Reviews – 2010 – Steve Bouckley

The 4th Carlisle Blues Rock Festival (2010) – Steve Bouckley

Opening up proceedings were Kevin Thorpe’s Tipping Point, sadly without Kevin and the first gig that Tipping Point have played since Kevin’s untimely demise at the Newark Blues Festival.

“This gig is for Kevin” said the lead guitarist and singer Dominic Holland. “Can’t Keep a Poor Boy Down” was straight into the groove with an excellent middle eight too from Dale Storr on keyboards. “Smoke Stack” was a slow tempo throbbing song about life way down south featuring another solo from Dale and the outro was fabulous. “Down In The Water” was a slow ballad written by KT.

“Antidote” is the title track of their forthcoming debut album featuring a gorgeous wailing guitar solo and the Hammond sound on the keys.

“Bad Stuff” was a lively tune with a thousand note guitar solo before the keys took over. I spotted Dominic and Dale looking at each other knowing they’d hit the groove which makes the music take off and rise to another level. It’s excellent when that happens. “My Baby/Cherry Tree” was an absolute rocker, throbbin’ and vibrating guitar led, Hammond in close support with another excellent solo. Spot on. A change in tempo to a slow and bluesy “When You Find Somebody”, with loads of reverb added to the vocals by Nigel on the sound desk. A marvellous guitar outro was followed by a sudden pause, so we all applauded, but it was then followed by a keyboard outro, so we’d been wrong-footed. Perhaps the timing needs sorted, otherwise it will confuse everyone, but it was great anyway.

They got the nod from the wings to perform an encore and we got “Rattlesnake Shake” by Fleetwood Mac, powerfully driven stuff and well played by a band who were all up for this gig, in spite of losing their main man.

Chantelle McGregor was up next and I must admit that when I’d seen her a few years ago, I didn’t rate her that much, however, she has matured such a lot, but unfortunately, still isn’t to my taste.

Mud Morganfield and The Dirty Aces followed, The Aces warming up the stage before Mud graced us with his presence. The general consensus was that he was living off his old man’s name and was just emulating his style and mannerisms, however, they did gel together and stuff like “Hoochie Coochie Man” was as good as it gets. “What Else Can I Do, Baby?” was a slow melancholy tune not dissimilar to the Stone’s “Satisfaction” and “I Got My Mojo Working” was the highlight. James Hunter followed, a bit middle of the road really, but slick and professional, probably a bit too cabaret for this place.

The late gig in the bar featured Dale Storr and Guests, in particular Dave Raeburn on drums and Chris Chapman on bass. “Bare Footin” was the last tune I heard before quitting at 2.15.

Saturday afternoon started with a solo acoustic set from Steve Jones. Lucy Zirins followed and she got us all barking and howlin in “Little Red Rooster”, much to her delight. The slide was nice on ‘Taloolah’, her National Steel and the last number was a Bonnie Raitt tune “I’m Guilty” which was deliciously sublime.

The Revolutionaires then ripped the joint apart with their zany mapcap antics. “Riot in Cell Block No9” featured a solo on the baritone sax from Gary Hodle, nice. “This House Is A Rockin’” was certainly true at this point in the proceedings. It must be hard to bunny jump around the stage whist playing the harmonica, but Ed Stephenson could do it. I hate to think what his joints are going to be like in ten years! “Stray Cat” was mean and moody and segued into “Minnie The Moocher” and we all joined in with the Hi De Hi Dee Hi’s, which was great. “Hip Shake Baby” rocked the spot and everybody at the bar was boppin’. Mark Matthews played the best drum solo of the weekend. “Baby Please Don’t Go” was the encore.

Nicky Moore was on next and his patter was brilliant, as ever, even to the point of slagging Nick, the organiser, off! It was good to see him standing up and belting out some top notes too. His boy Jimmy, on the axe, was excellent. There was the best of order for a slow number “Picture”, which even got the folk at the bar quiet, which Nicky acknowledged. “Statesboro Blues” was notable and “The Thrill is Gone” featured a beautiful bass solo followed by an acoustic guitar solo a la Django Rheinhardt. This segued into “Walk On By” which made the hairs on mine and Nick’s arms stand up, it doesn’t get any better than that! The encore was “47 Pontiac”. Top stuff.

Saturday night opened with Hokie Joint and “Birds On The Rafters” featured a stupendous solo from Joel Fisk on guitar. “Back Where We Are Going” throbbed and pounded and Giles King was down in the audience playing the harp. “Killer In The Eye” really rocked the joint. Jojo Burgess was trying to cajole the crowd into dancing down at the front, but that was against the house rules, apparently.

Hamilton Loomis followed with his brand of Texas blues. The best of the show was a good trade off of guitar and sax riffs, then the two of them went down into the audience whilst the bass and drums funked it up on the stage. Hamilton introduced a special guest in the form of 13 year old Alex Mckeon. This kid couldn’t half play the guitar, watch out for him in the future!! Kent Beatty played the best bass solo of the weekend.

The headline act of the weekend was Michael Burks. This was much more like it, lively, driving blues. The bass player looked like Uncle Fester’s Uncle Fester who’s face kept contorting with the effort he was putting into his playing. What a great sound Michael makes, such passion, every note counts. The walkabout in the audience was good, but the reckoning was that he went to the same charm school as Van Morrison, i.e. no patter at all. However, we all got our Mojo’s Working, much to his surprise. My notes say “This gig is awesome” which sums it up perfectly.

In the bar later The Deluxe played “Rock Me Baby” with girls dancing on the carpet and Giles King joined in with some superb harp.

Marcus Bonfanti opened the Sunday afternoon session with some slide guitar on a semi steel guitar. He has a huge deep voice, where does that come from? “Leave This Long Haired Country Boy Alone” was a powerful tune with some great slide guitar and “Give Me Your Cash” ended the set on a blast.

Ben Prestage followed, he’s like Seasick Steve, only with a drum kit and without the hype. As a one-man band, he introduced us to the other members, he’s either crazy, or we are, probably us for liking it!

Ian Siegal followed, one of Carlisle and Maryport’s favourites and the only guy to have played at all four Carlisle Blues Festivals. Most of the songs he played can be found on his solo ‘The Dust’ CD. Ben joined Ian on stage and the pair ramped up the tempo a bit with some Howling Wolf stuff. They worked well together, harmonies and choruses in perfect timing, but I expect that’s what comes when you’ve toured together. Ian reminded us that this was the only Blues Festival to have totally sold out, which was a great tribute to Nick, who got a big ovation. “Nadine” was brilliant.

Never The Bride closed the show, another great weekend and super time.

Steve Bouckley