“100 years of Blues & 60 minutes to play it”. That’s how Edinburgh Blues band The Blueswater describe their musical mission at the yearly Edinburgh Festival. Certainly, they play at an often frantic pace that suggests they might even cover all that ground in an hour. They even got an extra 30 minutes on top at Kult 41 on Sunday and sneaked in half the band for the support slot to shoe-horn in as much premium RnB as any sane, blues-loving human could hope for. Certainly, if you didn’t know by 10pm what the Blues was all about, then quite frankly, Jack – you dead!
If you saw my rave review of the band last year then you will hopefully have been there in person this time around. Lead singer Felipe certainly remembered last year’s show – he told me in particular how much he remembered the audience ‘going crazy’ and hoping it will be the same again tonight. I smile in agreement as I wipe sweat from my already perspiring forehead – and the show hasn’t even begun yet. It’s going to be a hot one!
Promoter Dominik Haffner is as excited about the coming show as Felipe. He ‘discovered’ The Blueswater on a whisky tasting holiday over in Scotland, and his enthusiasm is evident as he steps onstage to introduce the evening’s music. Curiously as he introduces the support band, Jed Potts & The Hillman Hunters, Jed Potts, Charlie Wild and on the drum stool, Simon Gibb – half of The Blueswater band – are standing behind him.
With the absence of Felipe I’m sort of expecting instrumental versions of the numbers that the main act will play. As it turns out though Potts handles the vocals convincingly enough and the extra ‘space’ that a trio provides enables him to show that he’s a crackingly good blues guitar man in the ‘less speed, more feeling’ vein that I love. This is no power trio ala Cream or Taste but they know their stuff and clearly enjoy the music as much as we do.
Curiously the JPHH band has been around since 2008 yet only released their first disc last month. Even more curious is that Pott’s guitar partner in Blueswater Charlie Wild is on bass in the trio. ‘Something you used to play before taking over lead?’ I suggest later. “Not at all” was Charlie’s reply. “I never played bass before. Jed was a man short and asked if I would step in” He laughs. I love this band’s enthusiasm.
By the time Dominik is enthusiastically announcing the main act, it’s hitting sauna temperature levels in the room. I’m doubtful that the mayhem of last year’s show will repeat itself – fruit drinks have been the runner at the bar all evening so enthusiasm will have to be music fuelled rather than alcohol fuelled.
All credit to Felipe and co that they do manage to get up a sizeable ‘dancefloor’ of waving heads and arms. It’s interesting what a difference having a singer with a microphone front of stage makes too. The focal point that JPHH deliberately seemed to avoid.
Two sets of hard-hitting Chicago style Blues, with a ten minute break between for everyone, band and audience, to rush out into the backyard amongst the curious artworks and abandoned bus, and fill their lungs with oxygen again.
Ten minutes into part two and the oxygen has disappeared. Bssist Ewan Gibson and drummer Simon Gibb abandon their shirts. Charlie Wild quickly follows, to show a nifty ‘F*ck You’ tattoo emblazoned on his chest. Jed Potts eyes his companions dubiously before daringly undoing the top two buttons on his checked shirt. Mayhem continues, as does sweat, in abundance.
Ten minutes to 10pm and we are running out of musical time before the curfew. Felipe and co are trying to fit in as much of the 100 years of Blues that remains to be played when the mayhem is suddenly curtailed by the appearance once again of promoter Dominik on the stage to announce in excited German that we/they have to finish at 10pm. The band smile. Felipe smiles again, before exclaiming “What was that about? I didn’t understand a word!”. Despite the heat and the ticking clock, there’s still time in for a frantic ‘Whisky’. It’s the perfect theme song for a band from Scotland of course, and certainly they deserved a glass or three for their efforts this fine evening.
Back in Edinburgh this coming August The Blueswater will again be presenting their award winning suite of music covering over 110 performances across 9 shows in three weeks. Even that won’t be enough time to cover 100 years of the Blues completely; but if you’re down that way I whole heartedly recommend that you see them at least try. Here in Bonn, I’m thinking that what must be one of the liveliest bands in Scotland is no longer an insider tip this side of the ocean. Whisky is great, but If you need a good time try something a wee bit stronger – you need The Blueswater.