Saturday 24th August
The International Stage's opening act, the Robin Bibi Band, had to pull out after a motorway accident (thankfully everyone was reported to be all right). Danny Bryant's RedEye Blues Band stepped in to fill the void. Bryant, one of the bright young British blues guitarists, led the power trio through a tight set comprising tracks from their recent album and covers that included Bob Dylan. A nicely rowdy way to start the day.
Bluesline were up next, all decked out in matching shirts and ties. They seemed to have become a little more rockier since their appearance at Burnley last year. It was nice to see them also including plenty of original material. They are a tight outfit and the two guitarists (Tony Burgess and Chris Roach) combine really well together.
Afternoon headliners Out of the Blue were making a welcome return to the festival. Kevin Thorpe continues to be one of the best singer songwriters on the British blues scene. Original keyboard player Jonny Dyke was back with the band as they played their way through a host of original material. They were a bit different to the earlier acts, marrying together blues with a bit of funk with appropriate chops from highly regarded guitarist Eddie Tatton.
The evening session kicked off in some style with Paul Rishell and Annie Raines purveying mainly blues from the Piedmont (Rishell on steel guitar and Raines on unamplified harp or mandolin) and Chicago (Rishell on electric guitar and Raines on amplified harp). Amongst the many songs were a brace of Ma Rainey's, some Little Walter, plus a tremendous extended rendition of Magic Sam's "Lookin' Good" where Raines really stretched out on harp.
Then it was soul time, with Charles Walker and Earl Gaines, backed my Mo' Indigo. The set was dedicated to Roscoe Shelton who recently passed away; Charles Walker had stepped in as replacement. Walker hit the stage first, and delivered a fine set, including several tracks from the excellent "I'm Available" album. making the most of his gritty vocals. After a one song interlude by Mo' Indigo, Earl Gaines kept the ball rolling with an equally excellent set mixing ballads and upbeat numbers from the start of his career "It's Love Baby (24 hours a day)" up to the recent Handy award winning album recorded with Roscoe Shelton, "Let's Stick Together". Walker then joined Gaines to bring things to a climax. They began with an absolutely stunning version of "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby" which made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. This was soul music at its very very best. They then wrapped up with a rocking "Let the Good Times
Roll" before coming back to encore with "The Blues is All Right".
The evening ended with the Colne debut of the excellent Big George Jackson Blues Band from the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St Paul. These guys are terrific, delivering up a set of blues that combines elements of Chicago and the West Coast. The engine room of Dwight Dario (drums) and John Schroder (bass) provide the rock solid groove over which the twin guitars of Jeremy Johnson and Phil Schmid weave their magic. Then top it all off with all 6 feet 6 of the gentle giant himself, Big George Jackson. He has a
wonderful big rich voice, a nice sense of humor, and is a fine harp player to boot. The band were in top form, playing plenty of newer original tracks including "Stealin' Woman" the highly memorable "Southern Cooking" and "Going Back Up North" as well as a great cover Homesick James' "You Gotta Move". An excellent way to end the day, this is a band well worth catching on their next visit to these shores.
Monday 26th August
Things got underway on the International Stage with Aussie duo Derrin Nauendorf and Dave Downing. Nauendorf played acoustic guitar and sang, whilst a barefoot Downing offered able support on his homemade drumkit. A nice line in patter complemented a set that combined originals and covers of Bob Dylan ("The Ballad of Hollis Brown"), the excellent John Hiatt ("Lipstick Sunset") and Hendrix ("Voodoo Chile") as well as "Get Behind A Mule". Blues inspired, and blues based, rather than straight blues, but
another great start to the day.
Leicester based band Blues Move then took the stage. Comprising ex-members of The Razors, WammaJamma and the Mick Pini band they started with a set of their own which included several tracks from their recent album, "Beat 'N' Track". After a short break, Chicago based guitarist Steve Arvey took the stage for a fine short acoustic set, before being joined by keyboard player Julian Grudgings and drummer Mike Hellier from Blues Move and funky bassist Kevin Jeffreys. They served up an electric set of Chicago Blues and Funk, with Arvey's guitar playing calling to mind Buddy Guy in several places.
Out and about, the Hoochie Coochie Mancunian was back in his usual slot entertaining people beside the Cenotaph. Meanwhile British Blues veteran Perry Foster was showing how it should be done on the acoustic stage.
The final evening was a real treat. Blue Harlem literally set things swinging, with a set of big band blues. Al Nicholls led the horns through the excellent opening instrumental "Hats Off To Mr Lee" before introducing Imelda Clabby on vocals. She is a terrific singer, combining really well with the big band to tackle songs by Wynona Carr and Lavern Baker, as well as an excellent reworking of Ray Charles "I Got A Woman" as "I Got A Lover".
Then things got white hot with Lucky Peterson. His very tight band, led by Rico Macfarland set the ball rolling before a nattily attired Peterson came out to play Hammond organ on Syl Johnson's "Is It Because I'm Black?". It quickly became clear that Peterson is a born entertainer. Once he strapped on his guitar, there was no letting up. He disappeared into the crowd whilst playing, and made it up to the balcony playing all the while, and even had to wake one punter up! Many of the songs were standard (Chicago)
tourist blues, apart from a Hendrix interlude ("Voodoo Chile" and "Them Changes"), but they had all been rearranged and given the Lucky Peterson stamp. The band did amazingly well to keep up as Peterson seemed to take things pretty much anywhere he wanted to. The set closed with a terrific rendition of "Knock On Wood" in which he got the band to "give it to me 50 times". A gospel based encore rounded off what has got have been the best show ever to have graced the International Stage at Colne. Absolutely awesome.
It was left to the latest incarnation of King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys to try and follow that. They performed admirably, closing the festival in a party mood with another cracking set of infectiously swinging rhythm and blues shot through with a nice streak of humor. It had been a long weekend, but as usual KP managed to fill the dance floor for one last time. A highly entertaining way to end another successful festival.
Simply click on the CD cover at left to order the Big George Jackson CD NOW!
This review is copyright © 2002 by Gordon Baxter, and Blues On Stage at: www.mnblues.com, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission.
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