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Hero. Legend. Good Bloke.
John Peel OBE, 1939 - 2004

Red Lick Records



Maryport Bitter and Blues Festival 2005
Friday 29th to Sunday
31st July 2005
Main Stage Review by Courtland Bresner

Following the success of last years festival most people thought that it would be impossible to beat last years headliner Buddy Guy, but the festival committee worked hard and came up with a winner. The Chicago Blues Legends headlining the Saturday night stole the show.

Friday night opened with local rock band The Answer who performed a competent set of covers including numbers by Free (Alright Now), Hoax and Amor.

Next up was Chicago based Studebaker John and the Hawks who provided a set of original blues with Studebaker John demonstrating his skills on electric slide guitar plus chromatic and cross harp.

The Animals, with John Steel on drums the only original member, delighted the crowd with a set based around their hits of the early and mid sixties. These hits included Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood and finally House of the Rising Sun. Bass guitarist and singer Pete Barton fronted the band with John Williamson playing some tasty guitar throughout the set.

The final act of the Friday night was The Yardbirds, with Chris Dreja (guitar) and Jim McCarty (drums) of the original line up still performing. Guitar virtuoso Jerry Donahue provided a master class in string bending during his solos. The Yardbirds performed a mixed set of past hits and more recent recordings. The hits included The Train Kept A’ Rollin’, Heart full of Soul, Evil Hearted You and of course For Your Love. Latter day Yardbirds/early Led Zeppelin was in evidence when Still I’m Sad merged into Dazed and Confused. A great end to the Friday night.

Saturday afternoon opening with the Carlisle based Ollie Allcock Band. The set consisted of a mix of originals and covers. The highlight of the set was the interplay between the guitar and sax.

Next up was guitarist Sean Webster who is starting to make a name for himself on the circuit. Sean served up a mixed set of originals interspersed with covers such as Born Under A Bad Sign.

Closing the afternoon session was Lightnin’ Willie and the Poorboys. Texan Willie was clearly enjoying the event and played a high-energy set of mainly original numbers. Lightnin’ Willie played some excellent guitar solos in the Texan tradition. Giles King (harp) played some superb solos, solid support was provided by Spy (bass) and Sam Kelly (drums). As is usual with Lightnin’ Willie gigs he went for a walkabout around the marquee whilst playing a guitar solo. The band deserved the standing ovation that the audience duly provided.

The Saturday evening session kicked off with the Climax Blues Band, fronted by Colin Cooper who played some fine harp and sax. The set consisted of mainly original number scattered with covers such as Don’t Start Me Talkin’, Seventh Son and So Many Trains. Of course Climax Blues Band could not leave before performing their hit single Couldn’t Do It Right.

Next up was Dave Weld from Chicago who was supported, for the first time, by harmonica player Pete Leigh and the original Groundhogs rhythm section. Dave played an enjoyable set of Chicago style blues. Dave is obviously influenced by JB Hutto as this is reflected in his guitar style. Tony McPhee joined the band for two numbers.

The Saturday night headliners the Chicago Blues Legends kicked off with Bob Margolin (guitar), Willie Big Eyes Smith (drums) and Mookie Brill (bass) taking the stage to rapturous applause. This was the start of almost two hours of classic Chicago blues. When Bob Margolin played slide guitar in standard tuning my mind was drawn back to Muddy Waters, the sound was eerie. Bob has obviously served his apprenticeship well. The band was joined the great Hubert Sumlin on guitar and, as expected, a series of Howlin’ Wolf songs followed, including Sitting On Top Of The World and Built For Comfort.

Next to take the stage was harmonica great James Cotton. James played some great chromatic and cross harp. Songs included One More Mile.

Finally ninety three year old Pinetop Perkins took the stage and sang a number of blues classics such as Kansas City and How Long Blues. Pinetop also played some great piano solos during his time on stage. Time seem to fly during the night and before long it was all over. The band returned for an encore during which Pinetop was clearly enjoying himself and did not want to leave the stage.

Sunday afternoon opened with Tony McPhee playing an acoustic set of covers and originals. Songs included Me And The Devil, Death Letter, Can’t Be Satisfied and a number of songs off his latest CD. Joanna Deacon provided vocal support on a number of songs including the Charlie Patton Oh Death.

Next up was Diana Braithwaite from Canada. Diana sang a mixed set of original songs and covers. Diana’s choice of material was unusual as she sang a number of songs which you generally do not associate with women, eg, Rollin and Tumblin, Big Boss Man and Dust My Broom. Of her original songs I particularly liked The Grass Is Greener a bluesy ballad.

Paul Lamb and the Kingsnakes provided a set of harmonica led, mostly original blues. The band were obviously working hard as the lead guitarist suffered two broken strings during the set. Highly enjoyable.

The final act of the festival was the Mike Sanchez Rhythm & Blues Revue with Mike Sanchez on piano and vocals. Singer Imelda Clabby joined the band for a number of songs and provided change of pace and contrast. The high energy Rock ‘N’ Roll and R&B set was a fine way to end the festival.

Thanks to the Festival Committee for organising an excellent festival. Long may it continue.

Has the Maryport Bitter and Blues Festival become the premier blues event in the UK?

Courtland Bresner
August 2005

And now some of his photos....

Studebaker John


Diana Braithwaite


James Cotton


Pinetop Perkins


Mike Sanchez


Bob Margolin


Ollie Allcock Band


Paul Lamb


Lightnin’ Willie


Sean Webster


Hubert Sumlin


Tony McPhee


Dave Weld

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Website © Copyright 2001-2005 Alan White. All Rights Reserved.
Text and Photos (this page) © Copyright 2005 Courtland Bresner. All Rights Reserved.