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Smokie Blues Festival 2009
Friday 14th to Sunday 16th August 2009
Carnoustie Golf Hotel
Review by Duncan Beattie - Photos by Paul Webster

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.  

Nimmo Brothers © Copyright 2009 Paul Webster. All Rights Reserved.Perth 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. 

The young 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. 

Hokie Joint © Copyright 2009 Paul Webster. All Rights Reserved.
The 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.  

The Stumble 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. 

The Revolutionaries 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. 

Ian Siegal © Copyright 2009 Paul Webster. All Rights Reserved.Ian 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 Blues. 

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


Website and Photos © Copyright 2000-2009 Alan White. All Rights Reserved.
Text (this page) © Copyright 2009 Duncan Beattie. All Rights Reserved.
Photos (this page) © Copyright 2009 Paul Webster. All Rights Reserved.
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