Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Top ten music photos of the year

2017 has been a pretty good year music-wise. I've been to several interesting shows in London, including Betty Harris, Leroy Hutson, the Wiggins brothers and two Tales From The Woods shows, including an excellent one starring Tommy Hunt. I went to the Rockin' Race in Spain, the Doowop Weekend in Long Island, blues clubs in Chicago and to the ever brilliant Viva Las Vegas festival. The Porretta Soul Festival was as good as ever, as was the Blackpool International Soul Festival. And on my last US road trip I took in the Ponderosa Stomp, The New Orleans Blues and Barbecue festival, the North Louisiana Blues Festival and shows in Lafayette, Cleveland, Clarksdale, Jackson and a real find at Neal's Juke Joint in Baton Rouge.
I've taken hundreds of photos during the year, but here are a few of the best. First, here's Dale Watson, soon to be in London again, at the Rockin' Race in Torremolinos. I will be back there again soon. 'Looking very much the part of the Texas troubadour, his set ranged from rockabilly through Tex Mex and country.'
Betty Harris made a rare appearance at the 100 Club in London in February. 'Betty may be in her 78th year, but she can still hold an audience, even if her voice isn't quite what it was.'
In April I set off to the Doowop Festival on Long Island, where one of the stars was La La Brooks, former lead singer of the Crystals. 'She looked Fantastic for her near 70 years and sounded great on Then He Kissed Me, There's No Other Like My Baby, Da Doo Ron Ron and Proud Mary, during which she bounded around the audience like a teenager. I think I'm in love.' 
We travelled on from New York to Chicago and then along Route 66 to Las Vegas. As ever, Viva Las Vegas was brilliant, with stars such as Brenda Lee, Sonny Burgess, Wanda Jackson and Freddy Cannon among many others. Here's a photo of Larry Collins, once of the Collins Kids, with Deke Dickerson. 'Larry showed that he's an excellent guitarist with dramatic flourishes which created a moody sound.'   
One of the younger stars of Viva Las Vegas was Vicky Tafoya. 'First on at the festival was the wonderful Vicky Tafoya, who lights up the stage with her sparkly jewellery. huge eye lashes, red lips and bouffant hair.' 
In June I went to the Blackpool International Soul Festival for the second time. This event has quickly established itself as a must see festival and I very much enjoyed the last ever UK appearance of the Impressions along with Little Anthony, pictured here. 'Sounding very much as he did when his career began in the fifties, with a light but strong voice and a range which is still very much intact, his set was short but excellent.'   
The Porretta Soul Festival in July lived up to its previous level of excellence with a line up which included Carla and Vaneese Thomas, Falisa Janaye, Willie Hightower and Wee Willie Walker. One of the discoveries for me, not listed beforehand, was Terrie Odabi. Here she is with Wee Willie. 'I thought she was great and can't wait to see her again.' 
My second US trip of the year was jam packed with music - in New Orleans, Lafayette, Clarksdale, Cleveland, Baton Rouge and Jackson. The North Loiusiana Blues Festival in Monroe featured some southern soul artists who I am unlikely ever to see in London, including Theodis Ealey, Nathaniel Kimble and Sweet Angel. Here's another, less well known singer, by the name, I think of Lady Trucker. 'Southern soul is very much a black genre and fairly limited in its geographical range, but exciting and interesting. I love it.'   
 The Blues and Barbecue Festival in New Orleans is always enjoyable and this year's was no exception, with artists such as Robert Cray, Robert Finlay and Grady Champion, among others. Naturally the star was the ageless Bobby Rush, with two female dancers, including the wonderful Mizz Lowe. 'With Bobby was Mizz Lowe, looking fine as ever, plus a new lady dancer. Even though I've seen his act many times, Bobby remains a true delight.'   
This year's Ponderosa Stomp in New Orleans was curtailed by a hurricane warning which meant that the second night did not take place as planned. The first night, though, was excellent, with Barbara Lynn, Roy Head and Doug Kershaw putting on great acts, and the second day was enlivened with some impromptu shows at the Ace Hotel, including Evie Sands, Gary US Bonds and rockabilly man Johnny Knight. 'Looking dapper with shiny black hair and matching moustache, (Johnny) was very good on Rock and Roll Guitar, Snake Shake and Whatever Happened Last Night. He was backed by Deke Dickerson, which helped of course.'   
That's my top ten, but I couldn't fail to include a photo from one of the Tales From The Woods shows taking place during the year, possibly the best yet, starring the excellent Tommy Hunt, the Velvet Candles, Zoot Money and Earl Jackson. Here is Tommy with Earl. 'The whole set was doowop at its supreme best - great vocals from Tommy and harmonies to die for from the Velvet Candles.' 


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