My highlights of the year
Posted on: Friday, Dec 25, 2009
I always find this really hard to do. How can I be expected to come up with a list of my favourites for the year when I can’t remember what has been released this year, what I have listed to this year and what shows I have been to this year. Note to self – must keep better records. So here is a quite arbitary post about what I can remember based upon a dodgy 47 year old brain and my iTunes stats.
I can’t mention live highlights without mentioning the Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival – the main stage acts not as stunning as last year but still a brilliant event and a fabulous week.
I give lots of credit and thanks to the two local festivals that I attended. Worthenbury is always great – a chance to kick back with a lot of friends in the beautiful countryside and great music. The first Warrington festival was also a brilliant one day event. Again, a superb atmosphere with some fantastic performances from some north west favourites – the real ale bar was also interesting – a few casualties though.
In the clubs then I think that I enjoyed The Backbones at Liverpool Marina as much as anyone else. A great band – great performance, great playing and they were having a lot of fun. My gig pick for 2009.
I was lucky enough to be able to see a great performance by Mud Morganfield in a completely packed Overton Village Hall promoted by the Worthenbury team. It was a little like a tribute act to Muddy but as Mud is Muddy’s son (still with me?) I can completely forgive. A commendation for the excellent Big Joe Louis and the Blues Kings for brilliant backing. As good as any American band that I have ever seen – in fact better than most.
I can’t move on without mentioning my mates the Cadillac Kings who are at the peak of their game right now with a stunning lineup – they have been terrific each time I have seen them this year.
Not too much has stood out for me this year. I make my twice weekly commute from Chester to Altrincham with a friend and on my days to drive, I often randomly play songs from the BLUES category as that gives a great selection of old and new, good and not so good. When doing this random play, I find that the older records, the classics, are the ones that I enjoy the most. But anyway, let me pick a couple of great records from this year. My top pick is probably The Soul of John Black, not pure blues but very bluesy indeed. Not yet reviewed formally but much played is an excellent release by Californian group The Aces – No One Rides for Free. It’s a balls to the wall tough record featuring a low tuned guitar in place of a bass guitar – a la Hound Dog Taylor. Along with the Red Devil-like approach, the CD also features some Mississippi Hill Country style grooving.
As usual, I have listed to a lot of non-blues. I have especially enjoyed some of the individual tunes and mixes available over at Funky 16 Corners – highly recommended for funk and soul lovers. Leeds band The New Mastersounds feature in my list for their excellent 2007 release 102%. I see from their website that they have just release a new record last month – that’s now on my post Christmas pressie list.
My iTunes most played list shows a fair smattering of Funky16Corners mixes and The New Mastersounds. Riding high as the most played blues I can see Sean Costello (I played and played the song “Anytime you Want“), The Insomniacs, Cedric Burnside and Lightnin Malcolm, Dr. John and 13 feat Lester Butler. All great stuff.
Since preparing this post I received the CD called III from New Orleans drummer Stanton Moore. It’s not new, it’s a couple of years old. I bought it on the recommendation of ace French blogger Ben Felten, over at Musical Ramblings. I haven’t played anything else since. If you like rootsy funky New Orleans music then this CD comes highly recommended.
This year I did a few gigs with my old mate Neil Partington from Down at Antones – the most enjoyable was a very informal little gig at the tiny pub The Cheshire Cheese in Frodsham- no big stage, no big expectation = relaxed band having fun – just as it should be.
I don’t really make resolutions as actually I’m not that good at keeping them – just check out my waistline for evidence. This year I plan to attend as many decent jam nights as possible and at each to sing a tune or two, I’m not a very good singer but I have always enjoyed the experience (much more than any audience that have heard me). I also plan to up the gain on my Spanish – it’s going OK but I’m not improving much these days – maybe I should combine the two and write a blues song in castellano.
I can’t depart without thanking the many bands that have entertained, the promoters who have tirelessly kept the whole scene moving plus the fans for buying CDs and attending live music with so many other things to be doing with their time and money. Finally a big thank you to all the bluesinthenorthwest.com readers and contributors, without you this site would be a pointless chore.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!