The sixth Smokie Blues Festival was
the first Scottish package hotel festival of its type within a very scenic
setting. The line up included an ambitious list of 26 artists in total. The main
stage entertainment started with local act
Wolftrain. Their performance, notable with two
saxophone players was entertaining but slightly disjointed commencing with a
Junior Wells tribute, Born With the Blues followed by standards Shake For Me and
Key To The Highway and the Cajun funk of Bourbon Street.
John O’Leary’s Sugarkane
commenced with a rollicking version of Born In Chicago. John on blues harp, Dave
Day on guitar and stand-in keyboard player Jay
Tamkin provided the opportunity for some virtuoso
performances in songs such as John Lee Williamsons Early In The Morning and the
pulsating Black Cat Bone.
based Wang Dang Delta
provided an eclectic selection of original songs that effortlessly blend blues,
rock and country with some great tunes like Shutting On The World and the
laidback Honey Man. The headliner was French singer
Nina Van Horn. Nina’s vocals
are reminiscent of Janis Joplin and the Midnight Wolf Blues Band provided
effective backing as their songs ranged from the upbeat blues stompers to some
traditional tunes from her album Hommage aux Femmes du Blues.
Saturdays main stage opened with
Paul Rose who
displayed an accomplished fret board prowess on a selection of songs, the pick
being a menacing version of Rory Gallagher’s Off The Handle.
The Flamingstatman from
Germany followed, with highlights being The Yardbirds’ Rack My Mind, Fleetwood
Macs Rattlesnake Shake and a brace of Hendrix covers.
Gary Johnstone Trio were a
late addition and energised the crowd with some blues and rock n roll including
I Don’t Need No Doctor, the superb Five Long Years and a finale with Brian
Sexter’s Jump Jive And Wail. Then the Nimmo
Brothers ploughed through many of their regular
crowd pleasers. While Alan was handling all vocals for the day, Stevie’s
presence was still felt with his fine guitar work particularly on In My Mind and
a jam of Black Cat Bone.
rolling drum intro to Apologise signalled Hokie
Joint’s appearance. Chocolate Cake featured a moody
bass intro and Giles King's
atmospheric harp solo whilst Aeroplane was a driving boogie. Led by impressive
guitarist Joel Frisk and charismatic vocalist Jojo Burgess, Hokie Joint are a
band worth catching, with plenty of refreshingly original songs.
were also impressive with a rousing Sugar Don’t Taste So Sweet then slowed to
the blues rumba Who’s Been Talking. Their centrepiece was All Over Now with
haunting guitar and sax solos, before Down At The Bottom and Gimme Back My Wig
got a large crowd on the dance floor.
Headliners were the
British Blues Allstars. Bob
Hall lead the piano shuffle Riding With The Blues before
Tom McGuinness fronted
Sitting On Top of The World with guest John O’Leary.
The pick was Bobby Trench’s
interpretation of Peter Green's I Loved Another Woman.
awoke the crowd on the Sunday afternoon playing a rocking set including Baby
Please Dont Go, a vibrant instrumental skiffle, with tenor sax and double bass,
and Slim Harpos Shake Your Hips.
Siegal was keenly awaited and commenced with The
Silver Spurs before some slide blues with Long Distance Call and Johnny Winters
Dallas. He then dug deep into his bottomless repertoire with passionate
interpretations of Guy Clark’s The Cap and Steve Earle’s My Old Friend The
The acoustic stage had also seen some
fine acts over the weekend Australian Gypsy Dave
Smith showcased his individual picking style on his
1933 dobro. Papa Mojo were entertaining with a selection of delta songs and fine
subtle playing by guitarist Stefan Kocemba. Dave
Arcari made two appearances and got a great
reaction on self-compositions Nobody's Fool and Red Letter Blues and a raw
version of Blind Willie Johnson's Soul Of A Man. On the Sunday a different set
list included the Radiotones tune Gravel Road with its distinctive guitar line
and the slightly deranged Hot Muscle Jazz. Also featured was
Kent DuChaine whose laidback
narrative before the songs was as engaging as the tunes he played on his lead
guitar Bessie, as he leads us through imagery of the southern states with
references to crossroads, juke joints and moonshine.
The Smokie Blues festival was a
success, bringing blues to good-sized audiences throughout the weekend. The
likelihood is that in future years an addition will be a trail of local acts in
nearby bars. The Smokie Blues festival is likely to continue to get bigger and
better over the coming years.
Many thanks to Duncan Beattie for
the review and Paul Webster for the photos.
Alan White, earlyblues.com