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2014 - A Look Back

Here's a round up of the year, written by our forum moderator, Mike Craggs.  Visit the Official Forums to join in the conversation.


Once again, a fine year and a vintage crop of good “live” music to be marked down, spiced by the appearance of one or two rare bands.

January kicked off with one of these infrequent visitors, Michael Katon at the fledgling Newcastle Blues Club, laying down some “diablo” boogie. This was followed a week later by Chantel McGregor on a roll delivering another sold-out show at Sedgefield.

February came round with the strange match-up of Lucy Zirins opening for The Alligators at Hartlepool, and despite an at best, indifferent crowd, gave her usual haunting performance. King King rocked it up at The Cluny and Albany Down, supported by Trevor Sewell gave an amazing night, again at Newcastle Blues Club.

March, as ever a busy month, kicked off with Aynsley paying his first visit to Guisborough in a few years, and ended the evening by owning the place, as is his custom. Later in the month, Chantel provided yet another sold-out show, this time at Durham’s Gala Theatre. The month ended, with another rare visitor to the region, Deborah Bonham, who gave a searing show at Darlington Forum. An amazing singer on stage, and a lovely lady off.

April saw Stevie Nimmo Trio hit The Cluny and turn the amps full on. A week later, Marcus Bonfanti brought his band up to Guisborough for a great show, and a warmer evening than his previous visit. Later in the month, Laurence Jones played his first time at Hartlepool and managed the near impossible - got the locals up dancing! A great night soon followed at Stockton ARC, where Federal Charm made a welcome return to the N.East, the first of many in 2014; supporting The Hoax who were on fire.

May brought in a few “hot climate” migrants, Ben Poole, finally came north of Redcar and did an amazing show at Sedgefield R’n'B Club. The following evening, The Brew turned up at Hartlepool for the first time in more than 5 years, and along with Albany Down, shook the place to its foundations. Then, absent for almost a year, Virgil & The Accelerators headlined their first time at The Cluny for the start of their Army of Three album release and melted the steel beams.

June, and Guisborough R’n'B, lulled into a false sense of calm by one of Andrew Pipe’s solo sets, was well and truly “Nimmo-ed” when Alan & Stevie rolled through. Matt Schofield, on a very short tour, played his usual sublime show at The Cluny and, yet another sold-out gig by Chantel, this time at Darlington Forum; young Mr Pips doing the opening honours. Meanwhile, upstairs at Darlington’s Voodoo Café, Trevor Sewell & his band were hotter than the house chilli. June also saw Ryan McGarvey returning to Hartlepool, and levelled what The Brew last month could only shake. Winding the month down, yet another rarity and something special, singer/songwriter Josh Doyle in a low-key, solo, acoustic gig at Gateshead Central Bar.

July, usually a quiet month, saw The Cluny get a real hurricane force one-two, from a couple of venue debutees; firstly Joanne Shaw Taylor and then, on the hottest night of the year, Ryan McGarvey making up for the clash last month with Royal Southern Bortherhood.

August, when everybody is away on holiday, came round with an absolute gem of a gig down at Guisborough Joel Fisk & Jon Amor; semi-acoustic duo - more than just “Hoax-y Joint”. So good, they’re doing it again in 2015 for those who missed, this time, LaVendore Hoax?

September rolled in, and the momentum picked up; “young guns” night at Sedgefield with Alex McKewon supporting the return of Laurence Jones, and then, from the ashes of Hokie Joint, LaVendore Rogue took Hartlepool like an Alley Cat in the house, aided and abetted by Andrew Pipe, solo, again. The Nimmos rocked the Cluny, again….

October saw Ben Poole play Newcastle for the first time, and though numbers were disappointing, ben delivered a fantastic show that should ensure his return. Another of those pesky clashes, Chantel @ Hartlepool or VATA @ Mainsforth? Well, since I was behind the scenes, it had to be VATA, who really shake the dust off the old hall. That was a set up for one of the rarest of visitors, Kenny Wayne Shepherd at Gateshead Sage, supported by Laurence Jones.
November and where better to see The Mentulls headlining for the 1st time in over a year than a hometown gig at Guisborough, with their special guest Lucy Zirins getting the sort of appreciation she deserves.Another good pairing was at Stockton ARC, with Matt Schofield and Ben Poole - both unusually keyboard-less. Then, in almost a mirror to the start of the year, Stevie Nimmo Trio, back again @ The Cluny.

December; well, you know its Christmas time when Aynsley swings by with the band and rocked it up at his 2nd “Home”, The Cluny. Speaking of 2nd homes, that’s what Guisborough is to Jon Amor and his band, this time including Bennett Holland and they really tore it up. What a duo to finish the year on.

So - 2014; how was it for you? What are you looking forward to in 2015?

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