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)