The Ealing Blues Festival, previously only lasting one day (Sunday), was extended to the whole penultimate weekend of July for the first time this year, and looked like being a great success on both days.
Basschat may not have had its own table or corner at the event, but there were many Basschatters both in the audience and on stage on both days.
Throughout the weekend we were treated to many excellent, established acts and collaborations on all stages. On the main stage, the festival was opened on Saturday by Robert Hokum Blues Band, with Basschatter Jim Reece on bass.
Besides its newly extended length, the festival saw another first this year: the presence of a small but perfectly functional stage in the left-hand corner of the beer tent. Due to its proximity to the main stage and the noise coming from it, the bar stage was used by performers only during the intervals between main stage acts. A sizeable audience gathered, drink in hand, every time the music was on.
In some cases, such as that of Jump 66 with Basschatter Paul King on double bass and walkabouts, the bopping along and the amused gawping far exceeded the drinking.
Karen Byrne and the Mobile Clones had them dancing and singing along to the classics.
Some acts were a little quieter but still intriguing.
The other two stages at the festival – the main stage, near the entrance, and the South stage, farther away – were also as busy as ever.
Along the walk between the stages there were refreshments sellers and arts and crafts tents. There was also a tent for the Ealing Club, a venue and a project “dedicated to promoting, preserving and furthering Ealing’s Blues and Rock Heritage”, whose owner is the festival organiser and headline performer Rober Hokum.
At the Ealing Club tent I talked to Alistair and to Giorgio, the director of the “SUBURBAN STEPS TO ROCKLAND” – The Story of The Ealing Club documentary about West London’s Rhythm and Blues scene. I am now intrigued and keen to know more about it!
Another incarnation of Robert Hokum’s band, the Devil Drives (still with Jim Reece on bass), closed the proceedings on the main stage at the end of Saturday.
Sunday’s proceedings were again opened on the main stage by the Robert Hokum Blues Band, and then the punters were treated to many more high quality bands (see link to the lineup flyer below), and the two spectacular closing acts – Sam Kelly and Friends on the South stage, and headliners Dr Feelgood on the main stage.
It was a fantastic weekend of music basking in glorious weather, and I’m sure I’m not the only one in the audience who hopes that the festival’s new two-day format becomes permanent.