SummerTyne 2016 (Sunday)
24-25 July 2016
We pride ourselves on our marvelous guaranteed long sultry Summer days in the North East, so it was hugely disappointing that rain and drizzle were forecast for Sunday; and rain and drizzle it did for the first few hours.
Did this put off the hardy inhabitants of Shipcote Hill, overlooking the River Tyne outside Sage Gateshead? Did it Hell? Well over 1,000 hardy music fans were already in situ when local legend Shipcote & Friends strolled onto the stage at noon. It was no surprise to anyone who has seen them play before that they warmed the cockles of our hearts with nearly an hour of sweet Geordie North Eastern Swing and Ragtime.
Although I’d seen her in the crowd thoroughly enjoying the show; it still came as a surprise to see Brennen Leigh join the band for a delightful version of (Instead of spending all your time on) Facebook (spend some with me; which has been a personal favourite for a couple of years.
Just as they bade a fond farewell to the anorak wearing dancers I had to run into the main building to catch a rare visit from adopted Geordie Country chanteuse Gem Andrews. Now resident in Berlin, she regaled us with a variety of songs from both of her albums plus a first outing for new song Bare.
Afterwards I told her that I thought her voice had never sounded better; apparently she’s given up smoking….coincidence? I don’t think so.
Just like Saturday the conversation was sadly cut short as I needed to rush up the stairs to see Norrie McCulloch in the Lounge. Much as I liked his latest album; live and solo he brought an added poignancy to his very personal and intricate songs; especially Black Dust. The song, written about and for his coal mining Grandfather was completed at Townes Van Zandt’s graveside and brought a tear to my eye.
Another highlight of this over short showcase was his cover of Guy Clark’s Old Blue Shirt, which had me imagining the young Scotsman sitting in with Guy, Townes and friends on those famous sessions many years ago.
I barely had time to buy a coffee as I hurried back outside to see one the most highly anticipated acts of the weekend, Hymn For Her. WOW! How good are these guys? For a trio they sure do make a noise and what a cool racket it was; combining Hillbilly music with traditional Country music and some kind of Punked up Bluegrass they immediately had plenty of people cutting a rug in front of the stage and on the stairwells of Shipcote Hill.
The rain may have been at its heaviest for their set but nobody gave a damn; such was their powerhouse set.
Half an hour later while I was thoroughly enjoying the raw Blues of yet another SummerTyne discovery Amythyst Kiah the Pioneers were still posing for selfies and signing newly bought albums at the record stall.
I’d been introduced to Amythyst the previous night but nothing in that two minutes had prepared me for this forty minutes. Combining her own songs with those of Vera Hall and the Reverend Gary Davis, Amythyst’s rich voice was amazing and only barely matched by her guitar playing. Certainly one to watch.
Just as I was chatting to some friends at the end the doors opened to Hall 2 and a couple of hundred smiling people poured out.
Damn! I’d missed Bluegrass legend Ron Block with Sierra Hull and just as importantly local support band Chester & The Fog. Judging by the look on the dispersing faces, and a couple of conversations later in the day I’d missed quite a concert. Such is life at a Festival.
Hey ho; not too upset we made our way back outside to see that young British Country upstarts the Luke & Mel Band had already blown the rain away and the sun was shining. Not necessarily to everyone’s taste (most of my friends are music snobs!) they add a nice touch of Rock to their modern Country songs and genuinely went down a storm with the ever growing crowd on the Hill.
I missed their last two songs as I wanted to see Conrad Vingoe on the Concourse. Hmmm; while he was very good at what he did; I found it all a bit too gloomy; especially for a Sunday afternoon.
A completely different story back outside on the Jumping Hot Club stage though; with Blues legend Little Victor kicking up a veritable storm in the sunshine. He not only looked spectacular but his slide guitar and rip-roaring harmonica playing will live in many peoples memories for years to come.
For once the Concourse stage was running a minute or two behind schedule meaning I caught the whole set from Friend of the Rocking Magpie Miss Amelia White.
After a couple of ‘really dark’ songs the ever smiling Amelia sped the tempo up for the next thirty minutes; choosing a significantly different set of songs from what she’d sung the previous afternoon in the Lounge; including the pleasing new song Sugar Baby. Not afraid of a bit of colour in her outfits, it was actually her big ole Gretsch guitar that caught me eye; or more importantly my ears….this girl can really, really play a guitar.
By the time I arrived back outside Amanda Rheaume and band were in full flow; treating the now full Shipcote Hill to a load of classy Country Rock songs; most notably Better Days Ahead.
Afterwards on the concourse stage were the Worry Dolls; a female duo playing inoffensive folk songs; but yet again I forced to mentally query what the Americana Music Association UK deemed to be Americana music; as this was Folk music, pure and simple.
Now with the sun shining brightly in the sky the Jumping Hot Club stage was about to draw to a spectacular close with the Yolanda Carter band.
Not heard of them? Well you should.
The larger than life Yola was the singer in Phantom Limb some years ago and has recently worked for and with Sage Gateshead; but even after hearing her make guest appearances in the last three SummerTynes nothing prepared me for her fronting her own band in front of an adoring crowd.
Her voice is very nearly as big as her smile and both were used to great effect over the next hour; as the Bristolian blew us away with songs like What You Do, Take Me and when she was joined by the SummerTyne Choir, Fly Away actually received a standing ovation.
In the last 11 years I’ve only seen one act on this stage receive an encore but; and it was well deserved Yola got to play one today and Freedom Road; a heady mix of Gospel, Rock and of course Country had every single person in the vicinity (including yours truly) dancing.
For the majority of people attending SummerTyne 2016 this was a glorious way to close the weekend; but for a completely different set of fans just arriving the day was just beginning.
Me? I nipped in to Hall 2 to see Urban Pioneers absolutely blow the roof off Hall 2 throwing down the gauntlet for the act I’d most been waiting to see…The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band!
Sadly with a 6am start the following morning I could only see their first three songs……and what a hoot they were! If only this double bill had been the previous night; but it wasn’t and I had to call it a day; totally missing Mary Chapin Carpenter in Hall 1.
That was SummerTyne 2016; yet again hundreds of people arrived each day not knowing half the acts on show; but leaving each night with a pile of CDs and their new favourite band of all time!