Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Blues Estafette 1998

The Blues Estafette in Utrecht was an annual pilgrimage to witness some of the lesser known blues names plus one or two better known acts. The trip would begin in Dartford where we would meet up to begin the drive to Holland. Once there, the first evening would start with a 15 course Indonesian rijst-tafel, followed by an impromptu jam session in a local club with many of the acts from the festival taking part. Next day the festival itself was a marathon of 12 hours with virtually non-stop music on two stages. It was one of the great music events of the year, but sadly it no longer takes place.
Here are some photos I took at Blues Estafette in 1998. First, here's Betty Lavette, who first made an impression back in 1965 with Let Me Down Easy. She kept a fairly low profile for many years, despite some fine records including the Tell Me A Lie album on Motown, but in 2005 she suddenly made it big with I've got My Own Hell to Raise. She's now quite a star following the release of The Scene of the Crime at Muscle Shoals and even performed a duet with Jon Bon Jovi singing Sam Cooke's A Change is Gonna Come at Barack Obama's inauguration. I have something of a penchant for the country soul records issued on the Simms label, owned by Nashville DJ John Richbourg. One of the best of these was Strain On My Heart by Roscoe Shelton, who is pictured here. Roscoe died in 2002.
Lazy Lester is one of the few surviving swamp blues men who recorded for Excello and remains a regular visitor to blues festivals around the world.
And here is Guitar Gable, who also recorded for Excello. Pictured with him is C C Adcock.
Guitar Gable's vocalist was King Karl, who wrote This Should Go On Forever, a hit for Rod Bernard.
Roscoe Robinson, pictured here, was part of the Sound Stage 7 tribute, as was Earl Gaines, also pictured.
Finally this is youthful zydeco artist Chris Ardoin, who appeared with Double Clutching.


At 7:47 pm , Blogger Dave C said...

Nice reminders of a wonderful annual festival. It’s interesting to note that Bettye Lavette appeared on the main stage. As Private Beach pointed out in a recent comment, it is gratifying to see the measure of success that she has earned in recent years. I do not know how this came about – hard work and persistence I would guess. To my knowledge she has been a regular visitor to Europe since at least 1990/1991, starting with an appearance at the 100 Club (probably as a precursor to a Northern Soul event at Caister). I missed that one but I did see her at the Jazz Cafe in the early part of the decade, then at Utrecht in 1998 and following that at the Porretta Soul Festival in 2001, the year that it was held in Bologna. After her deserved ‘discovery’, the visits have continued, albeit with a younger audience in attendance.

By the way, the guitarist supporting Earl Gaines is Fred James, who made several visits to Utrecht and who has had more than a passing involvement with some of the Nashville blues/r’n’b/soul artists over the years.


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