Wallingford Blues & Beer Festival

Friday 10th - Saturday 11th June 2016

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14 June 2015

It’s official, a sell out on both nights for the first time ever. A great tribute to our 25th event.

15 May 2015

Sad news today on the passing of BB King. A great life for a great blues legend.

15 May 2015

2016 festival dates announced as 10 & 11 June

14 May 2015

T-shirts now on sale at KP and Tourist Office (see Tickets page)

9 May 2015

Come and see our stand at Wallingford Car Rally. T-shirts, pint glasses & tickets for sale

8 May 2015

T-shirts have arrived with 25th logo. Only £10

24 April 2015

Welcome back Mumbo-Jumbo (fab last year) who have stepped in to replace Stomp & Holler.

24 Mar 2015

And here we are again in the Oxford Times...

23 Mar 2015

Award winning Matt Woosey new live album just released “While the Cat’s Away”

20 Mar 2015

Great feature on the festival in Wallingford Herald 19 Mar 2015. View here

13 Feb 2015

We are supporting Blewbury Brass Band and Farmability with proceeds from this year's event.

10 Feb 2015

Tickets now on sale at KP Stationers, Wallingford Tourist Office and The Coachmakers Arms

22 Dec 2014

Congrats to Matt Woosey on his recent blues Award. We now have three 2014 winners playing next year!

30 Nov 2014

PLEASE, please... don’t leave it too late to get tickets.

We sold out in advance last year and don’t like to disappoint people expecting to get in on the door.

Book on-line or get tickets earlier from our outlets - Feb 2015

21 Nov 2014

Need a stocking filler? - tickets are now available on-line see The Tickets page.

20 Nov 2014

Our amazing 2015 line-up is sorted! Check out The Bands for details.

19 Nov 2014

Sad news at the passing of Silver Phil - a great blues event organiser from the Oxford area and an avid supporter of our festival.

2nd July 2014

2015 dates announced as 12 & 13 June. Out this in your diary for our 25th anniversary event!

6th June 2014

Excellent local press coverage. Click here

5th June 2014

Click this link for a great report on the event

4th June 2014

Oi oi! to Peter 'Do you know who I once was' Flannery without whose help we couldn't have got The Blockheads to appear.

3rd June 2014

Thomas Ford - vote for him in the Emerging Artist category at britishbluesawards.co.uk

2nd June 2014

Massive thanks to everyone who made this year's event such a great success.

The organisers, attendees, volunteers, bands, sponsors and advertisers.

There wouldn't be a festival without your devotion.

30th May 2014

Blockheads break box office - for the first time ever the festival sold out in advance of doors opening! Apologies to those we had to turn away, but tickets have been on sale since Nov 2013...

Sailor John

Happy 25th; Wallingford Blues & Beer Festival

Feelgood Factor with a Silver Lining

The 25th Wallingford Blues & Beer Festival was a time to celebrate a quarter century with a new stage, a quality line-up of artists and fine ales.

Matt Woosey got things underway with beautiful tenor vocals that echoed John Martyn and Robert Plant. You could hear Martyn's influence in his slap-and-pick style and Led Zeppelin in the rich chords of his instrumental lines. Blues Matters Writers' Poll voted him Solo Artist Of The Year in 2014 and it's a full sound that stands up on its own. His song "Love Is The Strangest Thing" has pleasing melodies over a drone bass-line recalling "Houses Of The Holy". His set closer, "Black Smoke Rising", featured some frenzied bottleneck work.

Awarded Young Artist of the Year in 2014 by Blues Magazine, Laurence Jones is an awesomely talented guy with a cheeky grin. The 23-year-old has been touring in a three-piece band and there was lots of great interplay, trading riffs and head-locking with bass player Roger Inniss. Typical of this was an excellent version of Leadbelly's "Good Morning Blues", grounded in a slow but funky bass line with stunning improvised guitar from Jones on top. In tribute to the late BB King Jones laid down a very distinctive version of "The Thrill Is Gone". His take of Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower", via Jimi Hendrix, even took in a bit of "Stairway To Heaven" along its journey. The hot close evening, with swallows swooping around the old Regal Cinema, was a fitting setting for Jones's "Thunder In The Sky" with his fingers a blur up the fretboard. Vocally he can certainly hold a note. Steve Walwyn of Dr Feelgood joined their set for a beautiful fusion of old and new talent to bring the set to a fitting close.

Dr Feelgood came out of Canvey Island's pub rock scene along with Eddie and The Hot Rods and the choppy chords originally punched out by Wilco Johnson were very influential in UK punk. That forceful in-your-face style is what hits you first. Robert Kane, in his shiny burgundy suit, looked like a well-dressed Johnny Rotten and has that energy and too-cool-for-school combative style. Kane snarls out "She Does It Right" and "Down At The Doctors" over freewheeling riffs from the outstanding Steve Walwyn, who brings such a range of rhythmic effects from his Fender Telecaster. Walwyn has been with the band for 25 years and steered his way through old favourites like "Back In The Night" and "Down To The Jetty". The band know how to blues-up their back-catalogue and "She's A Windup" now comes with a Johnny B. Goode style riff. "Milk And Alcohol" is just what the Doctor ordered, although a shortage of dairy offerings in The Regal meant the crowd had to make do with real ale... such is life..!

The Saturday afternoon session closed with The Vincent White Band bringing some powerful lap-slide guitar to the party. Playing the guitar 'upside down', following the style developed by the blind Canadian Jeff Healey, allowed 18-year-old Vincent to do pianistic hammering on and wild vibrato effects while his brother Jack White dealt out the rhythm on the drums. They did some superb tributes to Robert Hiatt songs.

After a two day drive from Sweden Armadillo Blues opened on Saturday night by telling us that they loved this beautiful town. With a bass that looks like it was designed to build spaceships, vocalist Jesper Hedegård took us through some classic delta-style blues written by the band. Stefan Bergstrand, a software developer by day and Elwood J. Blues look-alike by night, mixed classical tuning and slide tuning in swamp-style ZZ-Top blues and AC-DC stomping.

Ben Poole's muscled build belies the sweet falsetto harmonies he and Steve Watts layer onto Poole's songs. Watts sets up some great Hammond keys for Poole to coat with straight-ahead riffs. The band produced a fantastic slow-motion blues, with plenty of false endings to keep the crowd guessing. Poole's plectrum skated across the strings and he hurled the guitar around with wild abandon at the climax to his songs. Otis Reading's "Mr Pitiful" got an extended vocal riffing to complement the guitar work. Poole played with the late Gary Moore and you can hear the influence of Moore's phrasing with riffs being given space to breathe.

Chantel McGregor began her set with a beautiful solo version of Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon", demonstrating her ability to render delicate vocals and understated guitar. But that was just to confuse us, along with her band, she then turned everything up to the max to rock out the Regal. Flicking her blonde hair, with fingers flying unbelievably quickly up the fretboard of her white guitar - it's more than evident why she won Guitarist of the Year in 2014 at the British Blues Awards. The sheer range of tone and texture McGregor can pull out of the instrument is jaw-dropping. Drummer Keith McPartling sent out rolling waves of beats that create an irresistible structure on which to lay her virtuosity. She invited us to boogie to her disco rocker "Fabulous" and chill to "Anaesthetise" - a track from her new album to be released in September.

This diverse list of artists characterises the range of talent that Wallingford Blues & Beer Festival can attract as a well respected event on the British Blues scene. It was therefore a fitting tribute for their 25th that both nights were sell-outs. Here's to the next 25 years – and meanwhile get the 2016 dates in your diary now - 10 & 11 June. Cheers!

More info: www.bluesandbeer.co.uk Wallingford Blues and Beer CIC is a registered charity run entirely by volunteers. All proceeds are distributed to local music and youth based organisations. This year the event is supporting Blewbury Brass Band and the FarmAbility. Contact: geoff@bluesandbeer.co.uk

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