SummerTyne 2016 (Saturday)
22nd – 24th July
After an early morning start editing photos from Friday; I arrived bright and early for Day II of SummerTyne 2016, giving me plenty of time for a peak around the stalls in the Sage foyer. The Record/CD/T-Shirt stall were very busy restocking; which was a good sign and I was pleased to bump into a friend of a friend who was manning the tall selling cigar-box guitars. They looked amazing and were retailing between £30 and £100 making them quite affordable too; and I counted 10 of them in plastic bags during the day…..and another dozen on the Sunday.
The Festival got kick-started at noon with Danielle Howle; a new name to me; but someone very highly recommended by some friends who had seen her in that America place. I too was impressed within two songs I was just as impressed with her live wire performance and deeply personal songs; looking and sounding somewhere between Joni and Patti.
Just as Danielle was singing her final song I hurried up to the Lounge where Callahan was performing. Although not wearing the previous evenings ‘leather loon pants’ the twenty minutes I saw was exactly the same with the same worded intros; which was a tad disappointing for me; but presumably the majority of this crowd hadn’t seen her in Hall I on Friday night.
On leaving the room I immediately bumped into two friends; meaning I missed Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay’s first song in Hall II; but the next 15 minutes more than made up for that faux pas. Looking and sounding like a perfect and timeless Country Duo their voices melted together like honey and bourbon. I’ve seen them twice before and have got a couple of albums too; but nothing prepared me for how good they have become in the last three years. I liked them so much; that after a lightning visit to the Jumping Hot Club stage to see 10 minutes of 10 String Symphony; a raw and intense boy/girl Bluegrassy type act that went down extremely well according to friends; but I slinked back into Hall II to watch the last 25 minutes of Brennen and Noel ‘as a fan’…..just sitting there drooling over their voices and fabulous songs; especially Pulled The Rug which turned Hall II into a Geordie Honky Tonk.
On the way back outside I happened on the Americana UK stage where a hippie folk singer called Jess Morgan was singing to a crowd of over 200. Very pleasant she was; but not for the last time this weekend I was left baffled as to what is deemed ‘Americana’ by the Americana UK Association.
After a quick coffee and a sandwich with another mate I’ve not seen since last year; it was back into Hall II to see legendary singer-songwriter Bruce Robison alongside his lovely wife Kelly Willis for 20 minutes. While I fell in love with Kelly’s sweet voice and her own songs; the highlight was Bruce’s son Leavin’ which was one of the events of the weekend.
Back outside it was a rare chance to see Peter Bruntnell in the North East; but I couldn’t help thinking this music from the dark end of Alt. Country Street are best seen and heard in a dark and dingy club and not in the bright sunshine; but the full to over flowing people packed onto Shipcote Hill will beg to differ; as he went down a storm.
As soon as he finished I popped back inside to see Flats &Sharps from the English West Country whose foot-stomping and barnstorming take on Bluegrass had the rammed concourse clapping along and dancing where space allowed. In the words of a mate from that part of the UK Flats & Sharps were “Gert Lush!”
Halfway through a friend of the Rocking Magpie Website introduced himself and we had a long chat about music and my ‘illness/operation’ last year; which had prompted him to visit his doctor; and thankfully be given the ‘all clear.’ I won’t go on about it but you can help me support Prostate Cancer UK here https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Harrisona58 That conversation meant that I missed May Jean Lewis & Her Lowmen; but I’ve seen them several times and wasn’t surprised to hear that they rocked and rolled in the bright sunshine; causing the front of the stage to be heaving with dancers.
I on the other hand got to see a lovely display of Appalachian dancing; before donning the cheap sunglasses again to see the Urban Pioneers.
As soon as I saw them I knew I would like them; but not only did they look great; their raucous Hillbilly Country music sounded even better; with just about every song being greeted with hoots, hollars and wild applause from the 3,000+ on the Hill; plus I even saw an attempt at square dancing beside the stage!
With time against me I dashed back upstairs to the SummerTyne Lounge to finally see the divine Amelia White, who serenaded us with a bunch of songs from the Home Sweet Hotel album. A little bit cookie, and a great songwriter Amelia was certainly one of the highlights of my weekend.
Speaking of highlights; Mrs. Magpie arrived by taxi just in time to see family favourite Eve Selis in the Saturday evening sunshine on the Jumping Hot Club stage.
I knew Eve Selis was popular; but was still stunned to see that not a single person had left the Hill and several hundred more were standing on tiptoes a the sides to try and catch a glimpse of the singer in her sexy black dress. Hearing her wasn’t a problem as Eve sounded like her life depended on every person in the vicinity hearing her; and for an outside stage the sound was pitch perfect.
This brand of Roadhouse Country was the ideal way to close the afternoon; with a mix of new songs from her latest album and a few older ‘fan favourites’ like my own favourite Russellville; then closed the set with a rip-roaring version of Folsom Prison Blues; which caused a major outbreak of dancing on the Hill, beside the Hill and even behind the Hill!
The crowd demanded an encore and were rewarded with a beautiful version of Hallelujah; before Eve ran into the concourse to sign untold CDs and pose for scores of ‘selfies’ with fans of all ages.
Mrs. Magpie and I then sat in the sunshine devouring some of the tastiest burgers I’ve ever known. As Mrs. Magpie had a quick wash and brush up; it was back inside for me to see Scottish troubadour Dean Owens, who was opening for Gretchen Peters for the first time. He truly is as good as I’d heard and expected and hearing Johnny Cash Played San Quentin was actually quite spellbinding.
After 30 minutes I re-joined my wife in Hall I to see the ‘stars of SummerTyne 2015’ Jess and the Bandits. Last year they played the Lounge and the Concourse and have subsequently headlined Hall II and tonight Jessica Clemmons looked right at home on the ‘big stage;’ rattling through their album without time to catch their collective breath; but with just enough time for each track to be greeted with ever louder applause from the ever growing crowd.
The one song that did get a ‘proper introduction’ was Wichita Linesman which Jess reminded us had been a turning point for the band after singing it on the Terry Wogan Radio Show.
Don’t be surprised if this band actually headline this venue in years to come.
SummerTyne isn’t like any other Festival; as it’s run with Military precision meaning I could nip into Hall II to see Gretchen Peter’s first few songs as Mrs. M enjoyed a glass of wine with some friends.
Gretchen started by apologising for her husky voice, as she had a cold; but carried on regardless. We had loved seeing her at Durham Gala Theatre earlier in the year; opening song When All You Got Is a Hammer couldn’t have sounded angrier or more apt tonight baring in mind what has gone on in the world over the last six months.
Sadly I only got to hear three songs before scampering back to Hall I to see Festival Headliner Imelda May; whom I’ve seen 5 or 6 times over the years and wasn’t too over excited about seeing her tonight.
But…..WOW……who would have thought Imelda May could or would be the surprise package of this weekend?
Moments after the band started playing a backing singer made her way through the shadows; but went to the front of the stage. Hang on! The raven haired beauty with a fringe and a slinky black mini-dress was……….IMELDA MAY!
Yes…Imelda May has had a makeover and boy; does she not only look good but she sounds great; losing the ‘billy’ and gaining a lot more Rock.
Tonight’s show was a glorious mixture of popular songs, fan favourites and a couple of newbies from the highly anticipated T-Bone Burnette produced album due in the Autumn.
The mood for the show was set by the new version of Big Bad Handsome Man; with Imelda virtually spitting out the words……she angry; she DAMN ANGRY!
The all new Imelda May is a heady mixture of Shirley Bassey, Tina Turner, Lulu, Edith Piaf and of course the Irish Sweetheart herself, Imelda May.
For what its worth; this change in direction could and most likely will be a major turning point for Imelda and judging by the couple of new songs included tonight and her amazing version of Spoonful the future is hers for the taking.
I saw an awful lot of music today but missed the Hillbenders revisiting the Who’s Tommy in Bluegrass and later Soul legend Lucky Peterson who played for over 2 ½ hours to just under 100 lucky punters.
Tomorrow is another day!