Blues In the City 2016
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Blues in the City, Chelmsford, Various Pubs, 02/10/16.

What a great weekend it was. It all started on Friday night when the good people from Rubbersoul put on a Jerry Dammers DJ set at the Bassment. My brother and my mates always take the piss out of me and say I am going to a disco, it’s not a bloody disco, it’s a musical education. As you all know Jerry was the founding father of the Specials and being a lover of reggae it was too good an opportunity to miss. Therefore we had the Rubbersoul DJ’s playing top notch 60’s soul and rnb, with Jerry Dammers playing what seemed like a 3 hour set (it was probably only 2) of ska and late 60’s reggae. Reggae was the first music that I ever got into, so I have quite a bit on vinyl and still collected quite a bit on CD’s as well. About 20% of the tunes he played I had never heard before, that’s what I mean by a musical education. There was a great mix of people there and as usual you meet a lot of old friends. I did bail out and didn’t make the whole night till 4am and was quite pleased to get in bed by 3.30. The Rubbersoul collective are welcoming back Eddie Piller on the 16th of December, another one not to be missed if you are a lover of soul music.

Saturday saw me with the chaps at the Star and Garter to see the Broadway Clash, a great Clash tribute band. The Star and Garter always have bands on Saturday nights and I always try to see this band when they are on there. Another good couple of sets playing the songs of the best punk band ever. Another good night. Sunday saw Paul (our official photographer), Ash and myself starting in the Black Horse at 1.30pm. The event was the annual Blues in the City pub crawl put on by Nick Garner. I have never done the full day and night before as I always wimp out early, but I was determined to complete it this year. Nick puts on a whole weekend of entertainment starting Friday night at Chelmsford Social club with a few bands on, a mini pub crawl on Saturday afternoon and another night at the social club. It then finishes with the Sunday crawl. It is a shame that more people do not support the event as I have a horrible feeling that this may be the last one. That being said I am as bad as everyone else and do not support it as much as I should. Back to the Black Horse, we made a pact that we would only have one pint in each pub, that all went out of the window when we had 3 in there. The Black Horse is a welcoming pub which has music every Saturday night , serves a nice pint. In here we saw the first band who were called Blues Consortium, very good, a bit like Cream. They were a nice blend of young and old. I am not sure how old the guitarist was but the singer who was about the same age said that having the 2 youngsters in the band brought the average age down to 50. They played some very good blues finishing with Crossroads. A fantastic band that I am sure I have seen before.

Next the 50 yard walk down Moulsham Street to the pub from the night before, the Star and Garter. Here we had the Delta Ladies, another band I have seen before. They are a lot more rootsy and play the blues probably a bit more authentically than the other bands. Well worth a watch if you get a chance. The Star and Garter is worth supporting as well as they try to put on a lot of live music. Next on the list was the White Horse in Townfield Street, anybody old enough will remember it as Mr Jones’s back in late 70’s and early 80’s. It is now back to being a good local again. They look after their beer well and it is the first time I have seen live music here but they do put on very good Soul nights (late 70’s, early 80’s stuff) once a month, they also hold the Too Much Pressure nights as well, I go to these whenever I can, Ska, Reggae, Motown and Northern. Vince the DJ will play anything that you want and if he hasn’t got it, he will have it the next time. The artist here was Andy Twyman a one man show, a bit like Chris Dollinger if you have seen him. Not as Bluesy as Chris and some strange choice of songs for a Blues festival, “I’m the King of the Swingers” and “Mrs Robinson” to name but 2. Entertaining enough though and well worth the 10 minute walk to the pub. I was going to watch the Arsenal game here but decided that the music was a lot more entertaining, a good choice.

A short 2 minute walk saw us at the Ale House. This is a pub that has a continuous beer festival with 20 ales on at any one time. They also have Blues music on here quite often. Here we saw the flamboyant Jimi Whitewolf with his big hat. I will have to buy myself a hat as it seems to be the bluesers clothing of choice. He kept asking the audience if they had seen Buddy Guy, I didn’t want to tell him that I had seen him about 25 years ago as he might have thought I was showing off. This was proper rock blues, a great version of “Hey Joe” a rendition of Robin Trower’s “Bridge of Sighs” and Crossroads again. Not normally my cup of tea but I enjoyed it immensely.

Another 2 minute walk and I was back where it all started on Friday night, the Bassment. Here we were getting the last 2 gigs of the weekend. First up was the fantastic Salvation Jayne. Three young ladies and a young chap on bass. This band was the nuts and I can’t recommend them highly enough, dirty blues, raw, energetic with plenty of soul. If you like Etta James, Janis Joplin or Aretha with a hard rocking blues backing you will love these. A great version of “It’s a mans world.” Just superb, I cant say much more than that.

Up next the last act, another young 5 piece, Red Butler. Another equally powerful band, I liked these a lot as well. They were like Salvation Jayne, both blessed with great female singers and just too good musically for their years. They seem to be a great rock band who are bluesy enough to pick up all of older people into their blues music plus the young rock fans.

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Summing up I made it all the way through to the end, favourite event of the weekend, the Jerry Dammers DJ set, probably because I love soul and reggae a lot more than punk and blues but it was all fantastic. Favourite Band was Salvation Jayne followed very closely by Red Butler, I feel quite privileged to have been at the Bassment for that double header. All of the bands and artists were great though. All of the Blues in the City performers were all top notch and you would probably have to pay money to see all of these bands. They all played full sets, well over an hour. Favourite venue, the Bassment, I love this place, it’s always diverse with the oldsters like myself rubbing shoulders with youngsters. I hope that Nick Garner doesn’t give up, perhaps have a bucket at each pub, I would gladly have paid a couple of quid for each band that I saw.

Duncan, October 2016

Photos Paul Eagle