Fun and Music creating Perfect Mayhem
Old Bush Blues 2017
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.
Kyle and Shaw
Paddy Maguire Band
Stuart James Band
Tom Walker Trio
Del Ray Rockets
Some Haunted Souls
Five Field Holler
The Old Avengers