Review: Smokehouse + Pete Price at the Lymm Cruising Club – 4th July 2007
Posted on: Saturday, Jul 14, 2007
The blues night at The Cruising Club [sic] on the banks of the Bridgewater Canal formed part of the Lymm Festival. The festival was spread over ten days and provided a wide range of music, drama, dance, art, poetry and exhibitions. The night was organised by Dave and Shirley Sawyer, who are regular supporters of the gigs at the Warrington Blues Club and The Harbourside Club in Liverpool.
Pete Price opened the show with a typically entertaining set, in which he backed his powerful vocals mainly on acoustic and occasionally on steel guitar. He delivered a fine mixture of original compositions and songs by Robert Johnson, Leadbelly and Blind Willie McTell. He also played some instrumental numbers, including a brilliant rendition of Baton Rouge Rag. Humour is an important element of Pete Price’s performances as, for example, when he introduced one of his songs with the dedication “for anyone who’s been on the pull over the festival and failed”. He completed his spot with Lonnie Johnson’s “As Long As I Live”, which was covered by The Ink Spots, and an Indian-flavoured tune that he described as Delta blues at the Ganges. It was a great start to the evening.
For Smokehouse, this was only their second gig with their new rhythm section, after their debut at the Worthenbury Blues Festival on the previous Saturday. On this occasion, Lucy Williams was replaced by her brother, Russ, on double bass to supplement the drumming of Mark Donaldson.
The band was in terrific form with their usual mix of Chicago and West Coast blues. They opened with a bouncing, upbeat number and the slow shuffle “Going Down Slow”, on which Johny Hewitt and Barny Barnett delivered excellent solos on harp and guitar respectively. “Shake Your Boogie” included a fine cameo performance from Russ Williams on bass, after which he was substituted by his sister for the next two numbers. Johny Hewitt was magnificent on ‘naked’ harp on “Nine Below Zero” before the high tempo jump jive “Buzz For Me, Baby” concluded the first set.
Mark Williams resumed his role for the second set, also delivering vocals for the first two numbers, “Can’t Be Satisfied” and “Caledonia”. The pace was slowed with “Down In Virginia”, which featured more magic from Johny Hewitt, then revved up again with a fast-moving boogie. “Trouble In Mind” was enhanced with another tasty helping of ‘naked’ harp, which was nicely balanced with some soothing riffs from Barny. Pete Price then returned to the stage to take over the vocals for the last few numbers, including a loudly demanded encore.
The full house had enjoyed a fabulous evening, which confirmed a blues night as an integral part of the Lymm Festival. As an added bonus, local resident Matthew Corbett, seemingly unfazed by the absence of Sooty, drifted amiably around the room collecting empty glasses, without once being drenched by an unexpected assailant, and departed surreptitiously with a barely audible “Goodbye, everybody”.
[photograph by Ian Williams]