Rockin’ Start to Jazz and Blues Festival

Friday night at The Little Angel saw the opening night of the first Henley Jazz and Blues Festival. Just over 100 guests were fortunate to get tickets to the sold out show which included a fantastic three course dinner before the music started.

Richard Cuthbertson, the Festival organiser,  welcomed the audience and then read out a message from the Patron Paul Jones.  He said, “I am really sorry I can’t be with you tonight as I had a gig booked in already in Crawley tonight.  I know where I would much rather be. I’ve put the opening night date in my diary for next year.” To which the audience gave a big cheer.  Mike Read who was in the audience was delighted to have helped Richard secure Paul as the patron of the festival.

Richard then read out some ‘tongue in cheek’ tweets – one from Michael Eavis ‘Good to hear that the opening night sold out in 4 days, Glastonbury sold out again in just under 2 hours!’ and an Anonymous tweet #HenleyFestival  which said ‘When you find the right venue, make sure you keep to it!’  He then went on to thank the sponsors, Brakspears. Incubator Ventures, Eight Ray Music, Crowdnoise, MultiMedia Plus, The Henley Partnership, Henley Town Council and SODC and announced the winner of the shop window competition which was Boatique who have decked out their window with their exclusive festival t-shirts and t-towels. Unfortunately Gillian Nahun, the owner of Boatique was unable to be there so Julie Perigo from the Henley Partnership accepted the award on her behalf.

Papa George and Mick Moody, a pair of blues guitarists and the opening act on stage, quickly got the audience’s feet tapping along, opening their set with one of JJ Cale’s most well known songs, After Midnight.

During the evening Papa and Mick played a mixture of JJ Cale’s music – the set was billed as a special tribute to the recently deceased proponent of the Tulsa Sound, a musical genre drawing on blues, rockabilly, country and jazz, and the pub was themed as “Crazy Mama’s”, the name of JJ’s recording studio – plus their own blues-based material and a handful of Delta blues standards.

The highlight of the set was a version of blues legend Robert Johnson’s Walkin’ Blues featuring some outstanding guitar playing from both artistes, especially Mick Moody.

Papa and Mick also did a great version of Big Joe Williams’ Crawling King Snake, a Delta blues song strongly associated with John Lee Hooker. During another song the band effortlessly segued into You Need Love by Willie Dixon, the lyrics of which were ‘borrowed’ by Led Zeppelin for Whole Lotta Love.

Closing with the JJ Cale classic, Cocaine, the band then smoothly transitioned into a first-rate version of Fleetwood Mac’s Oh Well, which got the audience singing (and in a few places dancing) along, bringing an end to an excellent set of high quality blues music. A great start to the Henley Jazz and Blues Week.

To close the night Junior Guevarra’s band got the conservatory dance floor full with a selection of classics from the 50s, 60s and 70s including Johnny B. Goode, Blue Suede Shoes, Superstition, Born To Be Wild and All Right Now. A superb end to an excellent night of music, here’s hoping the rest of the week is as good!

The Jazz & Blues Festivals continues every day until Sunday 17 November.  Most of the events are free – to find out what’s on go to