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Sunday 11th June 2017

courtesy Pete Evans

Sunday June 11th

The final day kicked off again with a pure act of Chicago class when 76 year old James Yancey Jones better known as Tail Dragger arrived at The Crossroads Stage. A growling vocalist, he was given his moniker by Howlin’ Wolf and has sung with most of the Chicago legends. Backed by The Allstars he went on an extended audience walkabout belting out classics including I asked For Water and I’m Lieing.

Then to a set of pure pleasure at The Front Porch when Ester Mae Smith, Angela Taylor and Della Daniels better known as The Como Mamas from Como Mississippi sang some absolutely amazing a capella gospel which had the audience swaying and clapping in unison. Wonderful stuff.

On to the Juke Joint Stage next to hear Detroit born but Mississippi based blues diva J J Thames. What a singer she is belting out superb soulful southern blues backed by a great band with an excellent brass section.

The Back Porch then featured Mud Morganfield son of Muddy Waters and no stranger to the UK in recent years. His band leader was Rick Kreher one of the last members of Muddy Waters’ Band and also featured Studebaker John on harp. Standout tracks from many of his father’s back catalogue included She’s 19 Years Old and 40 Days and 40 Nights.

On the Juke Joint Stage another offspring of a famous father Zakiya Hooker, daughter of John Lee took to the stage with her late father’s guitar and played 3 acoustic numbers before a quick outfit change and the appearance of her band produced some more upbeat numbers. Let Me Love the Pain Away stood out and the amusing Put On Your Big Girl’s Panties.

The Chi Town Harp Showcase then graced the Front Porch featuring three of Chicago’s finest harp players Lamont Harris, Omar Coleman and Russ Green backed by the busy Tom Holland on guitar and Dave Forte on bass and Luca Chiellini on keys both from the Toronzo Cannon band. Each harp player had their own set before all through jammed brilliantly on Two Headed Woman... a great moment.

Back to the Juke Joint Stage The Queen of The Blues, 77 year old Denise LaSalle looked wonderful and despite being in a wheelchair after triple bypass surgery last year really turned on the style. Inheriting her title after the death of Koko Taylor her stand out tracks were Down Home Blues and Someone Else Was Steppin’ In.

The final visit to the main stage to see Ronnie Baker Brooks was quite emotional following the recent death of his father the legendary and much loved Lonnie Brooks. Indeed, prior to the start of his set a short dedication to Lonnie was shown on the large main stage screen and his guitar and boots and his famous white Stetson were positioned at the front of the stage.

Ronnie played his heart out on a succession of tracks backed by a superb brass section. Come On Up, Times Have Changed (the title track of his recent CD), Born in Chicago and the final climax Sweet Home Chicago when he was joined by his guitar playing brother Wayne Baker Brooks, guitarist and producer Jellybean Johnson and Billy Branch brought everyone to their feet.

The tempo changed but not the quality when the beautiful Rhiannon Giddens took the stage. Since she left the traditional roots, folk, blues string band The Carolina Chocolate Drops she has won many awards including a Grammy for her solo work. Accompanied by her talented regulars, Dirk Powell on guitar, keys and anything else at hand, Hubby Jenkins on Mandolin and Banjo, Jamie Dick on Drums and Jason Sypher on bass, the amazingly gifted Rhiannon mainly on violin and banjo absolutely mesmerised the audience. She has the voice of an angel, faultless and clear and was the star of the weekend. Performing songs from her new CD Freedom Highway, she was joined by Justin Harrington on rap vocals on Better Get It Right The First Time. The other stand outs were At The Purchaser’s Option, The Love We Almost Had, We Could Fly and the title track.

The act chosen to finish the festival Gary Clark Jr. was someone I’d been told can blow hot or cold. Well as if inspired by the two previous acts, he certainly blew hot on this occasion. There is a certain arrogance about him as he slowly walks around the stage, dark glasses in place but once he got into his groove, the audience went wild.

Whilst his rhythm section of Johnny Radelat on drums and Johnny Bradley on bass kept things going, he shared his solos with the yellow kaftaned mohican King Zapata, an excellent guitarist in his own right. It was a superb set and a brilliant way to finish the festival with the highlights being Bright Lights Big City and When My Train Pulls In. These two tracks and many of the acts reviewed can be seen on YouTube.

It had been a brilliant festival but as is the case with so many acts it was impossible to see all of them and sadly due to circumstances acts like Big Bill Morganfield, Coco Montoya, Guy King and William Bell were missed. 


Photo Gallery
courtesy Pete Evans




  Como Mamas  


  JJ Thames  


  Mud Morganfield  


  Studebaker John  


  Zakiya Hooker  


  Russ Green  


  Omar Coleman  


  Lamont Harris  


  Russ Green, Omar Coleman & Lamont Harris  


  Denise La Salle  


  Ronnie Baker Brookes  



  Wayne Baker Brookes  


  Ronnie & Wayne Baker Brookes  


  Rhiannon Giddins  


  Dirk Powell  


  Hubby Jenkins  


  Gary Clarke Jr.  


  King Zapata  


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Review and Photos (this section) © Copyright 2017 Pete Evans. All Rights Reserved.
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