Best of the year……

Posted on: Saturday, Dec 25, 2010

At this time of year we always ask the same question.  What were the bluesy highs (or lows) of the year?

If anyone wants to make a larger post on the year in review (rather than a comment) then please feel free to email it in and I will publish over the holiday period.



December 25th, 2010 at 09:51
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Here’s my take on the year….

For live events then it was a bumper year…

I really enjoyed MOCT at Liverpool Marina – that was probably my club gig of the year. I went to Linton for the festival and that was a brilliant weekend, the setup, the people, the music – all great. Exactly the statement for the superb Worthenbury Festival – the best year ever for the “friendly festival”

I was lucky enough to go off to the states again this year to enjoy the 25th King Biscuit Festival in Helena Arkansas. I would recommend this festival to anybody.

My CD highlights were….

Kirk Fletcher – My Turn
Anders Osborne – American Patchwork
Jimmie Vaughan – Plays Blues, Ballads and Favorites

Playing live

I did not do much playing this year. I enjoyed very much opening the Warrington Blues Festival – the most relaxed that I have ever been on a larger stage. Most of my playing has been at the excellent jam nights down at the Red Lion, Malpas – that’s a lot of fun. An open, free and relaxing atmosphere.

Happy Christmas to all. I enjoyed meeting all my friends in the blues world this year and I look forward to seeing you all again in 2011.




December 26th, 2010 at 10:08
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I would concur with a lot of Ken has said above, but here goes:
Livewise I have probably seen as much non-blues as actual live blues, a very varied live year . . . which kicked off way back in January with a storming Sunday night show from Supercharge, led as ever by the excellent Albie Donnelly, at Alexander’s in Chester. Ken and I were treated to a quite virtuoso display of guitar playing in February when Martin Simpson wowed a packed Pacific Road in Birkenhead . . . Alan Nimmo’s band King King being another February treated at Telford’s Warehouse in Chester.
The Red Lion jam in Malpas was a great fun night throughout the year and comes highly recommended. The standard of entertainment at the Worthenbury ‘juke joint’, aka the village hall, was as good as ever, with highlights for me being the crackin’ Jim Crawford and my first time catching Hans Theessink, the Austrian-based Dutch bluesman, and also the rootsy Austrialian, Rory Ellis. Big Pete’s renamed band, MOCT, were on blistering form at Liverpool Marina . . . he has an album out this coming year on Delta Groove, definitely one to watch out for. One of the biggest names we saw this year was Robert Cray, who led his super-tight band through a top 90-minutes at the Liverpool Phil, with the added bonus of support from Andy Fairweather Low.
Festival-wise the Warrington Blues event, held again at the Pyramid venue was a top event, and of course Worthenbury Roots & Blues Festival was the one not to miss . . . this year Pete even fixed the weather! A long, glorious day of good friends, fine ales and music . . . topped by The Cadillac Kings in imperious form!
On a non-blues beat, thanks to The Loving Cup, Ian McNabb, Dean Johnson and The Virtues for great gigs this year!
That’s enough waffling, recorded round-up to come!
Wishing all friends in music a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and more of the same in 2011.


Pete Evans

December 26th, 2010 at 18:19
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Hey Ken- using my new laptop that Jill bought me for Christmas so I won’t need to borrow yours in Arkansas next October to check the sport updates!!!

Been an interesting year and heard some great music, the high spot being once again the King Biscuit festival in Helena, Arkansas in October. As has been said on many occasions by myself and others, this is the ultimate blues event with the finest music in a friendly, relaxed environment.

Like Ken, I also thoroughly enjoyed The Linton Festival with it’s great line-up, great beer and facilities and incredibly friendly people. The line-up was well thought out and balanced and featured many new acts. All credit must go to Martin and the Linton away team but it appears that they have been voted out for 2011 and someone else has selected the line-up which looks very unimaginative and boring – a case of the same old, same old…

I was pleased with the way everything panned out for the Worthenbury festival and we were incredibly lucky with the weather which resulted in hundreds of fans coming to support us.

It is such a shame that Burnley might have opened it’s doors for the last time – let’s hope there might be a last minute reprieve.

I can also back up Ken and Grahame’s view of the jam nights at Malpas – great nights with a superbly high quality of music- and all free.

I didn’t get to visit any other clubs during the year and was saddened by the demise of Warrington-all credit to Ray and Barbara O’Hare for many memorable nights especially at the Warrington Town football club.
However we had some great nights in Worthenbury with Martin Harley, Jim Crawford and Hans Theesink.The night with Shar Baby from Alabama was brilliant with local harp hero Johny Hewitt as god as I’ve ever heard him. However, the last 3 gigs of the year with The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, Ian Siegal and Ben Prestage and The Michael Burks Band surpassing anything we’ve ever done before with Michael Burks standing out as the best gig ever in 13 years.

I didn’t buy many new cds this year but caught up on lots of older releases for my collection. However of recent releases Martin Harley’s Drumrolls for Somersaults was excellent with Elvin Bishop’s Red Dog Speaks and Reverend Peyton’s The Wages both great cds. I also thought that Pimps and Preachers by Paul Thorn, although not a blues cd, was an outstanding release as was the 4 track cd Whitewood by local band Forty4.

I didn’t buy any blues dvds this year and the only blues related book was the novel by Allen Whitley, Where Southern Cross The Dog. Set in Clarksdale in the 1930s it deals with issues of the time – cotton, racism, Ku Klux Klan and of course the blues in an interesting and factual way. It also comes with a cd compiled by the author and Jim O’Neal featuring some previously unreleased field recordings from around the Clarksdale area from the 30s and early 40s. Well worth investing in for the purist.

So bring on 2011 and lets hope that there is plenty of interest for blues fans in the north west. Keep supporting your local venues, festivals and bands and most particularly this excellent website. Ken puts in an inordinate amount of time and effort to keep it going so submit your articles, revues and opinions to help him make it a success.

A Happy New Year to you all.



Pete Evans

December 26th, 2010 at 21:26
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I think I overdid the praise for Johny Hewitt… I know he’s brilliant but perhaps not yet at that level!!!



December 27th, 2010 at 08:41
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How shocking of me not to mention the lovely Ray and Barbara O’Hare in my piece . . . nearly 17 years of great blues in Warrington! Some fantastic nights at Warrington Town FC’s club in Loushers Lane . . . the first to book Hamilton Loomis and The Backbones (now MOCT), people like Johnny Mastro, Robi Zonca, Memo Gonzalez & The Bluescasters, Paul Lamb, Matt Schofield, Ian Parker, The Cadillac Kings . . . and unsung Texas guitar slinger Paul Byrd . . . and tons of local talent such as Smokehouse Blues, Down at Antone’s, The Harpbreakers, and loads more. Such a great shame they have had to pack in, but two lovely people and I for one, wish them well.



December 27th, 2010 at 08:58
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I also missed commenting about Ray and Barb’s sadly missed Warrington Blues Club. I had some great nights over there.

Thanks to them for all the effort and the good times.



December 29th, 2010 at 10:03
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It’s been a cracking year for live blues. One of the my highlights has already been referred to by Ken and Grahame – MOCT (Men Of Considerable Taste), formerly known as Big Pete and The Backbones, were terrific at Liverpool Marina, which was equally graced by the wonderful Doug MacLeod.

  • Hamilton Loomis performed brilliantly on two occasions at Garston Royal British Legion, where Hans Theessink and Simon Hickling also excelled.

    Festivals to savour were those at Warrington, Worthenbury and Chichester (Blues on the Farm) but pride of place goes to Carlisle, which was once again exceptional with Marcus Bonfanti, Mud Morganfield and Ian Siegal my pick of the crop. Congratulations to Nick Westgarth and his team.

    Special praise and thanks are due to all our local blues promoters, particularly John and Lorraine Welsh (Liverpool Marina and Garston RBL), Pete Evans, Paul Taylor and Ian Williams (Worthenbury and Overton-on-Dee) and Dave and Shirley Sawyer (Warrington and Lymm) – and, of course, our very good friends Ray and Barbara O’Hare (Burtonwood), who have delighted blues fans for nearly 20 years. Their very considerable contribution will be sadly missed.

    As for blues recordings, the recently released Buddy Guy album, Living Proof, which celebrates his still going strong in his 75th year, is superb and as good as any I have heard this year. Other gems include Toby Walker’s Speechless, a compilation of brilliantly played instrumentals, Joe Bonamassa’s Black Rock, Marcus Bonfanti’s What Good Am I To You? and Stevie Nimmo’s The Wynds Of Life. All in all, a great year. Roll on 2011.

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    December 29th, 2010 at 18:45
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    Here’s ten cds I have really enjoyed this year:
    1. Kirk Fletcher – My Turn (undisputed best of the year for me)
    and in no particular order;
    2. Gene Taylor with CC Jerome’s Jet Setters – Let Me Ride In Your Automobile
    3. Jay Gaunt – Harmonicopia
    4. Mike Andersen Band – Echoes
    5. Lisa Mills – Tempered In Fire
    6. Mitch Kashmar & The Pontiax – 100 Miles To Go
    7. 24Pesos – Busted Broken And Blue
    8. Jimmie Vaughan – Plays Blues, Ballads and Favorites
    9. Janiva Magness – The Devil Is An Angel Too
    10. Anders Osborne – American Patchwork.
    In the bubbling under category, fine releases from The Wildcards, The Dirty Robbers, Elias Bernet Band, The Mannish Boys, Kirsten Thien, JJ Grey & Mofro, RJ Mischo, Paul Lamb & The King Snakes, Shawn Pittman, Rob Stone and Nick Curran.
    I’ve enjoyed a lot of acoustic-based blues and roots this year – take a bow Blackstone, Tom Monahan, Dean Johnson, Andres Roots and Dave Arcari!
    A great year, with hopefully 2011 as good.