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PICKIN’ & GRINNIN’


SummerTyne Americana Festival July 20-22, 2012 This was the seventh annual Sage


Americana Festival on the southern banks of the Tyne, and as usual, most of the acts on the Jumping Hot Club stage were virtually unknown to 99 per cent of the audience at the beginning of each day, but judging by the noisy applause each act received at the end of their set, everyone went home with at least one brand new favourite band. The Jumping Hot Club Hot Fries stage on Friday afternoon is always full of local acts and this year it was surprise after pleasant surprise, with bands I’d only seen in listing magazines performing like road- hardened veterans. Fischer-Price opened proceedings


with some remarkable Delta blues, then Shipcote and Friends followed with their very own blend of lilting country swing, which was just perfect as the sun tried to peek through the clouds. Regulars at the Cumby will know Holy Moly and the Crackers and they won’t be surprised to hear that the Raggle Taggle Gipsy Folk got the first of the dancers up and kept them jigging and bobbing for a full forty minutes. Staggering Jon Lee had put a band together especially for the Festival and they put on a show fit for the main stage at Glastonbury! Next on stage was the classic country sound of the Honeybop Trio who were so good, they had people demanding an encore. Kontiki Suite from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Cumbria ended Friday with an exquisite hour of jangly guitar music that put me in mind of Teenage Fanclub at their best. The crowds were out in force very


early as the sun made a surprise all-day appearance on Saturday, which meant that the Sage hill was quite full as the dapper Rob Heron and the Tea Pad Orchestra got the party in full swing with their danceable ragtime offering. Glasgow’s City Sinners kept the spirits


up with a healthy dose of country-rock before Viper Central wowed the crowd with some raucous bluegrass. Londoner Errol Linton received rapturous applause mid-song a couple of times, as his deep soulful voice and mighty mean blues


harmonica captivated the large crowd. One of the biggest surprises of the


SummerTyne Weekend was the Pine Hill Haints who produced a spectacular hillbilly show that was as easy on the eyes as it was on the ears. With hardly time to buy another beer, MaryJean Lewis and the Starlight Boys proved to be the perfect band for the Saturday tea-time slot as they gave us a lesson in rock‘n’roll before Mama Rosin from Switzerland ended the day with some white hot Cajun music that included the trio clambering off stage to join the dancers! On Sunday I arrived just as the


mysterious Big Red and the Grinners— dressed in Tuxedos and wellies—twisted a host of classic pop and disco songs, turning them into hillbilly tunes. Pure genius! The whole afternoon was spent running around the site, which meant I only saw 10 minutes of Eric Brace and Peter Cooper, making a mental diary note to see them if and when they return to the region. I hung around to see the first half hour of the Treetop Flyers tip-top country-rock, which seemed even more impressive later when they sat in front of me and only looked like bairns! Roots duo, Morrison and West captivated the audience with their intricate mandolin and guitar playing—their songs and harmonies weren’t half bad either. To many regular Jumping Hot Club


fans it was a bit of a surprise to see Larkin Poe playing the outside stage at SummerTyne rather than one of the inside halls, but that is to the club’s credit that they can still call on acts of this stature to play at SummerTyne. The Lovell Sisters—now better known as—Larkin Poe took Gateshead by storm with a set chock-full of great country-rock songs, full of breathtaking mandolin and slide guitar playing. Yet again, the crowd called for an encore, but in this case the sisters had to get to Newcastle airport for a flight to Switzerland for a gig the same night. The visibly disappointed audience


was soon being wowed by the Belfast blues rocker, Grainne Duffy, who elicited memories of sweaty nights at the Mayfair Club, only this time, the fiery guitarist was female! Yet again there were cries for an encore; but time was against it. What about legendary folk-rock band, Slim Chance? When they perform these days, Welsh singer Geraint Watkins takes most


(Top to bottom) Grainne Duffy, City Sinners, Larkin Poe, Viper Central © Alan Harrison


of the lead vocals; the band rocking and rolling through nearly an hour of their own hits and even shoehorning in a couple of Ronnie Lane’s songs from the Faces too—Debris and Ooh la la. As their allotted time slot quickly passed by, they were joined by a mysterious figure in a long brown overcoat and bowler hat. Most of the attendees were baffled as the stranger took his place behind a set of keyboards. However, the stage was swiftly surrounded when word spread that it was Dr John’s legendary piano player, Jon Cleary who guided the band and audience to the end of yet another SummerTyne Americana Festival. Alan Harrison


Maverick 21


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