The Tyneside Americana Blues Festival at Cullercoats Crescent Club, held from January 19th to 21st, 2024, successfully filled the void left by the discontinued Great British Rock & Blues Festival. Organized by Stephen Donelly and John Tate, the event featured three stages: Acoustic, Blues Matters, and Main.

Words: Colin Campbell    Pictures: Ian Potter


Despite some hitches, such as a first-night fire alarm, the inaugural Tyneside Festival was a resounding success, attracting a sold-out crowd. The three stages offered a diverse range of music, from local talents like Robbie Reay and Willie Cran to national favourites like The Sensational Alex Harvey Experience.


ROBBIE REAY lighting up the acoustic stage

The Tyneside Festival’s opening night buzzed with anticipation as attendees explored the seemingly small venue that revealed a labyrinth inside, featuring two stages downstairs, a main stage upstairs, and a VIP lounge—all accessible with an inclusive lift. The Acoustic stage kicked off with the traditional blues duo Robbie Reay and Willie Cran, blending humor, storytelling, and great Delta blues rhythms. Robbie’s artistry on cigar box, resonator, and acoustic guitar impressed, with standout originals like Up And Down and Barefoot Blues. Their transition through two slots was seamless, engaging the crowd with Jekyll Can’t Hide and a sublime Boom Boom rendition.

REDFISH on the main stage

Russ Tippins and his band rocked the Blues Matters stage with a tribute to Led Zeppelin, setting a lively tone. Upstairs on the Main stage, The Eric Bell Trio delivered a superb set mixing standard blues covers with Eric’s own catalog. The Redfish Blues Band, led by the charismatic Christian Sharpe, ignited the party downstairs with Tell The Truth and Girls Girls Girls, showcasing melodic tunes like Money Don’t Make It Right and ending with Soulshine—a tight, crowd-favorite performance.

The TERESA WATSON BAND on the Blues Matters Stage

Returning to the Blues Matters stage, the local Teresa Watson Band impressed with soulful blues and crowd favorites like Blues Is My Business. The closing act, The Sensational Alex Harvey Experience, thrilled the audience with a theatrical delight, featuring masterful deliveries of songs like Faith Healer and Vambo. The singalong finale of Buff Bars Blues and Delilah sealed the night, leaving the packed crowd thoroughly entertained by this true headliner band.


After a hearty breakfast, the main stage came alive with Yorkshire-based DC Blues, fronted by the effervescent Paul Winn, vocalist, and harmonica player. Accompanied by a tight band—Lloyd Massingham on lead guitar, Ben Darwin on bass guitar, Paul Thompson on drums, and Stephen Brandon on keyboards—they marked their territory with a unique rendition of Rollin’ And Tumblin’. The band’s chemistry was evident, highlighted by a powerful keyboard performance. They explored diverse styles, infusing gospel vibes into Take Me Down and igniting the crowd with the energetic Who Do You Love, featuring a well-received drum solo by “Tommo.” The performance concluded memorably with Nervous Fella, engaging the crowd in a participatory treat.

KYLA BROX gives her usual 1000%

Kyla Brox and guitarist Danny Blomeley graced the main stage with a wonderful show of full-on raw soul blues, performing captivating songs such as Devils Bridge and Shaken And Stirred. Kyla’s flute performance on Change Your Mind added a unique touch, while soulful and melodic tracks like Pain And Glory showcased the duo’s impressive musicality. The upbeat Bluesman’s Child, dedicated to Kyla’s father Victor, and the singalong finale of 3.6.5. left a lasting impression, marking an impressive performance by the duo.

THE CINELLI BROTHERS were a huge hit

The Cinelli Brothers captivated the audience with a consummate performance on the main stage, blending bluesy styles with soul and Southern Rock. Songs from their upcoming release, Almost Exactly, including Dozen Roses and Fool’s Paradise, showcased the band’s musical versatility. The haunting Last Cigarette, featuring Stephen Giry on drums, and the demanded Choo Ma Gum concluded their set, leaving the crowd in raptures.

West Brook and Swamp Tea, a local band with roots in Florida, brought hot swamp and funk to the Blues Matters stage. Their dynamic performance featured tracks like Them Changes and Good Hearted Woman, with outstanding lap steel guitar playing and a mellow rendition of Love Light. The crowd sang along and thoroughly enjoyed the band’s lively set, creating a fantastic atmosphere.

DIRTY RUBY on the BM stage

Local favorites Stan The Band rocked the Blues Matters stage with a legendary four-piece lineup, delivering emotionally charged bluesy tunes like Midnight Angel and the crowd-engaging Love This City. The hauntingly beautiful Turn Out The Light showcased the band’s ability to captivate the audience. The Allmans Project, a sideline project by the band Safehouse, took the main stage by storm, offering a headlining performance with powerful vocals by lead singer Chris Peebles. Their set, including favorites like Rambling Man, Soulshine, and Midnight Rider, closed Saturday night on a high note, leaving the captivated audience thoroughly entertained.


Kicking off the Blues Matters stage was the highly anticipated Greig Taylor Band, delivering the first of their two sets. Led by Greig himself, the band showcased an intoxicating full sound on tracks like the heart-wrenching Ain’t Got You, a true bluesy tune. Starting with the upbeat Born To Love You, they set the tone for the performance. Personal songs like Crucifixion Blues and crowd-pleaser 3 Chords And The Truth resonated well. The title track from their newest release, The Light, was delivered with passion and honesty, addressing addiction. The set concluded with the lively Gravy Train, leaving the crowd in high spirits. The band later played the main stage to a packed house.

Heading to the Acoustic stage, AS H LYNCH, a rising North East star, delivered a solo spot with reinterpretations, including Tom Petty’s Won’t Back Down and Springsteen’s Cover Me. With great vocals and an appreciative audience, she showcased her talent and also had a well-attended solo set on the main stage.

On the Blues Matters stage, Ten Bob Blind, a new female-fronted country/americana band from the North East, impressed with an eclectic set featuring favorites like Someday, Sin City, and Wedding Night. The duo Oil City Shakers, comprising Ronnie Semple on harmonica and Bob Bates on guitar and cigar box guitar, delivered a masterclass in stomping swampy dirty blues music, leaving the crowd thrilled with their powerful sound.

Martin Turner, ex Wishbone Ash, graced the main stage with a performance featuring a favorite, Blowing Free, drawing a large crowd. The Blues Matters stage welcomed the Lounge Lizards from Gateshead and the Tyne delta, a five-piece band with an eclectic mix of old-style R&B, soul, rock and roll. Their rendition of People Get Ready and interpretation of The Letter engaged the audience, showcasing their talent in mixing genres.

Gerry Jablonski and The Electric Band, a Scottish favorite, took the main stage by storm, delivering a powerful performance from start to finish. With energy and power, they rocked the venue with Breaking The Stones and brought in blues rock with Koss. Emotional moments, such as Lewis’s rendition of Anybody, captivated the audience. The set included a new tune, Cold, and showcased Gerry’s talented guitar chops on Nessun Dorma. The penultimate tune, Angel Of Love, rocked the venue, concluding with the highlight of the whole festival, Slave To The Rhythm.

The festival proved to be a success, with full houses, a great atmosphere, and the hope for a second Tyneside festival next year.