Review: Maryport Blues Festival 2013 – by Rosy Greer of Lancashire Blues Archive

Posted on: Sunday, Sep 8, 2013

Well the promise of good weather always bodes well for a festival. Camping again this year and the pitches were looking good!

As an avid supporter of ‘Keeping Live Music Alive’ I try, at Lancashire Blues Archive, to highlight live music venues and gigs in and around the North West. Maryport Blues Festival is a festival I would certainly not miss!!!!

Although the festival officially started on the Friday, we managed to catch the brilliant young blues/rock band, The Laurence Jones Band, at the Maryport Rugby League Football clubhouse on Thursday evening. From Shipston-on-Stour, this young band have all the professionalism usually afforded to more seasoned musicians.

With amazing guitar solos and compelling vocals from Laurence Jones, pounding bass from Luke Dolen and rhythm making from Toby Wilson on drums these guys are well worth a viewing.

Friday 26th July

For us, Friday kicked off on the trail at the Golden Lion where we caught Plymouth based traditional Delta blues player Thomas Ford. Some excellent slide and harmonica playing and also electric guitar. He was on a grand tour promoting his new album ‘Breaking Everything But Even’.

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Moving onto The Labour Club we enjoyed the quality musicianship of The Olly Allcock Band. Local to Cumbria and a great four piece, Olly, on his two necked guitar and vocals, and an awesome female sax player.

Saturday 27th July

Saturday was an early start for the Bonnie Mac Band . From Leeds, they are a well put together blues band with superb vocals from Sheila McFarlane who fronts the band, especially the cover of the Bonnie Raitt track ‘Love Me Like A Man’ .

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Off to the main stage we caught the lovely Lancashire lass Lucy Zirins.  An acoustic artist who captivated the crowd as only Lucy can, with tracks from her new CD ‘Chasing Clocks’ and her lovely voice and great guitar playing.

Next on the main stage were The Bare Bones Boogie Band . Formed in London they gave a raw blues experience with a bass heavy sound. Some great vocals by Helen Turner.

We managed to take a quick peek in The Sailors Return, which had become ‘Jocks Juke Joint’ for Saturday, at the festival, hosting numerous bands from Scotland. We caught a brief glimpse of the set by Hot Tin Roof playing some great music with two guys on guitars, acoustic and electric and another on the cajon.

A bit of serendipity as we headed back through the town to the main stage. A great young acoustic slide guitar player, Jack Broadbent, was busking. Living in Cumbria, Jack, a singer songwriter busks and gigs in many areas in the northwest … catch him if you can, just brilliant!

Back on the main stage the lady with legs, Jo Harman was giving it her all. As a soul/blues diva she gave a class performance …. and what a great pair of boots!

A quick turn round, so we popped into the MRLF Clubhouse to catch a bit of Rabbit Foot. From the South East they play their own style of blues which they call Swamp Boogie. With Carla Viegas on African drums, and Jamie Morgan on guitar it certainly gives a different take from the norm.

On the main stage, one of my favourite acoustic bands, Babajack. Now with the addition of a drummer they have become a four piece. Always a class performance for ‘roots’ blues. Fronting the band Becky Tate on vocals, cajon and African drum and Trevor Steger on wine box guitar, acoustic guitar and harmonica with a bass player and drummer in support. A great sound and worthy of being nominated in several categories for the British Blues Awards this year.

Next up were King King who never disappoint ,with soul blues numbers and some standards. Superb stage presence and performance by the man in a kilt, Alan Nimmo, with the added bonus of Alan’s brother Stevie making a guest appearance.

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Sadly we had to miss Bernie Marsden, with the addition of Cherry Lee Mewis, the last act for Saturday on the main stage, to go and catch ‘my boys’ Forty4, at the Navy Club. Forty4 always give one hundred percent in a performance with a great New Orleans blues sound, interspersed with blues funk, just brilliant. Neil Partington and Paul Starkey are both superb guitarists, Neil fronts the band with his amazing vocals, Glen Lewis is the magic keyboard player and Nick Lauro on drums and Bill Price on bass keep that rhythm section a thumping.

We headed back to the MRLF Clubhouse, for the now famous Paddy Maguire’s Midnight Jam, which was well underway, with artists guesting for a number or two. Russ Tippins, Jack Broadbent, Jenna Hooson, Becks and Trevor from BabaJack to name but a few. It was a buzzin’ atmosphere and the clubhouse worked really well for the ‘jam’ venue.

I had some great recommendations for Saturday, from other festival goers as a ‘must see’. Shivering Shakers,  rockabilly/rock n’ roll with a bit of country, Baby Isaac – swing, R&B, and jazz, Kenel Wages, from Edinburgh, blues and a bit of rock n’ roll and Russ Tippins Electric Band, the master of rock blues … having seen him and the band play many times before, they always give the ‘Wow’ factor!!!

Sunday 28th July

Sunday kicked off in a more gentle mood as Russ Tippins was doing a solo set at Her City, a lovely small cafe bar. Nice to see another side of this powerhouse rock man.

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Made a visit to the alternative Stage while The Rock Choir were performing and why not!! …… Then moved on to the Navy Club to catch the last few numbers from Poorboy. A great Chicago blues band with a hint of rock n’ roll, from Leeds they are ‘a must see’ band, with class harmonica playing and vocals from Paddy Wells.

Back to the Main Stage we briefly caught Albany Down, a classic 4 piece blues/rock band with some great guitar work.

Then to see ‘my boys’ Forty4 again in the MRLF clubhouse. They did a brilliant set and even sold some CD’s . (Great news for them on returning home, they had had their first main radio station play of a track from their album ’44 Minutes’, on The Paul Jones Blues Show on Radio2) They are superb musicians so watch this space and check out their brilliant album.

On the Main Stage the infamous Blue Swamp from Manchester, with Mike Bowden and John Williamson and the full band. Great players, and with Mike’s storytelling they have the added extra. They could have done with a few more ‘bodies’ in the marquee, but that didn’t stop the humorous patter interspersed with the excellent music. Capital ‘E’ for entertainment!

Next on the main stage were Pat Macmanus and band. An Irish band with a Thin Lizzy appeal. They played some great classic rock with a celtic twist, with a wild animated performance, like a rock band should! Loved it!!

Some more recommendations for Sunday were Street Corner Blues (aka Chris James and Martin Fletcher) brilliant acoustic and roots blues and Jenna Hooson, the lady with ‘the voice’… if you’ve not seen her … do it!!!

Last band of the festival on the main stage was The Ian Parker Band. A blues/rock four piece, but we didn’t stay long.

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We headed back into town to catch the ‘high octane’ blues band The Hexmen at the Navy Club. A great band from Liverpool, fronted by harmonica player George who gives his all when on stage. R&B as it should be played with a definite Feelgood edge. Not music to sit still by!

Then onto The Captain Nelson for The Paddy Maguire Band ….with guests Jack Broadbent and Jenna Houson. What a great end to what has been a really well put together festival.

Congratulations to Ian Lambert and the whole team who worked tirelessly to get this brilliant festival underway. I shall look forward to see what excitement next year brings.

ROSY GREERLancashire Blues Archive

(All pics by Rosy Greer, except Lucy Zirins by Jan Fialowski)


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