Great British Rock & Blues
Butlins, Skegness 2015 –
JAKS and Introducing Stage
The music plays for three days and nights across four stages at the Great Rock & Blues Festival, Butlin’s, Skegness, the last weekend in January draws many to the cold East Coast.
There is so much to offer that there is no way to see and take in every act and for many people there are favourite stages especially for many of the regulars and there are a loyal band who spend the majority of their time in the Blues Matters sponsored stage JAKS with its quirky décor and a mix of music through the day from midday and late into the night only taking a break between 4.30 – 8pm where the Introducing Stage in the Sky Pavilion fills the gap.
I saw and missed some amazing moments on both stages, I needed to eat re-charge my batteries and catch up with people and sometimes get away from music!
Friday the music started for me on the Introducing Stage, after a long drive coffee and music was the perfect antidote. The band that opened the music fest was Starvin’ Sid a great entertaining act to get the weekend off with a smile and this year every day we had a chance to vote with a plastic token for our favourite act; the process overlooked by Blues In Britain team; the prize the chance to play a main stage in 2016. The sets that followed were varied and full of live music energy including Jack Hutchinson who was impressive and must have been a contender and we would see his style again during the jam at JAK’s. Ged Wilson was a solo acoustic performer who delivered a mix of standards and self-penned and like Starvin’ Sid would make a music pub a real attraction. The last act was Rebecca Downes; who went on to win the popular vote she has a great voice and her stage presence is dynamic as the crowds grew the excitement in the Skyline grew. Her act was much more interactive and full on with real character and a great backing band. Rebecca Downes certainly attracted all the right attention tonight.
In JAKS the atmosphere was building and was hot with a happy crowd when I dropped by to hear the end of a great set from Split Whiskers who as ever entertained with an array of numbers that got everyone in the mood for music to dance. They are a colourful band with a great full-on sound which went down a treat. Red Butler followed, this is a young band that just keep on delivering stunning displays of musicianship. They hit the road running with a real racy number that showcased Jane as the vocal diva of the band and Alex’s exceptional slide guitar playing on Movin’ On. The set had a mix of songs and throughout were numbers off their excellent debut CD Freedom Bound; starting off with Pension Blues. There is no doubt this is a band that we will be seeing more of during 2015 they are talented, have charisma and really want to entertain you. With Jane’s vocals, stage presence and great backing musicians they really hit the spot, with their take on Shakin’ All Over being quite unique and is fast becoming a signature. For many they were the band of the whole weekend. They did have the whole of JAKS lapping up music and a great new number Gambling Man was very reminiscent of early cream no wonder they were the talk of Butlins 2015. The tempo went down a notch with Malaya Blue Band; as Malaya’s voice lacks the power of Jane’s and has a more jazz blues feel, though without doubt this is a lady who can sing, with a great band to back her vocals with a strong rhythm section of Simon Dring & Trev Turley. Though personally the music was fine and the interpretation was distinctive on the whole this was a nice set that lacked the high-voltage energy that a late night session at JAKS normally has. What it did show was the wide range, depth and breadth of female vocals delivering the blues in their own unique way in Britain in 2015 as Malaya was the fifth charismatic female vocalist of the weekend so far across the stages.
Saturday afternoon is all about the Jam in JAKS run with precision making this a perfect venue for musicians to enjoy participating in the jam and the audience to delight in the rawness and never knowing what act was coming up next.
The popular act on The Introducing Stage was first up Lost Minute who started playing to about 100 the music bought people to the stage and by the end the area was packed with over 500 music lovers demanding an encore. This band definitely hit the right spot and was the winner tonight. The other two bands I heard on this stage were Riotous Brothers and I was looking forward to the set having reviewed their album and I was impressed. The band connected with the audience with dancers enjoying the lively and entertaining set. Riotous Brothers certainly understand they are there to entertain and they did just that. I also heard Pierre K Band who had travelled from Belgium to entertain us and they delivered blues, with hefty takes on blues standards, tonight the keys were missing and this was a loss and as a three-piece they didn’t quite deliver the sound produced on their current album.
All to soon it was the last day of the weekend, with another two sessions that would suit the mood, starting with laid back and a quality acoustic set from Richard Townend; this was a perfect start to a Sunday JAKS always hit the spot on the Sunday afternoon, we heard some acoustic gems and a moving tribute to Alan Turing as he delivered an entertaining set, looking forward to 2016 when he brings back to JAKS with his band The Mighty Bosscats. I also popped back to hear Malaya Blue Band acoustic set for a short time, this afternoon she was joined by Will Johns as well has her band and the stripped down suited her vocal range. I was a bit disappointed that from what I heard it was the same set as Friday but suited this slot on a Sunday. The Introductory stage bough another four bands and another chance to vote the stage was getting more popular and Stark opening the proceedings and were very popular form comments I heard, Struggle Buggy were a competent country Blues band but the accolades went to the last band of the weekend on this stage The Della Grants, it was no surprise to hear they won the popular vote. This young four-piece blues bands delivered with great vocals and played some genuine blues, they certainly have bags of potential.
JAKS on Sunday night was ready to party as Roadhouse filled their spot with the music they love to play and the crowds certainly enjoyed them once again. Laura Holland Band who delivered Rock N’Roll/Swing style music that certainly filled the dance floor. Laura fronted the band with aplomb, with here great stage presence and vocals that’s suited the music being delivered. JAKS felt like it had entered a time-warp and was back in the late 1950’s with tracks including Spoonful and I need your love So Bad. The music played on until the early hours with The Robin Robertson Blues Band but an earlyish night beckoned been another music packed weekend once again.
Friday: 8 -2.00pm
Split Whiskers Band*
Mick Simpson & Malaya Blue*
Saturday: Midday – 4.30 pm 8– 2pm
The Dave Thomas Band
Sharon Colgan Band
Jed Thomas Band
Sunday: Midday – 4.30 pm 8– 2pm
Mick Simpson & Malaya Blue (Acoustic)*
Laura Holland Band*
The Robin Robertson Blues Band
Jack J Hutchinson*
The Riotous Brothers*
Victoria Klewin & The Mojohands
Pierre K Band*
George Shovlin’ and the Radars
The Della Grants*