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Review by Tony Higgins, our North East England reviewer:
The 2nd Leeds Blues Festival took place on the 4th to 7th May at three Leeds City Centre pubs, The Duck and Drake in Kirkgate, Dr Okells, Headrow, and the Fox and Newt, Burley Street.
Only two venues had bands on Friday, The Speakeasy Blues Band at the Fox and Newt and The Rob Donnelley Band at the Duck and Drake. Having heard a lot about Rob Donnelley I decided to go to the Duck. Rob Donnelley on guitar, and his band comprising of Dan Burnett on piano and occasional harmonica with bass and drums, they played some excellent blues. I also heard from someone who was at the Fox and Newt that the Speakeasy Blues Band also played excellent.
On Saturday, only the Fox and Newt had acts on including Hot Plate Special, Sam Payne and The Lyndon Anderson Band. I am afraid I had to miss Saturday at the Fox due to other commitments but the feedback I got from friends who attended was brilliant.
On Sunday 6th, in the afternoon Billy Martin Jnr. played an excellent acoustic set at Dr Okells which included a lot of his own songs; he is an excellent guitar player and played really well to a very appreciative audience. The next act was harmonica player T.J. Martin backed by Leeds band Crosscut Saw. T.J played an excellent set which included Talk to Me Baby by Elmore James, What I'd Say by Ray Charles, Sonny Boy Williamson's Bye Bye Bird on which he used a 14 hole Hohner Marine Band harmonica which has an extra bass octave and thicker reed plates than the 10 hole harmonicas. He also did an excellent versions of Sonny Boy's, One Way Out and Messing With the Kid by Junior Wells , I really enjoyed T.J. and look forward to seeing him again. I was now getting hungry and went home for something to eat, which meant I missed Steve French and Oli Brown.
On returning to the blues festival I went to the Duck and Drake to see Sam Payne. Sam is an excellent blues pianist who lives in Leeds and I have seen her many times over the last few years. She plays a mixture of slow blues and boogie woogie and also writes a lot of her own songs. Sam played to a very large crowd who really enjoyed her brilliant piano playing and excellent singing, she has played in the Duck many times and has a lot of fans amongst the regulars. Even a friend of mine who saw her who is not really a blues fan thought she was great.
I then ventured back to Dr Okells for Crosscut Saw another Leeds band who are very well known in the area. The band is fronted by Alex Eden on vocals/guitar/harmonica, as well as playing standard blues classics by famous blues artistes they also do some of their own material .A lot of blues fans in Leeds think they are the best band based in the city. If they ever play anywhere near you go to see them you will be impressed. It was back to the Duck and Drake to see another Leeds based act the Terri Shaltiel Band who play a mixture of blues, soul and reggae. Terri plays regularly in the Duck and is not only very talented herself she has always has excellent musicians in her band including her boyfriend Steve Fraser who did not actually play at this gig.
Monday saw all three venues having bands playing, I started out at the Duck and Drake to see The Hokum Hotshots who I have seen several times over the last 10 years. They are an acoustic duo, Jim Murray playing guitar, plus a square necked national and a style 0 national and also a dobro. Pete Mason also plays a variety of guitars plus a mandolin, a tifle and resophonic ukelele. They played an excellent set including Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell's Papa wants a Cookie, Casey Bill Weldon's Guitar Swing, a song called Mojo Hand based on the Lightnin' Hopkins song of the same name and a brilliant version of Papa Harvey Hull's France Blues.
It was to Dr Okells for Chantel McGregor a 21 year old guitar player and her band who play mixture of blues and rock music. Chantel is an excellent guitarist and her versions of Jimi Hendrix's Voodoo Chile and Little Wing can only be described as a great tribute to the man himself. She also plays songs by Jethro Tull, and also plays her own brilliant version of Led Zeppelin's Black Dog. Chantel and her band are well worth seeing. In fact there are not many guitar players of Chantel's age with so much talent.
Early evening saw Phil Dean and the Fuel playing to an appreciative audience before a fantastic 20 minutes of piano duetting from Sam Payne and Dan Burnett.
The Welsh T Band followed with their set which comprises of some classic versions of well known blues songs. Their act had to be cut short due to overuning ,so Terri Shaltiel this time accompanied by boyfriend Steve could play. Due to time running late coupled with having to catch my last bus home I missed most of the act.
I must say I really enjoyed the blues festival and listening to such talented musicians and look forward to next year.
Thanks Nigel for organising a fantastic festival once again.
Here are Tony's photos......
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