Blues On the Farm 2014 – Four Class Acts from U.S.A.
In its 23rd year Blues on the Farm have again bought bands from across the Atlantic; sadly Saturday’s headline Dana Fuchs had to pull out at the last moment due to family illness, we can just keep our fingers crossed that Dana will grace the stage in 2015; many of us were looking forward to hearing her perform live tracks from her stunning album Bliss Avenue.
Blues on The Farm 2014 had four acts from the U.S.A and three appeared on the Friday all were different bring their own stylish brand of music.
This year first up who included a stop of at the festival on her current tour was the effervescent Lisa Mills with Worcestershire born Ian Jennings on Double bass making this a duo delivering a little bit country, ballads and blues and cracking music bringing even more sunshine to a hot Saturday in June. Lisa has a fantastic voice that brings colour, light and emotions to every lyric she sings, with guitar in hand named Jezebel the sound is complimented by Ian’s stylish playing adding a depth of sound that makes this duo a winning and popular combination. Initially inside the marque was sparsely filled as festival goer sat in the June sunshine but as the voice radiated across the grounds people were drawn to the music and the powerful vocal range of Lisa’s voice. The set included request of I’m Changing’ from her many fans delighted to see her again, and reminding us why we like this duo. All the numbers were delivered with passion and feeling as Lisa linked the songs with stories that ensured everyone warmed to her and felt she was singing to them articulating feelings many have/are experiencing. You can be certain that this duo deliver every time sparing no energy for the next time they perform with energy and gusto that brings a feel good feeling to the occasion. Lisa sang two of my favourites from her last album Tempered with Fire, Keep on Smiling that had a great interactive instrumental interlude, with Ian mastering that oft illusive musical skill using silence to highlight specific notes and I Never Fall In Love Again with its boogie woogie feel , the style of music Ian loves to play with some superb slap bass and a virtuoso solo.
I can remember hearing her with a full band and that was very special so be good to see her back next time in this format; there is no doubt that Lisa can write a great country blues ballad about love lost and regained; it would ring the changes if the songs really stretched her melodious voice and crossed over to deliver some gospel/soul numbers to and even greater depth of tempo and sound. That said the crowds loved her and Ian just as she is and will no doubt be filling venues across the country this summer and we are all waiting in anticipation of her new album new remixed version of the I’m Changing – release date will be soon so watch for the announcement.
Hamilton Loomis with his stellar line-up in the band of Armando Aussenac (Drums) born in Mexico City, Fabian Hernandez (Saxes, Keys, Background Vocals) a Texan from Dallas and Dante Ware (Bass, Background Vocals) born in Trenton N.J Opening the early evening slot with Partner In Crime the festival was full of the distinctive Hamilton style that feels the festival ground with a feeling of well-being. Tonight was no different as he delivered a very potent set of raunchy Texan blues This is a band that is so tight from the second perfect use of stopping and starting to the in time body swaying of Hamilton , Dante and Fabian; this is not rehearsed choreography but a feel of the music and the accentuation of a style Hamilton has always has, it works so well as their bodies move and stop in harmony matching the flow and syncopation of the music and real stage show that hits all the right spots. The set was professional, fun and interactive as Hamilton took the opportunity to display all the intricate musical shapes on his latest album Give It Back; including a dynamic live version of Eternally; Stuck In a Rut; that this line-up is definitely not with the rhythm section providing so much more than a solid foundation for Hamilton’s guitar playing out front, they add little licks and drum rolls that bring the music alive; then the other layer of sound that Fabian brings either on saxophone or keys, this line-up works so well making the sound fully with a bit more attitude. As ever Hamilton delighted everyone by jumping off the stage into the crowd during Bow Bow as he toured the marque getting up close and personal, left to their own devises the boys on the stage filled in with little quirky melodies turning Bow Bow into an exciting musical spectacular that every festival needs; and for me this is the best I have heard Hamilton Loomis play at any British Festival.
Friday’s Headline act were Royal Southern Brotherhood, see review Headlines @ Blues on the Farm.. This is a band that came, played and left a base of British fans who now have the essence off the band distilled into their musical blood and will be making every effort to see them again and enjoy listening to the music courtesy of the music they purchased whether the bands latest heartsoulblood or Cyril Neville’s Honey Magic; Devon Allman’s solo album Turquoise, Mike Zito and The Wheel, Charlie Wooton Project or Yonrinco Scotts’ Quest of The Big Drum…………
Now it is Sunday late afternoon, the sun has shone over the festival every day and now taking the stage are Moreland and Arbuckle; as they hit the stage and struck their first chords the volume had gone up you knew this was a high-voltage trio from across the pond! Formed in 2001 guitarist Aaron Moreland and vocalist/blues harp player Dustin Arbuckle met in Wichita, Kansas and quickly formed an acoustic duo playing traditional and delta blues today they are joined by drummer Kendall Newby which makes for a harder sound with the added depth of a solid back line.
They delivered a dynamic mix of standards and self-penned numbers; including Rollin’ and Tumblin’ which the trio have made their own with a stylish delivery. They have created out of the bedrock of rootsy sound that has blended and melded blues, Southern rock with more than a twist of Psychedelia and then into the musical cocktail traces of styles including soul and echoes of quality music from across time. This is a distinctive sound that makes them instantly recognisable. As they delivered tracks from their latest album 7 Cities, the sound just meant there was a queue to purchase the CD and take some southern magic home with you. There is no doubt about it Kow Tow and The Devil Me together helped album sales!and and the festival crowds got closer as they were pulled into the groove being created and dancing shoes were to the fore. The harp riffs that soar above the guitar have to be listened to and then there is the cigar box with its own distinctive sound with incorporation of the bass string that really suits the guitar style of Aaron Moreland. Just a Dream was driven by hardcore rhythm allowing Arbuckle’s vocals and harp playing take centre stage.
What a quartet Julian Mores and his team have assembled for 2014 all the acts were throughly enjoyed by the Blues on the Farm festival goers.