Chris Bevington Organisation and Kirk Fletcher Live at The Foxlowe Theatre

An excellent review of our headliners this year Kirk Fletcher + UK Band and our very own Chris Bevington Organisation appearing on Friday 29/09/2017 at the Foxlowe Arts Centre, Leek.

Many Thanks to Stephen Harrison for the write up, very much appreciated by all of us involved with the Festival.

http://steviejblues.co.uk/2017/11/15/chris-bevington-organisation-and-kirk-fletcher-live-at-the-foxlowe-theatre/

 

a letter for (Leek Blues &) Americana….

Darren writes…(letter to the Leek Post & Times, unpublished)

Dear Sir

This weekend Leek was buzzing with pubs, clubs and cafes across the town hosting dozens of acts from the UK and beyond as a part of the 5th Leek Blues and Americana Festival. Over the weekend I spoke with people who had travelled many miles to come to see the bands and stay in our wonderful town. Each and every one of these people spent money in our shops, cafes, pubs and hotels and helped to support out local economy, the brilliant Sunday Supplement Market was especially busy with many stallholders selling out. They will be back too and also tell their friends about us – why wouldn’t they!

I am very proud to have played a small role in the starting of this festival back in 2013 and can only say how grateful I am to all of the acts and the venues who put on the gigs, but especially to the festival organisers Dave Swarbrook and JR Mountford who volunteered literally hundreds of hours to make this year’s festival such a success. I know they will both be hard at work on the 6th Leek Blues and Americana very soon….after a well-earned break, I hope – cheers both!

Cllr Darren Price
Leek East (including the town centre)

Two U.S. Music Stars will round off the fifth Leek Blues & Americana Festival

Two U.S. Music Stars will round off the fifth Leek Blues & Americana Festival

 

West Virginian Lisa Mann and Texas raised Rodney Branigan will round off this year’s Leek Blues and Americana Festival this week.

Following a tremendous five days of live Blues & Americana music throughout Leek’s bars, restaurants, Foxlowe Arts Centre (and even Sparrow Park!) the Festival  took a deep breath and will kick in again this Thursday 12th October 9pm at the Cock Inn, Leek (no door charge)  with an additional gig to the programme, Lisa Mann and her band. Rodney Branigan will then ‘wrap’ this year’s Festival on Saturday 14th October at the Foxlowe Arts Centre doors 8pm for 8:30pm, £10 admission.

Award winning Lisa Mann has added the Cock Inn, Derby Street, Leek into her already packed UK  tour schedule.

Lisa has been awarded the prestigious 2016 Blues Music Award for her mighty skills on the bass guitar, an award which she also took home in 2015. Her first award win fell hot on the heels of her win for Blues Blast’s Sean Costello Rising Star Award, as well as three Muddy Waters Awards from the Cascade Blues Association for Contemporary Blues Act of the Year, Bass Player of the Year, and Northwest Recording of the Year. Her latest release, Hard Times, Bad Decisions debuted on the Living Blues radio chart at #7, and on the International Blues Broadcasters Association chart at #10, and can be heard burning up the airwaves worldwide.

Originally from West Virginia, Mann’s vocals effortlessly straddle the line between the honey sweet warmth of the south, and the force-of-nature sound Mann has cultivated by mastering everything from hard rock to rhythm and blues. Her clever blues balladry is complimented by her considerable prowess on bass guitar. Her bass grooves touch on the hallowed soil of soul greats James Jamerson and Bob Babbitt.

Her influences run the gamut, from low down blues sisters Etta James and Koko Taylor, to singer-songwriters like Bonnie Raitt and R&B belters like Little Milton. She writes the majority of her recorded material, and her songs paint pictures of a gritty (and sometimes humorous) personal experience in life, love and the not-always-pretty music business.

UK Promoter Dudley Ross: “we are SO excited to be playing the Cock Inn, Leek on Thursday 12th October with the amazing American artist Lisa Mann!! I play guitar with Kirk Fletcher, and we were in Leek as part of the Kirk Fletcher UK Tour during the Festival and we loved it! So I thought it would be great to bring Lisa to your fantastic town! Hope to see you there, it’s going to be one hell of a party!”

Lisa’s UK Tour Line Up comprises: Steve Watts – keyboards, Dudley Ross – guitar, Mike Horne – drums, Lisa Mann – vocals & bass.  CONTINUED….

 

 

 

Multi-instrumentalist ‘one man – two guitars’ Texan Rodney Branigan returns to Leek on Saturday 14th October 8 for 8:30pm at the Foxlowe Arts Centre, Leek with support from local singer/songwriter Rob Davies who will be featuring songs from his latest album. Tickets are £10 and available from the venue and on-line at www.Leekblues.co.uk.

Rodney is a Texas-raised Londoner who learned to play in Austin, perform in Los Angeles, craft songs in Nashville, and put it all together in London.  A master of several instruments, with a rich and soulful voice, Rodney’s heartfelt lyrics have often led to comparisons with Jeff Buckley, even described by France’s Crossroads magazine as “the revelation of the year or even the decade”.

His infectious blend of organic progressive folk, rock, flamenco, classic, bluegrass and jazz sensibilities have seen Rodney tour the US from coast to coast and travel the world across China, India, Africa and Europe, where his reputation as an outstanding live performer has led to turns supporting the likes of Billy Sheehan, Jack Johnson, Angelique Kidjo, Pentagram, Shair’n’Func, Show of Hands and Francis Cabriel among others.

 

Music Connection Magazine has described Rodney as “…one of the most amazing artists you will ever see. Not simply because he is unique, but rather because he is impossibly talented”

 

Leek Blues & Americana Festival Organiser, Dave Swarbrook added “It’s fantastic to be able to welcome Rodney back to Leek again. He played a small private party last time and so I was keen to share our unique experience with everyone in town! As well as being an incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist, fabulous singer and with tremendous song writing ability he’s also a great bloke! I’m looking forward to showing Rodney the pubs of Leek and introducing him to North Staffordshire Oatcakes, which has become a pre-requisite for all visiting international musicians.”

A Blues Sceptic Writes – Part Two

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!

 

Music Store Pro / PreSonus Competition

Another first for the Leek Blues & Americana Festival. A Comp!

Again, our friends at Music Store Pro and their friends at PreSonus (it’s just one big love in isn’t it?) have got together to offer Festival goers the chance to win a fantastic prize.

Only the PreSonus Audiobox USB 96 Studio! Worth over £175. https://www.presonus.com/products/AudioBox-USB-96

To enter simply register your email address either in store at Music Store Pro or grab a flyer and submit in one of the collection boxes you’ll find at The Cock Inn, The Roebuck or Infinity Live.

The winner will be chosen at random by 5th October 2017…. Best of Luck!

You too can look as good as Ella! – Dave

Thanks to our good friends at Music Store Pro and working with local sportswear manufacturer Supersport www.supersport.co.uk we are proud to unveil our first Festival Tee Shirt!

2017 Festival Merch will only be available exclusively from the Cock Inn on Derby Street, and please try to avoid busy times at the bar when purchasing. We hope you like the design as much as we do and can support the Festival whilst being the envy of your friends.

Limited stock is available, but if there is sufficient demand we may order additional items after the Festival has completed.  Any requests for out of stock sizes should be sent via website or Facebook. This is a new venture for us so we are seeing how it goes.

Seating Arrangements: Kirk Fletcher/Chris Bevington Organisation

Please be advised that, due to demand, we will be going for a room layout offering approximate 50:50 seating : standing options.

If you want to be sure of a seat (or a good standing spot) then you would be advised to arrive prior to 7:00, we will however only open the room once soundchecks have completed.

If you require any specific assistance with seating or access to the venue, please try to contact us in advance via the website or Facebook, ramped access is via the rear of the Foxlowe.

We shall try and accommodate everyone, but it is set to be a busy night tonight so please help us as much as possible.

Thanks.

Musings from Steve Giddings

Latest in a long line of self serving musical posts from me, but worth sharing the fact that tonight Im going to watch one of my favourite songwriters (Slaid Cleaves) at The Foxlowe and tomorrow one of my favourite guitar players (Kirk Fletcher -at the same venue). Tickets are (just about)
still available for both.

Thanks to the efforts of the Leek Blues bods I don’t have to travel to some god forsaken corner of a nearby city to watch them both and I can watch any number of bands for free over the weekend in the pubs, and then crawl back into my own cosy bed ears ringing and a big grin on my chubby chops.

If you’re out this weekend round town and have just a passing interest in live music its worth looking at https://leekblues.co.uk to find out what musical stuff you could be enjoying whilst supping your locally sourced, sustainably manufactured pint of delicious ale, or lager if fizzy tasteless blandness is your bag.

I’m playing at the Cock friday night,Saturday lunch and Saturday night and the Blue Mugge (on Sunday) too, so there’s that. Sunday night at The Mugge features Jordan Swann, next time I’m anywhere near a stage with him on I get the impression I’ll be buying a ticket…..

Hopefully see you all at the weekend sometime.

Keeping The Blues Alive – Mike Gledhill

Mike writes….

Back in the midst of time, I was leading something of a double life. By day, I enjoyed a brilliant job, teaching at Westwood High in Leek. By night I enjoyed a brilliant time playing slide guitar and singing with The Johnny Waterhouse Blues Band, keeping the Blues alive in town upstairs in the The Wilkes’ Head annex every month in the 80’s and 90’s. One such night, I remembered a group of students, who some years earlier had approached me at school with “You know about Blues, don’t you, Sir. Who should we listen to?”. That night, there they were at The Wilkes’, now a bunch of Jimmie Vaughan lookalikes, asking us to play Fabulous Thunderbirds stuff, which we did!

Fast forward to now and it’s amazing how things come together. Our band is still playing the Blues, we’re now known as The Bluesmakers. We’re on at The Leek Blues and Americana Festival this coming week, Sat 30 Sept at 10pm at The Cock Inn. One of the ex JV lookalikes is now in our band. Another is the chief booker of acts (65+) at the Festival. A 3rd, who fortunately realised that he hadn’t quite got the hair to be a JV, is the chief co-ordinator of the Festival.

The seeds for the band started way back then at The Wilkes. So thanks, JW, Malc, JB, Pete and Fran. The seeds for the Festival, I’m told, started 6 years at the Wilkes with a conversation (thanks Dave). And here we are with our lively and innovative town (thanks Marc and many others) about to embark on a fabulous 5 day festival of the best in Blues and Americana which is mostly free admission (thanks landlords and sponsors). One final link goes back to that night too. When JV left The Fabulous Thunderbirds he was later replaced by Kirk Fletcher, who is our headline act on Friday 29 Sept at Foxlowe. Small world, isn’t it!

 Mike Gledhill (vocals/guitar – The Bluesmakers)

Our first gig North of Watford – Richard Staines

I remember receiving an email from Dave Swarbrook 5 years ago. The conversation was something like this, “Are you interested in playing at our new blues festival?”

Yes!

“We like your music but we are frightened that it’s too different for the punters. Oh sod it! We like it, so you’re booked.”

So we had a booking in a place we’d never heard of. Our first gig north of Watford. And a set of 90 mins which we had only done once before. And with a harmonica player for the first time. So it was practise like mad time.

The day of the gig I looped the town a few times trying to find the Cock Inn and some parking. A nice old market town, lovely. Parked up, met Alan the landlord, was fed and watered. I remember looking at Satinder and saying we don’t usually get treated this well. And it continued like that. The sound guys were happy and fun and the audience were great.

We did 2 x 45 min sets and I got blisters and then blisters on my blisters but enjoyed every minute of it.

In the interval and after the gig everyone wanted to chat. Such a friendly festival.

The strange thing is the date has always been inconvenient for our regular harmonica man, Jonathan but this year he can make it. He’s probably fed up of me telling him about Leek!

And of course when we did the live album  and was looking for an interesting photo for the back cover. In the Leek album, Satinder at the bar drinking a cup of tea with the curry sign and the guy in the background photo bombing him. That was the one!

As far as Maharaja Blues is concerned, Leek Blues & Amricana Festival is our northern home, a priority booking.  If they want us we’ll be there.

 

Richard Staines ( vocals, guitar – Maharaja Blues)