With their soul-hearted and contemporary blues offerings, no doubt inspired by Glaswegian Frankie Miller, The BRIAN RAWSON BAND opened the main stage at this year’s CLEETHORPES BLUES festival at the Pleasure Island theme park on the East coast of England
In his time, the Tearjerkers‘ former guitarist Brian Rawson toured with Thin Lizzy, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Doll by Doll and Rachel Sweet.
At Cleethorpes, the crunch and spontaneous loquacity of his driving guitar-work and especially his riffs reminded us of Paul Kossoff.
While vocalist Greig Taylor, formerly of the GT Boos Band, provided the smooth flexibility of voice that moved with grace from the mink ‘n’ feather soul to crackling hard rockin’ blues in a blink. Along with bassist Jim Carr and drummer Calum Wilson, their sound at the Festival reminded us of Johnny the Fox era Lizzy. It was a superb start to a wonderful day.
As usual, Albany Down did not show up at Lincolnshire’s seaside resort, but fortunately Brighton’s band, RED BUTLER, replaced them.
The feisty female singer Jane Chloe Pearce has left, replaced by the glittering and capable cloth-capped Dan Spellman — an accomplished singer & guitarist.
We were a little worried that this combination would not work because their previous line-up was so feverish hot, but actually the new ensemble is a class-act. Slightly rockier than before, less Etta Jamesy, it was like seeing Bad Company circa ’74. With boneshaker rhythms, high altitude guitar, ultra low resonances and eloquently harmonized songcraft.
Without the woman out front, we felt, the guys could be guys and their daring blues-rock numbers could be filled with cock–a–hoop swagger and chewy gristle.
DEBBIE BOND was a divine revelation for us.
We had never seen her live performance before and we were entranced right from the start. Debbie was the co-founder [with Michael McCracken] and executive director of the award-winning Alabama Blues Project, a nonprofit education project dedicated to the conservation and promotion of Alabama’s rich blues heritage.
Debbie has worked alongside many of the greatest Alabama bluesmen, such as Jerry Boogie McCain, James Peterson, Eddie Kirkland, Sam Lay, Little Jimmy Reed, Willie King and in particular the Tennessee slide-man Johnny Shines.
Imagine Bonnie Raitt performing warm and passionate blues honky-tonk, to get an idea of what this show was like. Her pianist, collaborator and partner Rick Asherson has a dark brown voice and plays expressive, quite jazzy, keys. Meanwhile her fervent voice and electrifyingly demonstrative guitar-play thrilled and astonished us as her personality illuminated the entire showroom.
Stockport’s KYLA BROX comes from a musical family. Her father is Victor Brox who has played with Alexis Korner, John Mayall and many others and mother Annette Brox who was in the original production of Jesus Christ Superstar with Victor.
Kyla sings with a mature and unbridled power and she is often described, rightly, as one of the best blues voices in the United Kingdom. All this is enhanced by the jazzy flute that she brings on stage with her. Her songs are warm, sincere and lush.
For electric tension, you cannot beat Leicester, England’s AYNSLEY LISTER who started playing blues-guitar at the age of 13. His recent album Eyes Wide Open is full of fluidic moments, bundles of raw rhythm and extraordinarily good vocals. His show is a mixture of traditional blues and rocky elements imparted with deliberate technical perfection.
Essex wide-boys DR FEELGOOD are still exemplars of that “no-nonsense live energy” everywhere they play and their headline slot at Cleethorpes was eagerly anticipated. Their Lee Brilleaux years [1971-94] are celebrated on a freshly released 4 x CD/48 page booklet box-set that embraces his musical journey with Dr. Feelgood and fans can also pick up a double album comprising of no fewer than 51 tracks spanning 30 years of Canvey Island rhythm-and-blues, titled Adventures At The BBC.
Words & Images: @neilmach 2017 ©