Bruthen Blues 2006

Due to lot of wanting to do other things than music I haven't been patronising festivals. I decided to change that behaviour and make an effort to attend the annual Bruthen Blues Festival.

Friday night is traditionally the 'jam night' where anyone can get up and play a bit. I noticed this year that the registration process involved writing your name using a chalk on a blackboard. After some encouragement from the other patrons I put my name down to become last on the list.

The MC was a lady named Eva and she did a good job introducing acts and encouraging the patrons to get behind the acts. The structure of a set seemed to be two or maybe three songs if you were good :)

The event kicked off around 9:00 and finished up around 12:30. Eva had to make a few executive decisions and cut a few acts short as time was running out. Some of the acts got stuck into jamming and had trouble stopping which cut into the time. Some of the solo acts must have been a bit disconcerted as half way through the set musos would just walk onto the stage and join in. More often then not the solo player was swamped. Eva asked one performer to play another song without any assistance from the jammers so that the judges could hear what she was doing.

The performances were graded by a panel of judges with three prizes in the offering.

I nearly missed out on my set as Eva had trouble reading some of the names, including mine. I made my presence felt and finished off the night. Eva informed me that the judges had already left to consider their verdict. I said that was fine, I was just joining in with the spirit of the event and didn't expect to be judged.

I chose to play solo, so I could have more control of the sound, as the mixer man had different views on sound quality than I have. As I was setting up, a drummer left the stage mumbling about my choice to play solo.

I performed "Route 66" first, followed by "Foxy Lady". Earlier in the evening Jay Wagstaff had performed "Foxy Lady", but as I informed the patrons tongue in cheek, that the song was originally written as a slide piece. I had some difficulty with the guitar sound as I hadn't played the Guyatone lap steel for a very long time and quickly realised why. The pickup is set too high and gets in the way of the strings when the playing becomes a bit too active. I was puzzled when I couldn't hear the highest string, and then I remembered, Ah yes, now I remember!

Eva asked me to play another short piece as the result of the audiences reaction to me. So I played a medley of a couple of songs.

I thanked everyone, packed up and had a good chat with Jay Wagstaff. We are both Jimi Hendrix fans and caught up with what we were doing. Jay and his family set up the original festival and ran it for nine years before deciding to gracefully pass it on to a committee to share the burden. Jay was quite happy to just be part of the audience and enjoy a more relaxed life.

As we were chatting, a patron came up to me and told me that I'd won a prize. I must have looked puzzled as I certainly wasn't expecting anything. I went up to the stage and collected a wrist band that entitled me to a weekend pass to the festival.

Glad I made the effort to attend.

The ride home was most pleasant, arriving home around 3:30 am. Long day!