alligator records. Lots of interesting questions and we all gained an insight into how a blues label works. Three blinding sets unfurled showing the diversity of electric blues. Marcia Ball got the Alligator Party rocking turning Reds into a Roadhouse for this Blues Spectacular.  Proper Chicago blues played by a wonderful group of musicians who with a smile opened up the joy of the blues and entertained. Marcia Ball sung like an angel accompanying herself on the piano with the musicians that pulled together to showcase the sound they just love to share with everyone who listens. Blues is heavenly when played this well. The harmonious and interesting combination of drum shuffles, sax, keys and the power of vocal lyrics was infectious with the guitar pulling the show together. Wow! How do you follow that? Easy when you have the depth of Alligator artists to choose from. Next up blues with a difference a trio, Moreland and Arbuckle. All eyes are focused on Moreland with his cigar box guitar and Arbuckle’s, harp and vocals. A  high octane band playing Roots music that rocks you  to your core. Electrifying raw delta infused music that gets the adrenalin pumping feet tapping and you get a warm feel good glow as the music surges through your veins.  Closing tonight we headed deep into Southside Chicago for authentic urban blues with Toronzo Cannon. Having learnt his craft in the competitive and demanding Windy city club scene it takes a special blues magic to rise above the crowd. Toronzo has that with style and a flourish as he melds smooth vocals and stinging guitar chords. With a mix of his own numbers with strong lyrics and a couple of covers; what a dynamic end to an evening that enveloped you in Chicago Blues and so much more.

Sunday at Reds was a mixed package for me opening with Lil Jimmy Reed featuring Bob Hall on Keys this was the perfect blues smoothie for early Sunday afternoon. Followed by Paul Jones and Dave Kelly as a duet Sunday was a smooth affair. The evening was a mix David Knopfler on acoustic guitar, disappointed, The Blues Band as ever delivers British blues with style and aplomb. Closing the night is Jamie Williams and The Roots Collective; this is blues infused with English Folk and roots music. Closing the festival on Reds they delivered a stylish set that didn’t for me shout out the blues. Not a celebration but a party we all enjoyed.

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There were many highlights of every Blue hue the strongest stages over the whole festival weekend were Jaks and the Introducing Stage. The night celebrating Alligator Records was a combination of brilliant blues drenched music. The three young bands who won The Introducing Stage Sugarman Sam & The Voodoo Men, Texas Flood and The Rainbreakers, all added a shine to the festival.  Memories of 2017 will be many and all tinged in blue rather than rock. The acts that you should run to see again are Catfish, LaVendore Rogue, Ash Wilson, the winners of the Intro Stage and Elles Bailey. Joanne Shaw Taylor in this form is a force to be reckoned with, Marcia Ball , Moreland & Arbuckle, Toronzo Cannon and the harp supremacy that is Giles Robson.

 

 

Bluesdoodles Picks of Live Music 2016

Bluesdoodles Picks of Live Music 20162016 has seen many miles on the clock, dark roads and festivals and venues that make the trip worthwhile. The live music we have heard has been reviewed thanks to the winning combination of my trusty note taker and the driver of the car Kevin Hewitt and my Camera capturing the moment that memories are made of. We also need to include our faithful hound Othello our Labradoodle who loves his music and Bandanas.  Sometimes my trip planning can be faulty classic example South Wales to Salisbury to Derby and home to Blackwood, South Wales. The bonus was we did get to see both Alan Nimmo aka King King and Stevie Nimmo that weekend and eat fabulous cake thanks to Sandy and Paul Gregory at Cup Cake Heaven. The rewards of listening to have been amazing and the music tremendous – hot loud and live. Forever etched in my memory bank will be the Friday evening phone call and a trip across the Atlantic. Before we get to that let’s roll the year back to January 2016.

Bluesdoodles Picks of Live Music 2016Started the year with bands that play at the opposite ends of the music spectrum Oysterband 3 and RavenEye and then the annual trek to Skegness for a weekend of musical fun and meeting up with old friends and making new ones. Another wild weekend of cold weather and hot music. As ever the music is mashed up from Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Catfish and the magic of seeing Rebecca Downes, one to catch on stage her voice is spellbinding and The Della Grants rising to the occasion on the main stage. (FridaySaturdaySunday reviews)

Bluesdoodles Picks of Live Music 2016January warmed us up for a hot music fuelled February.  The first visit to the new Cardiff venue Tramshed; it proved to be a great venue that delivered music throughout 2016;  for The Cadillac Three who were stunning combined with a new band for us and a find of 2016 Whiskey Myers who delivered one of the strongest sets of the weekend at the end of the year at Planet Rockstock.  This was quickly followed by King King opening for the mighty Thunder at Colston Hall. King King just keep improving another gig of the year would be the winning combination of Dan Patlansky and King King later in the summer.  The glories of February continued with Runrig at Colston and then the first time we would see Devon Allman live starting at The Flowerpot, Derby courtesy of Raw Promo a venue that consistently put on music that thrills. The second time was at The Scene in Swansea, both competing to be the gig of the year. Could the momentum of the first two months continue in 2016 yes it can we were on the road to prove it.

Bluesdoodles Picks of Live Music 2016March saw the winning combo of King King with support from Laurence Jones at The Globe, blues and rock collided this is the highest standard of British R n’B and then back at the Tramshed a hot night with Jack Savoretti entertaining and delighting the jam-packed house. A quick visit to Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival and  Ian Siegal with his band opening his celebration of touring with a band for twenty-five years. The enthusiasm to deliver his wild Rock n’ Roll music cocktail infused with country, blues and hill country music swampy, moody and surprisingly refreshing.

Bluesdoodles Picks of Live Music 2016As the weather warmed the gigs increased with so many bands touring in April.  Welcoming compelling prog rock from Karnataka at The Globe and Canadian bluesman J W Jones to The Garage in Swansea and rockers The Sheepdogs to The Globe saw the red Maple leaf fluttering with musical pride over Wales. The Sound Garden was hushed as Chris Cornell held the audience enraptured with his sell out solo acoustic show and Colston Hall.  A first for us was a trip to Sheffield for HRH Blues Festival weekend what an array of talent that just played the blues with heart, soul and a helping of rock. Ten Years After acoustic was a sight to see and a joy to listen as was their headlining electric jamboree.

Bluesdoodles Picks of Live Music 2016At the start of May, we said farewell to Fish at Robin 2 and across the land a performer that will be missed from the circuit. Gov’t Mule at the 02 Academy, Bristol was a scorcher wow we just can’t get enough of Warren Haynes at Bluesdoodles HQ. The Tunnels delivered with stellar guitar playing from Simon McBride, and then a double act full of anecdotes laughs and stunning music as the wayward sons Ian Siegal & Jimbo Matthus entertained. The final of the trio of Tunnel delights was the effervescent JJ Grey & Mofro. The journey of the year followed, and I will not live this down for a while. We can see both the Nimmo brothers perform this Bluesdoodles Picks of Live Music 2016weekend journey looks fine to me the non-driver of the Bluesdoodles team. So stage one Wales to Salisbury fortified by two delicious cakes celebrating Introvertigo and  Reaching For The Light from Cupcake Heaven in Salisbury as King King & Dan Patlansky performed at The Civic Centre.  Up early next day for a cross-country jaunt to Derby and the winning combination of Ben Poole opening for Stevie Nimmo and a finale with Aynsley Lister joining in – what a top-notch weekend. Plus some Prog rock Yes in Bristol and Magnum in Cardiff, May played out in every musical style.

 

Bluesdoodles Picks of Live Music 2016June nearly half way through the year and Bonnie Raitt certainly bringing a ray of musical sunshine to Colston Hall. Brightening June with high energy entertaining nights of music were Vintage Trouble at Tramshed and Kaz Hawkins Band at The Convent. Soulful. delights at The Tunnels from JJ Grey & Mofro.  The festival celebrating a Silver Jubilee, Blues On The Farm was not so much a festival in the midsummer sun but more of a deluge of water and mud thankfully drowned out by the glorious selection of acts that kept smiles on out faces and the thought of British Summertime in our hearts. Festivals for Bluesdoodles is meeting frBluesdoodles Picks of Live Music 2016iends and discovering new and interesting acts and those we just never tire of hearing play. These included Ian Siegal; King King and Stevie Nimmo Trio. New discoveries were Sari Schorr and The Engine Room, Debbie Bond and  Thorbjorn Risager & The Black Tornado. A first and quite possibly the last time I will hear the bagpipes played in a Blues band; Dr. Schwamp definitely delivered a musical feel good vibe.

Bluesdoodles Picks of Live Music 2016

A first for me in July I was asked to act as interviewer/link person for a celebration of women in music. Sisters definitely bought blues and friendship
to the Convent. A scary but definitely fun night.  July also meant a local festival and a trip up a mountain. Firstly taking us back to a mellow Blues explosion that shaped the 1960’s and beyond was Joe Bonamassa at Colston Hall. Bluesdoodles Picks of Live Music 2016Two days later and we had sunshine and wet and cold just had to be Steelhouse Festival, near Ebbw Vale, South Wales. The rock was varied loud and very good. The mountain thundered its roar of approval. With so many highlights, laughs with friends. Bands that
caught attention who I had not seen play live before were Bigfoot, Vega, Von Hertzen Brothers. Into the mix add RavenEye, Dirty Thrills, The Answer, Thunder and The Dead Daisies the festival was musical mayhem and fun.

Bluesdoodles Picks of Live Music 2016With the summer upon us, highlights of August were hearing Devon Allman and his band for the second time and LaVendore Rogue with their special music mix-up with hints blues. punk/rock and always quality.  Off to Old Bush Blues, where Matt once again opened the pub and grounds to bands that just want to entertain. This is a weekend to kick off your shoes and enjoy yourselves. With Chris Farlowe, Northsyde, jammings sessions that left you breathless, any excuse to taste the real ale again!

Competition Planet Rock The Dead Daisies Leads To BostonAutumn, life is in a spin as Liz won a competition on Planet Rock Radio, a weekend to Boston to see the Dead Daisies play in Worcester. The excitement and delight will take many months to wear off. What a weekend from taking off at Heathrow until we landed back home. What laughs and adventures, staying in the same hotel as The Daisies, going to the gig on the tour bus and the AAA passes. This was a magical few days filling many pages in the music memory diary. Could any gigs compete as the year drew to a closes yes they could! Sari Schorr playing The Tunnels followed by Mike Zito at TheScene, Swansea with Albert Castigalia opening and kicking up a Blues storm. These two acts definitely kept live music hot and exciting as the year tumbled into October.

For me it has to be one of 2016 best events The Tubes in Cardiff, what a musical spectacle, myriad of costume changes, music energy and lyrical messages. Pure platinum entertainment. The nights were dark but the music and the warmth and light to cheer the shortening days. Saxon in Bristol another highlight even the gig of the year if it hadn’t been for that trip to Boston! Then two amazing nights by artists whose vocal power and emotional intensity always capture my musical soul. Ian Siegal celebrating twenty-five years on the road with his band and Beth Hart celebrating her wonderful album Fire On the Floor. These two are my absolute highlights of the year. when artists have that fire in their performance it is a real privilege to be in the audience.  In the midst of the gigs, we went to the 3rd UK Blues Challenge at Robin 2 organised by UK Blues Federation. The four acts were superb, Rebecca Downes, Wille and The Bandits, Dove and Boweevil and Kaz Hawkins Band. On the night the judges agreed that Kaz Hawkins delivered, winning the challenge and will in 2017 represent Britain for the fist time at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis and will sing in the European Blues Challenge. Great opportunity to be heard and noticed. The emotion was raw and the blues deep when Walter Trout stunning Guitar and a Parka Plays It LiveWalter Trout visited Tramshed in Cardiff. A trio of acts closed November as The Planet Rock Roadstars. We saw them at The Globe & The Tunnels as two British bands blues rockers Federal Charm and young rising star Aaron Keylock were joined by SIMO from Nashville Tennessee.  SIMO stole the show they were superb with high-octane music that flowed with a cascade of notes and beats. Closing out November Black Stone Cherry at St Black Stone Cherry Bringing Kentucky To CardiffDavids Hall, Cardiff. A sit-down venue seems wrong for BSC. But it worked. The first half acoustic the second portion rocking BSC with tracks from Kentucky played loud sending through the rafters and out into the night.  The final act though was for Alter Bridge supported by Gojira and Volbeat. Volbeat stole the show the heaviest band I have seen this year but one I will definitely go again too.

Planet Rock Brings Rockstock 2017 to Trecco BayDecember started with Planet Rockstock, what a weekend friends, laughs rock and the seaside of Porthcawl always a winning combination. Stage two delivered those wow must see them again moments with JoanOvArc; Tequilla Mocking Bird and Lazuli. With a French Horn played the first time for me outside of an orchestral piece. Lazuli delivered progressive horn, chapman stick and so much more. Broken Witt Rebels fulfilled my expectations and more looking forward to seeing them in 2017 as they open for King Planet Rock Brings Rockstock 2017 to Trecco BayKing. The other highlights of the weekend were seeing SIMO again and Stone Broken, A Thousand Horses and Whiskey Myers they rocked. Hitting the notes once again with their irascible brand of Rock n’ Roll the Dead daisies re-ignited the excitement of September. What a difference a year makes as Inglourious returned and they were glorious full of confidence the crowds were ecstatic.  Closing the festival Black Stone Cherry left everyone on a Winter rock fuelled high.

Once again 2016 confirmed that from January to December music will always take Bluesdoodles on a rollercoaster of musical highs.

We attended fifty-seven gigs; five festivals and 1 UK Blues Challenge. Notching up a few many miles and hearing a myriad of notes, chords and voices having listened to and watched over One Hundred and Sixty acts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2016 Old Bush Blues Traditions, Fun, Music Continues

2016 Old Bush Blues Traditions, Fun, Music Continues

2016 Old Bush Blues Traditions, Fun, Music Continues

This year Bluesdoodles could only enjoy Saturday and Sunday under the umbrella of blues hospitality that Matt Williams provides every year. For the second year Old Bush Blues entertained us, fed us and supplied some quality ale all wrapped up in the company of old, new and yet to meet friends. I was reliably informed that Friday, was the best ever opening for the friendly festival that relocated from The Star In, Bentworth losing nothing of its pizzazz and energy. Bluesdoodles was especially disappointed to have missed Lucy Zirins and Debbie Bond who entertained us with amazing Alabama infused blues at Blues on the Farm.

2016 Old Bush Blues Traditions, Fun, Music ContinuesSaturday – it is Hat Day, midday and the music starts with a storming set from Red Butler. We heard tracks that have become mainstays of their set including Pensions Blues that Jane Pearce wrote after receiving a letter at nineteen about planning for her future. Music is this band’s future building on the solid foundation with their debut album Freedom Bound. We are all anticipating their follow-up album with relish, Nothing To Lose may be the title but this young band has everything to again as they build blues that connects to listeners of all ages today. The crowd smiled, danced and got it the festival mood on hats day with their take on Shakin’ All Over and party piece Jay Walker. What a band to start the proceeding as the hats weaved between the two outside marquees Car Park and Garden and the acts in the bar this was a festival where the music entertained. Next up we had classic blues as Cryin’ Out Loud picked up the baton before passing onto a firm festival favourite Five Field Holler. This is the band who ensure that sound works throughout the three days and always provide an entertaining slot. Joined by Italian key board player and Tristan O’Kelly adding guitar and taking over vocal duties. The blues were firing in every shade and now into the bonfire of the blues some harmonica lead swing influence blues from the charismatic Rollo Markee & The Tailshakers. The hats were bobbing in time to the rhythms and the dancers just love to dance. Bringing the Saturday to a stylish close with a double act, back for the second year Catfish who wowed the bar last year. A great set of a mix of blues-rock with scintillating licks and riffs that are picked up by Paul on keys. His pedal board was vast, yet it was used with thought so no effect ever overpowered the great tone Matt conjours from his Les Paul. Matthew Long’s guitar playing influence by Joe Bonamassa just gets better and better the perfect run-up to Northsyde and bobble hat fun with Lorna Fothergill up front with their own brand of blues with rock and style. Old Bush Blues festooned with hats had a winner, then Lorna tried on for size and sung dressed as a beer keg! As Saturday due to an intoxicating close as guitarist Matthew Long & Sam Anderson joining Northsyde and played up until the curfew.

2016 Old Bush Blues Traditions, Fun, Music ContinuesSunday, Shirt and Dresses day back with music, beer, coffee and sunshine today drying up the rain from yesterday. Starting the proceedings were an up tempo Del Ray Rockets. This rockabilly trio delivered rock n’ roll lifting the Sunday spirit. Many of the attendees were so excited about Chris Farlowe singing this afternoon. The New Amen Corner started the proceedings the crowd was excited as they smiled danced and sung along to remembered songs from the sixties. Starting the set of featuring Jules Benjamin on keys was Bend Me Shake Me. An anthology of hits from the sixties the perfect mix for a Sunday afternoon, Chris Farlowe greeted by a loud cheer raised the temperature. Once again Matt has found the perfect set for the festival that curls around his pub in Callow End. Robin Bibi was on fire this afternoon. His playing was superb and the new numbers from his barn storming latest album, No More A Secret were electrifying. We were treated to a tribute to BB King, Waiting On You, as he did his walk around. He entertained with blues that filled the marquee as he stood on the table and then invited Richard Clarke to take a turn twiddling the six-strings and finally it was Matt Long’s turn. The title track ensured that albums were in demand and the Bo Diddle inspired Little Annie Brown had the dancers jumping with delight. Sunday saw the music flowing and spirits high with Danny Kyle, solo inspiring as he sat with guitar and vocals and enchanted the festival. Back Water Roll, an authentic six-piece rock n roll band kept the tempo rolling as they played the classic that will always be enjoyed. Next up was a band formed for the festival 633 Squadron, featuring Jules Fothergill (Northsyde), Stuart Dixon and Cliff Brown with his 633 amps. This was quality jam music that flowed and makes a festival zing with the spirit of fun, music and laughter. They may never have played before, no one would know this was blues with curling rock the perfect music as the evening darkened. Ending the festival in traditional style with a Jam with the other Jules. Old Bush Blues just keeps on entertaining and will continue to be an annual pilgrimage for many.

This is a festival that is about a community coming together to enjoy the weekend. Jules Benjamin throughout the weekend controlled the timing acted as MC. The BBQ ranged hot as burgers were demolished and Karen and her staff ensured food was available hot and well cooked. Old Bush Blues works due to the hard work of the whole festival team that surrounds Matt, the musicians and festival goers. Thank you, Old Bush Blues has delivered all it promised to here’s to 2017.

This year Bluesdoodles could only enjoy Saturday and Sunday under the umbrella of blues hospitality that Matt Williams provides every year. For the second year Old Bush Blues entertained us, fed us and supplied some quality ale all wrapped up in the company of old, new and yet to meet friends. I was reliably informed that Friday, was the best ever opening for the friendly festival that relocated from The Star In, Bentworth loosing nothing of its pizazz and energy. Bluesdoodles, was especially disappointed to have missed Lucy Zirins and Debbie Bond who entertained us with amazing Alabama infused blues at Blues on the Farm.

Saturday, midday and the music starts with a storming set from Red Butler. We heard tracks that have become mainstays of their set including Pensions Blues that Jane Pearce wrote after receiving a letter at nineteen about planning for her future. Music is this bands future building on the solid foundation with their debut album Freedom Bound. We are all anticipating their follow-up album with relish, Nothing To Lose may be the title but this young band has everything to again as they build blues that connects to listeners of all ages today. The crowd smiled, danced and got it the festival mood on hats day with their take on Shakin’ All Over and party piece Jay Walker. What a band to start the proceeding as the hats weaved between the two outside marquees Car Park and Garden and the acts in the bar this was a festival where the music entertained. Next up we had classic blues as Cryin’ Out Loud picked up the baton before passing onto a firm festival favourite Five Field Holler. This is the band who ensure that sound works throughout the three days and always provide an entertaining slot. Joined by Italian key board player and Tristan O’Kelly adding guitar and taking over vocal duties. The blues were firing in every shade and now into the bonfire of the blues some harmonica lead swing influence blues from the charismatic Rollo Markee & The Tailshakers. The hats were bobbing in time to the rhythms and the dancers just love to dance. Bringing the Saturday to a stylish close with a double act, back for the second year Catfish who wowed the bar last year. A great set of a mix of blues-rock with scintillating licks and riffs that are picked up by Paul on keys. His pedal board was vast, yet it was used with thought so no effect ever overpowered the great tone Matt conjures from his Les Paul. Matthew Long’s guitar playing influence by Joe Bonamassa just gets better and better the perfect run-up to Northsyde and bobble hat fun with Lorna Fothergill up front with their own brand of blues with rock and style. Old Bush Blues festooned with hats had a winner, then Lorna tried on for size and sung dressed as a beer keg! As Saturday due to an intoxicating close as guitarist Matthew Long & Sam Anderson joining Northsyde and played up until the curfew.

Sunday back with music, beer, coffee and sunshine today drying up the rain from yesterday. Starting the proceedings were an up-tempo Del Ray Rockets. This rockabilly trio delivered rock n’ roll lifting the Sunday spirit. Many of the attendees were so excited about Chris Farlowe singing this afternoon. The New Amen Corner started the proceedings the crowd was excited as they smiled danced and sung along to remembered songs from the sixties. Starting the set of featuring Jules Benjamin on keys was Bend Me Shake Me. An anthology of hits from the sixties the perfect mix for a Sunday afternoon, Chris Farlowe greeted by a loud cheer raised the temperature. Once again Matt has found the perfect set for the festival that curls around his pub in Callow End. Robin Bibi, was on fire this afternoon. His playing was superb and the new numbers from his barn storming latest album, No More A Secret were electrifying. We were treated to a tribute to BB King, Waiting On You, as he did his walk around. He entertained with blues that filled the marquee as he stood on the table and then invited Richard Clarke to take a turn twiddling the six-strings and finally it was Matt Long’s turn. The title track ensured that albums were in demand and the Bo Diddle inspired Little Annie Brown had the dancers jumping with delight. Sunday saw the music flowing and spirits high with Danny Kyle, solo inspiring as he sat with guitar and vocals and enchanted the festival. Back Water Roll, an authentic six-piece rock n roll band kept the tempo rolling as they played the classic that will always be enjoyed. Next up was a band formed for the festival 6333 Squadron, featuring Jules Fothergill (Northsyde), Stuart Dixon and Cliff Brown with his 633 amps. This was quality jam music that flowed and makes a festival zing with the spirit of fun, music and laughter. They may never have played before, no one would know this was blues with curling rock the perfect music as the evening darkened. Ending the festival in traditional style with a Jam with the other Jules. Old Bush Blues just keeps on entertaining and will continue to be an annual pilgrimage for many.

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This is a festival that is about a community coming together to enjoy the weekend. Jules Benjamin throughout the weekend controlled the timing acted as MC. The BBQ ranged hot as burgers were demolished and Karen and her staff ensured food was available hot and well cooked. Old Bush Blues works due to the hard work of the whole festival team that surrounds Matt, the musicians and festival goers. Thank you, Old Bush Blues has delivered all it promised to here’s to 2017.

Sunburn and Rust combine for Steelhouse Glory


Sunburn and Rust combine for Steelhouse GlorySunburn and Rust combine for Steelhouse Glory

How does Sunburn and Rust combine for Steelhouse Festival Glory? The glory part is easy two days of phenomenal live music on top of a mountain in Wales. The sunburn and rust that is the vagaries of a Welsh summer, Saturday was scorching hot, whilst on Sunday the misty drizzle dampened the ground but not the spirit of rocking fun.

 

Saturday 23rd July 2016 – Hot and Sunny Rocking

Sunburn and Rust combine for Steelhouse GloryOpening a festival is a daunting experience. Bigfoot, a young rock band from Wigan, stepped on the stage and left a lasting impression. This is a band with the potential to go places, full of confidence and good songs they were a hit, still remembered as the festival drew to a close on Sunday. Saturday was warming up throughout the day, with each successive band raising the Sunburn and Rust combine for Steelhouse Glorybar ever higher as the temperature, excitement and fun grew. Next up was Dirty Thrills, they definitely thrilled the crowds with rocked up individuality with a thread of blues as bright as the skies overhead. Full of energy on stage they interact with each other and the crowds, the high jinx’s though never deflects from the deep groove-laden music. A great set they will keep building their reputation as rocked-up contemporary excitement from Dirty Thrills.

Sunburn and Rust combine for Steelhouse GloryCentre stage of any festival is the music from the stage, but to get a true festival vibe it is the added extra. After the steep climb up the mountain on a dusty track you are greeted with a vista that spreads across the horizon it is beautiful. The stage dominates the area. In addition there is a wide seleSunburn and Rust combine for Steelhouse Gloryction of foods and drinks alcoholic and some delicious coffee. Then there was the lovely jewelry made from guitar strings, leather goods, bandanas (the doodle, Othello, in bluesdoodles is delighted with his new red bandana that is his little bit of The Dead Daisies) and the festival and bands merchandise.

The next two bands show different sides of rock, Vega, with a charismatic lead singer who knew how to flaunt the power of the runway stage they got everyone’s attention with the dramatic entrance, and cartoon backdrop. Once their attention was gained the audience warmed to them this is rock that will always, please. Young dudes that are getting deserved attention are Tax The Heat, and in the heat of the afternoon if they were tax collectors they would have pulled in the money. They do not need to be tax collectors the heat is in the rock they deliver from the strong rhythm section through to Alex Veale up front this is a stylish band with depth and delicious slide guitar from JP. The heat will continue to rise for this young band.

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In between the sets the breaks are long enough to catch up with friends, make new acquaintances and deepen the relationship between Steelhouse and festival attendees. This year as the festival develops the campsite area has a new addition, Glamping tents, which proved popular as they were sold out weeks before the festival dates.

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The shadows lengthened and the sun cooled as the last four bands of a wonderful opening day got ready to strut their stuff. First of the international bands from Finland, Von Hertzen Brothers, with a spectacular backdrop telling a story of two Ravens in chains against the red background. New Day Rising their current album cover is certainly a powerful image and the music hit the mark with a prog-rock twist and keys that provided a textured background sound. Mikko the vocalist has wonderful phrasing singing gently then with vigour and at times with a roughened edge. They added another layer of rock strata building the Saturday into a perfect festival memory. Following on Blues Pills kept the Scandinavian feel with Swedish/American/French inspired rock and the first woman, Elin Larsson up front burning up the stage with her stunning vocals at Steelhouse. The quartet mix up the flow with a definite sixties feeling as the lead guitar curls around the music redolent of early Fleetwood Mac, Hendrix, Aretha Franklin creating a sound that is their own Blues Pills mesmerizes with an addictive psychedelic rock.

Sunburn and Rust combine for Steelhouse GloryTo follow this we had The Answer, celebrating the tenth anniversary of the release of their debut album, Rise. Cormac’s distinctive vocals got the set underway as unusually for a festival they played the album in full. The set was full of emotional command reminding you of how good the album was and still is. In this day and age of streaming and random play the set re-asserted the inherent power and flow of hearing the whole album as the artist planned it. There is context story and drama. The audience participation was enthusiastic on Preachin’ Blues this was quality festival entertainment. Now the final live band of the opening day.

Sunburn and Rust combine for Steelhouse Glory

Saturday Headline

The only threat of bad weather today was always going to be from the stage where a storm of Thunder was being counted down by the phalanx of fans up front they wanted to see every moment of the final set as the day darkened into a summer’s night. Yes, the air temperature was dropping high above Ebbw Vale, the festival was heating up a light display, entrance music and then Thunder hit the stage to the chant of Harry! Harry as the drummer took his seat. Danny Bowes lead from the front building the vocals and the crowd’s excitement. Thunder did not disappoint, hitting the music running with a thunderous set that connected with fans and beyond. The audience sang to the words that tripped off the tongue we were partying the night away creating a great atmosphere as the last notes faded away. For those who wanted to party the night was young with the DJ’s setting up for dancing and fun at a festival with no neighbours to upset.

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Sunday 24th July 2016 – Grey, Drizzle and Misty Rocking

Day one, was a success, anticipation was high for day two as Last Great Dreamers started the day’s rock fest. With their take on glam rock, they opened up to a bleary-eyed crowd for me their pop rock got Sunday off to a meandering start and the weakest band so far. Next up were Hand Of Dimes full of Welsh verve and pizazz as both singer and front man Nev MacDonald got the early birds rocking through the drizzle and Sunday morning mist nothing was going to dampen this festival. This is rock music that warms your rocky heart and soul and the first and only harmonica of the festival thanks to Neil Garland the keyboard player and fellow ex. SKIN member. This is a band that understands space between the chords, the timing was superb and layers of sound certainly kick starting the day. Toseland were up next and the first technical gremlins hit the stage crew, quickly dealt with and the live music was back on stage. James Toseland, may have left the adrenalin-fueled world of motorbike racing but he still packs an adrenaline-fueled vocal punch. James has surrounded himself with a band that enhances his vocal prowess playing with energy and excitement. The set was the highlight pf the festival for many and Toseland certainly won new fans after this performance.

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Today, Welsh weather reverted to type, the sun was shrouded in mist, interspersed with drizzle and rain. That did nothing to dampen the festival audience spirits. Steelhouse in its sixth year is growing in size and the reputation is based on the music not the weather.

Sunburn and Rust combine for Steelhouse GloryThe stage was now set for Raveneye, and we were in for some guitar fireworks from Oli Brown. He may have started out his career as a blues guitarist, but this young man certainly knows how to rock and put on a show. Including not missing a note as he is paraded around the stage on the shoulders of bassist Aaron Spiers. Raveneye’s set was animated and the music superb with the vestiges of his blues career a pick on his thumb and a shining sapphire blue guitar.

Sunburn and Rust combine for Steelhouse GloryThere was no doubt that the excitement around the next out was equivalent for a headliner. Who? The Dead Daisies. Why? Their sound is stunning, awesome, they are a live band that excites with superb melodies, and fantastic vocals. The Dead Daises connect to your rocking heart and soul the music flows through your veins full of electric brilliance and spark. This is Rock n’ Roll that makes you want to scream, shout out loud and laugh with pure delight. The latest member is Doug Aldrich who fits into the Daisy gang perfectly. John Corabi, on vocals, fronts this charismatic group and is given the room to develop the lyrics and have fun. We are taken back to the seventies and forward to now as they blend the sounds, whilst delivering their re-takes of classics. The rhythm section powers through the rock with the animated and flamboyant Marco Mendoza on bass and drummer Brian Titchy and rhythm guitarist David Lowy. The festival was on fire with excitement as the set sadly drew to a close many just wanted them to play on as for them The Dead Daisies were the band of the festival.

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The programme moved on with Hey! Hello!, we were in for some noisy pop-rock with Ginger Wildheart, The Rev and two women Ai on drums and new singer up front they were fun and the pop rock contrasted to The Dead Daisies who are never an easy band to follow. Just as everyone had given up on being dry and seeing the sun the crowds rolled away as Terrorvision hit the stage. They have a distinctive lively rock sound with elements of rap, glam and the late eighties tonal context. Terrorvision are definitely the marmite band of the weekend, causing many a debate between the fans and those who just don’t quite get the band. The fans were treated to a set that captured rock they delight in.

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Sunday Headline

Now for the finale, the skies once again darkened the lights shone as The Darkness bought 2016 Steelhouse to a close. The Darkness rewarded the fans for waiting for them to play as the rock-pop theme of the last three acts was maintained. Jason and The Darkness provided an uplifting and rousing finale to the festival.

Sunburn and Rust combine for Steelhouse GloryA big thank you to the organisers Max and Lee and the phalanx of volunteers who kept the bands happy back stage and the whole event organized, the sound crews, and security. Then a special award should go to the mighty Darren Redick from Planet Rock for carrying out the MC role, stopping and talking to many who stop him as he wanders around the festival.

Every band performed at the top of their game, bringing live music energy to the festival. Bluesdoodles standout acts were opening band Bigfoot and Von Hertzen Brothers, both new bands for us. Then we really enjoyed Tax The Heat another young band going places, The Answer, Blues Pills and Raveneye. The top band of the weekend just has to be the effervescent The Dead Daisies.

Sunburn and Rust combined for Steelhouse Glory 2016, for me The Dead Daisies should have been the headliners. But that said what a fantastic two days of rock energy and music high up a mountain via a dirt road. Roll on 2017 when we will be back up the mountain. Make sure you keep the Crepe stall they were perfect.

Silver Linings at Blues On The Farm in June

Always a Silver Lining at Blues On The Farm in JuneSilver Linings at Blues On The Farm in June

Twenty-five years ago, Pump Bottom cider Farm introduced to the blues fans the first Blues on The Farm. Now Blues on The Farm is a shining silver jewel in the festival calendar; with a line-up that thrills and ensures the music is the silver lining on any cloud that hinders a clear blue midsummer sky. The weather didn’t seem to realise this was a celebration of music in the summer and decided to rain, thunder, and showing us just glimpses of its sunny summer side.

 

From the first act on Thursday to the last on the Sunday music ruled the roost, blues was the top dog on this farm for one extended weekend every year around midsummer. Opening with Billy Walton Band who had flown in from the States to start their tour got the festival into a dancing, smiling bluesy vibe. They were just what the campers and everyone else wanted setting the tone and quality. The evening flowed with Laurence Jones who as ever wowed us with the skills that wins him awards and fans across the world. His voice grows with depth and confidence matching his skills on the six-strings. Closing the opening night with everyone in a party mood a perennial festival favourite, Mike Sanchez. His band and boogie woogie piano delivered the party to get the festival off to a swinging start.

 

Friday, early afternoon start, the music poured out as Hitman Blues Band filled the stage. This eight-piece gave us layers of tones that ensured their performance was remembered by everyone that heard them. The blues was a 3-dimensional entertainment and we were in the groove ready for more. The Hitmen hit the mark with, slide guitar and harp the crowds were certainly warming up for Friday fun   on this damp, sultry June afternoon. The music throughout the Friday entertained the crowds, with breaks in the action and opportunities to test the beer, have the face painted and enjoy the selection of food; hot tea and doughnuts the perfect festival treat in the afternoon.  The atmosphere was heating up as old friends greeted each, caught up on the news, the bands they were looking forward to seeing this weekend and the highlights of memories over the last twenty-five years. In the mix new friendships and dancing partners were made.  The highlights of a wonderful Friday was not the Thunder but that the power stayed on, and that the soundmen kept the music playing loud and blue. Music highlights were definitely the wonderful Sari Schorr & The Engine Room a new band for Bluesdoodles and were exciting so we will be seeing her soon and the promised album should be a delicious musical journey. A feature of the sound was Innes Sibun on guitar adding rock-blues chords that challenge and complement Sari’s vocals. Her unique take on the Leadbelly classic Black Betty was a wonder to hear resetting this number so that it lingers as an ear-worm for a long time after.  There is no doubt her music is A Force of Nature; Sari is unafraid as she performed a powerful emotionally charged set. Mike Vernon and The Mighty Combo was a pleasure to behold, full of swing sixties pizzazz and energy. The mighty King King, unarguably, the premier blues-rock band on the UK circuit, as they go from strength to strength whilst Reaching For The Light. A light shining as bright as the music that curls around the marquee and across the darkened skies. We love the kilt, the keys. The music was fabulous from the first note to the last chords of Alan Nimmo’s guitar and King King. As we left my only thought was bring on Saturday music is the strongest force of good in the universe.

 

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Like the music we were smiling this was a day of so much quality you had to have been here to really understand what makes Blues on the Farm in June the special place to be. Full of life and energy the young up and coming blues band Red Butler took to the stage. Shaping musical memories to last the whole day long and for many the countdown to owning the new album they are recording at the moment has truly begun. No wonder they are full of confidence representing UK in Europe opened musical avenues for them to build on and the music they share with the world is a calling card of intent. Red Butler entertains, with Alex on guitar including a cigar box, and Jane up front on vocals that have the power and energy to blow away any lurking rain clouds. Red Butler always had potential they are now putting that into action with a more polished stage show and a new party piece, Mike and Alex both playing the same guitar a real fun festival memory.  The mega drumming presence of Sam Kelly combined with the rest of Station House ensures the festival party is going to get funky and the dancers appreciated the deep grooves laid down once again by Station House. They always mash-it-up with a “Reggae” take of Little Wing. As usual, you do not want their music to stop but party on through the night. Never mind next up is there a Doctor in the house. NO! But there is New Zealand based rock n’ Roll band Brilleaux. Back for the second year after delighting everyone in 2015, Brilleaux, brought energy to the beat and really increased the energy levels on a warm June afternoon. Once again a highlight as they went down a storm, Brilleaux keeps the energy and vibe of British Rn’B spreading and maintaining the gospel of the Essex Delta. Saturday evening starts with the second Scottish act of the weekend and definitely not the last with a very good, very loud Gerry Jablonski & The Electric Band. Following on was an artist celebrating his own Silver jubilee later this year Ian Siegal and his band. The set was electric. Ian and the band spark off each other as the chemistry between them distills and creates blues defining definition. He has a mix of sounds, country, Tex-Mex, Mississippi Hill Country and a very British vibe. The mix is spell-binding. Music that connects deep into your music radar. This was a night with a mix of songs we love to hear. Including the award-winning, I Am the Train, Brandy Balloon and Gallo Del Cielo, yet again no happy ending. It was though an opportunity for Dusty Ciggar’s breathtakingly awesome guitar breaks he is so inventive. Ian Siegal was his own enigmatic, and brilliant self as he shaped his superb vocal range and guitar painting a picture of the lyrics that created a rock n’ rolling masterpiece with his guitar and the rhythm and beat   this band.   Yes, an encore was demanded and we were rewarded with Hard Pressed with a Siegal diversion of  Prince’s Sign of The Times and closing with the A Walk In The Wilderness, not the first time this festival Glaswegian Big George was remembered. How does a festival schedule follow that easy if you are the Blues on The Farm organiser’s, Gary Brooker and Friends the perfect band to help us party on a Saturday night; with a set of Blues and British R n’ B classics, interspersed with Gary’s back catalogue. Just what the festival crowd ordered.

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Sunday, how the time is flowing through the festival sand-clock only six bands left to hear and only a few more hours to drink beer and meet your friends.  Sunday saw a mix of styles, opening the afternoon The Blues Issue, who got the blues flowing through the tent and out beyond. With lots of bands for me to listen to I was not disappointed by Debbie Bond, from Alabama. She bought to the stage skillful guitar playing and a great array of songs from her current album.  With Rick ‘Radiator’ on harp and keys playing a wonderful bass left hand. Augmented by Ray Carless on Sax and the re-appearance of Sam Kelly on drums. Debbie has a style of blues that makes you smile as she sings some great lyrics loved The Wishbone Song. In between the music talking in a friendly chatty way as we learnt about the strength and depth of Blues in Alabama, waving the flag for that state this year following on from Lisa Mills in 2014.  Dr. Schwamp followed, the festival needs to shake up the acts. Dr Schwamp did this with Bagpipes (first for me at a blues festival), fiddle and more. Bagpipes and the Blues can it be done? Well surprisingly yes! The set was dramatic full of showmanship proving once again, Blues on The Farm is the friendliest festival and never afraid to bring us music that surprises us. These risks pay off as Industrial Folk/alternative blues band The Jar Family have become a mainstay of the festival and back for their third year with the eclectic and entertaining delivery of folk blues roots music that gets the festival jumping. With some new numbers The Jar Family know how to entertain with the mix of guitars, harp and percussion they are multi-instrumentalists extraordinaire, with only the drummer staying in one place throughout the show.  The Jar Family are true showmen, which entertain with music that flows through your veins.  Next up all the way from Denmark were Thorbjorn Risager & The Black Tornado. This seven-piece combined horns, great lead vocals, keys,  guitar and so much more as they created a rockingly good sound. They gave the festival an authentic R ‘n’ B sound. You couldn’t help but let your feet tap, hips shake and dance with the deep rhythms of the band. The night was drawing to a close, the final act of the twenty-fifth anniversary was about to take to the stage. The second Nimmo of the weekend and third Scotsman Stevie Nimmo Trio was the final musical firework show of Blues on The Farm 2016.   The final set was a highlight that left you wanting more music and to be back on the farm in 2017. This is a trio that twists and turns your emotions as you laugh and cry to the lyrical rollercoaster of Stevie. His guitar work is sublime bringing the festival to a rousing conclusion.  The Sky Won’t Fall from the blues horizon with music like this and festivals of the quality that Julian Moores achieves every year down on the cider farm in Sussex.

 

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This year in addition to the main stage, beer, food and fun there was a pop-up stage to entertain between the acts this year included Jack Hutchinson, Amanda St.John and the ebullient Kaz Hawkins who took over the beer tent for dancing and powerful gospel-inspired stripped back set.

Twenty-five years, on to 2017 and this year the Marquee may have shrunk in the rain, the clouds may have tried to dampen our spirits. The music lifted the spirits and the beer flowed and we made sure this was a party. Thank you once again to Julian & Kathy for opening their farm for four days of music delights,the music we love, old, new and definitely every shade of blue.   The mud well that is the signature note of summer festivals of 2016 and Julian’s organization ensured no-one was stranded at Pump Bottom farm we will be back for 2017 Blues on the Farm.

HRH Turning Sheffield Weekend Blue

HRH Turning Sheffield Weekend Blue

HRH Turning Sheffield Weekend Blue

This was a weekend where the colour blue was stretched and melded with a range of musical shades. From Deep hard rock blues through to Texan clear blue skies and the British Royal Blue of blues taking everyone back to the 60’s British Blues revolution. The music was fantastic from the opening act Sugarman Sam & The Voodoo Men through to the closing notes of Dr Feelgood.
HRH Blues ensured that music was the thread that bound the sold-out crowd in the O2 Academy over the weekend. The outside may have been bright April sunshine inside we left that reality, it was dark and the stage lights beckoned. What didn’t excite and beckon was the price of the beer, resulting in people stepping outside the festival to sample the ales in town that were more affordable. I and many who I spoke to would have liked coffee and some food to eat the schedule was packed so going out of the venue for food and beverage ate into the time you wanted to be listening to the bands live. With these irritations set-aside the weekend was about the fabulous music.

The opening set confirmed this was a blues weekend, Sugarman Sam and The Voodoo Men delivered blues that appeals and on the back of winning a slot on the main stage of Skegness 2017 he has the confidence and the desired swagger to deliver. This they did with a mix of classics and their own tunes including Coming Home off their EP. How to follow that lets have a duo drum and guitar the Welsh wizardry of Henry’s Funeral Shoe delivered a festival set that excited especially people who haven’t seen the antics and heavy blues they deliver with showmanship. Slipped between some of the acts were the ‘unplugged’ sessions on a small stage upstairs; the first of these showcasings was The Dirty Thrills. The sound was interesting and certainly whetted the appetite and anticipation for the full festival set later in the afternoon. For this the drum kit became a Cahon, the guitar acoustic slide, bass and vocals. First of the weekend trio’s was next on the main festival stage. The Mudcat Blues Trio were a young band, and delivered an energetic set of authentic blues. The difference being the drummer was the vocalist, this local Sheffield band kept the blues pure and the festival tempo growing. Then two more unplugged sessions, an introduction and a promise of what was to come with Pig Iron including the first harmonica of the weekend; followed by Sam sugared and with his voodoo spin stripped down and it really worked. Sam’s vocals were reminiscent of a young Tommy Allen. The unplugged sets work giving an insight into the base-line of the main stage act.

The turnaround time of the main stage was kept to a minimum throughout the weekend. Now it was time for The Dirty Thrills what a difference a hyper rocky sound. These guys owned the stage as they moved with choreographed grace and kept the beat. This was a high octane fuelled modern twist on rock where the blues were hidden in the shadows but the band knew how to entertain. Live music with attitude and sparks that spat off the guitar and across the venue.

 

The excitement and anticipation for Ten Years After was high and we had a chance for a sneaky preview a toned down version with the members on the small unplugged stage up close and personal. This is a new line-up Marcus Bonfanti on vocals and bassist Colin Hodginson joining Rick Lee and Chick Churchill. This was a magnificent trio of songs, Hear Me Calling, I’d Love To Change The World, Me and My Baby. What a band tonight’s main stage show is going to be exciting. Marcus and Colin have added an extra dimension. The time was moving on the music flowing with Pig Iron on main stage. This was blues drowning in heavy rock that really packed a musical punch. This was a band that added heat to the line-up they knew how to excite the music ears of the festival goers. The combination of the Firebird Gibson and Rickenbacker bass worked so well the tonal qualities were deep and shaded with blue granite. This was a powerful set where the band worked in harmony and the vocals shone. Now for the last unplugged session of the day a duo from Mick Ralphs Blues Band. Adam Barron on vocals and guitarist Jim Maving. This was acoustic, bluesy, mellow and sublime. A real authentic blues set for the weekend leaving you wanting to hear more when the full band entertain later tonight. Three bands left to entertain us on the main stage. Ten Years After, Mick Ralphs Blues Band and The Yardbirds how could the excitement not be rising. Ten Years After may have had a change of personnel but the music continues and there is a spicy freshness. The re-energizing of the music excites. Marcus Bonfanti on vocals is electrifying and his guitar skill is Alvin Lee with his own hooks and bells added extending the phrasing. We had harp and scintillating guitar fireworks topped off with his deep and honeyed vocals. We had the drums take centre stage with Rick Lee’s masterpiece The Hobbit, surrounding this was a chance to hear I Would Love To Change the World, a dramatic, lengthened version of this classic number, took your breath away with the spirit and magic of the sound. Ten Years After just kept weaving the melodic groove that meant they were still going to be talked about when the was festival over. No wonder they were many people’s favourite of the night and even the weekend. How to follow that uplifting and exciting set? HRH Blues had the answer in the Mick Ralphs Blues Band. Mick Ralphs formerly of Bad Company and Mott The Hoople was on form tonight with new songs and a new album. If It Ain’t Broke not only the album’s title but the ethos of the blues. The music taking us back to the British blues scene so loved and valued of the 1960’s and ‘70’s. Interspersed was some Bad Company tinged with the blues and delighting the crowds. They lapped up Too Bad, a number Bad Company never played live and Feel Like Making Love and Can’t Get Enough. Then Freddie King’s Same Old Blues proving the blues is timeless. Adam’s vocals curled around the music the timing was crafted and Mick Ralphs guitar work shining through with a gilded touch. Saturday was drawing to close not with a whimper but a shout for The Yardbirds, keeping the feel of the 1960’s in the building. The members may have changed once or twice but the music stays the same ending day one with so much music, friendships made and others strengthened through the power of music that is the Blues.

Sunday was another day that promised to bring new bands to your attention and hear the music from your favourites. Once again the blues was shaken up, and the R n’B vibe promised this was going to be a blues Sunday brunch, Tea and Dinner.

 

 

Sunday Brunch, was hardcore not for the faint-hearted this was rock heavy blues from the Tasmanian Devil himself Rob Tognoni. He tore up the main stage what a start to the second day of HRH Blues. The set was Rob through and through, the rhythm section was the base that allowed the blues to be scorching. We had some jamming and then the gentler side with Butterfly Girl written for his German wife setting up the day with Antipodean Blues power. From the heat of the Tasmanian it was cooler Scandinavian blues from Pontus Snibb. Texan blues was strong throughout the set with the tone and shape of SRV. This trio knew how to show the bluesy side of Swedish music. The third trio, John Verity hit the main stage. His unplugged session was inspired. Now on the main stage the depth and breadth of his tasty blues licks became apparent, as he showcased numbers from his latest album My Religion. Blues runs deep in the music when playing re-vamped classics and new material. John played genuine electric blues with buckets loads of panache. He certainly kept the blues with a capital B in the festival. This was blues guitar heaven, pleasure for your ears as Prove Your Love flowed live and his version of Peter Green’s I Need Someone To Love was a joy. HRH Blues proved the Sunday afternoon did not need to be tame, three trio’s on the trot did not have to be about power guitar the mixing up of styles and approaches kept your music ear interested. Back upstairs to hear Pontus Snibb as a duo Pontus on guitar and his Dad on snare drum with brushes. What an absorbing duo great vocals and rhythm stripped down superb blues. The simplicity and purity shone through with a stellar version of Jimmy Reed’s Ain’t That Lovin’ and closing with Texas Flood. Tasty!

Pontus Snibb unplugged WM-9391 HRH Turning Sheffield Weekend Blue

Now the shadows outside were lengthening and the intensity of the music grew. First, Irish distilled blues form Pat McManus. It was fantastic to see Pat on stage, still with a smile playing the music we love as he mixes Irish Roots, Rory Gallagher and a touch of Pat’s own leprechaun emerald green dust. What a trooper did he give up when his equipment was stolen at the beginning of the current tour… not a chance. This is a trio that blends and twists the rock into a shape that they want you to hear. The first violin of HRH Blues added a dancing intensity. Entertaining, pleasurable as we listened spellbound to an acoustic tribute to Rory Gallagher. The rendition of Parisian Walkways from the late great Gary Moore was breathtaking. This was classy blues, with the energy and verve that colours the music with every shade of blue. Pat plays and we listen.

HRH Turning Sheffield Weekend BlueNow for the first piece of Whitesnake history at HRH Blues on a Sunday with the Micky Moody Band. The band featuring Ali Maas, vocals the first women of the weekend who sang the blues with soulful intensity. Stuart Dixon on rhythm/lead guitar added another depth and breadth to the sound. This was another classy set ranging from rip-roaring Southern Rock to really subtle quiet soulful ballads, punctuated with spine-chilling breaks from Stuart’s Strat. Micky entertained with finger-picking slide and guitars that sang deep with the feel of the blues. Same Blues, Different Day, full of salivating Moody slide delight. The set also included a taste of numbers from the forthcoming Moody & Maas album, like their great take on Dylan’s Serve Somebody. Closing the set that thrilled when Ali sang A Cappella interspersed with tasty mouth-watering licks from Micky. Closing out with a medley of Rolling Stone’s numbers we were flying with the music.

HRH Turning Sheffield Weekend BlueNext up was Bernie Marsden ever the entertainer. The next segment of Whitesnake past playing the blues Bernie up front with the original bass player Neil Murray. We had one Whitesnake number from Mickey would Bernie deliver as well? The set was a mixture of blues, with tracks from his current album Shine. The blues rocked and the smiles on people’s faces gleamed there was no need to ask if they were enjoying this. We had rollicking blues, instrumentals and Bernie’s version of Born Under a Bad Sign. There was nothing bad about the music the chords were full of power whipping up the energy throughout the auditorium. A tribute to Jack Bruce we were Sitting on Top of the world with Bernie as he played the classic Howlin’ Wolf number. Bernie plays real mean blues when he wants to. Dragonfly from his latest album was beautiful as was his intuitively delivered Peter Green’s, Need Your Love So Bad. Then the temperature rose for Whitesnake’s Here I Go Again, Bernie orchestrated the crowds singing we need no reminding of the lyrics the whole venue erupted with the pure joy that is live music. As the lights dimmed and the band left the football like chant was taken up Bernie! Bernie repeated louder and louder. He is a very popular guy in the Country, and we had more, the encore included the Bobby Bland number Whitesnake made their own! Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City, we were now in heaven the energy from the music was more powerful than any drug. Closing with Fool For Your Loving. The silence was deep and sudden then everyone started to talk about the magic that is Bernie and the blues.. Starter was tasty Micky Moody, the Main Course the depths of flavour of Bernie and his band and now for the sweet course. Dr Feelgood. The energy was electric, the words rolled out like our much-loved anthems. We just loved the tasty blues, rock punk sound that is Dr Feelgood.

HRH Turning Sheffield Weekend BlueSunday closed with a set from Dr Feelgood. The music was definitely the power that was driving the weekend forward, this is music that pleases, yes everyone has a favourite. The favourites varied and led to warm and intense discussions what shone through was the music which was top-notch.

Throughout the festival, the lighting was varied and interesting and the sound was spot on the vocals were warm cadences of tones that could be heard and enjoyed.

HRH, may stand for ‘Hard Rock Hell’ but they know how to deliver the blues. Now HRH Blues is alive and kicking up a dust storm of music, the community and the aim of the organisation is strong with staff listening to the views of the attendees of the weekend. This is the third blues event the momentum’s growing for HRH Blues 3 in Sheffield 15th & 16th April 2017!!!