Broadstairs Blues Bash 21st February 2015
Broadstairs is possibly one of the cutest places to host a Blues festival in the UK. Most of the twelve venues involved in the Broadstairs Blues Bash this year are a short walk apart and so you can browse your Blues – from solo acts to duo’s, trio’s and bigger bands – with ease. You can also eat well while you’re doing so, with plenty of places serving meals in and take away, including some fine fish and chips from the Star of the Sea (other chippies are available…). The prize for most enterprising eatery on this sunny, 6 degree celcius cold Saturday went to The Olde Curiosity Shop tea rooms, which had a side hatch open and was serving ice creams. Brrr! The almost equally chilly sand, sea and harbour were also attracting Bash-goers. The casual stroller could see many a fellow music fan, often identified by Bash or musical T-shirts, and the occasional musician taking the air. For instance, I bumped into Zoe Schwarz, taking the air after her Blues Commotion’s performance the night before, not to mention DJ’s in the shape of Richard Dunning and Kevin Beale and a possible glimpse of Dave Raven. Another good thing about the Bash is that it isn’t difficult to find free parking near the music.
The first act to be seen was in the 39 Steps Ale House. Half Deaf Clatch was in residence with his guitar and baseball cap, growling out some Blues with a one-sided leer that made him look like Popeye as a musician. The sounds were certainly strong and, with Death Letter Blues, at times sinister.
The Mustangs were coralled in The Charles Dickens, letting fly with a succession of crowd-pleasers, almost too much so as in my corner of the pub the dancers, including Deborah, the organiser of the upcoming White Cliffs Blues Festival in Dover (24th-26th July), had the floor bouncing up and down like a trampoline. They added Steve, a guest harmonica player, at the end of their show, with band member and fellow harmonica player Derek joining in.
When there is so much music to choose from, planning – with the aid of the rather good Bash brochure – is needed, but deserted me as I only caught the gap between sets of the Acme Blues Co in Harper’s Bar. I can, though, report that their silence was excellent.
Definitely not at all silent were Northsyde in The Dolphin. Powerful female vocals were matched by powerful lead guitar and – as with other venues – the place was full of people.
I sadly missed Will Johns at Neptune’s Hall, but this fishing-mad musician (last album Hooks and Lines) was playing yards from the Broadstairs Sailing Club and it is to be wondered if he found the place and then couldn’t tear himself away.
Back at the 39 Steps, those married musicians, Dave and Janet Jackson, were present, and on their wedding anniversay too. Many congratulations from Blues Matters, and we look forward to their next album following their very impressive debut album, DJB. The tiny stage (or corner niche), however, was filled by Big Joe Bone, whose performance on vocals, slide guitar and harmonica was as impressive as his beard, Jitterbug Swing being one of his upbeat and very enjoyable songs. Sadly I didn’t stay long enough to see him pick up one of the instruments in his row of banjos.
Kelly’s Heroes were playing a largely Rock covers session in the Prince Albert. They had a promising soundcheck, after which lead singer Miles announced, “We’re a lot better than this, we swear.” The band were indeed themed after the film that inspired their name, with green camoflage netting draped over amplifiers and drum kit (with added GI’s helmet),and the band wearing green military shirts and dog tags. Dog tags were certainly appropriate in Broadstairs, a place awash with dogs taking their humans for a walk.
Despite a personal preference for bands with multiple musicians, the most enjoyable performance of all the day was at the curiously named Intolerant Wife cafe, where the be-hatted Dave Ferra was tucked into a corner by the window, together with a couple of guitars and a harmonica. His warm, expressive, and humorous delivery was outstanding. Songs like I Know She Will, Louis Jordan’s Early In The Morning (I Ain’t Got Nothing But The Blues) were played with verve, humour and skill. Inserting lines like “I went to the Intolerant Wife to get something to eat” also went down well.
Beaverwood Club, Chislehurst, Kent, 19th February 2015
The Beaverwood Club is a stronghold of Blues and Rock in north Kent/South East London and both were on display on this evening. First, The Sharpees warmed up a crowd whose cars overflowed the car park (always a good sign) with a series of lively, up tempo Blues, both their own from their Mississippi Thrill album, and of others, notably a key inspiration, Dr Feelgood. It all went down well with the crowd and to a great deal of applause.
They were followed by Stray, a band led by the slight figure of Del Bromham, whose band belied his size by delivering a really big, pretty much Heavy Metal sound. So much so that this review continues on the Kerrang! Website. Just kidding there. Nevertheless, the already appreciative crowd took to Stray, including its drummer who thrashed away at his drums, a whirl of hair and tattoos at the back of things. Del’s voice was in fine form and the band went on to play a blissfully heavy night of music.