Isle of Man News - POSTED Tue 05-05-2009

Showstoppers: Another Successful Year for Laxey Blues

by Liz Corlett

Showstoppers: Another Successful Year for Laxey Blues

Bank holiday weekend saw Laxey's 11th Big Wheel Blues Festival roll by successfully, bringing music fans of every stripe face to face with superlative international - and local - talent.


Over Saturday and Sunday (2nd and 3rd of May), several hundred people descended on Laxey's Pavilion Ballroom to hear a hugely eclectic line-up of artists under the Blues 'banner'.


During the afternoon, there were excellent free sets by local artists - amongst them RedGap, The Heights, I Am President and Al & Katie Lawrence - while each evening featured three world-class acts.


On the sell-out Saturday night, the show opener was Texan Rodney Branigan, whose mind-bending guitar skills caused the audience' jaws to drop. The all-woman Rogue Dolls proved more than worthy successors with their infectious good-time vibe and ace musicianship. They, in turn, passed the baton to headliners Jerimiah Marques and the Blues Aces. 

An irresistible blend of blues, ska, rock 'n' roll and roots reggae, this stunning band will be remembered as one of the finest acts to grace the festival stage.


Soulful playing and wry wit marked the Sunday night performance of legendary guitarist Miller Anderson, before The Eddie Martin Trio stoked up the heat with a primal set of stripped-down, slide-heavy blues. 

Bringing the weekend to a close, the Kyla Brox Band put in another 'high water mark' show. Kyla's magnificent vocals alone, complemented by the flawless work of her musicians, spoke volumes about the calibre of performer that the Festival attracts.


It's a reputation which has been built up over a decade of hard work and tireless enthusiasm by the organisation committee (and band of helpers), whose choice of artists, year on year, has introduced swathes of people to new musical loves. 

The Festival, which is sponsored by Douglas advocates Cains, has also been instrumental in nurturing local musicians by giving them an ideal platform for performance. Committee member Dave Maclean commented 'For me, the main highlights were two local acts springing up from nowhere. Sarah Puzzar from The Heights was absolutely amazing. 

'The other local act I really enjoyed was Beastie Dovey, who opened the Sunday afternoon acoustic stage. She played Maybelle Carter songs on her autoharp, had a lovely voice and engaged the audience in a really warm way. Americana from Andreas! 

'The main acts were all great, but for me, having such talent coming from the island and being able to give them a stage to play on was a buzz'.

Fellow organiser Pete Christian added 'My feeling is that the whole thing went off just about perfectly. We had a superb mix of styles and sounds in the visiting artists, covering most bases from traditional and rootsy through reggae, funk and jazz. 

'Every act was appreciated though different people had different favourites, which is as it should be. All the artists said they want to come back - they love the Island, the venue, and the welcome they receive'.

Pictured: bluesman Jerimiah Marques

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