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Durham Blues Fest

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We at Sedgefield are running a bus/taxi/ford Fiesta depending on numbers to this years event.

http://www.durhambluesfestival.co.uk/

     
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Quite a busy little weekend at Cleethorpes and Durham. Did my networking no end of good and came back with a few names on my shopping list. Loads of pics on my Sedgefield Blues Club facebook page!

     
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Didn’t get to Durham, so curious as to how the Gala worked out as venue for the festival. I’m guessing the Acoustic stage was down in the cinema?

My eyes and ears tell me that Albany Down could have used a longer set, Chantel was “spangly” as ever and that Ron Sayer Jr. was “on fire” (good news for next Friday….). Dr. Feelgood were brilliant but generally not impressed by John Lee Hooker Jr. - too much ramblin’ between songs.

     

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Well, like Tilerman’s Scarborough Secret Blues thread, this one’s also kept “timeless”, but it’s about time to shout about this year’s [2015] line-up which is coming together nicely.

Main stage:          Acoustic Café
Aynsley Lister          Gary Grainger
The Brew                             Starvin’ Sid
Larry Miller                           Jack J Hutchinson
Erja Lyytinen                         Gary “the slide guy” Smith
Red Butler                             Mike Wyatt
                                        Alex McKown

All this at Durham Gala Theatre June 20th & Cleethorpes Pleasure Island on 21st June.

     

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Durham Blues @ Gala Theatre 18th June
The line-up looks this, so maybe heading for a sell-out…...
Main stage:- King King; Connie Lush & her band; Laurence Jones; Albany Down; Billy Walton Band; Blues Boy Kings; Southdown
Acoustic Café:- Howlin’ Matt; Richard Townend; Lucy Zirins; Ged Wilson; Michael Woods; Yoka & Big Ray

Doors - 1:30pm:  start 2:00pm

     

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June 17th 2017 - Durham Gala Theatre..

On the hottest Saturday of the year so far, Durham Gala theatre threw open its doors once again for the Solid Entertainments 7th Durham Blues festival and the music on offer inside matched the heat outside.

Kicking things off, from North of The Border were Glasgow’s Brian Rawson Band, delivering a gritty, raw set much in the tradition of Big George. Belfast born Brian has an impressive CV as guitarist and benefits well with former GT’s Boos Band vocalist Greig Taylor with his gravelly, soulful voice.  Bassist Jim Carr and the relatively youthful Calum Wilson make up a strong backline. Unfortunately, their set was marred for me by a poor sound mix that had the bass too far up – I don’t think I’ve heard that much dominant bass level since the likes of UK Decay and early 1980s Goth; it even carried out into the venue atrium.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfWiBVNGk9c

Next up were the band who were the surprise of my previous Durham Blues in 2015; Red Butler; so this was to be an excellent litmus test as to how far they’ve come on over those two years, especially with the line-up change with Dan now on vocals after Jane leaving the band. Well, the sound gremlin seemed to have been partially sorted; Mike’s bass was at the correct level though to my ear Alex’s guitar was a little low also, which is a shame as the testarossa is one of the best in this new, rising generation of guitarists. Opening their set with the appropriately slow burning Calm Before The Storm, the lads kept switching up through the gears, dropping in a Thin Lizzy cover as well as Bobby Blue Bland’s Ain’t No Love…. through to their own rocking romp Big Bad Wolf . And come their set closer; Show Me The Money, the guys were in overdive and still had the energy for their signature human “guitar-pillar” as well as a walk in the audience; leads permitting. One things is certain, since their last appearance here they’ve certainly grown in all areas and with Dan on lead, something has definitely clicked into place, so it’s onwards and upwards for Red Butler.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaNjs10wwe4

Bringing in Blues legitimacy and a more traditional Blues sound, Debbie Bond took the stage next, with sideman keyboardist Rick Asherson. Traditional, but the usual; Debbie takes her sound and inspiration not from Mississippi but from Alabama with strong influence from Willie King & Johnny Shines.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivXno3ChOMg

Take 4 parts Soul; 2 parts Blues, 1 part Gospel and 1 part Jazz and then end result is the cool, smooth Kyla Brox. I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to be in the same place at the same time as Kyla & her band but it has been well worth the wait. Working mainly round her most recent album,  Throw Away Your Blues, Kyla delivered a perfectly judged set of sublime torch songs and jumping r’n’b matching the sultry early summer’s evening. Great stage presence, even better audience rapport Kyla even broke from the set list to take on a crowd favourite and have to agree, the Sam Cooke was a better choice than the Leonard Cohen, but had there been time for both…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwzV7L9linE

From the coolest sounds, to the coolest guy; Aynsleys return to Durham Gala and really good to report that it seems he’s back to full strength (don’t need any wrist gizmo to confirm that…) It was obvious that from the opening bars of the crackin’ All Of Your Love Aynsley & the band were out to give Durham a good time and to have one themselves even as they romped through Inside Out. Judging from the speed Boneto dashed off and back on the stage the sound gremlin looked like he was threatening to raise his head at the start of Il Grande Mafioso, but he was chased off for the rest of the set. Great bass spot in Hyde 2612 for Steve Amadeo and Andy making his presence felt throughout this was another superb 60 minute showcase for Aynsley who just makes it look so effortless but I bet the gizmo told another story.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOA7Volj7kY

Closing the show, the legend that is Dr Feelgood. Can’t take anything away from them, but even with their current line-up outlasting the original band in their heyday, to me it’s more like seeing the practice nurse than the actual doctor; however such is their standing, I’m probably the only guy at Durham who thought that. Anyway, that’s when I called it a day, though not before a quick peek upstairs at Husky Tones, doing something rootsy.

Turn out for the day, I’d estimate peaked around 550.

     

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Update from those nice folks at Solid Entertainment.

In 2018
The Durham Blues Rhythm & Rock Festival
Is moving to a new venue.

“In its 8th year, we wanted to be in a position to accommodate a larger audience for the North East’s largest Blues Festival”, so it will now take place at

Rainton Meadow Arena
(6 miles from Durham City Centre Rainton Meadows, Mercantile Rd, Houghton le Spring DH4 5PH)
on
Saturday June 23rd 2pm - 10pm

Acts so far:-
Climax Blues Band; Chantel McGregor; Groundhogs; Stevie Nimmo; Felix Rabin; Kris Barras Band

Early Bird tickets at £26;  Limited number for a limited time.
http://www.durhambluesfestival.co.uk
http://www.solidentertainments.com

     

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STOP PRESS


Durham Blues festival - June 23rd - CHANGE OF VENUE

Now at Chilton Country Hotel; Black Boy Rd, West Rainton, Durham DH4 6PY

Come off A690 as you would have done for Rainton Meadow Arena, but continue up the B1284 and turn left down Black Boy Road.

All tickets remain valid.

     

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I don’t know why, but the Durham Blues Festival always seems to come with it’s own little set of dramas; bands dropping out due to injury or personal reasons causing schedule to be re-jigged or last minute (and high quality) replacements stepping in to the breach. This year though stepped it up a notch; the usual regular home, Durham’s Gala theatre it seems didn’t want this as an annual fixture; the first choice alternate venue, Rainton Meadows Arena it seems is up for redevelopment so that left Chilton Country Hotel, fortunately only a mile or so away from Rainton Meadows as fall back venue, but they rose to the occasion magnificently.

Theirs is a long function room, stage at the car park end and cabaret-style table seating easily handling the 200 or so audience as well as feeding them with some reasonably priced and tasty smelling nose-bag. Considering not the highest of ceilings from my vantage point the sound was really quite good especially considering the number of band change-overs and sound-checks to be done over the day the soundman did an amazing job. As for the stage, not very high, or all that big, but it coped, everybody pitching in to help everybody else. If there was a grumble to be had, its down to the lighting; the back of the stage wasn’t solid wall, but curtained window, south facing, curtained window, and the few lights available weren’t on a par with mid-summer sunshine so at times, the bands looked lie they were in silhouette. Still, it’s the music that counts.

First up were newcomers to the UK scene Felix Rabin & band. Felix is a young, French guitarist & songwriter, who, with his Italian backline (Nico on drums & Vincenzo on bass) have been making inroads in London clubs over the last year and now starting to come “down our roads”. A really polished set combining power standards and original material with their own twist.

Following Felix, and making a rare early performance was the Stevie Nimmo Trio, still featuring Dave Devlin on guitar, and for “one afternoon only” Wayne Procter on the drum stool. Stevie may still be undergoing physio on the arm but it hasn’t diminished that awesome voice of his. However signs are good for the guitar playing as he managed to strap one on for The Storm and set closer Going Down.

Then it was the turn of rising star Kris Barras Band to take the stage and he just blitzed the place and earned the 1st ovation of the day at the end of a powerful set which spanned his albums as well as takes on Stormy Monday and All Along The Watchtower. This really does deserve the rave reviews he’s been gathering since breaking out over the last couple of years.

If any band defines the term “heavy blues”, than it has to be The Groundhogs, in this case Ken Putselnik’s Groundhogs, A powerful set of heavy, driving, space blues from the veterans. A lot clearer and melodic than I’d have first given credit for though I noticed sound levels creeping up for their closer, the mighty Cherry Red.

How do you follow a set like that? Leave it to Laurence Jones & the band; once Bennett Holland got his mighty Hammond show-horned on stage, they were off and flying; within two numbers they even had folk up dancing!! And even then, they just kept cranking it up, a bouncing Before You Accuse Me and then Laurence throwing back his own take on Watchtower.

So then, a change of style, from the power to the more progressive but with equal amounts of sheer talent, Chantel McGregor took the stage with her boys, Adam on bass & Ollie on drums and laid a set that Joe Satriani or Robin Trower would have been proud of. And still she teases with “new album” promises….

That for me was the end of the day, I need to get back to my coffin before sunset…. Climax Blues Band closed the festival and I’m sure they did a sterling job but 4 of the best British bands, one legend and a bright new flame from the Continent made me a happy chap.

What’s in store for the 9th Durham Blues festival, I don’t know. After this I hope there is one, if not, then it’s been a worthy swan-song. Chilton County provided a very good venue at the last minute but they might be tied for audience numbers. Whether Durham Gala will relent and change their mind for next year, well fingers crossed but it has to be said, their music roster over 2018 hasn’t exactly sparkled…...

     

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Signs are that Chilton County will host the 2019 Blues Festival - 15th June….... Watch this space…...

IF, they could get Martin Barre; Rebecca Downes; LaVendore Rogue; Ben Poole; Elles Bailey; Buck & Evans that would suit me…..

     

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Memories of a Durham Blues Festival (June 2018 - Chilton County Hotel, Rainton)

Stevie Nimmo - Good Day For The Blues - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtMtfAF65ig

Laurence Jones 01 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sN3Y4Owqpis
                  Before You Accuse Me - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wl_Z_vxTZI
                  All Along The Watch Tower - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYNZWE5ZZTM

Chantel McGregor - 01 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIGvqv6_JRg
                      02 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-7YGZWcVtw

     

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Not letting the grass grow - headliner for 2019’s bash looks to be Mungo Jerry;  Alright, Alright, Alright….
(Ha! Who thought I’d use the obvious one…........?)

Early bird tickets now available - £28 via Solid Entertainments…..

     

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mcraggs27 - 27 July 2018 08:10 AM

Not letting the grass grow - headliner for 2019’s bash looks to be Mungo Jerry;  Alright, Alright, Alright….
(Ha! Who thought I’d use the obvious one…........?)

Early bird tickets now available - £28 via Solid Entertainments…..

Quite surprised what a good act they were when they played Darlington the other year. (As with the afro and side burns!)

     
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Connor Selby Band now added to 2019’s bill

     

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