The best of the year from Pete Evans

Posted on: Monday, Dec 28, 2009

Blues-US 058

Overall it has been a fairly good year with some great music particularly at the festivals I attended.

Like Ken, pride of place has to be the King Biscuit Festival in Arkansas which although I don’t want to sound boring and repetitive, is by a mile the best three days of blues you can ever have. There are so many top drawer acts appearing over the three days, most of whom have rarely, or not at all, visited our shores. For me, the best acts were Michael Burks (who Mike Hellier is hoping to bring over next year), Reba Russell (the finest female blues singer in the world) and a new act Lucious Spiller (whom we may also see here next year).

I went to both Burnley and Colne this year and enjoyed the days I had there with Kenny Neal at Burnley and Louisiana Red at Colne standing out. I was also pleased with the way our festival went especially with the two new acts for the area, The Big Blues Tribe and Rory Ellis (who is booked for our club in June).

On the club scene, lamentably I have not visited any neighbouring clubs this year bar the excellent venue at Buckley. Part of the reason is that there has not been an act that I have desperately wanted to see as a lot of them are doing the circuit on a regular basis in many cases doing virtually the same sets. I wanted to see Ian Parker at Warrington but sadly couldn’t make it. We’ve had some enjoyable nights at Worthenbury though and the stand out gigs were The Cadillac Kings (getting better and better), Toby Walker (brand new set of his older recordings), Derrin Nauendorf Band, Guy Tortora and Louisiana Red and Michael Messer. However, it was the gig at Overton with Mud Morganfield back in March that ranks as one of the best gigs we have ever presented. Chicago blues at its best. Mike Hellier is bringing Mud over in July so please watch this space.

I have not bought as many cds as usual but these are some that I have enjoyed – Michael Burks, Iron Man; Terry Harmonica Bean, Two Sides of the Blues; Big Jack Johnson, Katrina; Jimmy Duck Holmes, Ain’t It Lonesome; Derrin Nauendorf, The Rattling Wheel and Toby Walker’s latest, Lost and Found. However my favourite cd has to be Rory Ellis’s Two Feathers.
Not a blues cd but very earthy roots music and great compositions.

I didn’t buy as many dvds as well this year but one that I strongly recommend is The Blues Foundation release of the Blues Music Awards filmed at Tunica, Mississippi in May of last year. Everyone of note appeared at this brilliant award ceremony and it’s all on film covering over 2 hours of superb music. Apart from being a snip at $20, it would be great to support this very worthy organisation that helps keep blues alive in it’s birth place.

Finally for the purists can I recommend the book just released by Professor William Ferris “Give My Poor Heart Ease – Voices of the Mississippi Blues”. It is “An account of the blues experience through the recollections and performances of B.B. King, Son Thomas, inmates from Parchman prison, a barber from Clarksdale, a salesman from Beale Street, and others.”

Ferris, a Mississippian and Professor of History and Associate Director of the Study of the American South at The University of North Carolina recorded interviews and made a series of amazing films during the mid 70s when Mississippi was not a very pleasant sort of place to be living if you were an African/American. The book is accompanied by a cd of musical recordings of some of the musicians of the time and a dvd of interviews, live musical recordings and a general view of 70s Mississippi. You can see clips of the dvd on,80 before you buy it from Amazon! A must for any blues historian.

Finally, my final memory of the year is seeing your very own BITNW main man, Ken Peace blowing harp with the best in Hopson’s Plantation in Clarksdale in October.

Thanks for all your hard work Ken and a Happy New Year to you and all the blues fans in the region – come on everyone – send in your observations, reviews, comments etc to help keep this great website going.



December 28th, 2009 at 10:33
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Great review Pete. Thanks.

I just realised that I didn’t properly make the link for “Give My Poor Heart Ease – Voices of the Mississippi Blues” so here it is again.,80



December 28th, 2009 at 10:50
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That’s a great film. It looks like parts of Mississippi have not changed at all in 30 plus years.

One place that has changed is Beale St. Memphis. That run down street with empty shops, juke joints and low rent businesses has been replaced by a corporate blues entertainment experience.



December 28th, 2009 at 12:03
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Nice one Pete . . . do they do a nice ‘session ale’ in Tennessee, Mississippi or Arkansas though . . . lol.



December 28th, 2009 at 12:05
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