Pete Evans – Review of the Year
Posted on: Monday, Dec 31, 2012
I’ve enjoyed the last year although there have been some sad moments to reflect upon so I’ll deal with those first of all.
Grahame has touched upon some of the great people that have sadly passed during the last year and I think of the great night we had in Worthenbury a few years ago with Louisiana Red, accompanied by Michael Messer. He was a lovely man and gave us a memorable night of great blues. I also recall a great night at The Buttermarket in Shrewsbury, possibly 10 years ago, when we had a great night with the silky smooth guitar work of Detroit guitarist Johnnie Bassett. I also had the privilege of chatting for some time with legendary MGs bass player Donald “Duck” Dunn at last year’s King Biscuit Festival but the loss of Michael Burks in May I found particularly hard to absorb.
I had got to know Michael very well having been introduced to him at the King Biscuit Festival five or six years ago. This then enabled us to book his first ever UK appearance in November 2010 at Overton-on-Dee and then again in September 2011. Both gigs are without a doubt the best we have ever presented. At this year’s King Biscuit, Paul and John Taylor and I were invited to meet Michael’s widow Bobbie at the memorial site that had been created at the campsite at the festival. It was a very moving and touching moment. This phenomenal guitarist was only 54 and I have no doubt he would have been at the very top of the ladder in a short while.
I only visited one festival this year, The King Biscuit which I firmly believe is the finest blues festival in the world (my review is following albeit rather late). I was very content with Worthenbury this year musically although we did have a number of problems with the organisation and so sadly we will not be having an event there in 2013. We also presented the 2nd Bangor-on-Dee festival and that was a much easier event to organise. This year it will be a two day event on May 10th/11th with some great acts in prospect.
One festival that I again unfortunately had to miss was Carlisle. Nick Westgarth does a superb job up there every year presenting superb acts and in my opinion it is the number one British event. Long may it continue and I hope that I can get there in 2013. Nick also does a superb job at the festival in supporting lesser known but nontheless vitally important charities and I’d like to thank him for helping to raise the generous donation for Kabuki Syndrome, a charity very close to my heart – www.kabukiuk.com
I sadly didn’t get to any other clubs this year but I was really thrilled with the Lazy Lester gig (ably backed by Tommy Allen) and also the superb night with Alvin Youngblood Hart both at Worthenbury.
There were some excellent cds available this year and ones that I enjoyed were :- The Royal Southern Brotherhood, Mike Zito’s ‘Greyhound’, Studebaker John’s ‘Old School Rockin”, Michael Burks’ ‘Show of Strength’, Johnny Rawls ‘Soul Survivor’ and the immensely talented Ruthie Foster with ‘Let it Burn’.
British cds that I enjoyed were The Cadillac Kings’ ‘Gonna Tell Your Mamma’ and Blues ‘n’ Trouble’s ‘Try Anything Twice’.
DVDs that I bought this year included the superb view of Juke Joint culture around Clarksdale, Mississippi with Roger Stolle and Jeff Konkl’s ‘We Juke Up In Here’. Based around Red’s Lounge. the amazing old Juke that is slowly achieving cult status for blues fans visiting the deep south. Others that I have enjoyed were the BB King story ‘The Life of Riley’, The Rolling Stones and Muddy Waters ‘Live at The Checkerboard Lounge’. I also found a re-release of Otis Rush ‘Live on Blue Express’ – very enjoyable.
Finally books that I have enjoyed have included ‘Living The Blues’ by Fito de la Parra, the long standing drummer from Canned Heat. This book is not a recent release but I bought it new this year and it vividly tells of the life of sex, drugs and alcohol of this memorable band that eventually led to the early death of three of its original members. I also read ‘Catfish and Cotton’ by Belgian brothers Luc and Marc Borms which is a travelog of their trip around the Delta.
However, my favourite has to be Buddy Guy’s ‘When I Left Home’. This is a brilliant read giving you an insight into the often very hard life of this iconic guitarist from his childhood in Louisiana through his early days in Chicago up to the present day when he quite rightly has earned the respect of the whole music world. I actually bought my copy from the great man himself when the BITNW tour stopped off in his club Legends on our way down to the King Biscuit Festival in October. I also have another copy that he very kindly autographed for me which I shall raffle or auction at the Bangor on Dee festival in May in aid of Kabuki Syndrome.
And lastly from all of us at Worthenbury, a massive thank you to Grahame for doing a superb job after Ken had to step back. – both of you deserve medals for what you do. Best of luck for the New Year everybody.
(Michael Burks pic by Paul Natkin)