Review: Maryport Blues Festival 2014

Posted on: Thursday, Jul 31, 2014

Review for ‘MARYPORT BLUES FESTIVAL’ – July 2014

The sun shone to welcome in the opening of the Maryport Blues Festival for another year. Now in its 16th year, many changes have taken place over the years.

This year the main stage marquee had been moved to its original home, by the harbour. A fabulous location for a fabulous event. With a great line up on the main stage and on the trail it was certain to keep everyone happy.

Friday 25th July

After the introduction from the regular MC, Mark Singleton, the first act to kick start the festival on the main stage, was the ‘Ryan McGarvey Band’ from the USA. This young man is building a reputation for himself, especially in the UK and is a firm favourite at many festivals with his power house, hard hitting electric blues and amazing guitar solos. He didn’t disappoint!

Nimmo Brothers Maryport.jpg

The Nimmo Brothers

Next were long time Maryport favourites, the ‘Nimmo Brothers’ and band. Two acclaimed guitarists in their own right, Alan and Stevie Nimmo are also brilliant vocalists. Throughout the set the marquee was rockin’ with the audience showing their appreciation for both blues and funked up numbers.

The final act for the Friday evening was the charismatic performer ‘Eric Sardinas’. He is an American blues rock slide guitarist, born in Florida USA. He is noted for his use of the electric resonator guitar in his live performances and had a great reception from the enthusiastic audience. Some fantastic rockin’ numbers with the addition of ‘E’ for pure entertainment!

Out on the trail, with so many good bands to see we had a snapshot of some. At the Golden Lion, ‘TJ and The Suitcase’ was doing his solo stuff. A brilliant blues harmonica player, he also plays with a number of blues bands. Superb.

We had a brief glimpse of the ‘GT Boos Band’ at the Sailors Return on the trail. It says something about a band when you can’t get into a venue because it is so busy! The GT’s Boos Band are hard hitting blues rockers hailing from the heart of Scotland and from what I heard, some great blues rock was being played, including tracks from their album ‘Steak House’.

Saturday 26th July

An early start at the Navy Club on the trail, we caught the ‘Little Devils’, from London. Fantastic raw blues, fronted by a brilliant vocalist and musician, Yoka with some excellent sax playing. She has been nominated as Instrumentalist of the Year , in the British Blues Awards 2014. They are described as “21st Century Blues – new shoots from old roots!” and I was glad to catch a live performance, having listened to their excellent EP, ‘About Time’.


Blues Boy Dan Owen

Opening on the main stage was the young ‘Blues Boy Dan Owen’ from Shrewsbury (nominated again in this year’s British Blues Awards), doing a solo acoustic set with earthy blues guitar, use of stomp box and vocals that could have come from the deep south. He did a great rendition of Little Red Rooster and takes the ‘youth of blues’ to another dimension. Finishing the set with ‘Hollis Brown’ was just the icing on the cake!

This young man has had an amazing couple of years, a video taken at this time went viral and within two weeks he had over 400,000 hits. Seen by Mick Fleetwood, Dan was taken under the wing of this great man. He visited the USA meeting blues masters. He also supported ZZ Top on tour and played Glastonbury last year. On today’s set he only managed to break one string, such is the power of his playing! If you haven’t seen this young man in action, I recommend you check him out.


The Deluxe

I was so glad to see the ‘Deluxe’ on the main stage this year. From Carlisle, they played class Chicago blues with excellent musicianship, great vocals, guitar and some super slide, drawing their influences from Peter Green, BB King, Albert King, Freddie King and others from the Chicago generation They did a fantastic set and replicated the sound of their current album ‘Some Good Bits’ really well. A band that is a cut above the average blues band for sure!

Another talent, ‘Laurence Jones’ and band from Shipston on Stour took to the stage. This young man has all the professionalism usually afforded to more seasoned musicians. With amazing guitar solos and compelling vocals he gives a taste of the ‘youth of blues’ Playing some classic blues rock with some old style electric blues thrown in they did a brilliant set. Plenty of exciting things has happened over the past year for this talented young man, especially with his current album ‘Temptation’ recorded in America.

Now for something completely different! Some old faces under a new name, from the Colchester area, ‘LaVendore Rogue’ have emerged from the ashes of a Maryport favourite, ‘Hokie Joint’, with three of the previous members holding court. What a brilliantly put together set, certainly not a traditional blues band, they have opted for a more melodic approach leaning towards soft rock… but you really can’t put these guys in any ‘box’ as their music is LaVendore Rogue and speaks for its self.

They went down a storm in the marquee with people queuing halfway to the back to buy their current EP. A new album is soon to be released so I’m looking forward to that. They gave a flamboyant performance with JoJo Burgess strutting his stuff and giving out fantastic vocal arrangements, aided by Joel Fisk who also played some ‘mean’ guitar. Stephen ‘Cupsey’ Cutmore continued to keep the rhythm in check on drums along with new boys Rob ‘Tank’ Barry on bass and Warren Lynn on keys. A brilliant band and if you like something a bit different, catch them if you can!

An unexpected treat with Canadian ‘Layla Zoe’. What an amazing voice … shades of Janice Joplin spring to mind. The best of blues rock and well supported by her band. She gave an emotional performance, full of passion. One of the highlights of the festival for me.

Headlining for the Saturday evening was the great ‘Coco Montoya’, giving us a slick set of blues soul. A magic performance from one of the ex Bluesbreakers and a great way to end the evening.

Sunday 27th July

Having a wander through the town we were able to briefly catch ‘Rosco Levee and The Southern Slide’ at the Navy Club on the trail. A great rockin’ blues sound.


The Hexmen

Onto the Labour Club to see the ‘Hexmen’, from Liverpool. They are a harmonica driven, high octane rhythm and blues band with great music, interspersed with great humour. George Hexman fronts the band on blues harp and vocals with great support from his class band. A terrific set played to a packed audience.

On the main stage were ‘Buck and Evans’, an easy listen rock band with powerful vocals. A well received set.

Next were the brilliant ‘Dan Burnett Band’ from Harrogate. The blues soul band is fronted by the amazing keyboard player Dan Burnett, also on vocals and harmonica. Once in a while you get a ‘magic moment’ and this was one of those moments. Dan has played with and supported many famous names. A captivating performance playing a mix of blues, soul, funk and rock ‘n roll, it was sad that there were so few people in the marquee to witness this high class performance from such a talented player. If you get a chance to see him with his band or on a solo set I suggest you do. Just brilliant! His new album ‘Storyville’ is due for release shortly.

It was lovely to catch up with the ‘Dana Dixon Band’ again. From Scotland, Dana fronts the band on great blues harp and vocals, with impressive guitar and slide from Dave Dixon. A short set with Dana, but a good one.!

Then came the harp master ‘James Harmen’, supported by the Dana Dixon Band. Born in Alabama he is a song writer, producer, musician, showman, vocalist and internationally known bluesman. A great performance from a great artist.

The final act for the festival was UK blues rock artist and Walter Trout protégé, ‘Danny Bryant’. From Cambridgshire, Danny was playing Maryport Blues Festival prior to his American tour to promote his new album ‘Temperature Rising’ due for release in September. A confident and well put together performance, even though the crowd was small, he was well received.

A great festival that wasn’t spoilt by the bit of damp weather. Together with the main stage marquee there was an outside stage, a family stage and many venues on the trail providing something for everyone. Role on next year.

Well done to all the artists who played throughout the town, I was sorry not to see more of them, although a few ‘catch ups’ in the street were made. Thanks go to the organizers and volunteers and for all their hard work, for without them there would be no festival.

Rosy Greer – Lancashire Blues Archive

(Pics courtesy of Jan Fialkowski and Rosy Greer)

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