Colne Great British R&B Festival 2006
by Lee Wilkinson
Rather a fragment of a report this year as I was struck down with a nasty bout of food poisoning on the eve of the festival. So on opening night Linda and I spent a couple of hours in the company of Linda Gail Lewis and her daughter Annie at the hotel where they were staying. We then headed home early thus foregoing the chance to see Taste, Nine Below Zero and The Blues Bishops.
The first full day was an all American affair commencing at 2pm with Linda Gail Lewis and The Country Blues Band. At the sound check Linda Gail ran through Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On whilst Annie tendered a lovely rendition of Wynona Carr’s Should I Ever Love Again. The band, including ace lead guitarist Jerry Donahue and the Blues Band’s Gary Fletcher, opened up with an instrumental and a song from an old Blues Band LP. Enter Linda, plus Annie on backing vocals, with a rockin’ Roll Over Beethoven and a robust You Can Have My Husband. Two of her own compositions followed, the vigorous Lie & Deny and the bluesy I’ll Take Memphis. Then it was Rock’n’Roll classics all the way. Annie duetted on Good Golly Miss Molly and Johnny B Goode and Linda romped her way through Shake Rattle & Roll. High School Confidential and Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On. Called back for an encore boppin’ versions of Great Balls Of Fire and What’d I Say wound up a fine contribution from the effulgent Lewis ladies.
Due to aforementioned circumstances I missed blues guitarists Lurrie Bell and Jimmy Burns, but managed to catch the last few numbers from John Primer who displayed some fine guitar phrasing and a strong vocal delivery. He was followed by the well-drilled Matthew Skoller Band from Chicago. Skoller exhibited his own throaty vocal prowess and imaginative harmonica playing on several self-penned songs giving out a meaningful message, including Wired World, Handful Of People and Get Paid from his last album. Lurrie Bell guested with the band for much of the set and injected some telling guitar licks into the mix. Again I slipped home early thereby missing guitar stars Carlos Johnson and the Carvin Jones Band.
I was back at 2pm on Sunday for the Steve Gibbons Band who proved to be a tight musical outfit with Gibbons himself showing some charisma, a gritty guitar sound, and singing some of his own witty songs. He also played a good selection of covers such as Dylan’s Absolutely Sweet Marie, Holly’s That Makes It Tough, The Who’s My Generation and Chuck’s You Can’t Catch Me plus his hit version of Tulane, of course. The Revolutionaires had a nice line in ‘50s R&B and had the dancers showing off their best moves to timeless classics such as Mess Around, Jambalaya, Route 66 and Matchbox. In fact that was why I didn’t really appreciate them, a lack of originality, even though what they did they did well. Having only seen Dave Edmunds perform solo I was really looking forward to seeing him with his band, and he did not disappoint. With long time collaborator Billy Bremner on guitar – who slotted in a gutsy Mess Of Blues – Edmunds whisked through most of his hits. In between the Berry opener and closer – It Wasn’t Me and Let It Rock – the set included Singing The Blues, King Of Love, The Race Is On, Girls Talk, Queen Of Hearts, I Hear You Knocking and I Knew The Bride.
The remains of The Spencer Davis Group opened with Somebody Help Me followed by Gimme Some Loving, and no doubt ended the night with Keep On Running but I was long gone by then. For the final day I disregarded the afternoon and early evening slots but did catch some of Connie Lush’s act. She is a big voiced talented British blues belter with a personality to match. I also saw a small part of Roger Chapman’s set, the highlight of which was a grand version of Nobody Can Sing The Blues Like Blind Willie McTell with Micky Moody guesting on guitar.
The Pirates gave a powerhouse performance with Mick Green still capable of some wonderful guitar picking, Johnny Spence as tough as ever on bass and vocals and a new young drummer laying down a solid beat. They blasted their way through Milk Cow Blues, Please Don’t Touch, I Can Tell, Linda Lou, Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee, Lonesome Train, Peter Gunn and Casting My Spell. Green’s composition Gibson Martin Fender was tasty before they rocked out with Honey Hush, Shakin’ All Over and Baby Please Don’t Go. Wilko Johnson pranced around the stage, eyes staring and guitar pointing in his usual startling manner with ex-Blockhead Norman Watt-Roy pounding his bass guitar on the beaty Dr Dupree and several more before I sloped off.
All in all a fine fun festival as usual, although not one perhaps for the blues purists, but there was something for everyone in an eclectic mix of musical styles.