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
Old Bush Blues Festival
@ Old Bush, Callow End. Worcestershire
2 1st – 23rd August 2015
It may have been the inaugural Old Bush Blues Festival at Callow End, Worcester, but it is in fact another Matt Williams extravaganza with a little (well lots of help from Karen and his many friend)this is Old Bush Blues formerly known as Bentworth Blues!
The festival was wall to wall music across three areas from midday Friday through to 11pm Sunday. There was music to suit festival goers who wanted to chill, dance and have a thoroughly great time. This review is a snapshot of all the fun and delight in hearing music live catching up with friends and making new ones; there was always a glittering of magic over Bentworth and this Matt has miraculously managed to transfer to his new pub The Old Bush. This is a new location but the positive Matt vibe is shining strong overcoming every obstacle thrown at him first re-locating the festival and the British summer weather over the three days, rain, hot sun, clouds and then the mini whirlwind that ran through the festival on Saturday followed by a deluge and the power going out the stage going dark but all was overcome and the festival was a roaring success. The bar is well stocked, the food delicious whilst the bands playing in the bar had a cosy alcove and the music floated across the throngs into every corner and crevice. The two outside stages were close together, great for moving between when the weather was inclement, the only tiny downside was you could hear the sound check of the next band occasionally when the act was playing on the adjacent stage, a minor irritant that never dampened the music.
The highlights on Friday from chatting to people as we missed the opening day were two old Bentworth favourites Five Field Holler who always run the sound desks and show their talents on stage and making sure every band has the sound just perfect and Trafficker so now Tommy Allen and the boys have a new home.
Saturday was a bright summers day and the tones of Luke Doherty’s guitar playing with his band opened the proceedings delighting the crowd with a mixture of Blues standards and some new material off his latest album Six Strings and A Stetson warming the crowd on a sunny afternoon once again. To make a festival work the music needs to be varied and Matt has woven together an interesting mix as Lucy Zirins not in her usual solo guise but with her new band her Southern Company and they mix her stylish acoustic guitar with double bass, keys, fiddle and drums which add texture complimenting Lucy’s songwriting. The tracks from her debut album Chasing Clocks had an authenticity as the Southern Company all worked on the album. Her performance was faultless with a calm charisma that warms the audience and the smile is infectious we are all looking forward to her forthcoming EP especially after hearing some live this afternoon Falling To pieces in particular is a gem and we all celebrated her airing on Paul Jones’ Radio 2 programme with a live rendition of Morning Light. Today the shiny Tallulah guitar may have been left at home she was missed but we loved Lucy and the band.
The music played on The Mustangs now picked up the beat on the other stage and they had the crowds on their feet and dancing to blues that hits your shoe-tapping, hip-swaying inner soul. They played a mix of classics and numbers off their albums to a very high standard full of high energy guitar and harp driven melodies of R n’B that rattles and rolls. While the stages were re-organised we had an entertaining set in the bar from Lenny James and the Gator Squad, then back out into the sunshine to listen to a trio who enthralled with their brand of the blues and the lead breaks were definitely ear entertainment; fitting in with the vibe of this happy laid back festival.
Now an act that many had been waiting with anticipation for all weekend The Blues Duo, Tommy Allen & Johnny Hewitt as they sat down to entertain with Chicago inspired blues that rolls of the guitar and harp across the stage and drifted throughout the festival site. As we all sat back to enjoy the music no-one expected what was to happen next the clouds filled in the blues skies, there was a calm then a mini twister tore through the site taking marquees and parasols and then the torrents of rain the music played on a bit of tempestuous weather was going to dampen our fun then it went silent as the power failed and the music stopped. No it didn’t! Within minutes Tommy had an acoustic guitar and they played on with no mics the stage was dark and the music took on an authentic feel as the staff tried to find out what was the problem with no quick solution the acoustic theme continued with Dan Sowerby in the Bar as the trio delivered the set in an unlit bar but nothing was going to silence the Old Bush Blues and the hand pumped beer still flowed from the tap.
Having lost less than an hour of electric music the festival picked up the schedules with a barnstorming and appropriately re-named Electric, formerly known as Sugar Mama. As usual this power trio hit the ground running with verve and electric energy the music zinged and the captivating performance of Sam Anderson on guitar re-energised the festival. This was tempestuous playing the perfect antidote to the idiosyncratic weather thrown at us during the day. The set was powerful delivered at a furious, but controlled pace. Baby Please Don’t Go came alive, all the covers given the Electric treatment including Summertime Blues; Alien Alien in between self-penned numbers. Everyone was on their feet ready to party then we had the added bonus of Ross Barnes on Saxophone a young talent to look out for. This is a perfect festival band and with Northsyde to follow we were in the mood to party. This band are like an institution at Bentworth and like all good traditions it was continuing at Old Bush Blues. Lorna’s vocals were full of passion as her tongue curled around the lyrics and then they were sung with a purity that raised the roof; the band are a complete item no wonder they have multi-nominations once again at this year’s British Blues Awards. Jules on guitar plays sweet licks, dynamic riffs and the lead breaks mesmerize as Lorna’s voice has a break, the rhythm section Ian on bass and drummer Haydn provide the ground from which Lorna and Jules can fly. Matt distributed bobble hats (a favourite fashion accessory of Lorna’s) to the dancing crowds, we certainly didn’t need them with the temperature rising with every note delivered they definitely added to the festival vibe. The music flowed with Hard Shoes, their sublime version of the Allman Brother’s Whipping Post, and the extended version of Statesbro’ Blues added to the emotive festival atmosphere. As the clock ticked on the set finished far too soon as the closing notes of the title track of their latest album Story Teller’s Daughter faded away the stage fell quiet and then the whoops and cheers began – what a show. Bringing the Saturday night to a close was the festival’s MC and all round entertainer Jules Benjamin Saturday certainly was a roller coaster ride but the music won through, live up close and fantastic and there was still Sunday to come.
Sunday and we all wanted more music and the opening duo of Kyle and Shaw retain their established slot opening the last day of the festival an acoustic duo who deliver music that is soothing and intriguing as they find songs with a difference those not often heard . The set hits the right spot as we sip our coffee, have the first pint of the day and build ourselves up for the feast of music on offer. Danny Kyle is a skilled guitarist and vocalist building the tension and emotion in the lyric driven songs and the bass line from Pete Shaw is the perfect punctuation a bluesy act that fits the festival like a glove. Now for a solo act that is different, nothing quiet and laid back as Yorkshire man Blues Beaten Redshaw entertains with tales, guitar, banjo and his Diddly Bow. This is music that has a rough edge with hints of country and his own unique in-your-face delivery making him a crowd pleasing favourite. Not everything went to plan first one then a second string pinged on his banjo and then without missing a beat he used the banjo as a prop to keep time and continued delivering the music. He melded classics together creating a melody that explored the origins of the blues and made the songs come alive with his unique act that does truly entertain. If you love electric bluesChicago 9 certainly hits the right notes but they never set the marquee alight.
Whereas Catfish in the Bar certainly did and everyone I spoke to said they should be back next year on a stage where more people could get to hear this act that knows how to get the best out of classics giving them a new lease of life. What set them above others who play Born Under A Bad Sign and other such classics is hard to define in words the musicianship was first class above all they played with that essential and often elusive ingredient “feel” and understanding and pure enjoyment of the genre. Matt Long on guitar shredded the notes and put them back together as a true blues number with superb keys from Paul Long and between them they shared vocal duties each selecting songs that suit their vocal tone and delivered an accomplished set. The studio album, So Many Roads is very good but live they have a special magic They played some stupendous, formidable numbers delivered with panache, energy and passion, the band of the day for me, and running a very close second was Will Wilde the next band up. He plays harmonica with tone and style that are quite unique and the band just gets better. He is a harmonica player that squeezes every note and tonal effect out of the harp to produce music you want to listen to. He can play a guitar decently too, it was abandoned when tuning went awry, and he simply picked up the harp and continued. On The Road Again is a Will Wilde cover that is becoming a signature number on his live sets with tracks from his current album, Raw Blues and some new songs including Jealous Woman. He and the band may have arrived late but made up for it by producing the musical goods on the stage. With a quick break and change of stage the four-piece Voodoo Sheiks picked up the music baton, they launched into a set full of tracks from their latest album Voodification. This was a set that the dancers liked and the crowds tapped their feet in time with the Chicago driven blues set and were just what the Doctor ordered on an early Sunday evening as the shadows began to lengthen. With just three acts left people’s thoughts began to turn to the journey home later that night or on the Monday as the campers prayed the rain would stay away. Howlin’ Mat – (yes Mat with one not two t’s) an entertaining solo act entertained in the Bar and the second Diddly Bow of the day was introduced. His take on Little Red Rooster has a real rough edged, earthy and dirty sound that Mat delivers with a smile and really does hit the sweet-spot. He has great banter and connects with the audience and with Matt who joined him on the bongo drums adding an unexpected and different vibe to the set. The set was a mix of Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and Howlin’ Wolf all given the Howlin’ Mat treatment with accomplished and stylish guitar playing. Back out into the beer garden for Andre Bisson and the first trumpet of the festival, the horns certainly add a tonal texture to the music and a layer of musical colours to the sound. With their unique mix of blues, soul and pop classics they always are a crowd pleaser bringing a warm atmosphere to the closing hours of the weekend. Their version of I Heard It Through the Grapevine has a warmth of delivery as Andre sings the lyrics and adds layers of guitar riffs and licks. They are a perfect band to close a festival as they play music we love to hear that is always pleasing to the ear. Old Bush Blues though has one more act as people start to pack up it is Jules Benjamin and friends who serenade the festival as he is joined by many of the musicians that have played throughout the weekend.