Imag­ine a fes­ti­val that only costs £5 entrance, has a choice of stages, sev­er­al food out­lets, the oblig­a­tory clothes and jew­ellery stalls plus a clair­voy­ant or two, a decent-ish bar, spot­less por­taloos with no queues… ok no camp­ing, but then you can’t have every­thing. This is what’s on offer each year at Eal­ing Blues Fes­ti­val, held in Wal­pole Park, a stone’s throw from Eal­ing Studios.

Up till 2012 Eal­ing Blues Fes­ti­val was a one-day affair, how­ev­er for 2013, the organ­is­ers man­aged to per­suade the local coun­cil to allow them a full week­end, at £5 per day and £8 for both days, with music start­ing at 2pm. This part of west Lon­don is steeped in r&b his­to­ry, a mag­net for many renowned blues musi­cians who honed their skills in the local venues; pub venues such as The Bul­l’s Head*, Barnes and The Half Moon, Put­ney, and con­ve­nient­ly in near­by Han­well, Mar­shall amps first set up shop.

Ealing Blues Festival

The main stage is the set­ting for a col­lec­tion of fine blues play­ers through­out the Sun­day after­noon I attend­ed, includ­ing Papa George, and Ali McKen­zie, for­mer­ly of 60s band The Birds (not Byrds), who played a vari­ety of clas­sic blues tracks. The Birds did at one time include Ron­nie Wood amongst its mem­bers. Their set includ­ed a superb ver­sion of Hoochie Coochie Man.

Nik­ki Lam­born and her band Nev­er The Bride, are vet­er­ans of Eal­ing Blues Fes­ti­val, and she’s a clas­sic blues diva, a tough rock chick vocal­ist and com­pos­er. I slight­ly dread it as she launch­es into Oh Lord, Won’t You Buy me a Mer­cedez Benz? as it can nev­er be as good as Janis Joplin. How­ev­er Nik­ki has the strength of voice to pull it off and just tweaks it a lit­tle to make it her own.

The South Stage tent offers a more con­tained and inti­mate atmos­phere, mak­ing it eas­i­er to real­ly lis­ten to a band. The Gary Fletch­er Band are for me the most enjoy­able expe­ri­ence of the day, with a blues mix over a long set; they also man­aged to get the audi­ence, near­ly at snooz­ing point in the swel­ter­ing heat, up and danc­ing. They play many of their own com­po­si­tions. Their sound is giv­en an extra edge by the cap­ti­vat­ing­ly beau­ti­ful vio­lin play­ing of Tom Leary.

Tom Leary

Head­lin­ing are the leg­endary Dr Feel­go­od; Can­vey Island’s finest, but with the inevitable con­nec­tions to Eal­ing. Such is the warmth and love for this band, you could almost feel it flow­ing from the crowd on to the stage. Rob­bie Kane is in fine form, bounc­ing from one side of the stage to the oth­er, and they are a fit­ting finale to this now week­end-long event of blues cel­e­bra­tion in its nat­ur­al home.

* There’s an announce­ment at the fes­ti­val of the change of own­er­ship of The Bul­l’s Head and con­cern that the new own­ers won’t uphold its leg­endary sta­tus as a blues and jazz venue. How­ev­er from their web­site, it looks as if its future is secure

Were you at Eal­ing Blues Fes­ti­val? Did you enjoy it?

6 thoughts on “Review: Ealing Blues Festival is now a sunny weekender

  1. It was actu­al­ly our first time at Eal­ing Blues Fes­ti­val, but thank you for the men­tion Olivia! Hope to see you at The Con Club Lewes tomor­row and next Wednes­day at The Half Moon! Peace & Love & Rock N Roll, Nik­ki & Team X

    1. Hope you enjoyed play­ing at the Blues Fest and I’m sure you’ve got a load of new fans now! I’ve added a men­tion of the Half Moon gig, and I hope to see you all again! x

  2. Wow the Eal­ing Blues fes­ti­val sounds amaz­ing, – love to go next year. You real­ly know your stuff Olivia, and give us such a good feel for the atmos, gigs and flavour of the expe­ri­ence. What a great job to do, and what a great job YOU do. x

    1. thanks!!! Hope it’s anoth­er week­ender next year. Glad you like the blog and find things to inspire you 🙂 

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