The seventh Shetland Blues Festival, which will take place between Friday 3rd and Sunday 5th September with gigs in Lerwick, Scalloway, Brae and Sandwick, features six nominees for the British Blues awards.
Visiting artistes this year are headliners Connie Lush and Blues Shouter from Liverpool, Guy Tortora Band, Hokie Joint, Baby Isaac, Kris Dollimore, Dale Storr and Bad Taste Blues Band.
Connie has been nominated in the female vocalist section of the British Blues Award and is widely recognised as one of the finest blues singers the UK has ever produced.
Having a great stage presence and voice to match, which has been described as “like a 3am whisky and with enough electricity to power the national grid”, Connie mixes her original songs with well-chosen covers that are performed from a woman’s point of view; she is guaranteed to have you up dancing before the night is through.
Guy Tortora, born and raised in Pasadena, California, is now settled in London. What he does as a songwriter and artiste is to perform original songs, which are well constructed and well played, in various musical idioms that originated in the USA – blues, jazz, folk and roots – and interpret the work of other writers in these genres with depth and feeling.
Guy is a guitar player of some accomplishment. On both acoustic and electric guitars he plays finger style, and is a fine bottleneck and slide player. Over the last few years he has laid claim to a unique niche on the Blues ‘n’ Roots scene in the UK and the continent, from small clubs and theatres to festivals.
His two recent solo albums received a warm welcome in the Blues ‘n’ Roots reviews and a third album was released in 2008 to great acclaim from reviewers and audiences alike. At many UK gigs he appears with the Guy Tortora Band, his own four-piece outfit of accomplished musicians from the UK and Europe. With this band he has performed live with artists as diverse as Eric Clapton, Pee Wee Ellis, John Cleary and Eric Bibb.
Hokie Joint, with four 2010 Blues Awards nominees, are exciting audiences everywhere that they play with their own refreshing brand of raw blues based music. The sound is fresh, vibrant and appealing. The line-up consists of a startling combination of youth and experience.
On one hand we’re talking part Waits, part Wolf vocals, fuzzing slide guitar, dirty harmonica, driving bass and train-like drumming. On the other hand it’s gut-wrenchingly emotional vocals, melancholic guitar playing, sweeping harmonica, well constructed, melodic bass and intricate, mesmerising drumming. From perfectly executed slow blues to high-energy upbeat tracks that audiences can’t help but dance to.
JoJo provides an expressive visual performance along with a voice that compels anyone to listen to his devilish tones, Joel’s enthralling guitar playing casts a magical spell impossible to resist, Stephen drives his rhythmic steam train through it all, Fergie’s perceptive bass lines let you know that this train isn’t ever going to get derailed while Giles, with his exquisite, spellbinding harmonica makes this one journey you never want to stop. This is Hokie Joint – the band to take blues to the masses.
Baby Isaac, from Fife, capture the essence of 50s Chicago Blues and West Coast Swing. Influenced by such Blues greats as T-Bone Walker, BB King, Little Walter and Sonny Terry, the band has successfully developed its unique sound, loosely termed as “goodtime blues”, into a powerful yet dynamic mix of blues, swing, R&B and jazz.
Baby Isaac features Gary Arnott on harmonica and Derek Welsh on guitar, both great craftsmen and bluesmongers. The rhythm section of Dave Welsh on drums and Graeme Smith on double bass ensure the band is in the groove as it swings, cruises and stomps along. Angela Moore provides the vocals and fronts the band. Her versatile style shows skill and a great feel for the songs she writes and covers which she has developed over the years.
Kris Dollimore has seen all sides of life as a musician, from his humble beginnings playing the working men’s clubs in his birthplace on the Isle of Sheppey, in Kent, to the dizzy heights of performing on some of the world’s biggest stages, including London’s Royal Albert Hall and Tokyo’s Budokan. He has also appeared on credible television shows Later with Jools Holland, Top Of The Pops and the American Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
Since taking the decision to follow his heart and go it alone, his music is as primitive as you can get. Just Kris, a guitar and the stomping of his foot. Though his music is firmly rooted in the blues, his tastes and influences are wide and varied.
Having performed the length and breadth of the country over the last two years, Kris’s reputation and hard core following is growing by the day. This is backed up by the stunning success of his debut album 02/01/78, which received rave reviews from the music press, both home and abroad. His follow up album Now Was The Time has just been released and is attracting the same positive interest as its predecessor.
In short, Kris is a world class musician, whose goal is not world domination or financial greed, but to make great, primitive, human music.
Dale Storr, the last of the British Blues Awards nominees coming to the festival, brings his New Orleans piano show to the festival after being unable to attend with King King last year.
The evocative music of New Orleans became a passion for Dale, who immersed himself in the styles of other heroes like Professor Longhair, Dr John, Allen Toussaint, Tuts Washington and James Booker.
The latter performer became a particular source of inspiration and resulted in Dale studying the sometimes complex technique of this legendary pianist/singer.
For the third year we will also be running school workshops in conjunction with the SIC education department. Bad Taste Blues from Orkney will be in Shetland the week before the festival touring around schools teaching blues guitar, bass and drum techniques with an evening workshop still to be arranged. The band has been going for the past couple of years and now as a three-piece is set to rock the weekend with some great music.
The festival also has three new local acts playing at the festival this year – The Blue Melts from Nesting, Briggiestane Blues from Lerwick and Makatak from Scalloway. We are hoping that the problems in Scalloway will be resolved by the beginning of September but if not we will be arranging an alternative venue just in case.
Tickets go on sale this week so see the website at www.shetlandblues.info for more information.