Monthly Archives: July 2016

Upton Blues Festival. Upton upon Severn. 15-17. July 2016

Our second visit to the blues festival. We enjoyed last year and there were a couple of acts we are fans of this year.

Friday. Directed to our camping spot. Last year was ‘park where you want!’ so increased numbers have have brought more organisation. We found ourselves next to Mike and Gayle, co-managing directors of SAGA (Salford  Anti  Greenchair Association) . So off to the Sports Field in village.                    Chris Gibbons.   We were met by Gary Moore’s ‘Oh Pretty Woman’ and the standard ‘Early in the Morning’.   He asked us to sing along to something woefully out of tune, we declined . A ‘Stormy Monday’ clone to finish.               Dove and BoWeevil.    Much hyped and award-nominated outfit.  5-piece , female vocals. Not regulation 12-bar stuff, very slick.  But all the attention they seem to have attracted was lost on me.  They were…ok.  Applause was somewhat less than rapturous.    Her Ladyship went off and came back with some onion bajees plus a special ‘dip’.  It was Agent Orange meets Napalm Death! (Great!)   If Donald Trump gets the recipe, he will drop a load onto the entire Muslim world, and anybody else who has the nerve to suggest his head is full of Dinky Toys and tomato sauce.         Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band.          Sort of like Captain Beefheart meets ‘Deliverance’.   Got a seat on the Grassy Knoll, Her Ladyship went on a Logan’s Run down to the front.    ‘I shall not be moved’ was a semi-soundcheck.  The tent was packed , with real applause emanating from it.  I discovered the good Reverend and his family a few years ago.    We got all the favourites,  ‘Front porch trained’, ‘ Clap your hands…’ et al.    Then came the dilemma. Babajack were a late addition to the acoustic stage , there would be a slight overlap. ‘Daddy or Chips?’.   Left before the Rev’s set ended and got a front row seat for Babajack.  Just the duo today, with Becky unable to use her percussion box as well.     Starting out with ‘Hammer and tongs’, it was a fairly short set. ‘Death Letter’ is always there though, so is the final ‘Gallows Pole.’ Her poignant song about her uncle hit home with Her Ladyship.   We love them and we also love the Rev’s mob. But we know some people who prefer the Jones/Bryant/Brown/Lister/Miller version of de blooze so we can’t all like the same. Our preference is the older, minimalist stuff.           Chris Antonik.     Riverside stage headliner, he is another much-lauded blueser.   First song was quite funky, so was the second, so was…   Very popular but I don’t go for the the funkier end of the blues. Back to the tent. A pretty good day though.

Saturday.    Della Grants.  Have seen these Leicester lads before, and thought they were pretty good. They have built up a good following on the blues and festival circuit.  Got a seat by side of stage but decided to move. We had discovered we were next to a group of 10 women from a very adjacent principality. They were obviously having a good time but it was like a day outing from Viz. There was a brief argument about who had the last bit of coke…and I don’t mean the stuff in a bottle! We are talking Bolivian Marching Powder. However, the jazz Woodbines calmed things down and while they didn’t quite have the A to Z of booze, they must have had the C to V (Cider to Vodka) plus all points in between. Bless ’em.  I think they were all suffering from  AAD  (Advanced Alcoholic Dishevelment).    Anyway, back to the Della Grants. A mention of Chicago and watching the Mississippi River had my doubting my dismal geography knowledge. I reckon you would need pretty good eyesight. But who was bothered?  Nearly all original stuff, with a festivally’ Stones disco attempt, ‘Miss You’.   Good applause, well justified.         Blind Pilgrim. Back to the Sports stage. The 3-piece started out with some Zeppelin ‘How many more times’ riffs, with some ‘oh-ohing added on.   Got a bit hungry so went off for some tea.  Neil from Whitwell reckoned they had been pretty good. (More of Neil later).              LaVendore Rogue.        A new group of seasoned musos with ‘form’.     Very difficult to categorise, Her Ladyship got an early hint vocally and visually, of Ian Anderson from the lead vocalist.   Like the Della Grants, nearly all original stuff apart from a Stones number. This one was ‘Get off my cloud’.  They must have been good, as Her Ladyship started grooving at the end…but only marginally.   Worth checking out.                   Aynsley Lister.  The square was full for the Saturday headliner.   Have seen him before some years ago, and have been listening to a very old gig from Abertillery in 2005. It seemed okay then, and he just came across as still just okay tonight.    It was almost MOR , even people near us were shouting ‘Liven it up’.  It was almost cruise liner stuff.  They did a bit of keyboard/guitar interplay that Lord and Blackmore were doing 40-odd years ago.  For us, he is one of that bunch of young bluesmen (okay, Larry Miller isn’t so young!) that I would struggle to differentiate between. But he has lots of fans.  Off to bed.   But no sleep just yet.    We could hear ‘Summer of 69’, ‘Sex on fire’ and, of course, ‘All Right Now’.    Want  a laugh? Do a Google search for “cover band bingo”. it’s great.

Sunday. Half Deaf Clatch.    From his opening words ‘ Mah fairst song’ there was no doubt where he was from…Hull.   He has a good voice and plays slide acoustic guitar with occasional banjo.  Mainly originals, with some Henry Thomas and Robert Johnson. Ended with the weekend’s second appearance for ‘Death Letter’. Enjoyed him, he was a bit like a less manic version of King Size Slim who was here last year.(See review).           Creole Brothers.  Soon discovered their gushing blurb must have been written by themselves ( ‘All delivered with OUR own wry humorous take…’ is a giveaway.).    Lots of songs in New Orleans Cajun French. Definitely not for devotees of King Crimson, I suspect.  A bit of Cajun stuff is always a good bit mid-afternoon, but this was pretty ordinary. A singalong attempt at ‘Don’t mess with my toot-toot’ died on its ar*e.                  Masai Blues.  5-piece female fronted outfit., doing jazzy, bluesy, soully stuff  that would be appropriate for a  support slot at Ronnie Scott’s or a Las Vegas night club.   The guitarist let rip a bit on ‘Born under a bad sign’  and did I hear Laughing Lenny’s ‘First we take Manhattan’ while I was queueing for drinks?   A regulation 12-bar gave the impression the musicians were happier  in that mode, and a female version of ‘I’m a Man’ didn’t really work. ‘Hound Dog’ wasn’t great either.  We got another ‘Stormy Monday’ clone and it made me think that with all these plagiarism cases in the news, T Bone Walker must be spinning in his grave.                The sun got really hot, so we went down to the Star . Bacchus were doing their Allmans’ influenced stuff, plus ‘Roadhouse blues’,  ‘Rock n Roll’, Route 66′, ‘Honky Tonk Woman’,’Carol’,  ‘Brown Sugar’.  (See Cover Band Bingo card).  Pretty good ‘Jessica’ though, and one of their own had a very Allmans-ish intro.   We should have got there earlier.                              Stayed there for the Worried Men recommended by trio of Welsh women Her Ladyship was talking to. Lead vocalist had balding long hair, Gibson Flying V and 3 black boxes with Marshall written on. I had a hunch we weren’t in for a load of 2-Tone ska stuff.   Much played ‘I just wanna make love to you’ was followed by ‘Same old story’ (was that a Blodwyn Pig song?).  Very good, very entertaining classic Power Trio stuff.  Originals plus covers (3 from Dr Feelgood’s repertoire, ‘Crazy about girls’, ‘Rollin’ and tumblin’ and ‘Back in the night’).   Interesting slants on Neil Young and Eddie Cochran too.          Went to get a place for Big Red and the Grinners.      Started with ‘Word up’ followed by ‘Walk this way’.   They have both been given the treatment before , by Hayseed Dixie and the excellent Boss Hoss from Germany. Steve Earle’s  ‘Galway Girl’ was next, but we were suffering from the Star stage in the right ear and this lot in our left.      I didn’t hear his intro to the Beatles’ ‘I’ve just seen a face’, and if he mentioned that the reconstituted Pure Prairie League did it in 1974 then credit to him. But let’s just assume it slipped his mind.  It has all been done before, and done better.   I just got the feeling of cashing in on Hayseed Dixie’s ‘rockgrass’ genre.   If you like ‘rockgrass’ you will know of Hayseed Dixie but maybe not The Boss Hoss.  Two others worth checking out are Luther Wright and the Wrongs version of ‘The Wall’ and the Hillbenders attempt at ‘Tommy’. The latter has been endorsed by Pete Townshend, and they are touring the UK with it.   As for Big Red and chums, I was disappointed.

But any disappointments were outweighed by the fact it is FREE!  Yes, the pubs are bloody packed. You could argue that the event has been a victim of its own excellence.  Suggestions?  Neil from Whitwell reckons, as we do, there should be a Hobson’s bar at the Sports stage. The camp site discipline seemed much better.   Some very good music, some not so good but that is down to personal taste. Sound was good at both main stages.   A really good, well-run event.

Plug for Whitwell Festival of Music. We met Neil and Val a few years ago, they have an involvement in this festival in North Derbyshire.  It has been going for 8 years, I think, but since we found out about it we have been otherwise engaged each time!   But it looks a brilliant (and CHEAP) little weekend. Plenty of festival favourites, check out this and previous years’ line-ups at http://www.whitwellfestivalofmusic.org.uk. It is a charity event too.   Price? You can get a ticket for the weekend for what it would cost to watch only the first half of an Oz Pink Floyd copy act.

Butlins Rock and Blexit.

There has been quite a lot of comment recently about how people are finally getting fed up with the same names appearing and are planning not to go in 2017. There is of course a lot of people who want more of the same.

Next year’s line-up seems to reflect that the organiser has certainly responded to the cry for changes.

Thankfully the ‘Jazz’ idea seems to have died a very welcome death. However, the ‘Blues ‘ concept seems to have really taken over.  Much of the Blues Stage is occupied by American harmonica players (plus our own Paul Jones), and the Rock Stage seems pretty heavy on the Blues too.

So a definite change in outlook it seems.

Linton Festival. nr Ross-on-Wye. 24-26.6.2016

Not been here before but our festival friends have highly recommended it so we gave it a go.

Friday. The Stumble. Regulars at Skeggy Rock n Blues, they opened proceedings here. They seem to be one of thousands of groups that has sprung up after the Blues Brothers, and the bassist has definitely seen Duck Dunn at length…but has forgotten the pipe.  Singer has a very good voice and ‘New Orleans’ went down well as did their 50s doo-wop number (with more than a hint of Otis Redding). BB King’s ‘You upset me baby’ is a festival staple and they were a good and popular start to the evening.       Mike Vernon and the Mighty Combo. Back in the 60s Mr Vernon was one of the most important people in the burgeoning British Blues scene, via his Blue Horizon label, with Fleetwood Mac and Chicken Shack being but two of those who owe him a big debt. But I wasn’t aware of his ever being an artiste in his own right…and sadly, Mike, I can see why.  A regulation 12-bar blues set, with the likes of Willie Dixon and Fats Domino featuring heavily. But it gave the overall impression of a bloke getting together a bunch of mates who could play, and singing at his own wedding.  Accomplished backing musicians ( Geraint Watkins definitely wasn’t there) but very , just, okay.  Even a slow ‘original’ was basically ‘Stormy Monday’.       King King.  Regulars on the blues circuit, vocalist/guitarist Alan Nimmo is due to go into hospital but he wanted to play here, apparently.  Opening number seemed reminiscent of the early Whitesnake days (pre pomp and poodle-hair does).   A regulation 12-bar followed, but it got too cold for us so we went and listened to the rest of it in our beds. They are very popular and have many fans, but we both thought that they weren’t quite headliner status.

Saturday.  Trafficker. Tez and Janet recommended last year at Upton that we see them, again it was the ‘graveyard slot’. The pub was packed then, so we missed them.  Today it is a new line-up. Tommy Allen and co went straight into a 12 bar in A, but it was a touch heavier than par. ‘Rock n roll superstar’ was rockier and it wasn’t just standard blues stuff. An instrumental definitely had a Jeff Beck feel to it, with a really off-kilter riff. We got the almost obligatory ‘Voodoo Chile’ and a singalong at the end, but they were the best so far.          Pat McManus Band.   First song had a Gary Moore-ish ‘Parisienne Walkway’ feel, but the next number had a ZZ Top rhythm.  Not long before we were in Rory Gallagher mode with ‘What’s going on’ and the next song was back to ZZ Top with even a hint of early King Crimson at the end?.  Gary Moore raised his head again and we had a ‘look how fast I can play’ number pre-empting an appearance by his fiddle. Sadly, I had got just a bit fed up by the constant references to Mr Gallagher and Mr Moore. He is a good enough musician to have his own identity (must dig my Mama’s Boys 45 out of the cellar) and as I am not a fan of the other two afore-mentioned  Irish guitarists I  lost interest. Then the heavens opened as if too punish me for daring to even consider such heresy!                     Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash. Well that is what it says on my two CDs!  His recent tour has included his new LP in total for the first set (see review from Darlington) with the ‘hits’ in the second set. His festival set has the title track ‘Written in the Stars’ as the opener, then back to the 70s. ‘Warrior’ is great, with Martin getting a great sound from his Gibson. But ‘Throw down the Sword’ is AWFUL! Well , his vocals are. Much as we love Mr T and are firmly in his camp re the last decade’s ‘discussions’, it was painful!  Sorry Mart, but it was.  But ‘Lady Jane’ was much better although Danny had a bit of an iffy moment on guitar.  Never liked ‘The Pilgrim’ but the weather improved, as did the size of the crowd. Laurie Wisefield got a nod via ‘You see Red’ and ‘Living Proof’ with ‘Blind Eye’ squeezed in between.  ‘Blowin’Free’ was an expected crowd-pleaser and ‘Doctor’ was an unexpected addition (again vocals a bit off). ‘The King will Come’ and ”Jailbait’ finished things off, and despite the odd dodgy moment he was still the first act of genuine pedigree.            Moreland and Arbuckle. I had noticed they are on the bill for next year’s decidedly average Skeggy Rock n Blues weekend so had checked them out on Youtube. Three piece, featuring vocalist/harmonica, guitar and drums, and they made a big sound for 3 people.  They played lots of stuff from their latest LP, but a cut above the usual bluesers. Check them out at Skeggy if you have already bought tickets.            Billy Walton. No stranger to Linton, with a big 6-piece Chicago Blues sound. Apparently reminiscent of Hendrix and Clapton?!  Sorry, that one is lost on me.   A mixture of the old Stax/Volt sound and blues, Mr W is very popular and we got a good ‘Green River’. Next song had a feel of Hendrix’s ‘Angel’…so that’s where the ‘reminiscent of…’ comment comes from!   Oldies like ‘Turn on your lovelight’ and ‘Treat her right’ had people dancing but Her Ladyship’s shutters were coming down and I was struggling to maintain interest too.                  Suzi Quatro.        Signed t-shirts for a tenner puts the rest to shame doesn’t it?   As expected , we get most of the hits and we got our second version of ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’ within a few weeks.  Did what it says on the tin, basically, and it was amusing to watch lots of grizzled old bluesers canning cans, Devilgate driving and 48 crashing.

Sunday. The Mentulls. Trio of lads from North Yorkshire, who started (again!) with some ‘Parisenne Walkway’-ish guitar.  ‘Red House’ involved much grimacing and fret-thrashing and the guitarist doesn’t look old enough to have a baby stopping ANYWHERE, never mind in a bloody red house over yonder!  Self-confessed fans of the late 60s Wishbone Ash music, and I was just getting a hint of Leslie West when they did ‘Theme for an Imaginary Western’ and it was thoroughly decent. Plus a bit of the Yes Album at the end.   Went down well.              Mama Martin Band.   Had a huge intro from the organiser, they had a graduated walk on stage. The guitarist came swaggering on, and held his Strat above his head. You know when you get that ‘I don’t f**king like you!’ thought? Sorry but I got one.   Bass, drums, sax, guitar, female singer.  First ever gig in Great Britain, again another outfit that went down well.           Eugene Hideaway Bridges.   He told us he had been on the road for 50 years.  Seemingly he was born in 1963 but appeared with his father from a very early age so maybe he wasn’t exaggerating.   The big Chicago blues sound has never done much for me, it gets too close to swing and jazz at times.  I prefer a more minimalist blues, even the likes of Son House and Leadbelly.  Mr B has a definite love of BB KIng and is ideal for this type of festival.                Slambovian Circus of Dreams.     Saw them in Pocklington on Wednesday, we think they are great. A big reason why we came.  They started out with ‘Grand Slambovians ‘ and ‘Lost Highway’, again, but followed up with ‘Sunday in the Rain’. Could it have been anything else?! ‘Very happy now’, with a snatch of the Ramones ‘I wanna be sedated’ followed, and their version of ‘Life on Mars’ was as good as on Wednesday. ‘Pushing up Daisies’ is a firm favourite and Dylan’s ‘Just like a woman’ was a surprise addition.  ‘I wish’ got the Who and Johnny Cash treatment as usual and ‘Step out of time’, ‘Very unusual head’ and the heavier ‘Moondog House’ were given another outing. The older ‘Talking to the Buddha’, with its early King Crimson feel, made a welcome return and they finished the main set with ‘TransSlambovian Bi-polar Express’. The old chestnut ‘Alice in Space’ brought back memories and it made me wonder just why this lot aren’t so much more popular, or even known! I reckon it is because they are primarily a ‘festival’ group. Most of the other Slambo fans we know are fest goers. It’s all I can think of, because they are bloody great. They need to be seen, not just heard.                     Geno Washington.     I am sure most of the 60+ year olds will remember those two budget label LPs that came out on the 60s, even if, like me, they didn’t have a record player. Geno has made a career out of covering the likes of Sam and Dave, Wilson Pickett and has more recently become a festival regular. Stopped for a couple of numbers then made our way to the pub to beat the rush.

Well worth the long trip. A pretty decent line-up, considering the ticket price, with the accent firmly on the blues (as is the intention). Beer was a good price and quality. Camp site fine, we had more sleep that any other festival.  Very friendly atmosphere, highly recommended.  Take your Rory Gallagher t-shirt, you won’t be Billy NoMates.