The Royal Albert Hall Blues Fest has just wound up its 2014 dates, featuring well-known Blues acts such as Muddy Waters son, Mud Morganfield; Van Morrison; Paul Lamb and the Kingsnakes; and (cough) Elvis Costello and Level 42. Whatever views there may be on artist selection, choosing those who are Blues influenced as well as Blues-known has some justification.
Is it a good thing that the Blues is on for several days at the Royal Albert Hall? No. It’s not. It’s a great thing.
Yet even as the Blues Fest readied itself and opened its doors, Britain’s vibrant Blues scene was doing its thing in other parts of London.
Another historic venue, the 100 Club, was hosting Glas, belting out songs from their forthcoming album From The Blues To Your Shoes, The Billy Walton Band, from New Jersey in the US, showcasing their new album, Wish For What You Want, and nailing a cover of Sunshine Of Your Love in tribute to the late Jack Bruce, and The Original Snake Oil Blues Band.
Also in action was The Fiddler’s Elbow in Camden. Here, The Mentulls showed their powerful progress on a tour away from their Yorkshire heartland, and appeared alongside the upbeat sounds of The David Sinclair Four, and Andy Twyman, himself fresh back from a tour in Spain.
Meanwhile at the Proud Camden venue, The Laura Holland Band were wowing as cosmopolitan a crowd as it is possible to find, one young man taking time out to propose marriage to his girlfriend (successfully).
Another two-act night took place at one of south London’s Feenstra promoted venues, The Beaverwood Club in Chislehurst. The Sharpees led off with their pacy r ‘n’ b and were followed by The Grimms, even more pacy and blessed by the harmonica work of Stevie Smith.
Most recently of all, The Laura Holland Band (again) were at The Venue in Surrey along with The Proof, a band that has the soulful vocals of Paul Cox backed by a strong line up of musicians with many credits including Peter Green and more.
The Royal Albert Hall Blues Fest is indeed a great thing, but it is the annual tip of an iceberg in British Blues. Every night, right across the UK, those Blues are out there waiting. So, what are you waiting for? Go and find that great music.