Groeten uit Grolloo bluesfestival Day 1

Whenever John Mayall comes to the Netherlands, me and my dad go to one of the gigs. And John’s here this weekend. However, I’m not carrying my camera’s with me this time. And I seriously can’t remember the last time I went to a gig without cameras. This was the first evening of the two-day festival and I had the blues. Which wasn’t such a bad thing, I was at a blues festival after all

Groeten uit Grolloo is organised around the 70th birthday of Harry Muskee -singer of Cuby & The Blizzards that originally came from Grolloo (so Grolloo is kind of to Dutch Blues what the Mississippi is to American blues ;))- and this first edition of the festival brings a mixture of American and Dutch blues and bluesy acts to Grolloo.

We arrived a little time before Sharrie Williams would open the festival on the main stage. On the sidestage an Emmen based band Shadow Creed Ramblers was entertaining the audience, but we headed to the main stage right away. We’d see the Shadow Creek Ramblers again after Sharrie.

Sharrie Williams and band were a great opener. Blues with a tough of gospel and soul, but at 18:30 it was a bit too early to get the audience really swinging. The tent area wasn’t half filled yet and that was a shame.

After Sharrie’s set the sidestage was the place to be as the main stage was set for the next act. Now we had time to check out the Shadow Creek Ramblers. A well filled stage with 6 bandmembers. Mainly original work with only a few covers. Not pure blues though, there was a strong and catchy country-feel to the set. Vocal-duties divided between four singers and the gig had a good vibe.

Back to the main stage where the next act was ready to roll. Dutch modern day blues phenomenon Ralph de Jongh got himself a band: the Crazy Hearts. Sound was set a bit loud, but the gig was fantastic. Sort of the old Rolling Stones, back in their bluesdays. The concert was a mix of blues, rock, a bit of honkytonk, strong feelings of the old Stones and at some point it included a guitar solo that sounded remarkably much like David Gilmour’s solo in Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb, only the huge disco-ball was missing. Awesome!

Back to the sidestage. Assen based band Tangerine played here, a singer/songwriter duo that was a little misplaced on a bluesfestival. Don’t get me wrong, the twins singing with vocal harmonies strongly reminded me of early Simon&Garfunkel work, and would not have felt out of place in a church. It was superb and the audience was well willing, but for a blues festival it didn’t really fit. They did have humour though and that helped this performance along nicely.

Back on the main stage John Primer & The Real Deal Blues Band had theirĀ  gear set up and after an introduction started off with what for me was easily the highlight of the evening. None of that modern muscle-power driven bluesrock guitar work but good old fashioned bluesy blues. Blues in the spirit of Muddy Waters, BB King, Billy Boy Arnold… you know what I mean: Blues! It was awesome with grat audience response to the Muddy Waters classic Manish Boy. He also ended the set with a Muddy cover; Got My Mojo Workin’ and got the full audience-participation with that. Fan-tas-tic! It just couldn’t get any better.

We ended the first evening with a short bit of Keefmen. I didn’t see much of them, but my first impression was that it’s a sort of ’60s rock&roll garagerock band. However, we headed home and will prepare for tomorrow’s second part of the festival. Still feel a bit weird being there without camera, but had a great time anyway. Seeing good-old-fashioned blues like from the old days just had a good vibe. Tomorrow night two!