back                 Maryport Blues Festival 2001                     

Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra

Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra headlined in the marquee at this years Maryport Blues Festival and they turned an already hot tent to absolute boiling point with the best boogie music, that had everyone on their feet.

Of course the marquee show was just part of a weekend of blues music at several venues throughout the town but the class of the artists that appeared all afternoon and evening in the marquee was superb and the organisers deserve congratulations.

Larry Johnson - blues man

Larry Johnson "of fame an no fortune" as he billed himself was first up on stage. In many ways this is the way the blues should be - just a man and his guitar - especially with a performer of this calibre. His nonchalant stride guitar style almost disguised the strength of his riffs and his vocal style was at the same time powerful but relaxed. With good humour all the way through he engaged the audience with a range of blues styles from ragtime to rock, played with skill and experience.

Born in Atlanta,1938, son of a preacher, he started on harmonica but changed to guitar. After leaving the navy in 1957 moved to New York and met the Rev. Gary Davis who became a mentor. Davis taught him much but also allowed him to learn a lot himself and thus he developed his own style also influenced by people like Fats Waller. It is this authenticity that gives his playing such depth. Its good to see his career revived after it had disappeared in the seventies and a privilege to see him at Maryport.  
Larry Johnson Discography
Larry Johnson Biography

Michael Messer playing slide guitarMichael Messer

Michael Messer Band was next on stage with a heavier sound but this genius of slide guitar also played homage to blues roots. By using his mastery of many different slide guitar styles and amalgamating them he produces a great new sound, backed by a very able band. Most of the songs were from his new album with Catfish records "King Guitar" which is a collection, that really shows what the man can do, ahead of a forthcoming album of new material.

For more about the man visit:

Singing the bluesBig Joe Turner

Joe Turner and The Memphis Blues Caravan was the final band of the afternoon and they certainly turned up the heat and had the audience with them all the way. Joe Turner is THE bass player when it comes to the blues having played for many years with Little Milton, Albert King and B.B. King amongst many others and receiving many accolades along the way. Despite being born in Tennessee in 1944 and growing up in those southern juke joints then playing with those greats he appeared at Maryport from a European tour with a very young band. The guitarist deserves special mention for delivering a number of solos in each song filled with wonderful phrases and although sometimes looking almost tentative to take the lead, when he went for it he was stunning. Also great, was the vocalist from New York who commanded the stage, delivered songs with clarity and power and had the audience all joining in to produce a really up-beat atmosphere.

For more about Joe and the band:

Sue Foley at Maryport

Sue Foley started off the evening's entertainment and blasted out some superb blues rock with powerful vocals and some great guitar playing. If asked to name female blues guitarists not many would spring to mind, maybe Bonnie Rait, but after hearing her at Maryport Sue Foley would be the first. With those Texan riffs and delta blues vocals it might also be a surprise to find she was  from Canada. It was also a surprise to find she had flown over especially from the Luzern Blues Festival to be in Maryport. It was a shame therefore that, after the ordeal of a whole day travelling, the power went down during her set - but she won much appreciation from the audience for hanging around to do one more number before setting off for France to appear at the Cognac Blues Passion next day.

She has her own web site, so to find out more visit:

Jools Holland at the pianoSam Brown singing at MaryportJools leads the orchestraSax session

Jools Holland was the man so many people had turned up to see and with the Rhythm and Blues Orchestra he performed a cracking set that turned the atmosphere up to fever pitch. Each member of the 14 piece band took the occasional solo spot including Jools' brother Chris who swapped to piano from Hammond Organ for a number. As well as vocals from the man himself songs were also provided by his regular guest vocalist Sam Brown.

tromboneJools singstrumpetsam brown on backing vocalsjools againguitar

With the marquee sold out and everyone dancing on a warm summer night things got very hot and it was almost a relief when the tent sides were opened for the last number of the encore - despite the terrible disappointment that the show was over. At the end of the day everyone went home happy to have seen some of the best live music anywhere in the world at Maryport.

To visit his own site go to:

To visit the Official Maryport Blues Festival site go to:

Blues orchestra live in the marquee.

Maryport Blues Festival 2001

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