I’m proud to say that for over ten years, we have been bringing the blues to Newbury. The Blues has always had a place in my heart, being raised on Cream, and Hendrix, my mid-teens were spent exploring the roots of my heroes, charting a course back through the big success stories of Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and BB King to the originators Son House, Leadbelly and of course Robert Johnson.
Over the last decade, I would like to think that my passion for all roots music has shone through, with the sounds of pre-war America at the core. Way back in 2007 we set the mission and the bar high with Seasick Steve and Honeyboy Edwards in one year and we have subsequently seen some legends, several award winners and countless incredible nights out filled with passion, pain and steel strings.
And I’m proudest to say that story continues, with Catfish here this Friday (15 September), who come with just about everyone tipping them as the next big act on the British Blues scene – and they only started out two years ago!
Stevie Nimmo (next Wednesday – 20 September) is here with his brother Alan (of King King) because Stevie broke his arm cycling but he’s determined the show will go on. In fact, the pair started out as The Nimmo Brothers but Alan was forced to start a new band (which became King King) when Stevie was unwell a few years back. King King are now officially giants on the Blues rock circuit – probably too big to play for us again, but we did bag them twice on the way up, so it’s not all bad. Stevie last played at Arlington Arts in a double headline show with Ben Poole but this trio (now quartet) event is sure to be very special!
Circuit legend Big Boy Bloater is up on Saturday 30 September, marking his first Arlington Arts show and relative newcomer Elles Bailey is up the following weekend. Bloater has been around for years and has gained fans from across British music’s most highly respected names including Jools Holland, who called him “One of the great blues men of our time”; Mark Lamarr: “Bloater is a phenomenal guitarist!”; and Craig Charles who said: “I love this guy…he has a voice that sounds like it’s been soaked in turpentine for the last decade!” And the press have raved equally, with The Blues Magazine citing Bloater as “The best R&B guitarist and singer in the UK”.
Rising star Elles Bailey has come seemingly from nowhere. She emailed me personally last year because we’d worked with her friend Lady Nade (who has one of the most incredible soul voices I’ve ever heard by the way). Not really knowing of Elles at the time, we talked and decided to give it a go, not really expecting much and suddenly she is everywhere! Touring with Dani Wilde and Chantel McGregor, popping up on Radio 2 and 6Music and generally taking the UK by storm. Her debut album Wildfire is out now and is selling like just that!
So yes, The Blues is very much alive and well and living right here in West Berkshire – long may it continue!
It’s sure too, with Bernie Marsden, Alvin Youngblood Hart’s Muscle Theory and many others just over the horizon!