John Turrell and the Heed Band
Jumping Hot Club Stage
SummerTyne Festival, Gateshead
Saturday 20th July 2013
The SummerTyne Festival at Sage Gateshead is now in it’s eighth year and going from strength to strength; drawing an eclectic mixture of Americana acts that cover the whole spectrum; from singer-songwriter Folk acts through to Country acts in Stetsons and absolutely everything in between.
John Turrell from North Eastern Soul pioneers Smoove and Turrell, headlined the outside Jumpin’ Hot Club stage on the Saturday evening and chose to launch his first ever solo album at this year’s Festival.
As the Cowboy hats and family’s disappeared into the sunset they were replaced by large groups of Geordie Soulboys and Soulgirls who were intent on partying from the very first notes.
Local lad, John was surrounded by a band made up of very close friends, all wearing t-shirts sporting the new album artwork, whom he had christened the *Heed Band for this appearance and within a minute of the first song; To The City it was apparent that they were as sharp as a pin and the singer proving what a powerful voice he has on such an emotive song.
Wrong Time; which followed, before the cheering had even died down, has been released as a single and received national airplay, possibly because it has all the hallmarks of Stax in their heyday, with the shy and retiring keyboard player Mike Porter echoing Booker T Jones as John did his best not to sound like Bobby Womack; but failed in the best possible way; leaving a few people around me covering their mouths in astonishment.
When John introduced These Things he confessed that he’d first written it many, many years ago when he’d been in a band called The Stevies which no-one would remember; and he was correct; but the song was simply sensational and is as cool as anything coming out of Soul label de jour; Daptone these days and I include Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones in that statement.
My favourite track on The Kingmaker album is Stella Maris and the heavy bass-line and sax playing from Smoove and Turrell’s Dave Milligan felt like a punch to the heart as the sun peeked through the clouds; but the song itself took on a whole new resonance as the singer’s daughters danced in front of their Daddy on the concourse.
After the beautiful soft groove of Hope; which he dedicated to his lovely daughters; who immediately ran away giggling; Turrell and the Heed Band tried to leave the stage but the still packed Shipcote Hill; which faces the stage demanded an encore and were rewarded with with Won’t Get Fooled Again which had over 100 fans of all ages dancing wherever space allowed until an emotional singer left the stage punching the air in triumph.
That evening and again the following morning I became engaged in a couple of conversations about the merits of a Soul band playing at an Americana Festival; but I’m stumped if I know what the true definition of Americana Music is; because to me it is an incredibly broad Church that embraces many different styles of music that are inherently American in origin and what is more American than Soul Music?
*Gateshead is pronounced Gates-heed by local inhabitants.
photos courtesy http://www.harrisonaphotos.co.uk