Today and tomorrow Blues In The North West will be mainly at the North Wales Blues & Soul Festival in Mold.

Ken will be doing his thing with the excellent 3Kings and I (Grahame) will be on hand to watch the bands and sample a light ale or two.

Looking forward to catching some excellent music and meeting up with lots of old friends.

Have a great weekend all!!


6th – .44 Pistol

13th – Oblivion

20th – Stealer

27th Adrian Gautrey & Friends


News: Harmonica mics for sale

Posted on: Friday, Jul 31, 2015


Well-known North West harmonica player Mat Walklate has an extensive selection of top class mics for sale.

I have a range of excellent harmonica microphones for sale, mostly vintage, some antique.
They all sound great for amplified blues harp.
Some are from famous manufacturers like Astatic and Shure, others are less well known, but they all sound ‘HOT’!
People are welcome to email me for more info, pics, videos and prices.
All the best,
Anyone interested please contact Mat on

Review: Jon Spear Band – Old Soul

Posted on: Friday, Jul 31, 2015


Jon Spear Band – Old Soul


Jon Spear who takes lead vocals and guitar melds smoothly and sweetly together with friends Dara James; lead guitar and vocals, Andy Burdetsky; bass and John Stubblefield; drums. These are men who have individually seen it, done it and are still happily wearing the tee shirts. They won’t disclose quite how long their respective careers have been going but, here is a clue, Jon was in a band that opened for the Isley Brothers at the Capital Theatre in Port Chester NY when “Twist and Shout” was top-40 hit.

They are from and still reside in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and are active members of The Central Virginia Blues Society. Their debut release, “Old Soul”, is a stunning reminder to all and sundry that skill, practice and years of live performing enables you to shine like a true glittering star without reliance upon vacuous tinsel twinkling internet driven media videos. Across the ten numbers here, is an atmosphere of relaxed confidence, combined with second nature playing all wrapped up in invitingly assured arrangements whether they have forays into soul, blues, country, rock R&B, funk, swing, or even a little salsa, it is all delivered with enticing aplomb.

“Live Music, Is Better,” is an unashamed advert for all live gigs big or small, this rocking, rolling shuffler is driven by a swinging percussion and richly cool picking jazz guitar that slips away to allow in delightful upright bass and harmonica solos that simply sweep you off your feet. The only cover is Jimmy Wilson’s  “Tin Pan Alley,” which is delivered as a sumptuous eight minute floating slowburner, bass and drums gradually draw you in for the building and gently ever soaring slide which is supported by a sweetly rich and  unshakably confident, entwining guitar groove.

The late sixties low furrowed funky feel on “I Can’t Help Myself,” is given a Santana inspired guitar hook that floats over an underplayed but, alluring conga rhythm. The footapping Louis Jordan inspired swinger “The Second Mouse Gets The Cheese,” features a deep rising and rumbling soft bass matched with jaunty rasping harmonica that is underpinned by a wonderful ever swinging and thwacking percussion. Jazz saxophone specialist. On “Old Soul,” Ron Holloway lays down a seriously addictive smokin’and spine tingling atmosphere that enhances the tapestry being woven by the world weary guitar and bass on the moving old head on young shoulders ballad.



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Just in from Garry White:

Jon has never failed to be less than brilliant at Bluefunk and this new line up couldn’t possibly upset that record with fellow ‘Hoax’ member Mark Barrett on drums, long time sidekick Dave Doherty on bass and Bennett Holland on keyboards.

Armed with that information what else could you possibly do?

Book Here

Tickets: £12 advance. On the door: £14

The ‘early bird’ advance ticket for The Big Blues Festival at The Atkinson, Southport – on 9th-10th October – is only available up until Saturday, 1st August.

Acts appearing include The Nimmo Brothers, Tipitina, The Stumble, David Migden & The Twisted Roots and Marcus Malone.

News: Win tickets for King King tour + album

Posted on: Wednesday, Jul 29, 2015


Planet Rock are currently running a competition to win tickets for the next King King tour as well as a copy of the new album.

Just click on the link here to enter the competition and view the tour dates.

Planet Rock are also currently playing the new single ‘Crazy’. Please feedback to the presenters about the track via their website or Facebook page. Or email in to request it and keep it spinning on the play list .

Review for THAMESFEST Music Festival at The Crawley Inn, Crawley, Nr Witney, Oxfordshire 17th – 19th July 2015 –

Thamesfest, now in its fourth year, pulled out the stops with a plethora of great bands and artists. Having had the plug pulled by the original venue only days before the event, Nick and Annette Clack did an amazing job finding another venue to host, what is, a great little festival at such short notice. The Crawley Inn at Crawley near Witney in Oxfordshire did an amazing job and gave the festival a new dimension plus the glorious weather helped to set the scene.


On Friday evening the festival, kicked off with a local duo, ‘Asterox’, playing a mix of alternative music. With acoustic guitar, drum machine, vocals and harmonica, the music had a Dylan-esque flavour.

Next to take to the stage were the excellent ‘Matt Edwards Band’. Playing a mix of funky blues rock, with some tracks taken from their previous album, ‘Follow The Plan’ and the brilliant current album ‘Four Berry Jam’. Matt Edwards – a competent singer songwriter and multi instrumentalist from the South of England – fronts the band on vocals and guitar, with Andy Norris on superb drums and Pete Thomas on bass. Moving away from their self penned work, they played an wonderful take of John Hiatt’s ‘Feels Like Rain’, a song from Cream and an awesome version of Hendrix’s ‘All Along The Watchtower’. It was great to see and hear a ‘live’ take of their music, putting the studio versions into context. A great band, so watch this space!

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After a quick change round, it was the turn of Oxford’s own ‘Missing Persians’, who are Chris Cox on vocals, acoustic guitar and mandolin, John Keston Hole on vocals and electric guitar, Chas Maguire on vocals, electric and stick bass and Nick Clack on drums. Their music is not steeped in one style, so keeps the interest with an eclectic mix of blues, country blues, Americana, rock, funk and rock ‘n roll. All are superb musicians in their own right and they played a mix of self penned music from their current album, ‘The Missing Persians’ with some new material they are preparing for the next album, plus a couple of covers. They had a great reception from the audience and played an excellent set. Having had a successful tour of the Netherlands recently, it would be good to see these guys grace the Northern climes of the UK, so watch this space.

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The final band of the evening were the amazing ‘Sam Kelly Band’, featuring drummer extraordinaire Sam Kelly on drums and vocals and tonight, the legendary Giles Hedley on vocals, guitar, slide guitar and blues harp with Andy Hodge on outstanding bass. Giving us ‘rootsy’ blues firmly on the table, they played an amazing set with slide guitar, harmonica and vocals with that Howlin’ Wolf flavour from Giles. Sam kept that rhythm going with his usual ‘at ease’ drumming – which is in a class of its own – and Andy keeping that superb bass line. They gave us a mix of classic Delta blues, which had an edge on any of the blues bands around today. Just excellent!


Opening the afternoon were ‘The Sedatives’, a local duo who are Ian ‘Mogadon’ Jackson on electric guitar and Merlin ‘Mandrax’ on acoustic guitar and vocals. They gave us some easy listen music with a mix of blues, a touch of Americana and some popular covers. They did a particularly good take of Christy Moore’s ‘Ride On’.

Livening up the proceedings were ‘Rebel Station’, a punk rock ‘n roll band, based in Swindon and Gloucester. The line up are Monkey on lead guitar and vocals, Major Tom on bass and Captain Impetuous on amazing drums (he reminded me of a young Ginger Baker!) Influenced by bands such as The Ramones and Eddie and the Hotrods, their music is self penned and full on high energy. An excellent set.

A treat next, with the magic ‘Nik Barrel’ from Brighton. Playing an excellent solo set outside in the courtyard, he gave us some blues, vaudeville and more, with some self penned works from his album ‘Southern Cross’ and also some classic covers. Superb acoustic guitar playing and vocals from this young man, who spends a great deal of his time busking.

‘Bewarethisboy’, a local Oxford based band, gave a great performance of folk rock which could be likened to ‘Fairport Convention meets The Clash’. With Simon Meakin on guitar and vocals, Dave Shepherd on bass and keys, Sue Mallett on fiddle and Stewart Manley on drums, the band played a selection of self penned works which were full of energy.

Turning back to some classic blues with ‘Barrelhouse’, who play material from artists such as Freddie King, Elmore James and Mose Allison. They performed a great take of the classic ‘Walkin’ and ‘Rollin’ and Tumblin’ with some super slide guitar and harmonica input.

The brilliant ‘Beard of Destiny’, from the Oxford area, provided us with their own style of music, which I would describe as swamp boogie blues and something like Seasick Steve meets ZZ Top! With great meaty slide guitar and pounding drums, it’s hard to believe the guys are just a duo, excellent stuff!

For some good, down to earth, rockin’ rhythm and blues, it was great to see the return of Oxford’s favourite rockers ‘Steamroller’, who are Robert Wakeley on guitar, Roger Warner on bass and Steve Winstone on drums. With some well put together classic blues rock standards, the well seasoned musicians did a great job and are always a crowd pleaser.

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The final act of the evening was the amazing ‘Debbie Bond and the TrueDats’. From Alabama in the USA, Debbie, on guitar and vocals, is part way through an extensive tour of Great Britain. She has been touring with her partner in life and music, Rick Asherson, who plays keyboard and was joined for part of the tour, this evening by the wonderful Sam Kelly on drums and Ray Carless on sax. She played a great mix of Southern blues and with the great musicianship of the band the sound was immense.


Opening the afternoon was the alternative and slightly off the wall ‘Twizz Twangle’. Supported by other musicians on Cajon, bass and drums, Twizz, described as a ‘musical maverick’, played guitar and trumpet with some interesting poetry interspersed with rapping rhythms.

Next, ‘Factory Lights’ with a flavour of Americana with acoustic guitar, electric guitar, accordion, bass and drums giving the band a great sound.

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All the way from the Netherlands were the amazing Tape-iT. A seven piece band with a big sound. With a mix of acoustic and electric guitars, two saxes and a charismatic front man, they wowed the audience playing a mix of bluesy, rocky numbers, mostly taken from their current album. Let’s hope we see them back in the UK again.

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The final act of the festival were the brilliant Backbone Blues Band. Making their second appearance at Thamesfest, they are a high class blues band hailing from the Thames Valley. Fronting the band is Duncan Highet on amazing vocals and bass, Tony Seaman on guitar and vocals, Martin Jezzard on drums, Frank McConnell on guitar and Steve Pearce on keys.

They are – “Influenced by the old blues men and inspired by the new, their music is threaded with soul, rock and country and delivers a style that’s both eclectic in its construction, but unmistakably “Backbone” in its delivery.” – which is a good summary for this excellent band, who are tight in their delivery and spot on musically.

They played a selection of self penned works from their previous album ‘Made in Britain’ and some new material from their forth coming album. Having played at a prestigious blues festival and other venues in the Southern states of the USA for the last 4 years, plus numerous festivals and gigs in the south of England, it would be good to see these guys up in the north of England sometime soon, so watch this space!

A great end to a great little Festival, so let’s hope it will all happen again next year.

Rosy Greer – Lancashire Blues Archive and Independent Reviewer

The ‘kings of blues and swing’, The Cadillac Kings appear at the Mold Blues & Soul Festival, this Saturday, on stage at 6 pm.

Here’s a great version of the T-Birds “Rock With Me”, vocals from drummer Roy Webber . . . must have been his birthday!

“Breath-taking West Coast swing, hugely enjoyable with brilliant vocals, excellent harp, guitar and keyboards and a rock solid rhythm section. In a word – exhilarating!” – Lionel Ross, Blues in Britain Magazine (Dragon Blues Festival, Wrexham)

“On the basis of this stonking gig at Chester’s Alexander’s Club The Cadillac Kings seem best suited to take over the position as the country’s finest purveyors of good-time blues and swing.” – Grahame Rhodes, Chester Chronicle

“Entertaining, authentic & infectious – The Cadillac Kings’ high energy swinging R&B is enough to put a foaming head on a pint of real ale! This is pure good time music that left The Darlington Arts Centre audience dizzy, long after they’d left the building.” – Darrell Parsons, Blues in Britain

A documentary on the state of the blues set in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Birthplace of the Delta Blues and second home of Theo Dasbach, founder of the amazing Rock & Blues Museum.


Jim Singleton – 8 O’Clock in The Afternoon


A combination of enforced family travels during his childhood years to countries such as, Hawaii and Germany (for his father was a Colonel in the American Army) only added to Jim’s young musical curiosity, for when bands of vastly differing musical styles played at the military bases upon which his family lived, he was happily exposed to every musical genre that was available. Originally from Dumas, Arkansas, Jim is now based in Pennsylvania, he spends most of his time travelling across America pursuing his musical dream and dealing in vintage electric guitars – a business he developed from bringing over the odd guitar here and there for friends in England while in his teens.

As a consequence of his early dealings with now, long-time friends and musicians such as Bernie Marsden he is able to make his dream as a musician of merging English interpretations with American blues a reality. This came about as a direct result of Jim’s involvement with Bernie Marsden’s documentary concerning the affinity and connections of Clarksdale and English blues men. This programme gave Jim the idea and impetus to create and record a lively mixture of English blues with contemporary American blues men in one of the birthplaces of classic blues, Clarksdale, Mississippi.

The album kicks off with Peter Green’s “Rattlesnake Shake”, a bone-shaking drum supports a rich, strong trudging and tramping guitar that winds, whines and cleaves its way into your brain. Supporting Jim, on vocals and guitar, are such artists as; Jack Thurman, Bernie Marsden, Fiona Boyes, Sean ‘Bad’ Apple, Nicky Moroch, and Gary Vincent, on guitars, Joe Osborn and Daddy Rich; bass, Lee Williams and John Martin; drums.

The splendidly haunting and tremulous Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game”, contains all the fearful emotion and shudder that Roy Orbison so successfully unleashed to the world. On Rory Gallagher’s “A Million Miles Away”, a crisp and clear Spanish guitar influence is entwined within the slow absorbing blues but, also in there amongst the swirling organ pulses there is a fleeting Dave Gilmour feeling of open space.

A dreamy and wistful atmosphere is created by the laconic harmonica playing of Charlie Musselwhite within Bernie Marsden’s “Place In My Heart”, while the slowly rising organ swirls like a mist around the melancholy guitar and vocals that plead to your heart. There is a definite good time Hill Country feel running through Gary Clark Jr.’s “Don’t Owe You A Thang”.

The band eagerly stomps around a excitable and raw buzzsawing guitar with highly enjoyable frantic rockabilly drum work taking centre stage.  Another Rory Gallagher gem is “What’s Going On”,  a cobweb blasting rocker, that includes frantic fretwork that is a ringing and rolling pleasure to the ears accompanied by stomping, driving drum work. An unexpected pleasure to the ears!



YouTube: Burning Black – Burning Up

Posted on: Sunday, Jul 26, 2015

The hugely-talented Anglesey-based duo Burning Black – Steve Blackstone and Russ Cowburn – kick-off this year’s North Wales Blues & Soul Festival in Mold, on Friday, 31st July.

Get there for the start if you are going . . . 6 pm . . . and support these great musicians!

Review: The Betty Fox Band – Slow Burn

Posted on: Sunday, Jul 26, 2015

Betty Fox Band - Slow Burn (2015)

The Betty Fox Band – Slow Burn


If you’re wondering about the CD title, take a listen to the nearly seven and a half minutes of Betty’s treatment of Otis Redding’s ‘Remember Me’ – slow burn southern soul at its finest, with Betty’s gospel rooted vocals initially tightly controlled but roaring with wild abandon by the end, guitarist Kid Royal to-the-point and building his solo in classic fashion (as with the vocal), and the rhythm section just keeping it all together.

Betty is based in Florida and grew up within a family gospel singing tradition, and she certainly has the voice for the excellent blend of classic soul and tough blues – take a listen to ‘Baby Please’ another real tour-de-force – that she offers up on this, her second album. Besides the Redding number, the only other cover version on this album is her sensitive solo take of Willie Nelson’s ‘Angel Flyin’ Too Close To the Ground’ that closes out the album.

I’m a little undecided about the two very jazzy numbers, ‘Please Come Home’ and ‘Who’s Holdin’?’, which do let her show her range, but smack a little of the dreaded “novelty” tag – though Royal’s fleet-fingered solo on the latter does help alleviate this feeling. Otherwise, the material is all original, intelligent and well worth a listen, neatly straddling the line between blues and soul, but all of it more than recommended to lovers of the modern blues sound.

I was about to write “remember the name”, but I am pretty sure you’ll be hearing lot a lot more anyway before too long.



The return of the Intercity Blues Band from Liverpool wowed the crowd with their gritty style of Chicago blues. Archie Moore fronts this four piece band on lead vocal and a wailing harmonica; Dave Miles on lead guitar was outstanding – firmly rooted in the blues genre, he showed what he could do with the Albert King hit “Can’t You See What Your Doin’ To Me” – brilliant work. The engine room consisted of Denis Sainter, on a fantastic sounding bass guitar, along with Mick Andrews on the drums – an experienced pairing indeed and the driving force of the band.

A mix of classic blues and original works – six in all – and the first of these was “Black Finger Boogie” featuring Dave Miles on lead guitar. Big Joe Turner’s “Flip, Flop and Fly” was next – a great rendition of this marvellous number. Two more originals, “Down Hill Blues “and the fantastic “Nothing Going Down” – this highlighted the struggle in Liverpool in the 70s with widespread unemployment.

Slim Harpo’s “I Got Love If You Want It” demonstrated the many skills of Archie’s harp playing; finishing the first set with Howlin’ Wolf’s “Who’s Been Talking” – superb. The second set started with Henry Mancini’s “Peter Gunn”, the instrumental, this was another excellent rendition.

The set also produced covers from The Doors, two more original works, then Peter Green’s “Stop Messin’ Around”, “Route 66”, “I Need You Tonight”, Tommy Tucker’s “High Heel Sneakers”, “Messin’ With The Kid” by Junior Wells and an encore with the classic “Shake Your Money Maker” by Elmore James, bringing the show to a close with the deafening shouts and whistles for more.

If you missed the Intercity Blues Band express catch the next one – you’ll be glad you did.


Independent national & international music reviewer

News: North Wales Blues & Soul final countdown . . .

Posted on: Saturday, Jul 25, 2015



 Final preparations are underway for the biggest blues and soul festival in North Wales to hit Mold on 31st July – 2nd August.

The festival which welcomes crowds of up to 4,000, to the heart of Mold for the second time, will see more than twenty of the UK’s hottest blues and soul acts take to the stage.

Confirmed headliners include blues legends King King as well as soul stars Clem Curtis and the Foundations for the North Wales Blues and Soul Festival 2015.

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Four time finalist in the British Blues Awards the Alex McKown (pictured above) Band will be joining existing headlines as a last minute surprise announcement. The band is featured on world famous compilation CD’s “The Cream of Electric Blues” & “Suit Case Full O’Blues”, together with artists such as Joe Bonamassa, Walter Trout, Robert Cray and The Royal Southern Brotherhood.

The line-up will also include British Blues Awards 2015 finalist Brothers Groove, who were singled out as an emerging artist for 2015 as well as Burning Black, 3Kings, Matt Wolff, the Eddie Martin Big Band and the David Sinclair Four.

This year’s event also promises a chance to see some of the newest and most talented soul and blues performers in Britain as well as some firm favourites from last year’s festival, The Cadillac Kings and the John Verity Band.

Tickets are still available at a discounted price online if booking in advance, or from Mold Town Hall, Bargain Booze, Mold or Telfords Warehouse in Chester.

For further details, please see


Royal Southern Brotherhood – Don’t Look Back

(The Muscle Shoals Sessions)

(Ruf Records: RUF 1215)

The Royal Southern Brotherhood return with “Don’t Look Back” – a third studio album, recorded at the iconic Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and produced by Tom Hambridge – and as ever with a heady brew of blues, funk, soul, rock and more . . . .

After serving since the band’s inception in 2012, this new release sees a complete overhaul of the band’s guitar department, following the departures of founder members Devon Allman and Mike Zito. The full line-up now comprises of Cyril Neville (vocals, percussion), Charlie Wooton (bass), Yonrico Scott (drums, percussion), with the new guitar pairing of Bart Walker, from Nashville; and Tyrone Vaughan . . . the son of Texas legend, Jimmie Vaughan . . . a seamless transition for sure!

The generous 14-song collection comprises of all original new material, most co-wrote by various combinations within the band – with another of the famed Neville Brothers – Ivan, helping out on one song and also contributing Hammond B-3, piano and clavinet. Further guests included the horns of Jimmy Neville (saxophone), Max Abrams (saxophone) and Paul Armstrong (trumpet).

The highlights are plentiful and the music blasts off with the crunching guitars of Walker and Vaughan on the strutting rocker, “I Wanna Be Free”; which is followed by the driving “Reach My Goal”, which reminded me of classic Doobie Brothers, and has a nice contribution from Ivan Neville on keyboards. The title cut, “Don’t Look Back”, takes the pace down, with some bass ‘gymnastics’ from Charlie Wooton to kick it off, before loping into a reggae groove – with fine performances all-round.

The N’Awlins flavoured funk of “The Big Greasy” is a particular joy and hits a truly memorable groove from the band; producer Tom Hambridge and writing partner Gary Nicholson contribute the tough rocking “Hard Blues”; before Cyril and Ivan Neville’s “Better Half” – a gorgeous ballad showing the mellower side of Royal Southern Brotherhood.

That softer side is highlighted again on “It’s Time For Love”, a soulful affair with the driving rhythm section and some tasteful guitar contributions and of course, Cyril Neville’s outstanding vocals. Tyrone Vaughan’s co-write with Will Knaak is the funky “Poor Boy”, with lashings of groove brought to the table again. This highly recommended album ends in style with the mainly-acoustic ballad, “Anchor Me” – penned by Cyril Neville and adopted son of New Orleans, the great Anders Osborne.

So a few of the names have changed, but Royal Southern Brotherhood have delivered another great album of roots music and more . . . with the transition from the Allman/Zito guitar pairing to that of Walker/Vaughan, sounding pretty seamless.


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