Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Friday Session - Carlisle Blues Rock Festival, 28 September 2018

It’s Friday, it’s 5 to 7, and it’s standing room only in the ballroom of the Crown & Mitre Hotel as we arrive for our first visit to the Carlisle Blues Rock Festival.  But it turns out to be well worth standing for the duration to see the four acts on offer.
First up are local favourites Redfish, and they turn in a much stronger performance than when I last saw them, in a support slot in Edinburgh. They deliver a solid set of old school R’n’B, with warm vocals and relaxed patter from bunnet-wearing front man Stumblin’ Harris.
Redfish - Bunnets Are Us
There are funky undercurrents on the likes of Bill Withers’ ‘Use Me Up’, with nimble bass from Rod Mackay and some neat drumming diversions as a bonus.
Their own material fits in well alongside a punchy version of ‘Messin’ With The Kid’ and Magic Sam’s ‘Every Night And Every Day’, with measured solos from guitarist Martin McDonald and boogieing piano from all action keys man Fraser Clark.  It all adds up to an entertaining set that has me acquiring their new EP at the interval.

The Chris Bevington Organisation have produced one of the albums of the year so far with Cut And Run, so I was looking forward to seeing them live, and they didn’t disappoint. With a nine-piece line-up it’s no wonder that other commitments mean there are stand-ins depping for two of three of the usual band, and sadly this includes guitarist and core contributor Jim Kirkpatrick.  I suspect the loss of his interaction with co-conspirator and vocalist/guitarist Scott Ralph dilutes the dynamic of this ensemble affair a bit, but Jordan
The Chris Bevington Organisation get cookin'
Swann does a good job of filling in.  He contributes a sizzling lead guitar intro on ‘Coming Down With The Blues’, eloquent playing on ‘Tin Pan Alley’, and a squealing solo on the excellent ‘Got To Know’. The last of these also features pumping bass from Chris Bevington, gutsy rhythm playing from Ralph, and strong punctuation all round.
‘Better Start Cookin’’ features a trumpet solo and call and response organ and guitar, underlining the variety they can bring to bear.  Ralph fronts operations with brio, and by the time they get to ‘Ain’t Got Nobody To Love’ his Cheshire Cat grin sums up the enjoyment both on and off the stage. They close their 50 minute set with the totally danceable ‘Rollin’’, closing a live show that emulates the vibrancy of their latest album.
Elles Bailey unshackled 

Elles Bailey is a more soulful proposition, but gets the ball rolling with a couple of familiar barn-burners in the form of ‘Let Me Hear You Scream’ and ‘Same Flame’ from her album Wildfire, before offering us something new in the form of the soulful ‘What’s The Matter’.  A cover of Levon Helm’s ‘When I Go Away’ suits her nicely, with some very Stax-like keys from stand-in ivory tinkler James Graham, and some good vocal interplay to boot. Depping drummer Craig Connett also shows up well, with good cymbal work to rev up the intensity on the Muscle Shoals tribute ‘Perfect Storm’, with its strong melody, while another newie in the form of ‘Medicine Man’ is offbeat, driving and dynamic, with appealing slide from Joe Wilkins.  
‘Shackles Of Love’ continues to be my favourite among her material though – a song with a great hook that wouldn’t be out of place on a Bonnie Raitt album.
She tells us that another new song, the thumping, train-like ‘The Road I Call Home’ will be the title track to her new album in the spring, before returning to familiar territory with the emotive ‘Girl Who Owned The Blues’, with its stomping conclusion, and ‘Wildfire’ with its moody slide solo from Wilkins.
Elles Bailey’s amiably daft and self-deprecating chat always makes for an engaging performance.  But more to the point she has a great voice, strong original material, and bags of potential still to be explored.
Guitar totin' Siegal and Cigaar

Topping the bill for the night is Ian Siegal, who has gone way past the point of being described in terms of potential.  Still, I do believe that he’s found another gear this year with the release of his latest album All The Rage.  Coming on wearing a headband, with his festival lanyard flapping around his knees, he eases in with the characteristic, immediately sing-able melody of ‘Shotgun Rider’.  He and the band raise the temperature with the clacking favourite ‘I Am The Train’, with inimitable guitarist Dusty Cigaar being – well, inimitably Dusty.  But they really hit the bullseye with ‘The Shit Hit’, on which a wild slide solo from Siegal is a prelude to a bout of finger wagging, electrifying truth telling.  On an entirely different note, the classic blues of ‘John The Revelator’ interpolates ‘Back Door Man’ in rowdy fashion, and leads to an outbreak of dancing from some of the ladies.  Then it’s back to Siegal at his most withering with ‘Eagle-Vulture’, its spiky guitar line embellished by wafting notes from Cigaar.
A different kind of highlight comes with the North Mississippi Hill Country blues of CeDell Davies’s ‘She’s Got The Devil In Her’.  It’s followed by ‘Gallo Del Cielo’, which apparently a patron begged for tonight, and on which the poor damn chicken inevitably meets a sticky end once again, before Siegal closes out the night with the lovely ‘Sweet Souvenir’.
The clock strikes twelve and it’s time to head for bed.  Will twelve hours be enough to let us rest up for the next day’s fun and games?

You can find a review of the Saturday afternoon session at Carlisle here.
And the Saturday night session is reviewed here.

No comments:

Post a Comment