Review: European Blues Challenge – Promo CD

Posted on: Wednesday, Mar 9, 2011


(EBC2011 – promo)

The first ever European Blues Challenge will be held in Berlin, on two consecutive evenings, 18th and 19th March, at the historic Kulturbrauerei venue, in the heart of the city’s Prenzlauer Berg district. This one-off contest will bring together 16 top blues acts, from 16 different European countries, competing against each other after winning competitions in their own countries.

The winner of the challenge will be invited to perform at Norway’s Notodden Blues Festival, Italy’s Roots & Blues in Parma, Vienna Spring Blues, Austria, and Blues Sur Seine in France, and the Lucerne Blues Festival in Switzerland. The host of the two nights will be our own Paul Jones – BBC broadcaster, actor and harmonica player.

A promo cd has been issued with one track from all the bands . . . and I have to say the standard is extremely high and I’m glad I’m not a judge, because if the live performances are as good as some of the cuts here it’s going to be a hard task.

UK interest is provided by the London-based 24Pesos, with “Live My Life (Just To Sing The Blues)”, from their excellent album, “Busted Broken And Blues”, which garnered many favourable reviews last year . . . good luck to the lads! They present a modern take on the blues, with some hip-hop beats married to some downhome blues, with nice guitar work and some tasty harmonica, all very appealing.

Other standout cuts on the cd include a real swinging live “Six Feet Five” from Belgium’s Howlin’ Bill, who have a forthcoming ep produced by the great German guitarist Kai Strauss;  a stomping acoustic “In It For The Ride” from Denmark’s Tim Lothar; French band Awek, with “Hush Your Mouth” from their “It’s Rollin’” release – featuring some sweet harmonica from Stephane Bertolino . . . and possibly best of all, the Dutch outfit, King Mo, with a long and blistering “Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do” . . . recorded live, with glorious vocal from Phil Bee, and Freddie King licks a-plenty from Sjors Nederlof.

Long-time Norwegian favourites, Vidar Busk & His True Believers rustle up some dynamite retro swing on “Stompin’ Our Feet With Joy” . . . another quality cut from a fine band, and another illustration, as with all the tracks, of the quality now in the European blues arena . . . for all those heading to Berlin in March . . . enjoy, and have a good time!


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