Reviews – 2010

The 4th Carlisle Blues Rock Festival (2010)

My advice for anyone who loves blues music is “don’t wait too late to get your tickets for 2011” many did this year and were disappointed. This was the only UK Blues festival to sell out all three days before the weekend started. Though only in its 4th year, this festival is fast becoming ‘The Festival’ to attend. Called by some “The Civilised Festival” there is no running from one venue to another, or camping out in the cold or wet. The festival is held in the one hotel, which is taken over for the duration of the festival by Blues enthusiasts.

All rooms are filled by the audience and extra accommodation is easy to find at this time of year in Carlisle. This year there was a great T-shirt designed by North East artist Geoff Marston, depicting Paul Butterfield in collage form of all the bands that have appeared at the three preceding festivals. Such was the demand that all T shirts sold out, order forms had to be produced for more T shirts .A Festival magazine also proved to be popular, with information and backgrounds of all the acts appearing.

This festival is extremely well organized and the artists appearing are at the top of their genre. There was plenty of variety in the program, something for everyone. Starting on Friday evening was Kevin Thorpe’s Tipping Point, they performed as a tribute to Kevin who unfortunately died earlier this year. The band did Kevin proud and their rendition of the title track of the album “Antidote” with a great guitar solo, and wonderful Hammond organ played by Dale Storr who joined the band on this occasion and also plays on the album. Chantel McGregor carried on the pace with some soaring guitar work and vocals that get better at every performance, showcasing her new band she is definitely a force to be reckoned with. From new to old or should I say old family, Mud Morganfield is the eldest son of Muddy Waters, with his backing band the Dirty Aces. He is not living off his father`s name, but he has an uncanny resemblance to his father, both in mannerisms and vocally. The pace was really hotting up now as James Hunter came to the stage with his skintight band, James is a master of R&B and if you don’t get him on first hearing stick it out, he is an acquired taste and once you get a taste for him you will feast at the table over and over again. Stella performance. Friday night rounded off in the bar, for anyone left with any energy with Dale Storr’s band giving us a great end to the evening with their New Orleans Blues. Check out their new CD it’s great.

Saturday lunchtime started off with Steve (Pablo the artist) who really surprised people who didn`t know that he also plays in a band called Karac, playing blues, folk, rock music. Following on with more acoustic delights, Lucy Zirins, an 18 year old from Burnley who plays Mississippi Delta slide on her resonator guitar in traditional fashion, sending shivers down your spine. It’s great to see fresh young talent (especially a woman) keeping the tradition alive. If you haven’t seen her you really should check her out, she is in it for the duration. Easing into the afternoon we were then woken up by the toure de force that is The Revolutionaires. Influences by 1940’s and 50’s R&B this band can certainly get everyone on their feet dancing. Their high energy style most definitely comes from Ed the versatile front man playing guitar, harmonica, dancing and singing, all rounder wouldn’t you say!. Who could follow that —–well Nicky Moore’s Blues Corporation. Nicky now a few stone lighter and looking very smart in a suit and waistcoat and standing to sing courtesy of the back operation he had earlier this year. Nicky has perfect pitch, and intercedes his marvelous vocals with irreverent banter, which always pleases the crowd, a fitting end to the afternoon’s entertainment.

The evening kicked off with one of last year’s favourites, at any festival in the UK or Europe. Hokie Joint, their charismatic front man Jo Jo Burgess is backed by another festival favourite Giles King, the whole band are a force to be reckoned with and real crowd pleasers. They certainly had upped the anti for the next band, Hamilton Loomis from Dallas Texas, who rose to the challenge and put on a performance which enthralled the crowd. True to his late mentor Bo Diddley’s philosophy of bringing on new talent, Hamilton introduced a special guest in the form of 13 year old Alex Mckeon, another young talent ready to take on the reigns in a few years from now. By now the whole audience was buzzing with anticipation and ready to totally let go and enjoy the next band up. Step forward Michael Burks from America who was playing in the UK for the first time and from the reception he got at the festival it will not be his last. After a few encores the audience were into the bar for the last entertainment of the evening The Deluxe a local band who finished the evening off augmented by Giles King joining the band for a jam.

Sunday afternoon, and far from flagging, the audience is raring to go, especially as the afternoons entertainment is full of expectation. Marcus Bonfanti wowed the audience last year by starting off the Sunday afternoon with an acoustic set, this time he had brought his band and he once again wowed the audience, performing with his band it was a spellbinding experience, total artistic flare. Could Ben Prestage keep the momentum going? He is another US artists performing for the first time at a UK festival. Ben is in the vein of Seasick Steve, but for my money a more technically adept performer. He has a charismatic style playing the whole ‘band parts himself! It wouldn’t have been the Carlisle Blues Festival without a performance by Ian Siegal, this year with his solo set, singing many festival favourites which included “Gallo Del Cielo”. Ian invited Ben Prestage to join him on stage and it was soon apparent that they both have respect for each other’s musical prowess. Trading singing and playing, with the ease of accomplished artists, definitely worth seeing if they get together again for another tour. Having been disappointed by Chris Farlowe cancelling, Nick Westgarth the organizer pulled in ‘Never The Bride’ to finish off the afternoon. Nikki Lamborn’s stirring vocals complemented the euphoric experience of the weekend. The band stormed through a catalogue of their self compositions including “The Living Tree” a song covered by Shirley Bassey no less. It was a fitting end to a festival which had something for everyone, but every performance could be appreciated for its musical prowess and outstanding performance’s. Roll on next year, I for one can’t wait it’s definitely on my calendar already.