Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Picture review of the year

Here's my photographic review of 2018. It was a pretty good year and I was fortunate enough to see many great artists over the 12 months. Yet the year started badly. My first gig was Joe Louis Walker at the 100 Club in London. He's a fine performer, but loud (although no louder than many others I've seen over the years). However next morning I felt sick and dizzy and soon discovered that I had gone totally, and permanently deaf, in my left ear. Too many gigs spent down the front trying to get that perfect photo I fear. Let that be a warning. It didn't stop me enjoying my music, I'm glad to say (albeit in mono).
My first American trip of the year, with John Howard, Alan Lloyd and Gordon Fleming, started in the Boston area and we very much enjoyed the annual doowop show in New Bedford organised by Todd Baptista. Here's one of the stars, La La Brooks, former lead singer of the Crystals. Other acts were the Orlons, the Mystics and Del Vikings.
We moved on to Las Vegas for the biggest rockabilly festival on the planet, Viva Las Vegas. There were too many artists performing to mention them all. but here are a few: the legend that is Jerry Lee Lewis, the king of the boss guitar Duane Eddy and Sun artist Carl Mann.

A couple of us took a side trip with Noah Shaffer to a club called Piero's where there is a weekly gig featuring Sonny Charles and Pia Zadora.
We caught a show in Sacramento starring Robert Cray and moved on to Los Angeles where we were lucky enough to catch the 91st birthday gig of the great sax man Big Jay McNeely.  Sadly this was to be his last performance before he died.
We made return visits to one of LA's hidden gems, a club called La Louisianne, where we saw The Bluesman Sonny Green put on a great set.
Here's Ken Boothe, one of the stars of the London International Ska Festival. appearing at the Academy O2 in Islington.
Another excellent London show was the Tales From The Woods doowop event at the 100 Club, possibly London's best ever doowop show. Here are the stars Tommy Hunt. John Cheatdom and Gaynel Hodge. 
Soul came to London with Brenda Holloway at 229 The Venue.
And the third Blackpool International Soul Festival exceeded expectations with five superb acts. Here are Patti Austin and Nolan Porter. Others were Ann Sexton. Eloise Laws and Margie Joseph.

Candi Staton defied her 78 years to put on a great show at Omeara, promoting her 'Unstoppable' album.
The Porretta Soul Festival was, as ever, one of the highlights of the year. Photos show Lacee, Alvon Johnson and Terrie Odabi. Other acts included Ernie Johnson, Wee Willie Walker, John Ellison, Missy Andersen, Booker Brown, Percy and Spencer Wiggins and Don Bryant (more of whom later).

The king of ska, Derrick Morgan, put on on a most enjoyable show at the Jazz Cafe.
My second US trip of the year, with Dave Carroll, Alan Lloyd and Lee Wilkinson, began in style at the Bogalusa Blues and Heritage Festival in Louisiana, where the stars included Bobby Rush (with Mizz Lowe) and Vasti Jackson. We saw Bobby again at the King Biscuit Festival in Helena, Arkansas. He remains, at the age of 85, a superb entertainer. 

Also at the King Biscuit Festival was the excellent Johnny Rawls, but here he is at the Yazoo City Blues Festival, where other acts included Ms Jody and Sir Charles Jones, both leading southern soul stars.
A highlight of our Mississippi trip was a show at the Horseshoe Casino in Robinsonville starring Carla Thomas. Latimore was the co-star, and this was a rather special evening.
We finished our trip at the Blues and Barbecue Festival in New Orleans where the headliner on the second day was Jimmie Vaughan. Other acts included 93 year old Henry Gray, Samantha Fish. Shemekia Copeland, Rev John Wilkins, Little Freddie King and Walter 'Wolfman' Washington.
Starring on the final day was Don Bryant who was superb, just as he had been at Porretta. Backed by the Bo-Keys his act was perfection. And with Percy Wiggins in support this was a fantastic end to the trip.


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