Our second visit to this small festival. It was good last year so here we are again. Good weather, tent pitched, 4 hours in the company of Lidl lager and B&M wine before gates open.
Friday. Wille and the Bandits. Seen them a few times at festivals and each time there is an annoying part of the blurb which likens them to Cream, and now Jimi Hendrix Experience. How? Why? They are a trio, yes, so were Bros and the bloody Bachelors! Wille and Co are NOT ‘a classic blues-rock trio’ . So please get rid of it! BUT, their popularity has really shot up of late. I have never been that taken with them, but they seem to have ‘rocked things up’ a bit. Still got ‘Black Magic Woman’ a la Santana in the set plus a couple ofbass solos. One song had an interesting African feel , and they drifted into Spin Doctors mode occasionally. Fans of West, Bruce and Laing will recognise the ‘Play with Fire’ descending chord sequence towards the end. A more regulation rocker as an encore, I will admit to maybe warming to them now. Band of Friends. Has there been a Linton Festival without the words ‘Rory’ and ‘Gallagher’ being uttered? Drummer Ted McKenna got a belated Blues award. I have to own up to being in a minority, as a member of the Just Don’t Get Rory Gallagher Club. Saw him at Leeds Univ in the 70s, bought lps. cassettes, cds but he does nothing for me…and I have tried! Like Wille and Co, BOF are festival regulars, and they sounded much ‘beefier’ today. Her Ladyship was impressed by both opening acts, and the inevitable ‘Bullfrog Blues’ finished things off. Billy Walton Band. Interesting that they are now given headline status, having been in the small print on earlier T-shirts. Has their status risen that much? Big band blues, but not headliners , for me. Cruiseliner stuff. But not a bad nightall in all.
Saturday. Half Deaf Clatch. Grizzled one-man blueser from Hull. A great voice, it is as if he has just drunk a yard of whisky mixed with a pound of gravel. Mixture of old blues classics and original stuff. ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’, ‘You Gotta Move/Amazing Grace’ plus the almost essential Robert Johnson. Good applause after an extended opening slot. Rainbreakers. Saw them in Sheffield supporting Corky Laing , with a crowd of about two dozen. Four young men with sunglasses , playing blues with a touch of funk. Like all the previous acts, a regular festival itinerary has seen their popularity rise. They have a song that features the riff that Cozy Powell lifted from Jimi Hendrix. Went down well. Mama Martin Band. They have lost the irritating guitarist from last year, and have a new drummer too. I couldn’t really see why they were deemed so special last year…or this. A Club group? Her Ladyship commented that they had no memorable songs, although they had a Quo-esque encore. Henrik Freischlader. Mr F has a recent release showing his regard for Gary Moore (someone else whose wonderfulness has passed me by). BB King’s ubiquitous ‘You Upset Me Baby’ got an early airing, followed by ‘Oh Pretty Woman’. Peter Green’s ‘Another Woman’ went down well, but there followed an elongated blues-out which had all the fret-w*nk aficionados in delirium, but for me descended into a yawnfest . A Roy Buchanan marathon to finish, there was plenty of vinyl sold at £25 a shot. Slim Chance. Geraint Watkins on keyboards, Brendan O’Neill on drums (BOF’s Gerry McAvoy’s longtime rhythm partner) and songwriter Billy Nicholls are teamed up with three of Ronnie Lane’s former cohorts. The vocals are widely shared out, although none are particularly strong. A blend of their own more recent stuff and the obvious Ronnie Lane classics such as ‘How Come’, ‘The Poacher’ (I bought that single!) and ‘Debris’. Theirs is a definite feelgood factor and , yes,they had the odd ‘senior’ moment but we really like them. The die-hard bluesers were sulking , but I would rather have this than another hour of Teutonic Tedium. ‘C’est la Vie’ to finish, is it the best two chord song ever? Bernie Marsden Band. He possibly possesses the smiliest face in rock, and has a book and new cd to plug. Quite a few blues standards that had been adapted by Cream, namely ‘Born Under A Bad Sign’, ‘Sitting on Top of the World’ and ‘Crossroads’. The obvious Whitesnake songs were featured , as was ‘Walk in my Shadow’ and ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’. Gary Moore and Rory Gallagher too, is it in the bloody contract?! A good blast of Peter Green era Fleetwood Mac is always popular though. As withFriday, a pretty decent night overall.
Sunday. Slowburner. Starting out with the obscure Le Zeppelin version of ‘We’re Gonna Groove’ , they followed up with a more regulation, less funky, 12-bar . Very good lead vocals, and the drummer’s pipes are good too. Robert Johnson’s ‘Stop Breaking Down’ had a good ‘Honky Tonk Woman’ style and ‘Politician’ didn’t have the classic bass line. ‘Walk in my Shadow’ got another airing and ‘King Bee’ closed a very good start to the day. Pierce Brothers Identical twins from Oz, multi-instrumentalists…including a didgeridoo! Some early sound problems but they battered their way through in a fascinating way. Just a bit bloody different and just a bit bloody good too. Possibly the biggest reception of the event so far and well-deserved. Bernie Marsden. A solo acoustic slot, ideal for a mid -Sunday afternoon breather after the previous lads. Songs from ‘Trouble’, ‘Come and Get It’ and ‘Ready and Willing ‘ were all well-received. Some repeated stuff from last night, interspersed with anecdotes and more from Fleetwood Mac. ‘Key to the Highway’ is on a lot of people’s setlist, as is ‘Need Your Love So Bad’. He finished up with some Beatles, and he has a pretty decent voice too. Grainne Duffy. Another returner from last year, her style is a mixture of slow blues and funky songs. An early namecheck for Gregg Allman was appreciated. Got the first weekend’s hint of reggae, thankfully it was also the last. It was interesting that she said that they don’t do many covers, then did ‘I’d rather Go Blind’, ‘The Shape I’m In’, ‘I Shall Be Released’, ‘Happy’ and ‘Wild Horses’! The last-mentioned had her going into Mariah Carey mode, I just wish that once in a while people would sing the pure note, like Mick Jagger and Gram P did. But they are popular. Hayseed Dixie. Back in 2001 Her Ladyship bought me a banjo. I worked out ‘Wish You Were Here’ and ‘Smoke on the Water’ and thought I could make a go of it. Then I found that HD had beaten me by about ten minutes! They are definitely a Marmite outfit, you either like them or hate them, although there are still those who just don’t get it. AC/DC, Sabbath, CCR, Motorhead plus loads more are given the Rockgrass treatment. We think they are great, although maybe not quite as good as when the Reno brothers were in tow. We took an executive decision to head for the pub after an hour to get a seat, but they were still playing to an appreciative crowd an hour later. A very good finale to a very good weekend.
Toilets? All portaloos , but all clean. And if your nearest and dearest tells you to read Stephen King’s ‘A Very Tight Place’ before your next festival, he/she too is plain evil! A great little fest, no aggro, indeed no problems at all. Hope it continues next year, although the word on the street was that the camping field will be lying fallow for a year.