GALLERY: Carlisle Blues Rock Festival returns with a bang!

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MONTHS of hard work payed off last weekend when the Carlisle Blues Rock Festival revitalised for two days of spectacular music.

After a hiatus of two years the event made a triumphant return over the weekend and immediately re-established its position in the upper echelons of the UK blues festival ratings. 12 hours of magnificent live classic rock and blues over two days left attendees clamouring for the event to re-establish its annual status. The eager and sizeable audience welcomed Eddie Martin to The Venue on Friday night and he with his band set a high bar for the weekend.

New Yorker Sari Schorr and The Engine Room followed and produced a stunning performance which would easily have given Tina Turner, at her best, a run for her money. Classic rock with a blues undercurrent to delight the audience, many of whom had travelled to Carlisle from all over the UK. Whitesnake’s Bernie Marsden headlined the first night and showed why he is held in such high esteem in both the blues and rock fields. Bernie was so at ease on stage and clearly enjoying himself. He put on a stunning show playing tracks from his solo works whilst tipping his hat to Fleetwood Mac’s Peter Green and finishing the night with a selection of Whitesnake classics.

The hard working festival crew performed a logistical miracle by moving the whole show to The Crown & Mitre Hotel for Saturday and transformed the hotel ballroom into a magnificent arena for live music. Redfish kicked the day off at midday in great style ensuring that every other act had a difficult task in following. Gerry Jablonski and The Electric Band’s high energy set proved very popular with the enthused audience before Del Bromham’s Blues Devils lifted the room temperature a degree or two with an hour of the very best in rocking blues.

The veteran Stray guitarist showed why, after almost 50 years in the game, he is regarded in such high esteem, he had the whole place rocking and singing along from start to finish.

Belfast girl Kaz Hawkins headlined the afternoon session and thoroughly deserved the two standing ovations she received, one for an emotional rendition of her own composition Lipstick and Cocaine, written about the troubles she’s had in her past life. With only piano accompaniment from Redfish’s Fraser Clark, she delivered an emotionally charged performance which had most of the audience unashamedly mopping away tears; such is the power of music from the heart and soul. Kaz has a fantastic stage presence and beautiful voice but she can also rock it out with the best and she did.

The evening session got underway with another set by the hard working Redfish who were also the house band for a magnificent jam session which would start at midnight and roll into the early hours. Catfish followed Redfish and produced yet another stunning set of classic blues/rock, setting the scene for the penultimate act of the weekend, Thorbjorn Risager and The Black Tornado who had flown across from Denmark to be at the festival. The band, very popular in the rest of Europe and USA, were the surprise package of the event. Unknown to most of the crowd, the 7 piece outfit complete with horn section delivered 75 minutes of pure joy; a wall of sound, high energy and highly infectious, live music at its very best.

The band is not too well known in the UK but, delivering performances of such calibre, it won’t be long before they are filling much larger venues everywhere. The Boom Band including four guitarists in the shape of Marcus Bonfanti, Alvin Lee’s replacement in Ten Years After, Carlisle favourite Jon Amor of The Hoax, Matt Taylor, formerly of Snowy White’s band and ex England cricketer Mark Butcher had the unenviable task of following the Danish band. They did so in style delivering a stunning set of clever self penned numbers interspersed with classic track by the likes of The Band and Little Feat.

They finished the evening and the festival with We Can Work Together with an ecstatic crowd singing along in style. That left only the traditional jam session which, just like the main event, was outstanding. Redfish took the role of house band and were joined by Kaz Hawkins, Jon Amor and Matt Taylor from the Boom Band, Matt Long of Catfish and Christian Sharpe on guitar, Connie Lush who was in the audience for the day, a horn section of Roz Sluman on sax and Peter Kehl on trumpet, and several others who made it a session to remember and provided a magnificent climax for the highly successful return of the Carlisle Blues Rock Festival.

Thursday, October 5, 2017 at 12:41PM
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