Save Old Bush Blues Festival Sign the Petition Now
The Old Bush Blues Festival is a special weekend for many. Potentially being spoiled by the very few. The bureaucrats are turning the cogs, using their power make common sense be heard and acted upon. Make your voice heard by supporting Matt & Karen Williams.
Save Old Bush Blues Festival Sign the Petition Now! HERE
I declare Bluesdoodles has a vested interest. Not money but the feeling of attending a festival that is about music and friendship. I love taking the photographs, laughing and hearing old favourites play and then new bands that add to the flavour of the weekend. Bluesdoodles has a vested interest in the love of live music, fun and friendship.
Background to Save Old Bush Blues Festival Sign the Petition Now!
In the case of Old Bush Blues Festival. Common-sense has gone out of the window and it is the views of the minority (just two people) who appear to be wielding the power in Callow End. The majority have welcomed the re-opening of the pub as Matt Williams the previous Landlord twenty years ago returned to run the pub. The festival happens on one weekend during August, bringing visitors to the area, campers who spend money in the shop. The festival has a true community feel with fun at the heart of the weekend’s proceedings.
This year the third Old Bush Blues festival was held. What a success despite the worry that the objection by two neighbours regarding noise pollution caused. Matt a true professional dealt with the complaint putting in noise absorption and suppression, noise assessments and control, constant monitoring to the Malvern Hills District Council requirements and a dedicated telephone hot line for any complaints. Did the festival play on into the early hours – no, the music was finished by 11 pm. I know that if you walked up the lane to the main road running through the village the music was a faint background hum.
The two complainants live near the pub. Once again like so many music venues, people buy a place nearby and then complain about noise and inconvenience. If you want to be in a quiet area buying near a popular community Pub is not the best location for you.
Save Old Bush Blues Festival Sign the Petition Now! HERE
We want community pubs at the heart of villages. To make a business sustainable Pubs have to offer more than a dusty ale house with a decaying dart board in the darkest corner for entertainment. Old Bush Blues Festival one weekend a year is just such an enterprise that is making Old Bush Inn a popular place to visit. To run the festival extra staff are employed, and Matt, has improved the pub inside and out making this an attractive Pub for Callow End to enjoy all year.
Live music has always been at the heart of village communities. The garden in the pub is child-friendly, people can enjoy a drink and eat knowing the children are in a safe environment. Villages get a discounted ticket for the weekend. The festival brings a buzz to the village and in the past, many villagers loved the fact they could sit in their gardens and listen to the music. Not This year they complained. Two people are complaining ruining the fun and live music for the majority.
Stop the unfairness and support Matt & Karen Williams who want to run a successful business that includes a festival loved by the many.
Save Old Bush Blues Festival Sign the Petition Now! HERE
Show your support keeping music live, local and at the heart of the community.
Steelhouse Fundraising Rock Out and Shout NO MORE MUD
Due to typical Welsh weather it made it very difficult for many people to attend due to the car park being bogged out and a situation with drainage.
So myself (Josh) and a good friend (Mark) have set up this funding project to help the amazing Steelhouse Team sort problems such as the above…
Plz donate as much or little you can spare as every penny donated will be used to make the necessary improvements to OUR AMAZING FAMILY ROCK FESTIVAL – BEST KNOWN AS STEELHOUSE FESTIVAL!
Steelhouse Fundraising Rock Out and Shout NO MORE MUD – 2017 was a wonderful festival but the Mud caused mayhem that did not overshadow the music BUT … Bluesdoodles had an awesome, wonderful Steelhouse 2017 the title of the review summed it up – Steelhouse 2017 Simply Marvellous Mud Music and Mates
My poor boot will never be the same – in fact, Sunday morning saw boots being replaced. The organisers of Steelhouse feel the same. Things have to change Welsh Weather is changeable and unpredictable that i is the only certainty. So Mark & Josh f have decided to set up a Fundraising goal of £5000 to help towards costs of Parking, Drainage and other things on site to help make our festival better and to help out the guys behind the scenes. Please donate and help us reach our goal! STEELHOUSE CROWD FUND
The money will help our Rock Festival family, let’s help the organisers and volunteers out with funding towards drainage, parking and walkway matting. There is no argument that Steelhouse Festival 2017 was an amazing year for all including the Festival itself. Selection of the shots what a memory!
Due to typical Welsh weather it made it very difficult for many people to attend due to the car park being bogged out and a situation with drainage.
So myself (Josh) and a good friend (Mark) have set up this funding project to help the amazing Steelhouse Team sort problems such as the above…
Plz donate as much or little you can spare as every penny donated will be used to make the necessary improvements to OUR AMAZING FAMILY ROCK FESTIVAL – BEST KNOWN AS STEELHOUSE FESTIVAL!
Donate – share on Facebook & Twitter keep the energy and the music live and mud free at our favourite festival mountain – Steelhouse – Please donate what you can HEREkeep music live.
Rising to New heights of Perfection Old Bush Blues 2017. How? Matt Williams found the music and bought three days of live fun to Callow End.
Old Bush Blues works because they have a winning formula and does not mess about with the three tenants Live Music, Beer and Friendship’ whether this is your first, third or seventeenth having followed the festival from its old home in Bentworth. Friday was a blinder two young bands getting noticed for all the right reasons, Elles Bailey and The Rainbreakers certainly had the festival hitting the ground running. The Old Avengers hit the spot with many, with a big welcome back for Ian Parker who entertained. Sam Anderson, of Sugar Mama and an Old Bush regular, gave a taste of the mayhem of frivolity and music that Sugar Mama will deliver on Saturday. As ever Tommy Allan’s Trafficker raised the pulses and excited the dancers. In fact, it was Tommy Allan and the boys from Five Field Holler who had filled the stage earlier and are seen around all weekend behind the sound desk. They certainly have a busy, productive weekend at OBB. Trafficker certainly lifted the vibe we were now in full on Friday night festival mode. The baton was picked up as the Tom Walker Trio applied their take on the blues. Energised with deep groovy bass lines with a touch of funk from Deano Bass, combining the rhythms with Nathan’s superb drumming that never takes the focus of attention from Tom. His vocals are full of power and tonal texture combined with the guitar this is how a trio should sound, full of depth with all members adding to the sound. Tom Walker Trio is definitely everything a blues trio should be. With a mix of covers including a great version of John Henry and their own material, they hit the sweet spot. Everyone now had shed the stresses of the week and were in the weekend mode that was about fun, laughing and being immersed in the blues. The outside music finished at 11 pm; for those who wanted more music continued in the bar, festival goers had been spoilt with the quality of bands in the Bar, Garden, and Carpark stages. With the outside areas covered the rain only added to the soundscapes, we all were hoping that the rest of the weekend would bring more sunshine than showers.
Saturday morning of a festival weekend has that special quality of time slowing down and stretching out over the horizon. All that matters is the moment. With my festival buddy, we kicked started the day with a pint and crisps from the bar. The selection is wide and with breakfasts available up to 11 before the BBQ takes over at midday until late and Curry night from 5-8 no one was going to go hungry or thirsty while they soak up the music on offer and enjoy the sunshine. Saturday is hat day so the array of head-gear was varied adding to the festival fun before we all doff our bobble hats when bobble hour and Northsyde collide. At the heart of the festival is the music. The beating pulse that heats the vibe is the friendships that are formed. This is what Old Bush excels in with plenty of seats you can listen and chat between the acts and still catch every note. Matt is here there and everywhere, having fun himself loving the music, enjoying the excitement and making sure at the same time everything runs smoothly. His staff are as ever helpful with a ready smile.
The music on Saturday certainly started in festival mode as Richard Clarke stepped in while Steve Whalley set himself up after a late arrival. The curse of Motorway delays had struck but slightly later than planned Steve Whalley delivered his branding of the blues, deep down below the Dixie line where the weather and music steams with sultry intend. Into the mix they included a number about a Pill Box Hat perfect for Hat Saturday; with solid glass slide playing perfect Saturday afternoon music for a festival in a pub garden and the sun shining. Stage changes and the blues moved into the city with Chicago 9. One thing for certain blues is a flexible beast and Matt knows when selecting the bands he needs to change the tone. We are putting the electric flow into the beat and the mix of classics and their own numbers pleasing the crowds and dancers alike. Now Matt changed the tone with blues that rocked as Stuart James Band enthralled with an eclectic and interesting mix of classics. They had reached out and explored the depth of music that suited the beefier sound of the band. When you add rock you are walking a tightrope and they definitely landed on the side of the blues with the mix of SRV; Aynsley Lister, Talking Heads and Rory Gallagher.
Now treated with a complete change of tone with a festival favourite Lucy Zirins. This year with her band Southern Comfort we now had the singer songwriter colliding with Americana; weaved together with a the smile and charm that defines Lucy today complete with the ends of her locks dyed purple. Calming the festival down, we are now mellow, replete with an afternoon of music that made us smile. No Old Bush Blues festival would be complete without a set for these two bands. Northsyde, time to put on bobble hats and enjoy the feast for our ears that is a Northsyde set. The quartet fizz with a latent energy, they capture the heart soul and body of the song. Lorna’s vocal powers through the lyrics adding grit to the sound pulling out the sweetest hooks from Jules beautiful red guitar. His lead breaks make you weep with the pure pleasure that is floating from the stage. The power rocks from the rhythm section from funky Ian ‘Doby’ Maurico’s bass and Hadyn’s drumming. Northsyde has the bobbles bobbling dancers and everyone to the feet making OBB a hot festival as they weave there magic with tracks from Storytellers Daughter and the back catalogue of delights and the obligatory Whipping Post. Joining the band for one night only in a guitar duel was young guitarist Marcus Praestgaard-Stevens. He took the challenge and dueled with Jules old school, matching note for note and raising the challenge. With a winning smile the dexterous manipulation of the six-strings this is a blues guitarist that has the potential to challenge the best. We will see him again on stage this weekend. How do you follow the powerhouse that is Northsyde with their awesome set that alights the festival. It has to be Sugar Mama. The set was energetic, so get ready to boogie with the infectious beat as we dive into the Summertime Blues. This is a set that adds to the discography of the weekend as we are immersed into Tainted Love from Soft Cell, Van Morrison’s Gloria. Oh Well from Peter Green was superb and Talking Head’s Psycho Killer. What a set the energy was Electric, a name they played under for a while. This is three young men who know how they deliver music that overflows with superlatives. Joined by Marcus and then Jules Fothergill we were full of music as the sound was stilled and the night drew to a close.
Sunday. The morning after the night before. Matt has the perfect antidote – Kyle and Shaw. They are the opening act every Sunday with a combination of guitar and bass they drift along with perfectly timed blues soothing the soul and making all right with the world, especially at OBB on a sunny Sunday afternoon. As we sit relax soaking up the sunshine, friendship, and music to feed the mind Kyle & Shaw are followed by Steve Brooks. We are now hyper-chilled. Then with a boom, we are bought back to the reality that we are at a festival with Paddy Maguire Band. This is blues that rocks you into a vibrant party mode with Jenna on vocals that power through the Old Bush and guest guitarist Paul Lamb from Detroit beefing up the tone. With the bar playing music and the Del Ray Rockets bring the jive back with rocking good party, a move that meant the festival was now awash with smiles. La Vendore Rogue pulled no punches with an imaginative take on blues full of gothic mystery. With songs about The Chemist and every other subject they can weave into their roguish approach to live music. With a new bassist joining the band adding to the rhythm section and Stephen ‘Percy’ Cutmore’s distinctive drumming, Warren’s keyboard that pulls in the melody captured in the Hammond’s chords. The heart of LaVendore are without doubt Joel Fisk on guitar the licks and riffs are full of purity of tone and little surprising kicks mirroring the vocals, and JoJo Burgess their charismatic and beguiling frontman who pulls the crowds in like the showman he is. He tells us tales including one about putting the bins out, building the tension by adding a bit more to the tale with each rendition before closing out with Mrs Jones and they left the stage to resounding cheers. LaVendore Rogue ensured the festival kept smiling despite the weather not behaving. Troy Redfern then added to the layers of blues full of deep slide and a sharp tone full of controlled power. The festival on Sunday night was hot with the power of live music. Closing out the festival Jules Benjamin, the MC across the weekend pulling the good time feel that will last long after the marquees have been tidied away and the pub returns to being a Country pup once again.
Now. If you want to see Elles Bailey, The Rainbreakers, LaVendore Rogue plus Zoe Schwarz Blues Commotion and the winner from the unsigned Jessica Foxley Acts playing over the Great British Rhythm and Blues Weekend in Colne, then put the UK Blues Challenge, run by UK Blues Federation in your diary – 10th September 2017 at the Cavern Club, Liverpool.
Old Bush Blues 2017 once again is a perfectly formed combo of music, food, camping and fun with a capital F. This is achieved not by magic but the hard work and commitment from Matt and his team of staff. Thank you, Matt, already counting down the days to August 2018.
Line up Luther Grosvenor
Kyle and Shaw
Paddy Maguire Band
Stuart James Band
Tom Walker Trio
Del Ray Rockets
Some Haunted Souls
Five Field Holler
The Old Avengers
Steelhouse 2017 Simply Marvellous Mud Music and Mates
Steelhouse family came together on a Welsh Mountain united by rain, sun and MUD! The glue binding us was live music and the super glue the brilliance of Bernie Marsden not once, not twice but all three days on the stage entertaining. We had dragon magic gracing the festival that you climb up slowly to the top driving up a rough track to the top of a Welsh Mountain above Aberbeeg. The weather may at times be trying, we all know the welcome and cwtch from the Steelhouse volunteers will be full of warmth. So many memories for the music memory box, friends, brilliant bands Planet Rock DJsand the array of stalls to kept us fed and watered, the endless cuppa’s from Motley Brew hot and refreshing the gallons of Trooper consumed and the selection of cocktails. The festival is for everyone young and old, family friendly with a play area, camping, glamping and merchandise. We may only be in each other’s company for a few days but the friendships forged last forever.
Bluesdoodles, Liz Aiken could not make Friday night, rain, parking and other issues conspired against her. Nothing though was going to deter us from getting to the festival on Saturday that started warm and sunny with the weather for now set fair. We missed Free Friday, but those who got here in time were entertained withRevival, the awesome Hand of Dimes joined by Bernie Marsden already a festival favourite and Trucker Diablo.
The two bands that open the show were local bands, Saturday, Florence Black & Texas Flood on the final day all setting the bar high rocking the show for the first notes always a challenging slot and they got our attention. Then the new line-up from Tequila Mockingbyrd who flew the flag for women and rock Steelhouse know how to weave the line-up reflecting styles of rock and peoples different tastes.
So many thoughts whirl around as I edit the photographs, the excitement that the festival has left spilling over to Monday, continue to be motivated as the work continues listening to the music that fuelled the weekend, Steelhouse 2017 delivered the best line-up ever and it was a triumph. Music for all tastes across rock. There are always bands and for everyone the list will vary for us at Bluesdoodles it was Rival Sons, Last In Line, Monster Truck, Stone Broken, Broken Witt Rebels, Jared James Nichols, Wayward Sons, Saxon and the hero of the hour Bernie Marsden across the festival Friday, Saturday and the unplanned return on Sunday. The list is a mix of styles, ages and experience the common link was quality, performances.
Stone Broken bought a vitality, energy and love of performance to the stage, heating up the atmosphere. The set was played out with every note played and song sung confirming the meteoric rise from a self-funded album to the band they are today. The journey has just begun they will soon be headliners wherever they play, why the crowds will demand it the Broken Army will not be silenced. With a follow-up album to debut All In Time tantilisingly close live performance will keep us entertained until the release date early 2018. Every fan is waiting in anticipation which will just build and build, with every performance and radio play. Stone Broken play the music rock fans want to hear. Every time they play live they grow in stature tighter, more confident. Everyone’s day is brightened by Robyn’s infectious smile and drumming. Rich leading from the front energised with vocals that demand to be listened to. Chris & Kieran, guitar and bass creating the sting in the tail with the strings ensuring there is nothing broken about Stone Broken. They nailed it at Steelhouse 2017.
Monster Truck, were monstrously good, the guitar sound is loud and we are pulled into the hot atmosphere they create. It was so hot it was as if the rain vapourised before it hit the ground! Awesome sums up the performance lifting the crowd’s mood into the stratosphere. The set included all the numbers you want to hear live from Sittin’ Heavy as we heard staggering vocals, hard rhythm and licks that curl around the stage and cascade across the field in melodic delights. There will be other bands but for now it doesn’t get better than this performance or will I eat my words?
Having never heard Last in Line live, this was a band I was looking forward to having listened to Heavy Crown, loud and often since reviewing early in 2016. The band named after Dio’s second album carried the torch shining high and burning bright with a set that was full of Dio classics. The two orginal members of Dio’s band Vinny Appice on Drums and guitarist Vivian Campbell are joined by vocalist Andrew Freeman, Phil Soussan on Bass an keys from Erik Norlander. They delivered adrenalin fuelled rock that pounded the mud and the sound that was Dio. Andrew’s vocals were reminiscent of Ronnie James Dio. The rain did not wash away the sound and atmosphere of a festival that was now rocking as the skies darkened on the Saturday.
Sunday dawned bright and clear with blues skies and warm sunshine we all knew the music was going to be hot. The Sunday came alive as Broken Witt Rebels may have opened with Low from Georgia Pines but the music took us to new highs. Danny Core’s vocals are outstanding they pierce with a depth of emotion. The feel of the guitar sound tinged with blue, heated by southern rock from James Tranters lead guitar. The sound builds with tambourine and rhythm added by Danny and a rhythm section that burns the groove as Luke Davis and James Dudley join forces. This is a young band who are growing in stature as with every performance the layers of polish are burnished, the beat tightens and the sound gets bigger, bolder as the Broken Witt Rebels blow the mist away through Georgia Pines, what a number. They were quickly followed by the guitar-led blues-rocking power trio of Jared James Nichols. The talent of the guitarist who is making a name for himself as he flashes his prowess with the six-strings, this set was the most guitar-dominated set of the weekend. Another young performer who never fails to deliver, always improving developing the Nichols tone and sound. Building on his album and the last EP Highway Man.
A new band, Wayward Sons that has every one talking. Why? It is a Toby Jepson band this, the bands third gig and first festival appearance, did not disappoint. The opening was intriguing as we entered the Twilight Zone before the opening line of Carry On Wayward Son by Kansas and then the band stepped on stage. With a debut album out in August, Ghosts Of Yet To Come the sound we heard was grittier this is a rocky sound that sets quivers of an earthquake erupting through the audience on top of a mountain. As to be expected Toby’s vocal shone through the rain drops With the Little Angels – Young Gods – song dedicated to Alan Nimmo, who to many people’s disappointment was not swirling his kilt with King King on a mountain. The whole Steelhouse family wish Alan a speedy recovery.
Rival Sons, well worth the wait in the mud and rain they delivered with music that sears the heart and soul. Jay Buchanan’s voice is always stunning as he strode down the stage in rolled down wellies he captivated – what a band. The only slide guitar of the weekend cascading notes swirled across the mountain courtesy of the slide of Scott Holiday. The rhythm and structure added a depth of tone thanks to David Beste and Michael Miley. There is nothing hollow in the bones of the rock they deliver every track has something to say with sweet licks, righteous riffs and lyrics that draw you deep into the heart of the music Rival Sons are simply electric.
Closing the festival with lights, pyrotechnics and a metal eagle Saxon left their mark on the mountain once again. A band that the fans wanted to see many so excited seeing a band that was one of the first bands they had seen back at Steelhouse once again. The rain did not deter Biff as he strode down the runway kneeling on a towel and rising again hands aloft uniting with the fans as he sang in the rain. The festival went wild as Biff sung to them Battering Ram soared out across the mountain quickly joined by many classics Princess Of The Night & 747 Strangers In The Night. By now there were no strangers in the crowd, we were united by music, mud and Steelhouse friendship.
Cometh the hour cometh the man. Steelhouse 2017 it had to be the one and only Bernie Marsden. Scheduled to play with Hand of Dimes of Friday and the acoustic set on Saturday that was a delight. With King King having to pull out there was a yawning gap. Hand of Dimes stepped in with Bernie on electric guitar that was exciting but this was the Steelhouse Band with two special Planet Rock guests. Hand of Dimes always popular and they know how to please as they add keys and harmonica to Nev’s special brand of rock. Nev was back on stage with Bernie Marsden joining after a couple of Hand of Dimes numbers to massive cheers of Bernie, Bernie!! Hand of Dimes has a new album out Raise so we heard Guilty and Pin-Stripped Arrogance, what a band. Then we had the change as Ian Danter took control of the drums and Darren Redick on Bass for a couple of numbers this is what festival magic is all about memories never to be repeated. The ‘cover’ of Whitesnake classic Here I Go Again was superb vocals from Neville McDonald took the roof of if there was one! Bottom of Form
The heroic Steelhouse Band created a great atmosphere what fun a pleasure for everyone listening to Hand of Dimes and friends over the Bernie weekend.
Then if I could only pick a band it would be a toss-up between Rival Sons and Broken Witt Rebels both were superb the vocals stunning, out I have made the rule only one band so it will be Rival sons, why? Soul made me cry as I was absorbed by the music an even stopped photographing during Electric Man.
Steelhouse 2017 raised the bar in terms of music and fun we are counting down the days until Steelhouse 2018. Thanks once again to the band of volunteers and Mikey and Max who make sure we all have a wonderful Mountain top festival.
Steelhouse 2018 the clock is ticking ! show your interest and keep to-date on Facebook Event
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
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…
For 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.
All 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.
This 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.
Now 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.
After 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.
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.
What 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 Colin 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. .
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 McManus 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.
Now 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.
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 2018is 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.
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.
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
Skegness 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, Southboundand 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’sperformance 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.
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.
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.
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.
2016 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.
Started 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. (Friday – Saturday – Sunday reviews)
January 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.
March 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.
As 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.
At 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 weekend 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.
June 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 friends 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.
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. Two 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.
With 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!
Autumn, 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 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 Davids 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.
December 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 King. 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.