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The 25th Great British R&B Festival 2014
The Matthew Clark British Stage, Colne, Lancashire
Friday 22nd August - Monday 25th August 2014

The Matthew Clark British Stage Review for Sunday and Monday
by Keith Blackledge


Sunday 24th August


I settled down to hear some live music at the British Stage on Sunday the 24th of August, with music fans from Chorley. The band STUMBLE was up first on the afternoon slot. A fantastic band that I saw at the 1st Preston Rocking Blues Festival last May. They got off to a tremendous start and a rapturous welcome by the hundreds of admiring fans that had come to see this amazing band. An hour of fantastic blues by this very talented band of musicians fronted by the powerful vocals of Paul Melville, with Colin Black on lead and slide guitar, on bass guitar was Cameron Sweetnam, Boyd Tonner on drums, Anthony Scapens on guitar and Simon Anthony on a mighty sax.  The bands original MY LIFE and another cracker was BUS STOP got the crowd by the neck and shuck them with the blues, fantastic. The place was bouncing and the atmosphere was electric.  STUMBLE are a force on the electric blues scene and give an audience what they want 100% commitment and cracking music.

The British Blues Awards Presentations were next - please go to their website for details.

An impromptu performance from the man they call HALF DEAF CLATCH, a man, an acoustic guitar and a stomp. The man aka Andrew Mclatchie gave a slide and drive, stripped back performance of the blues that any enthusiast would covert. He had appeared in the acoustic arena earlier and was up for an award runner up in the category emerging artist of the year, which found him in the room as they say. Andrew delivered two great songs “Good Ol’ Diablo and Ol’ Death train. One word would not justify his performance, but it’s fair to say he was sensational.     


A Derbyshire band that has been playing their blues up and down the Country and celebrating 30 years on the road, a band that oozes professionalism.  Frontman, lead vocals and bass guitarist Pat Rowbottom with Rob Barnes on lead guitar and vocals, Keith Bonthrone on drums and vocals and what a voice - he has terrific, Joe Orban on keys and guitar and backing vocals. A mix of original material penned by Pat and Rob with covers from Jethro Tull, Cream, and Peter Green; blistering stuff they were magic. 


I have heard a lot about this band on the bush telegraph but never had the privilege to hear a live performance; I was in for a treat. The master stroke of all this was to gather these very talented individual musicians under one roof so to speak and perform as a band and thanks to Chris Bevington this happened, and the result was Dynamite.  The brass section of the band was a stroke of genius, Jamie Bannister on alto sax with Adrian Gibson on trumpet. The miracle that is George Glover on keys, he was amazing. The rhythm section of Chris Bevington on bass guitar and Andy Carr on drums was a match made in heaven, and Scott Ralph on lead guitar and lead vocals and frontman was to put it bluntly the Detonator, a fire cracker of a performance and no one can forget the singing duo of Sarah Miller and Kate Robinson.  The covers they did were fabulous here is just a taster, Dark Side of Love, She’s out there Somewhere, Purple Rain featuring Sarah Miller and Kate Robinson, Don’t Need No Doctor, Crossroads, Bogie Man, need I say more, tremendous.      


This young four piece band was new to me and I enjoyed what they did.  This band, who have been  together for only two years, is from the Harrogate area, and they like to do their own thing and got to grips with the pop, rock, and blues genres. A combination of talent and strong musicianship from a band that have a place in today’s scene. The writing talents of the band were evident they only did two covers from a set that held seven, one from Joe Bonamassa ”Steal Your Heart Away “and “Bright Lights “ from Gary Clark Jnr, both excellent versions. The bands frontman and lead vocalist and guitar was Johnny Brown, with Paul Randles on lead guitar, Steve brown on bass and Carleton Pape on the drums. Watch this space these guys are Lions and perhaps for longer than a day.


Wow this six piece band knocked my socks off. The band from Liverpool took to the stage and took command from the word go, stage craft is very important. Paul Dunbar the frontman on lead vocal and guitar was exceptional and held my attention from the start. He has a presence that puts the band high on the pedestal. Plenty of energy from him and the band that are not only top musicians but have the writing talents as well, with terrific arrangements. They treated us with tracks off their new CD entitled “Earth Sky or the Raging Sea” just brilliant, the band were, Paul Dunbar, Mike McLeod lead guitar, James Orin sax, Rory Ballentyne on trumpet, Chris Pearce bass guitar and Phil Stevens drums. This is soul rock and blues, perfection.


This mighty band that has a tremendous following did us proud and the City of Manchester where the band is based. Franny Eubank lead vocal and harp was sizzling he loves to mix it up and the energetic Tom Attah was ‘at it’ he is an act on his own, wonderful.  Tom’s guitar skills are becoming legendry, playing at a hundred miles an hour he floored the audience with his riff’s, a powerhouse indeed. With covers the likes of “Help Me” “Kansas City”” “High Heel Sneakers” the crowd went orbital. The band finished there hour long set with “Got My Mojo Working” the bands Mojo worked, no doubt about that, with Bo Lee on bass guitar and Luke Flowers on drums.


A guitar musician with skills a plenty, he has a great style and panache, and any up and coming guitarist would try to emulate.  If there is any one better from Norwich I haven’t heard them yet and they would have to be better than brilliant.  The whole band, I have to say were worth a sack of gold. Charlotte Joyce on vocals and keys was tremendous. Charlotte’s vocal range was supreme not only clear but concise and a perfect pitch complimenting Ron on every note. Mr Lance Fickling on a busy bass guitar and Paul Wooden on drums were the rich icing on this perfect confection. Their superb performance ended the third day of this Rhythm and Blues extravaganza.

Monday 25th August

The crowd was building and so was the atmosphere inside this arena. I was ready to be entertained.


The first band up was BROTHERS GROOVE a band from the Birmingham area.   This is the band that puts the funky groove in the blues, with a heavy bass guitar line from Deano Bass and a pincer movement involving the two lead guitarists, Shaun Hill and Nigel Mellor, sharing the load and on the drums Jim Simpson who has played with Bonnie Tyler, Magnum and U F O.   This is the music that gets your head nodding and your feet tapping and your fingers snapping; as far as the groove goes I haven’t heard anything this good since the early days of Brand X.

The band’s first studio album entitled “PLAY THE GAME” is followed by a live album entitled “LIVE AT THE CROSSING”. These guys are exceptional musicians; it’s hard to ignore the brother’s groove. 


This rocking trio from Hull certainly hit the spot. They do what it says on the tin, classic hot and fast rocking blues. Steve Fulsham front and centre on lead vocals and lead guitar, with Jon Whinham on bass guitar and a very impressive drummer by the name of Sean Clough.  This band gave us original music penned by Steve, “Say Bye Bye”; “Tell the Truth”, “Shufflin’ Feet” a tribute to Rory Gallagher.    


This exciting new band from the Blackburn area is what live music is all about, fresh, edgy, and a little bit of an attitude that lets rip. A mix of original material and covers to sharpen their teeth on. New blood is vital for the music scene; we all have to have this learning curve which is essential to any fruitful existence in the business. They have a future and they are grabbing it with both hands.  The band fronted by the ”Hell Kitten” herself Kayley Davies on lead vocal, aided by lead guitarist Squire and on bass guitar Russell and on the drums the powder keg that is Maxwell Harvey William Newsome the third.  Buyers beware they may bite, but they will certainly claw their way up.

SLACK ALICE and Friends

This legendary band has nothing to prove and it’s always a pleasure to see a great band that has served its apprenticeship and helped others along the way and still enjoy entertaining the crowd with their original blues. Some would say that bands like Slack Alice inspire other budding musicians to join the music business and become a success like them. Cliff Stocker and his associates are the nuts and bolts of the industry, you could not have better. The band that is SLACK ALICE is Cliff Stocker on harp and lead vocals, Chris Preston guitars, Dobro, Mandolin, Colin Redmond, guitars, Banjo, vocals, Alan Sagar (his bass solo was brilliant), Liam Barber, on drums and vocals, and Paul Nuttall on keys. A young woman by the name of Maddie G aged 12 was the guest saxophonist; this talented young woman has a scholarship with the Giggleswick College of Music.  The band entertained us with original works off their album entitled SLACK ALICE and friends this is a cracking album and is surely a must for the dedicated blues fan.


This is another young band that has had some success already having had air play on Paul Jones’s radio 2 shows.  I’m sure we will see and hear a lot more of this lively band who have a rock/blues agenda. Fronted by Jane Chloe Pearce on lead vocals, she has a voice and a gutsy approach to the music they play. Alex Butler on lead guitar plays above his years and in my humble opinion will be a name in the future as I predicted when Aynsley Lister started out on his musical career. Mike Topp on bass guitar a very accomplished musician, Charlie Simpson was a star on the drums.


Over the years the members of this band have been there and done it and are still doing it. I refer to of course Johnny “Guitar” Williamson on lead guitar and vocals. Yes the very same man that played with the Animals and Titanic and Skeleton Crew, he is truly a gifted player and it was a pleasure to hear him play and sing. On lead vocal and guitar was Peter Barton, marvellous vocals, ex Animals, and the great Wayne Fontana band.  On the drums was Wally Day ex Lipstick and Shady. On bass guitar and vocals the deep vocal tones of Chris Allen currently front man for The Troggs and ex Denny Laine band and LT Pidgeon.

With marvellous harmonies from these giants of popular music, nothing short of a supreme performance by these totally professional musicians. The Country Blues Band covered, Proud Mary, I Put a Spell on You, Run through the Jungle, Justify My life (Williamson) and a great version of I Heard it through the Grapevine, and many more, just brilliant.


Keith Blackledge,
National & International Music Reviewer


My thanks to Keith for his British Stage Review
Alan White,


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