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3rd Leeds Blues Festival 2008
2nd - 5th May 200

Review by Tony Higgins, our North East England reviewer:

The 3rd Leeds Blues Festival took Place on the 2nd to 5th May at the following venues: North Leeds Working Men's Club, the Duck &Drake, The Grove and The New Roscoe in Leeds and also at the Brewery Tap at Idle near Bradford.

Friday 2nd May

The festival opened on Friday 2nd at the Duck & Drake, my favourite Leeds pub renowned  for its excellent choice of real ales and live music, with an excellent band from Torino in Italy called The Refounders. The band is fronted by Sebastino Re on vocals and harmonica and slide guitar who sings and plays the harmonica in a similar way to Dr Feelgoods' original vocalist the late Lee Brilleaux. They played several Dr Feelgood songs including She Does It Right, Cell Block No.9 All through The City and Sneakin' Suspicion. Other songs featured were Ike and Tina Turner's Nutbush City Limits, John Lee Hooker's  Boom Boom and  the Junior Wells song Messing With The Kid. They are a brilliant band consisting of excellent musicians and I look forward to seeing them again.

Saturday 3 May

Saturday nights acts were at the North Leeds Working Men's Club ,Tom Attah from Barnsley opened the proceedings  singing and playing the guitar. Tom played a great set of songs which included Catfish Blues, Robert Johnson's Terraplane Blues, and  Crossroads. Following Tom Attah was Oli Brown an excellent and talented young guitar player from Norfolk. This was the fourth time I had seen Oli and his band and once again  they were absolutely superb. Oli is one of the most talented guitar players in the Britain. As well as some of his own songs he played Luther Allison's All The Kings Horses, B.B King's  Everyday  I Have The Blues, Buddy Guy's Steppin' Out Steppin' In and Let Me Love You and several other blues classics. Oli has now been signed up by Ruf Records and I will be surprised if he does not become a major force on the blues scene.

Sunday 4 May

On Sunday afternoon The Refounders played again this time at the New Roscoe ,from the reviews and comments I heard they were once again absolutely fantastic. Also Billy Martin Jnr. was well received at the Grove before heading to the North Leeds Working Men's Club to play again. First to play at the North Leeds Working Men's Club was Leeds blues guitarist James O'Hara. .He plays regularly in Leeds and is an excellent guitar player he has  also played at the Burnley and Colne blues festivals. He treated us to  some of his great guitar work during his set which included the Muddy Waters song I Just Wanna Make Love To You, Tampa Red's Dynamite and another Muddy Waters song I Can't be Satisfied Following James O' Hara were the Blue Kings a Leeds based blues band with Paul Lamb's followed by Albert Collins's Honey Hush and Marvin Gaye's Can I Get A Witness. A few people even got up to dance to the music and  really enjoyed it. I had to leave halfway through their act  because I was  getting hungry and also wanted to see Sgt. Wilko's Rhythm & Blues Band in the Duck Drake. I left the reviewing of the gig to Graham Hewitt  a fellow Leeds blues fan and Duck & Drake regular in my absence. Graham told me later they also played Slim Harpo's King Bee, Jimmy Read's Shame Shame Shame, Sonny Boy Williamson's Checking On My Baby and Muddy Water's She Moves Me and several other blues classics. From the feedback I received later the band were excellent and went down really well. They are recording a live C.D. at the Blues Bar in Harrogate and this something I will look forward to hearing. In the meantime having had something to eat and seeing part of Sgt Wilko's Rhythm and Blues Band gig in the Duck & Drake I arrived back at the North Leeds. In between the Blue Kings and the next act  I was sitting with some of  the Duck & Drake regulars and played some blues on one of my harmonicas, an instrumental based on Sonny Boy Williamson No2's style and also  the The Old Grey Whistle Test theme tune Stone Fox Chase which went down really well. Billy  Martin Jnr. then played his second set of the afternoon playing all his own songs accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. Stand out tracks for me were Sweet Engine Driver, Little  Miss Mischief and Better the Devil You Know. Billy who hails from Sheffield is in my opinion one of the best acoustic guitar players in Britain. Next on Stage was Sheffield based Steve French Band another great band I have seen on several times. They play excellent blues and blues/rock often in the late Stevie Ray Vaughan style, in fact Steve wears a hat like the one Stevie wore. They played several well known  songs including Willie Dixon/Muddy Waters I'm Ready, Stevie Ray Vaughan's Give  Up On Love, and Robert Johnson's Crossroads played  the way Cream played it. Once again the band played a brilliant set and were a big hit with the audience. Next  on stage were the Convertibles who also played an excellent set including the Albert Collins song Honey Hush  and Marvin Gaye's  Can I Get A Witness  The band  really rocked and a number of people got up and started dancing to the music. This was a brilliant end to a great day of excellent blues.

Monday 5 May

Monday's proceedings started with a set from Lee Bates on guitar and vocal & Billy Newton on harmonica, who played some great acoustic blues. They played several of their own songs which included Brampton Blues a song about a place they once visited. Other songs played were Arthur Crudup's Mean Old Frisco, Snooky Pryor's Nothing But Trouble, J.B. Lenoir's Talk to your Daughter, Robert Johnson's Walking Blues and Charlie Musselwhite's Blues For Yesterday. This was once again  excellent and  enjoyable music. Next on Stage was the Leeds band Crosscut Saw, who consist of Alex Eden on vocals, guitar, and harmonica. Tim Crawley on bass and Richard Ferdinando on drums. I have seen this band many times, they have played gigs in several countries and have also played at the Burnley and Colne Blues Festivals, they also have a great fan base in their home City. Their set included one of their own songs Swamp Thing, Chuck Berry's I Can Tell  and excellent versions of Buddy Guy's The First Time I Met The Blues and Midnight Train. Alex Eden played some brilliant guitar and Tim and Richard played really well also. Another fantastic performance from a top class blues band. Following Crosscut Saw was another band I have seen before Sly Fox. I saw this band recently in the Duck & Drake and knew before they played a note that they were a class act. Their set included an excellent slow blues with guitarist Mick Walsh on slide guitar they also did a song called Just Wanna Make Love (not the Muddy Waters song) George Thorogood's Don't Stop Drinking  and also Drinking With The Devil, a song they dedicated to a member of the audience. After Sly Fox was an acoustic set from Roy Mette, I have seen Roy before but never as an acoustic and solo act. Roy played both 6 & 12 string guitars during his set which consisted of Howlin' Wolf's Spoonful, Rory Gallagher's Going To My Home Town and a  brilliant version of Leadbelly's Gallows Pole. The final act of the festival was a young band from Northern Ireland, who played a mixture of their own material and  blues and rock covers. Two of their own songs played were Rise and Shine and a brilliant slow blues featuring some excellent guitar work from 17 year old guitar player Gavin  Dean, called Disconnected Blues. They also played great versions of Led Zeppelin's In My Time Of Dying and Howlin' Wolf's  Spoonful,  After the festival had officially finished the Refounders went back on stage for a late night session which I was informed lasted a couple of hours. The Brewery Tap at Idle, Bradford also put bands on and from the feedback I got it was a great success, it is a pity no reviews of the venue are available.

I would like thank  Nigel Forrest and Dave Prichard for the organising and running of a great musical event and also Vicki Hazelgrave and Graham Hewitt for for helping me with the review of this festival in particular the acts they saw when I was at another venue.

Tony Higgins

Can I add my thanks to you all for the review and photos
Alan White  www.earlyblues.com

Here are Tony's photos......

 Copyright 2008 Tony Higgins All Rights Reserved.
Crosscut Saw

 Copyright 2008 Tony Higgins All Rights Reserved.
James O'Hara

 Copyright 2008 Tony Higgins All Rights Reserved.
The Steve French Band

 Copyright 2008 Tony Higgins All Rights Reserved.
Roy Mette

 Copyright 2008 Tony Higgins All Rights Reserved.
Nigel Morris & Dave Prichard, Festival Organisers

 Text and photos on this page 2006-2008 Tony Higgins. All rights reserved.
Website Copyright 2000-2008 Alan White. All Rights Reserved.