Review: 2014 Revisited

Posted on: Tuesday, Jan 6, 2015



The first gig attended in 2014 was a superb performance at the Atkinson Theatre in Southport in January by the Ian Parker Band. The set list brought back very happy memories of Ian’s original incarnation with a generous helping of his magnificent guitar solos. An absolute delight.

As ever, we have been blessed throughout the year in Liverpool by another terrific programme of blues gigs organised by John and Lorraine Welsh, which has incorporated top quality artistes from Britain, Europe and North America.

John O’Leary kicked off proceedings in February, fronting his highly talented Sugarkane ensemble at Fogherty’s Function Room. A month later, the same venue welcomed perennial favourite, Simon Hickling and his band, and the Honeyboy more than met our expectation with a vibrant performance, sprinkled with his customary good humour.

In April, Liverpool Marina was graced by the superlative skills of Doug MacLeod, the multi-award winning acoustic bluesman from St Louis, and a month later by an impressively energetic funk-drenched show from the up and coming Brothers Groove. A third venue, Garston Royal British Legion, was brought into play in June to accommodate the predictably large audience attracted by the return of Hamilton Loomis. Backed by his excellent band, the man from Galveston, Texas, set the place alight with his incredible artistry and his warm, engaging personality.

September saw the first of three top class acoustic blues gigs when one of Europe’s finest bluesmen, Hans Theessink, delighted an appreciative audience at the Marina, which also played host in October to the incredible Matt Andersen from New Brunswick Canada, whose powerful vocals and stunning guitar playing blew everyone away. Finally, in November, back at Fogherty’s, Martin Harley, supported by East Nashville’s Sam Lewis, reminded us of his prodigious mastery of his lap steel guitar with another stunning show.

Another live show highlight took place at Alexander’s in Chester where pianist Dale Storr enthralled a somewhat sparse gathering with a fabulous evening of New Orleans style funky blues, r’n’b and boogie-woogie.

On the festival front, Pete Evans, Paul Taylor and Ian Williams put on a cracking event in Bangor-on-Dee in May, at which the aforementioned Ian Parker shone brightly yet again, as did Lyndon Anderson and The Blues Duo that is Tommy Allen and Jonny Hewitt. In November, Nick Westgarth and his team of helpers worked a minor miracle when they were forced at very short notice to replace the venue for the eighth Carlisle Rock and Blues Festival. As in previous years, the festival’s programme was exceptional with The Boom Band, Connie Lush and Blues Shouter, Marcus Malone, Blues ‘N’ Trouble and Blues Boy Dan Owen in particularly good form.

CDs that caught the ear included King Size Slim’s “Milk Drunk”, Marcus Malone’s “Stand Or Fall”, the Holmes Brothers’ “Brotherhood” and Tommy Castro and The Pain Killers’ “The Devil You Know”. Topping them all, was the latest offering from the ageless Elvin Bishop, the excellent “Can’t Do Right Wrong”, good time blues at its best with some top class guest appearances, not least from the legendary Charlie Musselwhite.

Finally, I offer my thanks to the tireless Grahame Rhodes and Ken Peace for their superb stewardship of this wonderful website and to my fellow reviewers for their invaluable contributions, especially Rosy Greer, Keith Blackledge, Brian Harman and Norman Darwen.


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