Review: Worthenbury Blues and Roots Festival – 27 June 2009 – PART2
Posted on: Wednesday, Jul 1, 2009
The evening session got under way on the main stage with a rousing uptempo RnB blast from The Dirty Robbers, led by ex-Cadillac Kings guitarist Oliver Darling – also to be seen in Mike Sanchez’s band, and in the absence of keyboards, the superb Paul Garner on second guitar – also to have graced The Cadillac Kings guitar slot, together with the rhythm section of Craig Rhind (bass) and Matt Cowley (drums). A spirited hour featured mainly tunes from their first album, kicking off with “Ain’t Nothin’ Shakin’ “, and Richard Berry’s oft-covered “Have Love Will Travel”, with a dip into some classic Peter Green for “Watch Out”, from the “Blues Jam in Chicago” album . . . a set highlight. The eloquently titled “Lemon Squeezer” was a taster from the forthcoming second album, with more dips into the first album for a corking “Lonesome Woman Blues” and “Mary Lou”.
Either side of The Producers, Naomi Mather and Rory Ellis played second sets . . . not much to add to Lionel’s fine words, just to echo his sentiments really. Naomi Mather is a real talent, a product of the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, and she possesses a quite beautiful voice, and is a deft guitar picker and slide player, her “Born At The Wrong Time” EP comes highly recommended, with the second set featuring a reprise of the strutting “Can’t Do Nothing”. Ashamedly I must admit to not having heard of Rory Ellis before the festival… Wow!, he was without doubt most people’s star of the day! Coming across as a Melbourne hybrid of Johnny Cash, Steve Earle and Tom Russell, his rootsy tales of childhood, politics and more were just superb, with his strumming guitar and banjo work beautifully fleshed out by Alex Roberts more intricate guitar and lap slide – this guy having driven six hours from Poole to play the set! A reprise of “Work” saw some audience participation, with another treat being the lovely “Railway Parade”, his deep, rich voice and story telling winning over the crowd.
Back in the mid to late 1990s’ The Producers were without doubt one of Britain’s most popular blues bands, but split, actually playing their last North West gig at Hooker Blues Club in Wrexham . . . fitting then that their first gig back in the area should be here at the festival. Original members Harry Skinner (lead vocals and guitar) and Dave Saunders (bass) are now joined by Ray Drury (keyboards) and Biff Smith (drums). A beautifully delivered set featured some sparkling guitar from Harry Skinner, who also was on top form vocally, with newcomer Drury excelling on the keyboards. New material included “I Got Blues” and “Some People Say”, with a dip into the back catalogue for “Bitter And Twisted And Blue” . . . with the great “Take Me The Long Way Home, another new song, being well received. It’s nice to have such a fine band back on the scene!
Bringing a quite fabulous day to an end were possibly the best live band on the circuit at the moment – The Stumble – who after a recent storming headlining slot at the Warrington Blues Festival, could not fail with their uptempo mix of blues, soul and more! The area in front of the stage soon became a full dance floor as an extended over-curfew (only slightly!) set of favourites were performed. Set highlights were rip-roaring opener of Hound Dog Taylor’s “Gimme Back My Wig”, the stomping “Maudie” and a slide driven “The World Is Tough” – the title cut of the band’s first album. The band got soulful on “Bus Stop”, from the second album, “The Houngan”, but were back with the blues on a ferocious “Meet Me At The Bottom”. They were afforded the first encore of the day, purely due to time demands, and played the show-stopping “All Over Again”, a gorgeous slow blues, with brilliant guitar from Colin Black and impassioned vocal from Paul Melville. This band go from strength to strength, and are pretty unstoppable at the moment. The full line-up is Paul Melville (vocals), Colin Black (guitar and harmonica), Jonny Spencer (guitar), Simon Anthony (saxophone), Dave Heath (bass) and Boyd Tonner (drums).
Thanks from me to the organisers – particularly Pete Evans, Paul Taylor and Ian Williams – and to all volunteers and helpers. This was a great festival – reasonably priced, good beer, etc., and long may it prosper, see you in 2010.
All pictures from both reviews supplied by Grahame Rhodes; these and more have been uploaded to the bluesinthenorthwest.com photo archive.