Review – London Festivals

October 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

A couple of capsule reviews we didn't have space for in the magazine.

Thames Festival, London SE1 - 11/09/2011

The 15th Thames Festival saw some blues early on the Sunday. Marcus Bonfanti, just back from Bestival on the Isle of Wight, opened the Barclaycard Stage at noon with I Will Not Play Your Game, the opening cut from his second and latest album, What Good Am I To You. After a 12 bar chorus of voice and guitar (electric wooden resonator), Scott Wiber (bass) and Alex Reeves (drums) kicked in. A sudden stop and then Devil Girl, another Bonfanti original from said album. Honest Boy saw Marcus switch to his Les Paul and deliver a scintillating slide break (play audio below). Then it was back to his debut album, Hard Times, for a dramatic slow blues, Now I'm Gone (Is Your Life Better) and back to the resonator for the closing Give Me Your Cash.

Skip 'Little Axe' McDonald was up next, the London-based American vocalist and guitarist accompanied by Alan Glen, on harmonica, and Kevin Gibbs and Sarenella Bell on background vocals. Skip James' Hard Times Killing Floor opened in fine style. Nowhere Left To Hide was a new one to me with a programmed Latin beat behind the guitar solo. Gibbs took the lead vocal on Chains before Finger On The Trigger finished things up nicely.

Then it was over to the Lady Luck Jive Stage where Blue Harlem had the dancers busy on the coach park floor with Percy Mayfield's I Dare You Baby and Louis Jordan's Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby before vocalist Sophie Shaw took a break for tenor saxophonist Al Nicholls to lead the five-piece band through Night Train. Leiber and Stoller's Hound Dog was sung with the original lyrics over a rumba beat; Roy Milton's Reelin' and Rockin' did just that and Hallelujah! I Love Him So closed their set.

Imperial Wharf Jazz Festival, London SW6 - 15 & 17/09/2011

There was less blues at the 7th Imperial Wharf Jazz Festival than in some previous years. The Sonny Black Trio – Arnie Cottrell, guitar, mandolin and vocals, Chris Belshaw. electric bass, and the leader on steel resonator and wooden bodied guitars and vocals – delivered relaxed versions of Leadbelly's On A Monday and Bourgeois Blues, Crazy ’bout An Automobile and Robert Johnson's Kind Hearted Woman. Their set was best described as Blues and Beyond and the 'beyond' section we were treated to fine takes of The Delmore Brothers Freight Train Blues, Wayfaring Stranger (dedicated to the Swansea valley miners), some instrumentals – a rag, a waltz and readings of I Heard It Through The Grapevine and No Woman No Cry.

Australian vocalist Nina Ferro closed her set in fine style with the New Orleans styled Dream Weaver.

The Liane Carroll Trio – Roger Carey on electric bass, Mark Fletcher on drums, and the leader on vocals and piano – were impressive on Billie Holiday's Fine And Mellow, Mose Allison's Your Mind Is On Vacation along with selections from the Great American Songbook and a few from the pen of Donald Fagen.

Soweto Kinch delivered his unique mix of contemporary jazz and hip hop closing with the audience participation number Stroke The Hippo.

The early part of Carleen Anderson's set was marred by sound problems but Deniece Williams' Free and The Young Disciples' Apparently Nothing (on which Anderson sang lead on the record) went down well as expected. The set, and the Thursday evening, ended with a rousing gospel workout on When The Light Shines.

Jon Taylor

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