Notts About Jazz & Blues
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Jazz and Blues Blog Week 3

Welcome to our third Local Jazz and Blues blog. We apologize for our lateness this week. Notts About Music is only a small outfit and due to some unforeseen circumstances and commitments over the Bank holiday weekend we were unable to get this up on friday afternoon as usual. However, we are here now, better late than never!

In a couple of weekend’s time one of the biggest event’s of both Newark’s and Blues fans’ of the East Midlands yearly calendar will be taking place across 5 venues and the beautiful castle grounds. That’s right it’s Newark Blues festival which will once again play host to the Britsh blues awards.

Starting on the eve of Friday 9th September, an acoustic blues jam at The castle pub will be kicking off the festival at 4pm to get everyone in the mood for events to come over the weekend. Once the combination of Friday night joy and festival spirit begin to fill the air, James Manners, front man of the James Manners trio who are currently recording the their debut LP “Live from the studio” will be taking to the stage of The Navigation Waterfront at 7pm. You can expect a fusion of Blues, Jazz and rock drawing influences from the likes of Billy Joel, Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton to name but a few.

At 9pm the festival will really get going as The Mayze and The Fox and Crown also open their stages. In the Navigation The Fat Chicken band will be playing their own brand of classic blues covers in preparation for their performance on Saturday night at one of the festivals main events “Blues at the castle”. Back to Friday night, other performers that night are Groove merchants at The Mayze, Andrew Hall at The castle pub and Blues train at The fox and crown.

Saturday morning will bring a whole new life to the festival as local youths will have the opportunity to take part in a Blues workshop being held at the Castle grounds. The workshop will run from 9-11.30 am. Following this, at 12pm, the days performances will get of to an exciting start as Blues the Next generation makes for the first of Saturdays main events on the Castle grounds featuring only artists of 18 years and younger. Performers include Blues rock band The Mentulls, The NBF Blues band and alternative funk rockers The Age of Stella.

At 1pm the festival will to get into full swing as The Mayze and Castle pub present their first performers of the day. At The Mayze, James Manners will be playing his second set of the Festival and Man gone Missing, An acoustic blues act with haunting melodies and complex guitar skills, open the stage at the Castle Pub. 

Roll on 2pm when the next event on the Castle grounds, Acoustic and traditional blues, will begin. This event features two acts. First, Booba Dust, An R&B band made up of Dick Daniel aka ‘Lightnin’ Dan’, Rich Warren and Pete Tattersall aka ‘George Thunderbird’. Daniel has a strong Jazz and Soul background, his influences including Charles Mingus, James Jamerson and the great Willie Dixon. Pete has a more rootsy down-home feel, think Elmore James and Slim Harpo. Booba Dust will be followed by My Name is Earl, A duo from the south west who play a mixture of original songs and covers played on acoustic and slide guitar.

At 4pm The Navigation and The Prince Rupert will join the festivities with sets from Pete Elkington and Jim widdup and Simon ark respectively. The performances will provide a nice interlude for ticket holders while they wait for the gates at the Catsle grounds to open at 5pm for the final event of the day, Blues at the Castle.

This event will feature the final performance of the weekend for Fat Chicken. The Jon Amor Blues group will also play featuring former members of award winning The Hoax, guitarist Jon Amor and Drummer Mark Barrett. The group mix influences of blues greats such as Muddy waters and Howlin’ wolf with a more contemporary sound of bands such as The Black keys. Next up are five piece roots band from Colchester, Hokie Joint who have played sets with legendary artists including Steve Winwood, Booker T and the late great Solomon Burke. As they say themselves on their website, this band “sidesteps the “virtuoso” blues/rock idiom, and concentrate more on what matters to the both the band and the listener – the song.” The final performance of this event will come from last years British Blues Award winners The Ian Siegal band. Having lived in Nottingham for 5 years, Siegal is no stranger to the area. However, it was while he was embarking on a change of scenery in a move down to London that his band came together. With MOJO magazine rating Siegal as “ the cleverest writer and most magnetic performer of Blues in the UK” this performance is one not to be missed.

Rounding up the second day of the festival there will be performances at participating venues from 9pm. Quickly gaining a reputation as first class exponents of modern day blues, The revenues will be performing at The Navigation while Kent DuChaine, a well traveled and experienced blues performer will play his own ferocious wild style of Blues at The Castle pub, and Booba Dust will take to the stage once again, this time in The fox and crown.

Sunday will start with another Blues workshop. At mid-day participants will perform on the Castle Grounds showcasing the new skills and songs they’ve learned, after which it is time for the festival’s biggest, and did we mention free, event; The British blues awards 2011.

The awards will play host to four bands. First up will be The Cliff Brown Band whose style is a fusion of swinging Blues, rock and Jazz funk. The second act to take the stage will be Chesterfield’s four piece blues rock band, The Idle Hands, for whom this performance will double as the official release of their album, Ready for Business. Previous press coverage has likened their performances to those of Led Zepplin, Hendrix, Beck and BB King making us here in the Notts About Music office very excited to see them perform! Next to play will be rock blues and soul outfit, Hoonson from the Northwest. Between the band’s four members they have forty years experience of playing professionally throughout the UK and Europe. Singer Jenna Hoonson vocal stylings have been refered to as “like a cross between Aretha Franklin and Robert Plant”.  Headlining the awards is Tim Aves and WOLFPACK. As the name suggests they are strongly influenced by Howlin’ wolf but do not expect a tribute act as the band’s repertoire covers a wide range of artists including Hound Dog Taylor and Muddy Waters to The Red Devils, ZZ Top and the ARC Angels to which they add a “large dollop of 21st-century Essex attitude”. This event will conclude at approximately 6pm.

Aside from the weekends main event there will also be a number of performances around Newark in the participating venues across the afternoon. At 1pm James manners will be playing his last set of the weekend at The Navigation, 16 year old Jack Blackman who has been recognized by 6 music’s introducing will grace the stage at the Mayze and Short notice will play in The Castle pub. At 4pm, Newark’s own, August James will perform in The Navigation. This should be a special performance for the duo as they met in 2008 at a similar event, the Newark live and local festival. Sunday afternoon will also see second gigs from Pete Elkington and My name is Earl in the Price Rupert.

At 7 pm, with the main event over, the festival will go on to play host to some more great artists. The Mustangs, who have a hard earned and formidable reputation as one of the hardest-working and most charismatic bands in British blues will play in The Mayze. From 9pm the last of the festivities will begin as local boys The Unusual suspects perform at the Navigation (£3 entry for this event), the Blues Boy Kings, who have a highly respectable following of 1,540 fans on reverbnation, play in The Castle and Nottinghamshire’s own Pete Donaldson Blues band rounds up the festivals events in The Fox and Crown.

As you can see there is so much going on at the Newark Blues Festival, from workshops to performances from young local artists to some of the most respected performers on the UK blues circuit, there is going to be something for everyone. If you are a local Blues fan it’s definitely worth poping along for at least one of the days. If you are not local to Newark the rail link from Nottingham provides a good mode of transport dropping you a 2 minute walk from the castle grounds. For more info and tickets please visit the Newark Blues festival website. See you there!