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5th Durham Blues Festival - 20th June

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Has it really been 5 years? Well, this one’s gonna be a goodie. Headlined by the legendry Geno Washington; our Aynsley, 2nd on the bill and first time at the venue. The Brew and Larry Miller will be rocking the place, Erja Lyytenen making a rare visit to these parts and a while since she and Aynsley shared a bill; and newbies Red Butler opening the festival.

If that wasn’t enough for your money, there’s also an acoustic stage, for those who need to chill; Gary “the slide guy” Smith; Gary Grainger; Mike Wyatt; Jack J Hutchinson; Starvin’ Sid; Alex McKown.

Doors 1:30pm…....

     

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Saturday saw Solid Entertainment’s 5th Annual Durham Blues festival, bringing some of the best bands around to Durham’s Gala Theatre.

In a short notice change to the line-up with The Brew having to cancel due to drummer Kurtis being out-of-action due to a nasty shoulder injury; the proceedings on the main stage were kicked-off in fine, old-school style by local heroes, George Shovlin & the Radars. These guys delivered what was probably the bluesiest set of the day in their usual relaxed but intense manner and got the filing room nicely warmed over.

Being promoted from their “opener” slot didn’t seem to faze the next band, Brighton rockers Red Butler who used the extra time to air a brand new song in among their strong set of covers and originals. Kicking off with Moving On, they grabbed attention with an energetic set which included a “sultry” cover of Shakin’ All Over (a song none of the band should be old enough to remember) and a highlight showcase between guitarist Alex Butler and singer Jane Pearce; a cover of Sandi Thom’s Belly of The Blues. There’s a great energy from this band as well as a Free like touch that makes them one to watch.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFvCK9_YvNE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6JM0IJU6GM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MS-rHuApGNY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42jE6LbOvrk

I’ve waited several years to catch the next on the bill, Erja Lyytinen, and was she ever worth the wait. The pint-sized powerhouse opened the set with a pounding Spoonful, a feast of savage slide-guitar and just kept on running with it, breaking only briefly for a sublime Change of Season before turning it back up to 11 for The Sky Is Crying, It Hurts Me Too and leaving everyone wanting more after a thunderous Dust My Broom.
Dust My broom https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCs40RJWnEo

Keeping it turned up to 11, next it was “Miller-time” and as ever, Larry Miller & the band gave another of their subtle and understated sets – that could probably heard across town in the Cathedral. Always a crowd favourite as he delivers, full on.

It seems odd to be describing Aynsley Lister as an oasis of calm, but after the full-on fury of Larry Miller, Aynsley was exactly what was required,  slow-burning build up from Early Morning Dew quickly became one of his usual, incendiary performances. Only “difference” from the norm, as Johnny Dyke substituting on the keyboard bench, but providing a great foil for Aynsley, especially during Sugar and Tore Down, (dedicated to BB KIng) which stamped his blues credentials on the proceedings.

Unfortunately, wasn’t able to stay for headliner Geno Washington’s set, but then, what do you say about a legend?

Didn’t get to see the acoustic stage in the upstairs room; disadvantages of unreserved seating and unstaggered running times, though heard good reports and appreciative applause from time to time. I’d estimate turn-out as a healthy 250-300 at the peak.

     

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Of course; I could be lying….