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.
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
This is a gem of a festival, set in the heart of Jane Austen Country, the focal point is The Star Inn, Bentworth, acoustic sets and the legendary Barry Pethers Jam sessions in the bar, with stages on The Green and in the Beer Garden. The ale, beers and lagers are all excellent, with food available with a tasty bar-b-que set up in the beer garden.
There is camping available close to the festival site and local Bed & Breakfasts that will make you very welcomed.
Review Bentworth 2012
Earlier start to the festival this year with the music on the green from 1.15, the acoustic set delivered by John Walsh provided a wonderful backdrop whilst eating a delicious lunch. Bentworth Blues Festival this year provided the perfect antidote to anyone who has the post Olympic blues and want to retain the feel good positive atmosphere for a bit longer. The Friday bands were all playing on the green whilst the garden ‘dried out’ following a deluge earlier in the week, yet another sign of the impact that the wet 2012 summer has had on outdoor events. The sun was shone throughout the weekend of the festival and created the archetypal British summer scene, ice-cream, good real ale, excellent music and the shade provided by a spreading oak tree. The gentle bluesy summer afternoon theme was maintained by Bob Hall on keys accompanied by Dave Peabody on guitar – what a delightful duo, the perfect remedy to the stresses of work. The young man Lewis Cohen followed with a delightful compilation of favourite blues numbers including ‘Diving Duck’ and ‘Deep river Blues’, interspersed with some great gospel numbers. Lewis is an accomplished acoustic guitarist with the perfect voice to complement the playing creating perfect harmony. This was delta blues sung with passion, what more could anyone ask for on the opening afternoon of a blues festival. Then a dramatic tempo change came about when Sugar Mama strutted onto the stage. This young band from the West Midlands certainly produces a real wow!! factor sound, including some innovative slide guitar on ‘Make Your Money Maker’ at times very reminiscent of Johnnie Winter’s style. This young band produces a raw sound but the timing and delivery is confident and very tight, producing creative medleys of a wide range of classics, with lead guitarist Sam Anderson reminiscent at times of Alvin Lee, finishing of this accomplished headlining set with dancers bopping with a great take on ‘Sympathy For The Devil’. This band had definitely imprinted itself in the minds of the new members of the crowd. What an ending to the first night, the festival was delivering yet again finishing on a high, high note.
Saturday saw sun-shining the BBQ fired up and the promise of 11 hours of great music delivered by nine acts across the three Bentworth stages. “Bad Influence” got the show on the road, with Val Cowell delivering both vocally and as rhythm guitarist on a great set that included a great take on the iconic Etta James’, “I’d Rather Go Blind” that was full of emotion and heartfelt delivery of the powerful lyrics. This band is so very good at what they do delivering Rock Blues professionally with tight performances that bring out the best in all the component parts of the band. Wonderful choice to open an action packed day as they showcased there versatility with great covers mixed in with the numbers form their new CD ‘Carousel’ and for their fans a selection from their back catalogue. The next band was a great contrast on the green a rip-roaring Rhythm and Blues Band lead from the front by American singer/guitarist Franck Ash. They produced a perfect combination for a Sunny British festival, tasty guitar licks and pleasing vocals, the band produced their own distinctive sound with funky overtones driven by the verve and energy of SRV influenced artists. The ever popular ‘Barry Pethers’, (Bass player with Ben Poole Band) followed with a Saturday afternoon jam in the bar that was never going to be large enough as everyone wanted to be in on the action and catch Barry’s friends who included Ben Poole himself, young Welsh guitar-man Luke Doherty and a string of popular artists this is a jam session of the highest standard!. (Matt next year this needs to be outside…). For those who could not shoe-horned themselves into the bar they were in for a treat as Trevor Burton Band was playing in the garden and they delighted the crowd with some great takes of classic blues and Rock n’ Roll including ‘Monster of Disaster’, another band hitting the right tempo and sound for this friendly, laid backed festival. Short breather, time to top up the beers or buy an ice-cream and then watch the trio that is ‘Papa George’, Sam Kelly (Drums) & Pete Stroud (Bass for second time today, first he was playing with Bad Influence) take to the stage on the green. Great authentic deep south blues with Pap Georges great voice, National guitar and the ability to weave medleys of well known songs a highlight being a great version of ‘Divin’ Duck’. Sam as ever delivers his own inimitable style of driving drumming that rumbles, growls and skitters throughout without ever dominating, a tribute to his superb style and timing which combined with the Pete’s accomplished Bass to provide a powerful rhythm backdrop that allowed Papa George to showcase his voice combined with steel and slide – nuff said this is a class act anyone who says covers are boring haven’t heard this dirty deep down “sarff” take on ‘Honky Tonk Women’. Just as it couldn’t get better Val Cowell was invited to join the trio adding further depth to the vocals with Pap George changing to a Gibson electric on numbers including a delightful slow blues number ‘Cleansing My Soul’. Once again an overlap with the choice of acoustic ‘Claire Free’, entertained in a very busy bar whilst in the garden the ever popular local band ‘The Mustangs’. Both acts pleased the crowds with a laid-back Claire showcasing her beautiful voice and soulful blues guitar playing showing a different side of Claire if you have only caught her fronting her Blues band before. In The garden The Mustangs were delivering a high energy set and the first blues harp player of the day, the self penned numbers were strong and versions of Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters etc.. pleased the dancing crowds. ‘Prohibition Blues’ was appreciated by a fully participating audience demonstrating prohibition at The Star Inn was never going to be on the menu! Next up on the stage on the green were “The Richard Clarke Band” the penultimate band of the day. They provided a change from the other acts as Richard delivered numerous pieces covering a wide range of genres, Stevie Wonder was the favourite and his spin was evident on all the performance – this is a young band to be watched. He invited Barry Pethers to join him bringing his own percussive style of bass playing , as the evening turned into a bit of a jam David Rapheal (Harp) and Ben Poole joined the band, this was a confident, laid-back youngster enjoying performing the blues and making the most of an appreciative festival crowd, I am positive we will be seeing and hearing a lot more of this young man and his band. Now for the much awaited, Bentworth festival favourites who were headlining this year ‘Northsyde’. Lorna Fothergill on vocals who had borrowed a fetching top hat as Saturday is Hat day at Bentworth and a wide array of hats were on display throughout the day including a group of festival goers representing the group ‘The Village People’. As ever a confident high octane set was delivered with new songs interspersed with favourites from their back catalogue including “Get The Funk Out”, a great rendition of “Hard Shoes” and even some from ‘Funkydory’ days many had been requested by fans and with the complex and numerous lyrics tested Lorna’s and the band’s memory skills to the full. This is a band that would energise any audience and the Bentworth crowd needed no encouragement to get on their feet, sing-a-long and enjoy this superb set. After a number of encores eventually the stage went quiet and Saturday at Bentworth was over for another year, but there was still Sunday….
Sunday afternoon started in the garden with a suitably chilled out set delivered with aplomb by ‘Kyle & Shaw’ what a great acoustic duo the highlight for me was the brilliant, piedmont style picking combined with a great tribute to Mississippi John Hurt this was the ideal antidote to the high jinx’s and energy of the previous evening. Local band ‘Sonny Rat and The Resonators’ delivered to a sun drenched audience on the green a mix of Bluegrass/country blues with the festival in a chilled-out mood. In the bar was an exciting young man from Yorkshire, ‘Blues Beaten Redshaw’, and for me the find of the festival – what a talent. His self-penned acoustic numbers, centred on life in his home county included witty and sometimes quite deep lyrics. He quickly built a rapport with the appreciative audience, and his skills on his home-made diddley bow was simply breathtaking, look out for this spell-binding precocious talent near you, with his gruff voice and rough rootsy guitar style complimenting each other. In contrast in the garden was ‘Steve Brookes Band’ delivering a strong afternoon set of festival favourites and giving everyone the chance to dance and show off their shirts.. as Bentworth Sunday is crazy Shirt Day!!!
The ever popular ‘Robin Bibi Band’ followed, Robin sporting a SRV hat as ever delivered accomplished guitar playing. For one young man Robin made it a birthday to remember not the cake but the opportunity to get on stage with his blues idol and assist in playing a tune, a magic family friendly moment of the weekend. Robin is the consummate profession delivering Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Ray Vaughan, BB King and self penned tracks adapting to the crowd and the mood of the event he finished the set by walking through the crowds and even visiting the next act in the bar much to the amazement of ‘Tommy Allen & Johnny Hewitt’ whilst performing ‘Pride and Joy’. Without pausing for breath Tommy continued to deliver in a hot, packed and steamy bar top quality electric blues accompanied by awesome harp playing by Johnny. The duo then became a trio as the wondering Bass player of the festival Barry Pethers joined them. A great set from a quality duo. Another festival favourite followed in the garden ‘Five Field Holler’ a local Hampshire band who delivered their own distinctive take on blues-rock melding styles together so that you get a hint of Chicago, funk and a bit of swampy rock played with passion and vigour. The tracks came thick and fast bringing a real feeling of the blues as the heat from the sun was mellowing and the shadows lengthened. The final international act of the festival before the customary end of festival jam was Canadian, ‘Andre & The J Tones’ on the green performing their last gig of a successful U.K. Tour this five piece included an excellent horn section delivering blues with a touch of swing. Whilst the set wasn’t pure blues including some pop numbers it was the perfect dancing end to the festival, as most of the crowd took to the floor to dance the evening away – well almost the end. Everyone crammed into the garden to join Jules Benjamin and friends for the customary Bentworth Sunday jam. Jules was joined by many friends including Tommy Allen, Barry Pethers etc.. a great finale to another Matt Williams extravaganza that had delivered in every sense of the word – even the weather was perfect in what has been a very dreary wet summer…