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What!!! No Matt Schofield? or Looking back on 2015

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Joined 2010-04-12

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So, another great year for live music; many old friends, lots of new friends and chances to catch up.

January, as usual, a slow month broken only by Trevor Sewell holding an album party at The Cluny, in support, Tilerman’s find of the year, Rebecca Downes delivering an acoustic set with sideman Steve Birkett.

February and the momentum picked up with a return visit to Guisborough by Joel Fisk & John Amor with their acclaimed acoustic duo show. Keeping it acoustic, Marcus Bonfanti came by and played to a full upper room at Durham Gala.

March started with a trip to Doncaster Dome for their Blues festival, headlined by the mighty Focus and featuring Aynsley Lister on top form, plus strong sets from Little Devils, Mark Pontin Group, AVIT Blues Band, Luke Doherty Band. Sedgefield played host to Ron Sayer Jr & Charlotte Joyce, supported by Half Deaf Clatch. Later in the month, King King headlined at Stockton ARC with Laurence Jones straining at the leash as support.

April and Aynsley returned to Guisborough to shake the foundations, Chantel McGregor played a packed Durham Gala and Deborah Bonham rocked Darlington Form. The boys weren’t getting it all their own way it seems.

An atypical May, I only caught one gig, but I wasn’t going to miss The Mentulls at their first showing at Newcastle Cluny, or rather Cluny2 where they showed how much they’ve really stepped up.

June, and Aynsley once again, this time in the open air at South Shields Ampitheatre; it’s a shame nobody told the weather that it was supposed to be summer – playing Hurricane in a hurricane… Always a welcome return to Guisborough, Hamilton Loomis delivered his east Texas blues to a good house. Then Durham Blues festival, and another showing by Aynsley on the bill, this time behind Geno Washington. Also rocking the place were Larry Miller, (hope the recovery is coming on) my first sighting of Finnish powerhouse Erja Lyytinen, hot newcomers Red Butler and a last minute bill change to add local heroes George Shovlin & the Radars.

July and August would have been bare except I went a little left field, dabbled my toes in “poppier” waters and caught Sophie Ellis Bextor and The Feeling at one of South Tyneside festival week-end shows. The Feeling, have to say are an excellent band to catch live, and Sophie, superb singer and a really good band behind her.

September, and once again the ladies dominated the start of the month, fantastic showing at Hartlepool by Grianne Duffy. Then Darlington Marketplace free festival and The Mentulls took their opening slot and took the place; great showing too by Eugene “Hideaway” Bridges and Mick Ralphs Band.

October was a really full month yet somehow managed to miss Nimmo Brothers’ farewell tour. However, managed to cram in probably gig of the year, Erja Lyytinen and her 1st ever visit to Darlington Blues Club, Ryan McGarvey caused a storm at Hartlepool Belle Vue (local band Picaroons were brilliant openers). and the following night played his heart out at Gateshead Sage with Rebecca Downes and band providing powerful support. Wille & The Bandits and their semi-acoustic rockin’ show were something special at Cluny2 while at the end of the month, another of the year’s highlights saw Mike Zito & The Wheel make their mark on The Cluny.

November, and I think I may as well have booked a room at The Cluny; down in Cluny2, there was a double-barrelled Welsh showing, a fiery performance by Troy Redfern Band and an awesome one by Mark Pontin Group – the Welsh have a strong tradition for great bands to which these two are worth additions. Trevor Sewell revisited The Cluny to launch a 2nd album for the year (who does he think he is, Joe Bonamassa?), and brought with him this time a great Blues story-teller, Wily Bo Walker. Later in the month, the Rock dial was turned all the way up when Virgil & The Accelerators came back to The Cluny, 1st time in 15months and with a new face in the band: great support from local Jonny Boyle. Proving that she’s a rising star on the circuit, Rebecca Downes was given Sedgefield R’n’B Club to play with, and she took it running after a solid support slot from Middlesbrough’s Andy Power Band.

Into December and back at The Cluny, local boy Peter Shoulder showed why you can’t keep a great voice down with the launch of a new band project, outside the resting Union. Solid rocking support from Black Atom Movement and Fletcher/Jackson Band. Then, final time of the year, Aynsley did his December visit to the Cluny, bringing The Mentull’s along for their Cluny baptism proper. And finally, the year rounded off with Chantel McGregor doing her (unbelievable) first Cluny appearance.

And that leads me to ask, first time in 5 years - WHAT!!! No Matt Schofield?

There’s no doubt, Live music is in good form, thanks to bands like these; the promoters who book them, the halls and clubs who host them and of course, folk like us who go out and support the bands and buy the Cds. Here’s to more of the same in 2016.

Keep Rockin’

     

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Of course; I could be lying….