Just back from a few days of awesome blues at Belfast’s ‘Woodstock Festival 2011’. On Thursday night, the newly-formed band Mercy Lounge saw the return of the native harmonica maestro, Billy Boy Miskimmin, who has supported bands such as The Yardbirds and Nine Below Zero and played alongside B B King and The Doors. The set was a refreshing and very lively take on the blues and this is a band I would love to see again – in fact I believe they are playing the Belfast City Blues Festival at the end of the month. Tempted? Very!
Next up was the gravelly-voiced Grainne Duffy whose signature tune version of Etta James’ ‘I would rather go blind’ has got to be heard to be believed. It makes the hairs stand on the back of my neck every time I hear her sing it. ‘Drivin’ me crazy’, penned by Grainne herself, is also one of the best original numbers I’ve heard this year. Grainne was guesting with Belfast blues veteran, Ronnie Greer and his band. I listened to Ronnie at gigs in The Errigle many years ago when I was a student in Belfast and it was great to hear him again.
On Friday, we were highly entertained by Eric Bell, former guitarist with Thin Lizzy, who sat on his stool and did his stuff, making us smile at some amusing little guitar riffs.
The hightlight of the night for me was definitely Pat ‘The Professor’ McManus and his band who played a non-stop set of blistering blues on guitar, mandolin and, of course, his trusty fiddle. He did a fine tribute to the late Gary Moore and it was hard not to shed a little tear at his moving rendition of ‘Parisian Walkways’. We been following Pat’s and the lads for about three years now, and it was great to hear him play some tracks from his latest album, Walking Through Shadows.
Thanks to Harry Lamb, the organiser, who looked out for us and kindly made sure we got tickets to the gigs we wanted. He has put together a fine list of musicians for this festival – I just wish we could have stayed to enjoy the rest of the weekend. For anyone lucky enough to live nearby, it goes on until tomorrow night. http://www.woodstockbelfast.co.uk/index.html
…and it was all washed down with a few excellent pints of Guinness – just to be sure, to be sure! 🙂