Review: Burnley International Rock and Blues Festival 2013

Posted on: Monday, May 13, 2013


Saturday evening review by Rosy Greer (Lancashire Blues Archive)

We arrived in plenty of time this year (which makes a change!) and were able to actually find somewhere to sit. The Mechanics in Burnley is a great venue, but I was surprised  the place was not overflowing. As the start time approached it did fill up a bit more, but was certainly not ‘overfull’.

David Migden and The Dirty Words

The first act to take the stage were the  5 piece band ‘David Migden and The Dirty Words’. These guys were winners of  the prestigious New Brunswick Battle of the Blues 2013. The band will fly to Canada in September to perform on the main stage at the New Brunswick Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival. David fronts the band on vocals, megaphone and even a trumpet … I like something a bit different! He is a charismatic performer and engaged with the crowd from the off. He has a great voice and has been nominated for the best male vocalist in the British Blues Awards. On guitar and backing vocals was Joe Gibson. He plays a great lead guitar and a mean slide. On keys, trombone and backing vocals  was Graham Mann .. I like a bit of versatility! James Sedge on bass  and Phil Scragg  on drums provided the powerhouse of the rhythm section .

They played a variety of styles in the set, from a standard blues number to funk, jazz, rock, Americana, roots and even a bit of Latino … it’s so good to have a bit of variety and extend the genre of the  blues. David’s voice has a resemblance to Kelly Joe Phelps it’s low and mellow  and some of the music  in the set wouldn’t be out of place on a Zappa album! All in all a great performance from these class musicians …. and we did buy their excellent album ‘Killing It’ . A ‘must see’ band if you get the chance!!


David Migden and The Dirty Words

Hokie Joint

The next band to grace the stage have been  a favourite of mine for many years.  Hokie Joint … once seen never forgotten! This sadly was one of their last performances in this band format … but I’m sure they will reappear in another coat!

Fronting the band, feathers and all, was the dynamic JoJo Burgess, one of the most charismatic and entertaining vocalists on the circuit. On guitar and support vocals, the versatile Joel Fisk with seamless solos and impressive slide. On harmonica the amazing Giles King, I don’t need to say more … while Stephen ‘Cupsy’ Cutmore pounded the rhythm  on drums with his own individual style, he was supported by a guest bass player, who I think was Rob Barry, standing in for Fergie Fulton.

They brilliantly performed many of their classic tracks from both albums, which are still amasingly fresh. I  never actually tire of listening to their music as it has such a range of different takes within, what can loosely be described as, the ‘blues genre’ . Captain Beefheart and Tom Waits immediately spring to mind, but Hokie Joint have, and will always be, the ‘individuals’. Let’s hope we see a reincarnation in the not too distant future.

A surprise for the band on stage was in store at the end of the set when Stephen and Giles were presented with ‘Best Drummer’ and ‘Best Harmonica Player’ awards from The Bronte Blues. Well done guys much deserved.

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Hokie Joint

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Stephen and Giles receive their awards

Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes

The final act for the evening were Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes. Johnny, hailing from New Jersey, USA,  fronted the band on vocals and harmonica and came with an impressive eight piece line up, complete with a comprehensive brass section, keyboard, guitar, bass and drums.

They played a mix of blues, classic rock and soul, but were predominately remembered at Burnley for their big band ‘Northern Soul’ sound, having played at the festival some years earlier. They certainly brought the punters in and by now the place was rammed. Some great musicianship from several members of the band.  Southside Johnny had a captivating voice and engaged with the enthusiastic crowd with some great harmonica playing too.  Glen Alexander, on guitar, played some special slide. The brass section, Chris Anderson on trumpet, John Isley on saxophone and Neal Pawley on trombone played with ease as did Jeff Kazee on keys, but there was a truly amazing bass solo from John Conte who played the bass like a lead guitar. He was supported in the rhythm section by Tom Seguso on drums.

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Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes

Although moving away from the expected blues or rock sound, the soul influences of Southside Johnny certainly went down well to finish off a great evening at a great festival. So long may it continue and well done to those in the background who have worked tirelessly to put the festival together for another year …  and for the past 25 years!

Rosy Greer (Lancashire Blues Archive)

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