4th UK Blues Challenge Announced At The Cavern Liverpool
UKBlues Federation are delighted to announce Tickets for the 4th UKBlues Challenge, which will be held at the world-famous Cavern Club in Liverpool on Sunday 10th September 2017, are now on sale via the Cavern Club’s website – HEREThey are priced at £10.00 in advance, £12.00 on the door.
Members of the UK Blues Federation can enjoy a reduction of £2.50 per ticket (maximum 2 tickets per member). This discount will be applied when they next renew their membership after 10th September 2017. Join the UK Federation Today
The bands/artistes appearing are, in alphabetical order
Doors will open at 15.30 with the first band on stage at 16.00. It is anticipated that the event will finish by about 21.00 and will close with a set from the winners and, we hope, feature some top guests who will be at the event. Bluesdoodlesinvites you to share this news, help support UKBlues in what it is doing. Visit our website – UKBlues to read about membership benefits and to join
UKBlues Federation supporting the 4th Challenge
“Bringing the Blues back to The Cavern 60 years on….”
June 16, Friday, Worthenbury. Goin’ Up The Country Blues and Roots Club
June 17, Saturday, Durham. Durham Blues Festival
June 18, Sunday, Cleethorpes. Cleethorpes Blues Festival
June 22, Thursday, Coalville. Hardtail Blues Club
June 24, Saturday, Billericay. Blues at Barleylands
June 26, Monday, Cherington. Cherington Arms
June 28, Wednesday, Sevenoaks. Performing at the Stag Community Arts Centre as part of the Sevenoaks Summer Festival
July 1, Saturday, London. Brooks Blues Bar at the Sound Lounge
July 4, Tuesday, Worthing. Worthing Pier
July 5, Wednesday, Bristol. The Old Duke
July 8, Saturday, Wales. TBC
July 11,Tuesday, Hooley. Tuesday Night Music Club
July 14,Friday, Bridgend. Working Mens Hall, Blaengarw
July 15, Saturday, Marlborough. Marlborough International Jazz Festival.
July 16, Sunday, Marlborough. Jazz gospel service.
July 19,Wednesday, Northampton. The Malt Shovel.
July 21, Friday, Upton. Upton Blues Festival
July 24, Monday, Oxford. Famous Monday Blues at the Jericho Tavern
July 28, Friday, Lichfield. The Pokey Hole Blues Club
July 30, Sunday, Gloucester. Gloucester Rhythm & Blues Festival.
August 4, Friday, Luton. Bear Club / Mill Yard Jazz and Blues
August 6, Sunday, Bridgwater. Bar Brunel
August 10, Thursday, Cropredy. Cropredy Fringe Festival at the Brasenose Arms
August 13, Sunday, Penrith. Lowther Folk Roots Festival
August 17, Thursday, Bristol. The Bristol Fringe. August 20, Sunday, Stevenage. Blues at the Red at the Red Lion. August 24, Thursday, Tring. The Blues Bar Tring
August 25, Friday, Tunbridge Wells. The Cross Keys
August 27, Sunday, Market Rasen. Original Sunday Blues at the Hope Tavern
August 29, Tuesday, London (Oxford Street). The 100 Club.
Debbie Bond; always blows in the wind of Alabama blues with the combination of sweet and soulful vocals and the cascading keys from her partner Rick Asherson who also co-wrote ‘Winds Of Change’ a single that is powerful, political and perfect for the trouble times the world is navigating through at the moment. This is not the personal it is looking at the bigger picture, our precious delicate planet whose nature needs to be respected and nurtured so that balance is re-gained. The vocals howl with passion and rage. We need to listen and take action to hear the voices of the disposed, under-privileged and address climate change now before it is too late.
Once again Debbie has captured the spirit of the Blues and distilled the music to send our a message for today. This is not historical blues looking back but modern blues looking forward urging us to look, and take action for change. Winds of Change, passionate, relevant modern a blues holler demanding to be heard – make a date in your diary to see Debbie play live you will be delighted.
This is what Bluesdoodles said about Debbie & Rick at Blues On The Farm 2016 – 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.
Watch the lyric Video below.
The single is available for download if you would like to buy a copy. We are donating proceeds to a number of environmental and social justice organisations.
Last year at Blues on The Farm Bluesdoodles caught up with Debbie for an interesting chat about music and life read what we talked about HERE.
The set from Erja at HRH Blues in Sheffield this Easter was a highlight of the festival “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.”
Tonight, the blues was never going to be sitting in the Middle of The Road the music was going to fizz with energy and the crowded venue was ready to welcome Eric Gales and his band to their first visit to the U.K. and the West Midlands. As we waited for the venue to open, the difference tonight was every bag was searched a solemn reminder that going to a live music event is now overshadowed by the horrific bombing in Manchester arena just over a week ago. As many commented, this was good to see.
Before the main act of the night the Tom Walker Trioset the musical Barometer to high raising the temperature with a stylish and far too short set. With a new E.P. Into Space joining, as Tom said their other older CD, there was a good selection of the blues sound the band creates. This was Blues-Rock punctuated by funky rhythms from Deano on Bass; combined with artful drumming of Nate Barr creating the perfect musical landscape for Tom Walker to build with his guitar and vocals. The blues were at times swampy with great slide guitar as we Cross The Border with the trio off the new E.P. Blues is about timing and feel and this is a trio that has it in triplicate. Closing with a re-working of John Henry; from deep in American Folklore and early music covered by many and Tom made it his own tonight. Only, complaint I have, we wanted the impossible to hear more of Tom Walker Trio whilst at the same time we were impatient for the main act.
Short break, time to catch with friends and connect with new ones as people had traveled far what an opportunity to hear Eric Gales and his band tonight. With a fanfare and smile Eric strode on to the stage with his signature guitar held aloft. Starting the show with Silence for Manchester he commented that this was his first visit to the U.K. and genuinely overwhelmed by the crowds turning out for him and how scary it was arriving on the night the bomb went off. Like everyone he was still clearly affected by the senseless slaughter. Tonight, was about his music and we want to hear that guitar burn up the venue with his distillation of blues with funk, jazz and so much more as he connected with the audience through his music. The band tonight was more than a bedrock for his guitar to fly from they added another dimension with a wildness and stupendous musicianship this is freeform blues drenched in feeling and raw heartfelt emotions. Joining Eric on stage tonight were a double helping of percussive tones with drummer Nick Hayes and Eric’s wife LaDonna Gales and the energetic, deeply talented bassist Cody Wright.
The set was a skillful display of tracks from the past, his current superb album Middle Of The Road and covers given the Gale treatment blowing a breath of fresh air though every arrangement he delivered. With Change In Me – which Eric announced as track 2 introducing us to the album; this is more than a melody and lyrics, the number celebrates the rebirth of Eric Gales. His emergence from a dark place of addiction; now his focus is his guitar and the music he creates bringing smiles and joy to the audience tonight. Boogie Man, the Freddie King classic was then given it’s Robin 2 debut; this is music that is hot, and full of electric energy taking us on a journey that fills our ears and gladden the heart. The musicianship was stupendous as the guitar wept and joined the emotional outpouring of high-octane delights. We heard Buddy Guy, and got to know the man behind the six-strings. At one point Eric left the stage allowing Cody and Nick to have centre stage. The magic fingers of Cody made the bass buzz with tonal textures it was a music driven sculpturing of notes. Then it was the turn of Eric for a solo built around Blue Oyster Cult’s, Don’t Fear The Reaper, this was an impactive solo, with the prism of notes creating a rainbow of tones and sounds; spellbinding. The delivery of Swamp another instrumental and eleventh track from the album Middle of the Road; was a whirling dervish of tambourine from LaDonna and the music flowed in a heady free-form blues extravaganza. Wow! Finishing off with Catfish Blues and then the encore this was a night of musicianship, innovative blues. There is definitely nothing Middle of The Road or standard about any of the music played by Eric and the band tonight. This is excitement, hope and joy distilled into a night that was hot and will be a highlight of 2017 that is for sure.
If you missed out on seeing Eric Gales this time; he is planning to be back possibly as early as October this year. In th emeantime his latest album Middle Of The Road out on Mascot Label Group available HERE
Thomas Wynn and The Believers Album Wade Waist Deep
Thomas Wynn and The Believers album Wade Waist Deep their third album and should get the name known far and wide with this cross over album that is not a road trip but the weaving of the lexicon of American music from roots to rock. Labelled a Rock album Wade Waist Deep is so much more exploring how we can build an open better world, not through preaching but a common understanding of tolerance and love. Wade Waist Deep moves beyond the confessional songwriting as he sought relief from heartbreak and addiction on the previous album and look beyond self to a collective conscience. The music is mature, thoughtful with strong lyrics, powerful harmonies and ear catching melodic rhythms. For Thomas Wynn, life & music have changed since the birth of his son Abel a year ago; “It’s that yearning, that longing for the person that you want to be,” says Wynn.
Joining Thomas as The believers are his sister Olivia, her vocals have a searing purity shaping harmonies that sing with an ethereal energy. With vintage Hammond sound from Colin Daniel Fei and wail of the blues harmonica from Chris ‘Bell’ Antemesaris. The rhythm and deep grooves are laid down by David Wagner and Ryan Miranda; on bass & drums respectively. Enough of the background what about the music? It is superb from the first note to the last, clarion clear, gentle and urgent full of light and dark phrasing from every member of Thomas Wynn and the Believers.
Opening with a harmony of voices Man Out Of Time lets us step onto the spiritual musical journey this album will take us on over the dozen tracks. This is primeval, raw and full of growing tension as the blues captured and shaped the sound is hypnotic as we learn about Man Out Of Time. The chorus is melodic vocal wail no words required as the emotion unfurl, calling us to explore the music and lyrics. ‘In The darkness light was mine’ intones Olivia as the music builds around her this is raw power energy that rocks. Following on is the title track, the drums are hypnotic the guitar wields the power of the six-strings as Thomas’ voice implores as we go down to the water and we are Waist Deep in the water. A title track soaked in emotion the guitar weeps and Thomas finds the tonal texture to ‘wash my feet wash my soul… and I will find my Peace’. This is rock that is full of nuances and is not about the volume but tcomposition of melody and lyrics taking us out of ourselves to be part of the story that Thomas Wynn and The Believers are sharing.
Heartbreak Alley, the angst is raw, the organ swelling with emotion the singing from Olivia soulful and powerful. The album now has three different sounds and they are held together by a narrative that flows and the linking back to the wealth of music that has shaped modern America. If you are exploring life then Death cannot be ignored and with the powerful rhythms from David & Ryan shaping the emotional outpouring from Thomas’s vocals and the cascading harmonies as Olivia joins him on My Eyes Won’t Be Open; with the Hammond adding tonal depth after the chorus this is a song that remains long after the last note is sung.
The guitar opening of I Don’t Regret is sweet, with acoustic feel and adds another element to the yearning in Thomas’ vocal, simple with an inherent beauty. As the guitar volume increases the music opens up like sun coming out from behind a cloud the music fills the room. Gospel meets Country Rock and we realise that regretting what has been done is pointless it is the future that can be changed.
The rock in the band falls out of the speaker with the penultimate number We Could All Die Screaming; volume and intensity are raised but the clarity is never lost. This is Thomas with a determination in the delivery of the vocals, a tinge of anger and it builds throughout the four minutes. Closing with Turn It To Gold, the intensity is captured as the musicians bring an album to a climax. The bass deep and with a drone like quality catches the ear with wonder a rock anthem that is so much more.
Wade Waist Deep has layers of complexity, thought-provoking vocals and a message never preaching it is about Country Rock from a band that has something to say connecting us all back to Orlando, Florida where they live. Through a to Sputnik Sound studio in Nashville, where the band recorded Wade Waist Deep with four-time Grammy award-winning producer, Vance Powell (The White Stripes, Jack White, Chris Stapleton). “I really wanted to do it outside of our hometown,” said Wynn. For the month of August 2016, Wynn and The Believers went on a journey to a sonic place that’s big, bright, and visionary.
If I had to describe the album full of complexity in a simple sentence. Spiritual, Country Rock that has gathered into the music blues, soul; with the awakening hope brings when combined with the power of love. This is Life in Music, things can be different, it can be better. I thoroughly recommend you immerse yourself and Wade Waist Deep in to the musical waters that are Thomas Wynn and The Believers.
Dave Hunt Travelling Blues With New Album 100 Horses
Following on from his second album Whiskey & Demons we are leaving the bar and stepping into the horse powered motor car and heading across the musical landscape. Dave on 100 Horses has mixed it up with the Delta and flows into Southern Rock as the harmonica pulls it together with a healthy helping of British Rn’B. As you would expect from Harmonica Dave the core of the album is the harmonica whose licks punctuate the lyrics adding an emotional refrain. The veritable one-man Band that is Mr Hunt, as he plays Drums, Bass and Guitar in addition to Harmonica and vocals. Joining Dave on the 100 Horses journey is Andy Littlewood’s keys, guitar and backing vocals, The MEP Collective adding the horns with guest drummer Pete Nelson and vocalist Darren Yates.
The dozen tracks joining us on the road trip are all originals with plenty of zip and style the harmonica, guitar and vocals creating the contours, the light and shade of changing landscapes as you ride across the USA. The driving power of escape and the horsepower under the bonnet fuels the blues with an energy that flows across the album. As we hit the Blues Highway, the tempo slows and the number reflects politician’s promises that set you on a path of playing music. The harp is sharp and full of poignant bends that are the hooks for the lyrics of the story exploring Grandpa times of 1922 but sadly, still relevant today.
As we take arrest from the road trip love the mainstay of many a tune explored throughout Love’s Just A Killer, the guitar is dark and raw as we join in with the Rock n Roll tempo. Back with the car a potent mix of Moonshine Chevrolet, this is foot-stomping hill country blues with its compelling mix of simplicity and danger. As you expect Dave’s harmonica steals the show with a punctuation that adds so much more than notes to the musical landscape.
As we step into Deadman’s Shoes the questions asked in Tell Me and a visit to Rehab; life explored to the cascading backdrop of blues that with a purity of shape and form that makes this album a fantastic listen. The power of the music grows the blues is developed in its many hues, as we hit the jaunty number I’m On Fire; a love song full of raw melodic power. With Darren Yates joining Dave in a vocal duet on I Told You we have another twist in the Road we are travelling with 100 Horses leaving the finale. Completing the dozen tracks that all have blues of various tones and shades we are Shot Down. Opening with Harp, percussion and then the guitar the intro is sweet and mournful, and then a world-weary vocal of a man who has traveled far and has many tales to tell. Not a happy story shooting, jail and remorse. Does this leave you feeling down, why no this is an album full of life and vitality, every tale, life, love, betrayal and moonshine. Blues is about feel, story and a melodic beat this album has it all from the first to the last note. It is alive with the blues we want to hear.
Second albums are always a difficult journey to take. Following on From Quick & Dirty; Blues Engine are on the right Blues Tracks with number two. Tracks definitely consolidates this London-based band Blues credential
Opening with a measured soulfully melodic Drop Dead Ugly, the reverse of what the title may have suggested, definitely gentle rather than dirty blues. As you step on board the eleven musical detours the Blues Engine are taking us on Tracks. The vocals of Katya Chernyakova are full of luscious textures that are reflected back by the considered guitar work of Alex Cooray. The juxta positioning of crisp and soft, sweet and sour are a signature of Blues Engine giving the blues a contemporary edge whilst still full of tradition. The ten originals and a single cover keeps you entertained and engaged as the Tracks widen out with Gunnysack John, harder edge faster tempo and juicy harp from guest Nick Payne. It is the rhythm section that keeps this ditty on the right track curling towards its destination with beat that is sustained and clear the combination of new drummer Hamish Burchell & bassist Alexander K Liutai. The tracks meander with a gentle flow of the blues picking up a Latino vibe on Lonely By Your Side full of warmth, the quartet are having fun exploring the tempos that mix up the blues. Opening with deep rumbling bass Boatman’s Blues takes us down the river with Alex on guitar raising the tone and Katya hitting the mid-range this is a sad song full of blues wistfulness.
Closing out with their version of Jimmy Cox’s Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out; leaving you with blues chiming as the sound fades. Having reached the end one track resonates as the star it is a Peter Green infused, British Blues number Tell Me A Riddle. Slow, thoughtful, melodies that suit the tonal range of Blues Engine.
What stops this album being outstanding is difficult to pinpoint. Every track is true to the sound Blues Engine creates. It is an album you would return to and smile and joy the sharp blues of Tracks that glint like well-cut Sapphire, reflecting out and beyond the scope of electric blues. Missing, it is a cutting edge, the dirty tones of blues and stories that really shout for attention. That said Tracks certainly never goes off the rails under the hands of Blues Engine.
The StoneCoats, young blues-rock band infused with the growing popularity of country/southern rock vibe from Brandon Mississippi debut album is definitely one to explore. The opening track Another Thought For Today, left me with only one thought I want to hear more. The quartet is vocalist who plays guitar Brandon Barnett, Guitarist Carson Bristow, bassist Ashten Frisella and Leighton Bristow combining a rhythm double as bassist and drummer.
The tempo changes with a chugging boogie that hits that tonal zone where music has a driving excitement. The influences from the past sit gentle, yes we can compare to The Doors, Allman Brothers even Grateful Dead. The reality is The StoneCoats are in the process of developing their own sound that is contemporary colliding with the music that has flown up and down Route 61. The title track fails to hit the mark as the standout track, with its gentle swaying melodic lines lacking grit and determination that the title promised. The big keyboard chord and southern guitar leads into Find You, finding the StoneCoats is a pleasure as the debut promises to be the stepping stone for the band to grow. The country vibe takes over for Cheated Heart and we are left with the blues as the album closes with When You Are Down. If there is one track that epitomizes the sound of The StoneCoats it is Cross That Bridge; with vocals that hit the mark and the guitar licks stay with you, a memorable track on a debut album initiating the listener’s memories of The StoneCoats notable musicianship.
Nothing Poor Boy Blues About The StoneCoats; as they blend the tones of today mixing up a recipe of musical success a pinch of Southern Rock, a soupçon of country mixed together with a shot of Blues we have a recipe for music that will be tasty.
Live Albums capture a moment, freezing the live sound into the grooves that you can take home and play. Tedeschi Trucks Band Music Live From Fox Oakland comprises fifteen impeccable tracks across two CDs and does more that capture you in the moment. The album is a total immersion into a world where the blues based Tedeschi Trucks Band takes you to sonic places that enthrall and leave you breathless with joy. The lengths of the tracks vary from short and sweet Within You, Without You, full of Eastern mysticism and crowds whoops as the Beatles number is delivered with a delicacy and passion; through to the other end of the spectrum of nearly fifteen minutes of Tedeschi magic on I Want More complete with a Soul Sacrifice outro; could be self-indulgent time filling. Not under the hands of the jamming, improvisation virtuosity led by Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi every track is full of stylish twists and turns a music fairy dust of those special wow moments. The twelve-piece band gives Trucks and Tedeschi the choice of the sound they want to create as the instruments are at times maximized to full tonal depth and volume; or diminished into the powerful simplicity of vocals and keys. Every combination is used as the music played by Tedeschi Trucks Band Music Live From Fox Oakland creates a sonic mural of deep tonal pleasure. The colouring from the broad spectrum palette of jazz, the power hammer of rock, the hit of funk and the roots of the Blues that holds the Tedeschi sound together.
Picking out a few numbers from this magnum opus, is a real challenge. Leonard Cohen’s Bird On The Wire must be one, the combination of Susan Tedeschi’s vocals and Kofi Burbridge keys are a combination that is full of sensitivity, passion and music that sears straight to the heart. Then there is the re-working of I Pity The Fool, dominated by the vocals on this Bobby Blue Bland’s classic; the horns section pulling you deep into the vibe created. We all love a stomp, Sleepy John Estes’ Leavin’ Trunk provides this in buckets changing the tempo and providing a cascade of tones, and textures as horns guitar and vocals deliver a sound that is uncomplicated but full of interest as they explore the depths of the blues.
Into the mix of clever covers add the growing discography of Tedeschi Trucks numbers where they have input into the writing we have a selection of numbers that explores the musical journey that has been the sound track of the last hundred years. As ever Dereck Trucks guitar is majestic. Full of licks and riffs adding a luscious tone to every track as the interplay between the other instruments and Susan’s vocals create a sound board full of delights.
You may ask, do you want another live album with its mix of originals and re-working of classics that you already have numerous variations of and the original? Do you want another Tedeschi Trucks Band Album where half a dozen tracks are from last year’s album Let Me Get By? For me the answer is a resounding YES! Tedeschi Trucks Band Music Live From Fox Oakland, is full of fresh vitality and a pure hedonistic pleasure to sit and listen to from beginning to end time and time again.
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.