I wasn’t sure what to expect at last night’s Kirk Fletcher and Chris Bevington double-header. Would this blues sceptic be spotted lurking at the back of a packed Foxlowe? More importantly, would I like the music? Things didn’t get off to the best of starts when my better half accidentally bought Mr D. Swarbrook a bottle of non-alcoholic beer. Thankfully, the grimace on Dave’s face quickly faded as last year’s headliners began their set.
Starting with a driving Stevie Ray Vaughan cover, the Chris Bevington Organisation soon had me looking at the floor with mild disbelief: my feet were tapping to the beat. ‘Must be an automatic reaction,’ I told myself (as my head began to nod as well).
Still clinging on to my scepticism, I focused my attention on the band. Could they play? The answer was yes, with a capital Y. Scott Ralph’s skilful fretwork was perfectly complemented by flying slabs of swirling organ from Dave Edwards. With fantastic soulful backing vocals from Sarah Miller and Kate Robertson, not to forget the rock solid rhythm section led by Mr Chris Bevington himself, by the time they finished their set, I have to admit that this self-confessed sceptic was starting to waver.
After an interval when Dave was able to find something more to his taste from the bar, Kirk Fletcher and his band took to the stage and dived into an up-tempo number that soon had my feet tapping and head nodding again. An irresistible groove dominated Kirk’s set with the man himself swapping exceptional guitar licks with his second guitarist, backed up by crisp, super-tight drumming and an almost funky gospel organ sound. Kirk is no ‘slow-hand’ where the guitar is concerned. With a style that had me thinking of Nile Rodgers at times, the crowd couldn’t help applauding his impressive fretwork. That’s when they weren’t dancing in the aisles!
The Fowlowe was rocking by the time Kirk left the stage and what was I doing? Well, I might have googling Mr Fletcher’s website for an album purchase. But the last word on the gig has to go to Dave returning from another visit to the bar: ‘He’s a bit good, isn’t he?’
He certainly was.
So here’s a message to anyone who doesn’t get the blues. Leek will be full of free blues and Americana gigs this weekend. Why not take a chance and visit your nearest venue? You just might like what you find. I know I did!