Review of the year – Grahame Rhodes

Posted on: Thursday, Jan 1, 2009

Review of the Year

by Grahame Rhodes


Due to one thing and another I was unable to get out to as many as gigs in 2008, compared to previous years, however, I did manage to see some rather splendid sets.

It was a year of two festival firsts . . . Worthenbury and Maryport . . . and what two great days they were! Worthenbury, organised superbly by the three ‘Hookers’ musketeers of Pete Evans, Paul Taylor and Ian Williams, was a lovely late June day, with smashing people, fine beer and top performers . . . one of the sets of the year from The Stumble, and a first chance for me to see Dave Arcari and his revved-up ‘punk’ blues . . . . great stuff, and a lovely guy as well.

Jon Cleary

My most eagerly awaited set of the year, at Maryport, did not disappoint . . . keyboard maestro Jon Cleary and his Absolute Monster Gentlemen provided one of the finest hour’s music I have ever seen and heard! I was also quite taken with the set shared by Australian guitarists, Jeff Lang and Derrin Nauendorf . . . not strictly blues, but nonetheless superb! Bill-topper Jimmie Vaughan was sadly not on top form . . . but hey, I did manage to catch the rejuvenated Fabulous Thunderbirds at Pacific Road in Birkenhead . . . with the new guitar duo of Johnny Moeller and Mike Keller ably backing up Kim Wilson’s always staggering harmonica and voice.


British favourites The Cadillac Kings and Paul Lamb & The Kingsnakes both played at Warrington this year . . . both on top form and most enjoyable! Dutch harp player Big Pete brought his band, The Backbones, to Ray and Barbara’s club as well – catch them in 2009!

Ending the ‘live’ segment, quick mentions to the venerable 93-year old David ‘Honeyboy’ Edwards, who, in the company of Dave Peabody, rolled back the many years at Pacific Road; Michael Messer and The Spikdrivers, two fine shows at Pete’s Worthenbury ‘juke joint’; and Big Boy Bloater and band, rocking the house at the splendid venue, The Academy, in Buckley.

Recorded material-wise, have enjoyed a lot of stuff this year, without one particular cd jumping out at me, here’s my top ten, in no particular order:


1.      The Cadillac Kings – Trouble In Store
2.      Sean Costello – We Can Get Together
3.      Moreland & Arbuckle – 1861
4.      Chris Bergson Band – Fall Changes
5.      FreeWorld – From The Bluff
6.      JW Jones – Bluelisted
7.      Various, including Big Walter Horton – Bocce Boogie
8.      GravelRoad – Shot The Devil
9.      The City Shakers – The Very Best Of
10.      Jason Ricci & New Blood – Rocket No. 9


A few that will be familiar, and some maybe not . . . check them out!

To sum up. . . . not a vintage year, but some highly enjoyable moments!

Let’s spare a moment for those we have lost this year . . . . Sean Costello, a day before his 29th birthday, his “Going Home” the track of the year for me; big Robert Lucas, the bear of a man who led Canned Heat for many years, and who was the first ever act I set out to see at Alexander’s in Chester, but sadly arrived too late to play; not strictly blues, but two musicians forever linked with Jimi Hendrix – Buddy Miles and Mitch Mitchell; and also the likes of Phil Guy, forever in the shadow of his brother, Buddy. RIP to them all.

May I just wish all a peaceful and prosperous 2009 – and thank you to all promoters, bands, record labels, promotion companies, and fans, who keep our great music genre going, and to Ken for letting me play a small part in this great website!




January 7th, 2009 at 18:18
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A couple of honourable mentions as well to Robert Cray and his top band – a rare gig at the Liverpool Empire – what a voice and top guitarist; and also to Andy Fairweather Low at Pacific Road in Birkenhead – two cracking hours of blues, gospel, country and of course, the big Amen Corner hits. What a superb player he is as well!