Review: Linton Music Festival 2010
Posted on: Wednesday, Jun 30, 2010
THE LINTON MUSIC FESTIVAL 18,19 and 20 JUNE 2010
A posse of Worthenbury based blues fans journeyed down to the beautiful Herefordshire village of Linton which is situated close to the Gloucestershire border last weekend to sample for the first time the delights of this widely recommended little blues festival.
All I can say following a wonderful weekend is … forget Maryport, Burnley and Colne – this is the festival to support, and certainly it was the unanimous decision by “The Worthenbury Away Team” that this will be a fixture on the calendar.
The festival is situated in a field behind the lovely little Camra award winning Alma pub. The field is bounded by high hedges and slopes gently down to a permanent stage thus forming a lovely little natural mini open air theatre, with the trade stands, beer tent (30+ real ales and ciders) food stalls all situated within the boundary.
The organisation of the event from the campsite to the ticketing to the lovely laid back relaxed approach, is top drawer and the friendly welcome from all the villagers and helpers made you feel relaxed before the music had even started.
The line-up was a well balanced a thoughtful mixture of styles and the “Linton Away Team” make a point of visiting many UK and European festivals, handpicking the bands.
Friday kicked off with the excellent Dutch band Big Blind keeping up the tradition of good harp driven bands from that country. Sadly we only caught 3 numbers as we had been delayed setting up our tents due the heavy rain, although by the time we got to the site the clouds had broken.
Following on was the Ian Siegal Band who gave their usual high energy superb show with Ian in great form playing all his favourites like Revelator and She Got The Devil In Her.
There was a massive amount of expectation in the audience for the arrival of Friday’s headliner, the recently reformed The Hoax and they didn’t disappoint the masses who by now were standing packed up by the stage. It was as if time had not moved on 11 years. They were magnificent playing all the favourites, High Expectation, Fistful of Dirt, Groove Breaker and of course their version of Come Together.
Worthenbury favourite, Aussie guitarist and banjoist Rory Ellis with Alex Roberts on lap steel guitar opened on Saturday and gave our festival a brilliant plug (We have subsequently taken many bookings as a result) Playing tracks mainly from the new cd “Perfectly Damaged” including the title track and the superb Jesus Lane he captivated the audience Other favourites included Two Feathers from the last cd and Passenger and Home Tonight. A brilliant performance from a brilliant entertainer backed by the beautiful playing of Alex.
He was followed by superb French acoustic band Nico Backton & Wizards of Blues. Possessing a great bluesy voice and a fabulous guitarist Nico went through a set of classic covers backed by his tight rhythm section and eccentric harp player.
Eugene “Hideaway” Bridges is probably more popular in the UK than he is in the USA and we were treated to his excellent voice especially on the Sam Cooke covers. However, much of his guitar work was drowned by a much too loud brass section and keyboard player. We were told that it was not too bad well away from the stage but as the sound throughout the weekend was consistently of a high quality, I tend to think it was the band that hadn’t got it quite right.
A band I’d wanted to hear was Hokie Joint. They had been gaining great reviews in the blues press for their vibrant unique stage performances and in vocalist Jojo Burgess they have an amazing performer. A mix of Mick Jagger and the Artful Dodger in perpetual motion with a Tom Waits voice is the best way to describe him. He was backed by a superb band including one of the UK’s top harp players Giles King and after an incredible set, the audience demanded an encore which was eccentrically delivered.
The Stumble are described as Linton’s favourite band and need no introduction to North West readers. Suffice it to say the boys were, as expected, absolutely brilliant and confirmed their status as probably the best live blues band in the UK at the moment.
The headliners were Ten Years After who many of us will remember from their Woodstock performance 41 years ago. Obviously Alvin Lee was the frontman in those heady days but he has long since departed and lead guitarist and vocalist is now Joe Gooch. The other members are still the original Leo Lyons on bass, Chick Churchill (originally from Mold I’ve just discovered on Wikipedia) on keys and Ric Lee on drums.
The setting up of all the bands considerable amount of gear took a rather long time and I noticed a few people leaving and I must admit we only stayed for 3 or 4 numbers in the end. They sounded ok but I have say that they didn’t leave lasting impression on me so we retreated to the stall run by the local school PTA for some lovely fruit cake and proper cafetiere coffee – lovely to support this stall and their carrot and coriander soup and French bread at £2.50 was a weekend highlight.
Sunday opened to brilliant blue skies and baking temperatures as Ken’s photos showed.
Opening band was the brilliant Northsyde .Formerly known as Funkydory they were in my opinion one of the best acts over the weekend. Fronted by the fantastic Laura Fothergill who has to have one of the best voices on the circuit and backed by a solid tight rhythm section, her husband Jules (well known to north west fans for his work with John ‘O Leary) gave a masterclass of funky and conventional blues playing.
I had heard that Peter Green had been giving some great performances recently but it was with a little apprehension I awaited his appearance at Linton. I had seen him a couple of times soon after his first comeback and like many other Greeny fans was saddened.
However – what a transformation. He was relaxed and comfortable and whilst his voice isn’t what it was, his guitar playing had improved immeasurably and whilst it will never be as it was in the 60s, there were plenty of glimpses of the playing that made him our greatest ever blues guitarist.
Backed by a brilliant band with Mike Dodd on rhythm guitar and vocals, Geraint Watkins on keys, Matt Radford on double bass, Andrew Flude on drums and the amazing Martin Winning on sax, Peter went through a mixed repertoire of his favourite tunes. He played for 2 hours treating us to the classics – Oh Well, Black Magic Woman, Long Gray Mare and Albatross. However, the biggest cheer of the day was when he gave a near perfect rendition of The Stumble from the classic Mayall album Hard Road. This was a real test and he passed it with flying colours. At the end of the set, the wave of emotion and the warmth and affection for him was truly touching. I even saw grown men with tears running down their faces. This was the weekend highlight for me.
Someone who used to visit the UK regularly was Watermelon Slim but since his status back in the USA has risen, he hasn’t been over as often. He was a performer that I was really looking forward to seeing having never seen before although I do have most of his cds.
It was therefore with great disappointment that we heard that due to a problem with his work permit and the new ridiculous laws introduced by UK immigration, poor Slim was not allowed entry into the UK and sent straight back to the USA. What a let down. We thus decided that having seen Mike Sanchez many times and not being great fans of Ruby Turner we would call it a day and bring to an end a fabulous weekend.
As I said earlier, this is the festival to go to and I strongly recommend it to everyone. The Linton “Away Team” have done a great job and I look forward to seeing them all at Worthenbury this weekend. Well done.
Flickr photos T.D. Photos. There are some great pictures from the whole weekend. Check ’em out.