10th Anniversary Celebration

Many thanks to everybody who came along to our amazing 10th anniversary celebration on Sunday – it certainly was a day to remember.

We were blessed with a gloriously warm and sunny day here in Brecon, and a lovely mellow atmosphere with plenty of chilled beer outside the Muse, and some gorgeous food from Charlie and Laura… to sustain everyone through the feast of quality blues music waiting for them inside.

The music kicked off with the mighty Big Joe Bone – the first performer ever to play for the Mid Wales Rhythm & Blues Club, ten years ago.

Big Joe Bone

Joe has clearly not lost any of his skill and power across the years, and he delivered an impressively energetic and impassioned set, with plenty of vigorous resonator slide guitar, harmonica and lightning-fingered banjo. We were treated to an impressive range of songs from some real old-time blues greats: Mississippi Fred McDowell, Rev J.M. Gates, Sleepy John Estes and Robert Johnson, complemented by a very fine rendition of Rory McLeod’s harmonica tour-de-force, ‘Love like a rock’.

Big Joe Bone
Big Joe Bone

After Joe, who better to take up the reins than Sicknote Steve – the second performer ever to play at the Club.

Sicknote Steve

Steve conjured up some lovely mellow and melodic blues guitar picking as he regaled us with tales of whiskey drinking women, apple picking and Thunderbird wine. He delivered a fine musical tribute to Woody Guthrie, and another nod to the great Mississippi Fred McDowell. After some low-down and raunchy fuzz-laden work on the 3-string guitar, he joined forces with Club favourite David Jackman for a little good-natured harmonica dueling.

David Jackman & Sicknote Steve

After a short gap for liquid refreshment out in the sunshine, it was time for the amazing Trevor Babajack Steger, another old friend of the Club, who delivered a memorable set.

Trevor Babajack Steger

There’s a certain brooding, heartfelt and gritty quality to Trevor’s voice, which, when combined with his extremely accomplished songwriting, makes for a hypnotically immersive atmosphere. Songs such as ‘River Song’ and ‘Wedding Song’ are captivating epics, conjuring up their own wistful blues-drenched moods, swept along against a backdrop of his deft finger work on the Weissenborn and Resonator guitars. When it came to the raunchier numbers such as ‘Little Bird’ his energetic harmonica work helped to keep everybody’s feet stomping.

Trevor Babajack Steger
Trevor Babajack Steger

Time then for a change of mood, with some more old friends of the Club, the Low Down Dirty Dog Blues Band.

The Low Down Dirty Dog Blues Band

They never fail to deliver a wonderfully up-beat, easy-rolling good time blues guaranteed to put a smile on everyone’s face… and they duly tempted the audience to the first dancing of the day.

The Low Down Dirty Dog Blues Band – Martin Arundel
The Low Down Dirty Dog Blues Band – Richard Gibbons
The Low Down Dirty Dog Blues Band – Peter Maxfield-Martin

Martin Arundel was in fine voice as he charmed the audience with the Dogs’ characteristically entertaining tales of gin-soaked women, and some great covers of Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf numbers.

The Low Down Dirty Dog Blues Band – Ted Crook
The Low Down Dirty Dog Blues Band – Ian Davies

Special mentions go to Ted Crook on the harp and vocals, Ian Davies doing a great job as stand-in drummer for the night… and Andrew Griffith for the impromptu percussion on horseshoe.

The Low Down Dirty Dog Blues Band – Andrew Griffith
The Low Down Dirty Dog Blues Band

Next to take the stage was the wonderful duo Nothing in Rambling, who had driven right across the country to be with us for the evening.

Nothing in Rambling

Sister Suzie charmed the audience immediately with her sparkling and wickedly vivacious personality, and her beautifully expressive singing. Guitarist Andy Twyman played brilliantly with a delicate, rhythmically precise and very authentic early blues style.

Nothing in Rambling – Sister Suzie
Nothing in Rambling – Andy Twyman

Together they guided us through some of the old-time classics: Bessie Smith, Elmore James and Blind Willie Johnson. But above all they were channeling the spirit of Memphis Minnie, with some incredible jaw-dropping stories about her life to complement their exuberant recreation of her music.

Nothing in Rambling

Finally, what better way to round off the night than some more old friends: Snatch it Back.

Snatch it Back

Ably fronted by the harmonica and singing of Anthony Cresci, they are the absolute epitome of a good-time no-nonsense electric rhythm & blues band.

Snatch it Back – Anthony Cresci
Snatch it Back – Dave Dearnaley

Right from the outset they bought the audience to its feet for some much appreciated dancing. Consummate professionals, their years of experience were plain to hear as they powered their way through a seemingly inexhaustible range of irresistibly raunchy numbers, working together seamlessly.

Snatch it Back – Paul Billy Higgins
Snatch it Back – Ian Davies

And then… it was all over. Once again an appreciative audience left into a balmy Brecon Sunday evening, having experienced a truly remarkable range of excellently performed blues.

But it would be wrong to conclude this review without also mentioning that the event also marked the 60th birthday of Angus Kings, under whose custodianship the Club has been going from strength to strength these past few years. I know that the loyal audience of the Club appreciates the huge amount of hard work that Angus puts in to finding and booking the right bands, and organising the amazing gigs that you can read about in these pages. May there be many more gigs, and many more happy birthdays.

Our very special thanks go out to Chris and Catherine Rogers who founded the Club, ten years ago… we would not be where we are today without them. Also to The Muse – the home of the Mid Wales Rhythm & Blues Club – for being such a wonderfully welcoming venue, time and time again. Thanks to all the bands who contributed to this unforgettable celebration, to the team involved in making it possible, and especially to the audiences who have pitched up loyally across the past ten years to help support live blues music. Plenty more to come yet…

Photos by Barry Hill
Review by Jim Kerslake

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