Reviews – 2019

Carlisle Blues Rock Festival, 27-29 September 2019

Reviews for The Carlisle Blues Rock Festival 2019 at The Crown & Mitre Hotel, Carlisle, Cumbria …

Well what a weekend that was.

To be honest I had slightly underestimated the effect of a drive from Hampshire to Carlisle in the far North and had I been a little more cautious, I may not have committed to this festival. Even the ‘Ultimate’ Full English I took on in Knutsford enroute barely sustained me for the second leg to the Tebay Services on the M6, as the skies grew darker and the countryside more beautiful.  As the lakes came and went and Scottish town names began to appear on the road distance signs, I realised I was in virgin musical territory, with no idea what to expect.

But now after the dust has settled and the return journey has been made, how glad I am that I made the effort, for this event is a real cracker. I’d heard talk of the community spirit that surrounded the festival (a fact borne out by new chums who’s acquaintance I made), and the high quality of ‘turns’ assembled by Nick Westgarth and his crew, but the reality was even better. Yes, the acts were very much on my ‘A’ list of artists and if I had been putting together my own festival of ‘must see’ bands, the line ups would have been very similar. It seems unfair to pick my favourite’s out (as they were all excellent), but I’m going to anyway. Any opportunity to see the Queen of the Blues, Connie Lush is not to be missed and the divine Miss Lush was on particularly good form; strutting and smiling her way through a tremendous set of old and new. As she rightly said to me later, “it’s a performer’s job to entertain by making an audience laugh and cry” (Listen up young ‘uns) and she did that in style. Kyla Brox is a superstar from the golden age and a class act in this one, and she knocked them dead with her usual mix of vocal dexterity and personality. This lady deserves her name in lights above bigger stages, but how grateful I am that she still graces those accessible to the likes of those present on Sunday. The third part of the female vocal trilogy was the Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion who kicked off the Sunday session with some real welly. Zoe is a song stylist, who crosses between Soul, Jazz and the Blues with ease and her partner in crime, Rob Koral is the guitar equivalent. An intelligent, classy guitar player who never over plays and treats every note with respect.

An Ian Parker show is not as easy to find as it used to be, but when he does play he still shows how he has held his fan base since the early 2000’s. A change of circumstances however can sometimes be for the better and Ian’s choice to play where and when he wants, without the pressure of constantly promoting a new project seems to be paying dividends. He is now a mature, relaxed performer who seems to be enjoying every moment on stage and his playing is all the better for it. A great set of Parker penned tunes from the archives, alongside some blues classics made for a magnificent set and the ovation at the end showed just how much this community care about this guy. I also had my fix of Blues/Rock pleasantly satisfied, by the likes of RHR (Mike Ross, Jack Hutchinson and Troy Redfern), The Stevie Nimmo Trio and the Sean Webster band. All accomplished festival acts that know what the audience wants and they gave it up a plenty. For those of you who are sick to the back teeth of hearing the Etta James classic, ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ (you know who you are), you need go no further than to listen to Sean’s excellent rendition; it is simply the best.

A special mention must go to CrowBlackChicken and Mike Bowden and the A917 Band (both new to me) who will certainly be on my gig list in the future. Great entertainment and engaging to boot.

But who was the best band at Carlisle though? I know everyone will have their own opinion and a bloody good thing too, but mine stood head and shoulders above the rest. Ever since I first heard Jon Amor’s current album “Colour in the Sky”, I had been waiting to hear it played live, with a full band. Yes I’d heard much of it acoustically at Jon’s one man shows, but such is the depth and intricacy of the material that it really needed a full line up to do it justice. On Saturday we were lucky enough to experience this and my high expectations were exceeded. Jon is an ultra-high class songwriter who takes great pride in his work and this album is as good as it gets. Intelligent, melodic and personal, it really is a masterpiece (not a word I EVER use) and to hear it played live was a massive treat. All it needed to make it perfect was a pirate.

So well done to Nick and his happy band of helpers, you put on one hell of a show and to the audience that made this event what it was, thank you for taking this soft southerner into the fold…we will be back.

– Alan Bates

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BEST NIGHT EVER!!!

– Daisy Lawes (aged 9)

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Fab event, everyone is so friendly and the music has something for everyone! My favourite part was Connie and Kaz duetting.

– Kelly Lawes

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Great gig last night.

The Nick Steed 5 kicked off the Carlisle Blues Festival to a very appreciative audience we kicked ass!

Special thanks to Nick Westgarth for taking a chance on an unknown band and all the crew for doing an outstanding job.

– Steve Gibson (Nick Steed 5)

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A truly great weekend Nick. It’s worth travelling the length of the country for such a great weekend. Well done again buddy!

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Thank you once again Nick Westgarth for a truly amazing weekend great team …super bands ..enjoyed every minute Well done.

You guys nailed it!.. X

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…all thanks our lovely supporter of blues and good music…that famous drum maker from Carlisle who pulled out all the stops to give us the festival with a big heart….have to say ..so far nothing touches it… everybody made music…luv…and noise… didn’t want to leave….Nick Westgarth you the best

– Connie Lush

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Well what a great end to the weekend at the best blues festival out there.

Carlisle Blues/Rock Festival never fails to deliver and this year was no exception. When you get Kyla Brox, Kaz Hawkins, Connie Lush, Matt Long and Mike Bowden all together for a jam in the bar after the best weekend ever, you really do feel you have died and gone to Blues heaven. Nick Westgarth you and your team deserve a medal for this year’s festival. It was the best! Thanks to everyone who contributed and look forward to next year.

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Best Blues event I’ve been to. Superb weekend. Great line up – your staff top notch & great venue. Couldn’t fault anything. Please don’t say last one!!

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It just gets better don’t know how but it does

–  Maureen Elizabeth Wood

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Definitely the best

– Mary Johnstone

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