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Little Victor and his Combo

The larger than life Little Victor – AKA Victor Mac, “The Beale Street Blues Bopper” and DJ Mojo Man – graced Leek and a full house at The Foxlowe for The Blues and Americana Festival with his presence on Saturday the 5th of October; supported by Dominic “Chuck Berry” Cooper’s Red Berryn, playing the music of Chuck Berry.

Along with his Combo – his backing band – Little Victor gave us a rollicking and rambunctious night of Blues and Rock ‘N’ Roll, straight from the heart of Memphis to a packed room in the Midlands home of Blues and Americana.

Little Victor is an internationally acclaimed singer-songwriter, guitarist and harmonica player; well-known on both sides of the pond for his rich, quirky and inspired real deal postmodern down-home Blues. He has been called ‘the King of Grit’ and the antithesis of meaningless virtuosity.

The music journalist Johnny Whiteside, writing in the LA Times, described Little Victor’s style of music:

“Little Victor (is) an untamed maverick whose raw, primitive sounds are the utter antithesis of the contemporary Blues model. The offbeat singer-guitarist eschews the genre’s prevalent trend for streamlined six-string virtuosity in favour of wild shouting, stabbing guitar and heavy, almost hypnotic, rhythmic repetition. He can effortlessly switch from shadowy, primitive low Blues to the polished, uptown Beale Street-style R&B to wild, wicked boogies, and all of it is put across with expressive, soul-deep conviction.”

His live shows are an unusual blend of juke joint blues and cabaret, and Saturday night at The Foxlowe was no exception.

Little Victor comes over like a mixture of John Lee Hooker, Slim Harpo, Pee Wee Herman, Muddy Waters, Peter Sellers, RL Burnside, James Brown, Salvidor Dali, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Tommy Cooper, Jimmy Reed, and Screaming Jay Hawkins, all rolled into one! A larger than life character indeed!

Sporting an array of sharp attire, black sunglasses and natty headwear – leopardprint berets and fezzes – and a cape, Little Victor and his equally well-dressed Combo played songs from his new album, entitled “Deluxe Lo-Fi”, as well as cover versions and material from his “Back To The Black Bayou” album. Ably backed by his band, Little Victor’s rowdy, joyous showmanship was a joy to behold. Prowling the stage at times, Little Victor whipped his guitar lead around, did nifty and well-honed moves with his mike stand, stood on a stool which he later kicked over and off the stage, and ventured out into the audience, meaning that you could never take your eyes off him. Woe betide you if you should talk during his set too, as the couple sat near to the stage found out when he called them out for having a conversation whilst he was telling a tale between songs! Appropriate and orchestrated audience participation was encouraged, however, with call and response sections within the songs (“Shake Your Boogie”, and “Another Sleepless Night”), and audience interaction between numbers.

Sponsored by CTD Architects, we were delighted to have Little Victor and his all-star Combo with us for the Festival this year.

Prior to his set, Little Victor was presented with a sketch portrait by Leek and Foxlowe Creative Hub-based artist, Gavin Bowyer. Gavin was commissioned by the Leek Blues and Americana Festival to produce sketch portraits in his own signature style of each of the acts playing this year.

The photo of Little Victor receiving his portait from Gavin is by Mark Brammar.

All other photos by Giles Metcalfe.

Little Victor recieves his sketch portrait from local artist Gavin Bowyer

Little Victor recieves his sketch portrait from local artist Gavin Bowyer. Photo by Mark Brammar.

 

Dominic "Chuck Berry" Cooper's Red Berryn

Dominic “Chuck Berry” Cooper’s Red Berryn. Photo by Giles Metcalfe.

 

Little Victor and his Combo, Leek Blues and Americana Festival, Foxlowe Arts Centre, Leek

Little Victor and his Combo. Stool still onstage. Photo by Giles Metcalfe.

 

Little Victor and his Combo, Leek Blues and Americana Festival, Leek

Little Victor and his Combo. Photo by Giles Metcalfe.

 

Little Victor and his Combo, Leek Blues and Americana Festival, Leek

Little Victor and his Combo. Photo by Giles Metcalfe.

Martin Harley and Sam Brookes

Martin Harley, supported by Sam Brookes, kicked off the Foxlowe’s Leek Blues and Americana Festival as a host venue for live music on Wednesday the 2nd of October.

The Festival as a whole opened with a showing of the film Amazing Grace in the cinema room in the Foxlowe on Tuesday night, followed by Festival First Call with Mike Gledhill in the Cock Inn on Wednesday afternoon, but the Foxlowe opened its doors on an unseasonably chilly evening to welcome a great turnout for Martin Harley’s brand of electrified Country Blues.

As Martin’s website states:

“I’m ready to make a bigger noise……Muddy Waters invented electricity right?”

“In 2019 British guitarist and songwriter Martin Harley is making a change. Having created a deep impression on the acoustic blues roots and Americana scene with his last two Nashville recorded albums, his highly anticipated new record finds a new and exciting sound. An Intimate and gritty analogue album, recorded in a remote chapel deep in the wilds of Pembrokeshire. Taking county blues riffs to the electric bottleneck slide guitar, served with sweet vocal harmonies over the driving rhythms of co producer and drummer Harry Harding (Yola Carter/William the Conquerer) Award winning Australian bassist Rex Horan finalises the line up. He has recorded and performed with Eric Clapton, Van Morrison and Laura Marling.

“Through Harley’s road worn songwriting style this record explores hopes and fears for fast changing times, offering gospel like comfort and consolation. The song ‘Roll With The Punches’ implores the listener not to get dragged down when challenges seem unsurmountable. ‘Coming Home’ asks questions beyond the end of life and ruminates on freedom from worldly desires.

“If success can be measured by growing global demand to attend Martin’s dynamic life performances then perhaps his touring schedule is proof of that. He recently played to full house at the Union Chapel in Islington and has appeared at Edmonton, Vancouver, Canmore and Calgary folk festivals in Canada, Glastonbury, Bestival, Beautiful days in the UK, numerous European and US tours and events including the AMAs, The Bluebird in Nashville and Tønder in Denmark. In 2018 Total guitar ranked him #16 in the worlds greatest acoustic guitarist poll and he was nominated as Instrumentalist of the year at the Americana music awards.”

Ably supported by acoustic singer-songwriter, Sam Brookes, who has been described as being “reminiscent of Tim Buckley as he glides between the lower and upper registers of his four-octave range. His pure voice, evocative lyrics and soaring melodies have made him a rising figure in the alt-folk scene”, the appreciative and reverent audience were treated to an uplifting and at times highly poignant and moving set, including renditions of ‘Roll With The Punches’, ‘Feet Don’t Fail Me’ and ‘Winter Coat’.

Prior to his set, Martin was presented with a sketch portrait by Leek and Foxlowe Creative Hub-based artist, Gavin Bowyer. Gavin was commissioned by the Leek Blues and Americana Festival to produce sketch portraits in his own signature style of each of the acts playing this year.

The photo of Martin receiving his portait from Gavin is by Mark Brammar.

All other photos by Giles Metcalfe.

Martin Harley receiving his sketch portrait from Gavin Bowyer

Martin Harley receiving his sketch portrait from local artist Gavin Bowyer. Photo by Mark Brammar.

 

Sam Brookes supporting Martin Harley and playing to a full room at Leek Blues and Americana Festival, Foxlowe Arts Centre, Leek

Sam Brookes supporting Martin Harley and playing to a full room. Photo by Giles Metcalfe.

 

Martin Harley playing lap slide guitar

Martin Harley playing lap slide guitar. Photo by Giles Metcalfe.

 

Martin Harley and Band

Martin Harley and Band. Photo by Giles Metcalfe.

 

Martin Harley and Band. Photo by Giles Metcalfe.

Martin Harley and Band. Photo by Giles Metcalfe.

 

Martin Harley and Band. Photo by Giles Metcalfe.

Martin Harley and Band. Photo by Giles Metcalfe.

Leek Blues and Americana Festival Sunday Sessions Sister Suzie and the Right Band

The final day of the Leek Blues and Americana Festival 2019 saw an enforced change of venue due to the poor weather conditions and health and safety concerns.

The Sparrow Park stage, sponsored by Old Smithy Tattoo Parlour, was dismantled, and the scheduled bands moved indoors to the Foxlowe, which had been on standby in case of this eventuality. The organisers and volunteers pulled out all the stops to make sure that everything went ahead, and the running order and start times were unaffected.

I caught the tail end of festival favourite Lil’ Jim‘s set, and then settled into my seat for Sister Suzie and the Right Band‘s brand of explosive Rhythm and Blues.

Who is Sister Suzie? Well, Suzie hails from Northumberland’s wild and rural northern border, and has been bringing her natural downhome charm, undiluted, to southern climes for the last few years, including appearances at Glastonbury. The band has also toured Europe, before heading to the Midlands capital of Blues and Americana – Leek.

Suzie was joined onstage by drummer Neil Marsh, Al Nicholls on tenor sax, guitarist Matt Jackson, and Eddie Edwards on stand-up double bass. The band’s Sunday Session set was a rock and rolling mixture of original material and cover versions that drew heavily on the songs of Elmore James and Irma Thomas in particular, as well as a poignant duet between Suzie and Matt on Angel from Montgomery, made famous by Bonnie Raitt.

The bolder and more boisterous members of the audience were soon up and out of their seats and twisting down the front, along with the youngest audience member, who absolutely stole the show by boogieing along too! The interaction between the toddler and Suzie was priceless, funny and altogether too cute.

Before the show, Suzie was presented with her portrait by local and Foxlowe Creative Hub-based portrait sketch artist Gavin Bowyer. Gavin has been busy producing specially commissioned sketch portraits of all the acts appearing at this year’s Blues and Americana Festival.

Thanks again to Old Smithy Tattoo Parlour for sponsoring the event, as well as extending big thanks to the various acts, the Festival organisers and volunteers at the Foxlowe for making sure that everything ran smoothly.

We hope to welcome Sister Suzie and the Right Band back to the Foxlowe soon.

All photos used with kind permission.

All photos by Mark Brammar.

Sister Suzie and Gavin Bowyer

Sister Suzie and Gavin Bowyer, at the presentation of her portrait sketch.

Sister Suzie and the Right Band at Leek Blues and Americana Festival 2019, Foxlowe Arts Centre

Sister Suzie and the Right Band at Leek Blues and Americana Festival 2019, Foxlowe Arts Centre

Sister Suzie and the Right Band at Leek Blues and Americana Festival 2019, Foxlowe Arts Centre

Sister Suzie and the Right Band at Leek Blues and Americana Festival 2019, Foxlowe Arts Centre

Sister Suzie and the Right Band at Leek Blues and Americana Festival 2019, Foxlowe Arts Centre

Sister Suzie and the Right Band at Leek Blues and Americana Festival 2019, Foxlowe Arts Centre

ST13 Sept-Oct 2019

An on-line copy of ST13 (No 59) is now available.

Follow the links for the full text:

ST13 Sept-Oct 2019 PAGE 1

ST13 Sept-Oct 2019 PAGE 2

ST13 Sept-Oct 2019 PAGE 3

ST13 Sept-Oct 2019 PAGE 4

Leek Blues and Americana Festival

Now in its 6th year, the historic market town of Leek plays host to an array of local, national and international talent – showcasing the very best in Blues & Americana music. The Festival is set against a backdrop of independent shops, high street favourites and thriving specialist markets with host venues comprising a mix of real ale pubs, craft beer bars and the community arts centre.

5 Days:  Starting Wednesday 2nd October – Sunday 6th October 2019

20+ Venues : Pubs, bars, cafés and arts centres all hosting

60+ Acts: Over 60 Blues & Americana acts throughout the town centre of Leek

Headline acts here at the Foxlowe are:

Martin Harley, Biscuithead and the Biscuit Badgers and Little Victor and his Combo.

Qigong Classes – Autumn 2019 Dates

Twice-monthly classes in the Rainbow Room on a Tuesday from 10.00am to 11.30am on the following dates:

Tuesday 24 September
Tuesday 8 October
Tuesday 22 October
Tuesday 5 November
Tuesday 19 November
Tuesday 3 December
Tuesday 17 December

Qigong is an ancient and powerful system of energy medicine from China:  it means ‘vital energy (Qi) cultivation (Gong).  It uses breathing techniques, gentle movement and meditation to cleanse, strengthen and circulate Qi.   Working with Qigong exercise will relieve stress, balance the hormonal system, release toxins and strengthen the immune system, as well as slow ageing and help accelerate healing.

£10.00 per class payable on the day, but please book in advance with Lindsay.

For more information, please contact Lindsay Trevarthen, Three Treasures Qigong on 07989-986672, email qigong@w3z.co.uk or visit www.threetreasuresqigong.co.uk

Wine Bottle Request for Apple Fest

This year Apple Fest at the Foxlowe will be on Saturday, 12th October, and with luck we’ll be able to hold it in the garden.  As usual, we expect to fill a few hundred 75cl wine bottles with the juice pressed from all the apples brought by our lovely visitors.   That means a lot of wine needs to be drunk between now and then, so we’re asking for willing volunteers.

Please start saving all your screw-top 75cl wine bottles to bring with their tops to the Gardeners’ small shed in the Foxlowe garden.  We’ll be ready to start collecting them at the end of August and will leave a crate out then for that purpose.  Alternatively you can bring them ready washed on the day if you’re planning to bring apples for pressing.

Thanks!

Autumn Film Programme

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The Film Group have been beavering away to complete the new autumn programme and it’s looking to be as good as ever.  Highlights include Rocketman, an extravagant musical about the dramatic career of Elton John; Judi Dench playing Red Joan, a retired physicist revealed in later life to have been a Soviet agent working for the KGB, and The White Crow, a biopic from Ralph Fiennes about Rudolf Nureyev, whose defection to the West from the USSR in the early sixties stunned the world.  This film also comes with a Meal Deal.

Judi Dench appears again, playing Anne Hathaway opposite Kenneth Branagh as Will Shakespeare in All is True and there are many other excellent films, some by well-known actors and directors and some less so, but all contributing to the exciting and eclectic mix for which Foxlowe Films has acquired a well-deserved reputation.

For a change this season, the Children’s Matinee will be a well-loved classic, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  Although such classics may be widely available on electronic media, our aim is to introduce small children to the magical experience of seeing outstanding films on a big screen in the company of other children.

The Documentary programme will be launched by The Sequel: What will Follow our Troubled Civilisation?, a film that explores new ways of thinking about how to live well, despite and perhaps because of the widely-accepted Climate Emergency, along with initiatives already developing apace around the world that look to reduce our carbon footprint while also improving quality of life. As the film is only an hour long, we hope to arrange a Q&A session afterwards with members of the Staffs Moorlands Climate Action Community, who were recently instrumental in persuading the District Council to unanimously declare a Climate Emergency and commit to working for change.

Printed programmes and tickets will be available in mid-August.  Alternatively you can download an electronic version of the programme.

Foxlowe’s Collection Point for Food Bank

Leek’s Food Bank needs lots of donations right now, as stocks are low, so our collection point just inside the back door may come in handy if you’re not near Morrison’s or Sainsbury’s.

All donations gratefully received!

ST13 July-August 2019

An on-line copy of ST13 (No 58) is now available.

Follow the links for the full text:

ST13 July-August 2019 PAGE 1

ST13 July-August 2019 PAGE 2

ST13 July-August 2019 PAGE 3

ST13 July-August 2019 PAGE 4

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