Cowboy hats a-plenty, and even a lass dressed as Dolly Parton… Saturday, you see, is Outlaw Country day.
After warming up with sharp sets from Jess & The Bandits, Della Mae and Buck & Evans, things ignite when Hayseed Dixie burst in to deliver a 12-song set of their fiery bluegrass covers. As John Wheeler leads his crew through the likes of Hells Bells, Don’t Stop Believin’ and Ace Of Spades, the crowd outside is six people deep. If you weren’t in early, you weren’t getting anywhere near. Shooter Jennings is up next, and while he turns in a spirited one-man show, you can’t help but wish he’d brought his whole band to Mote. Jason & The Scorchers begin playing to a depleted crowd, clashing as they did with the headlining Scorps, but it matters little as their incendiary spirit soon brings the people back in. Top stuff. Y’all come back soon now…
Whether you were on the lookout for your next guitar hero or the wit and wisdom of a blues veteran, The Blues Magazine tent was the place to be. On the young whippersnapper front, there was singer-songwriter VerseChorusVerse (aka Tony Wright) who had the unenviable job of opening the stage at lunchtime and the fresh-faced Aaron Keylock, who despite still being in his teens, wowed with his slide guitar.
The current crop of British blues rock axe-slingers were represented by Danny Bryant and Joanne Shaw Taylor. Bryant pulled out all the stops, leaving no one in doubt of his soloing skills, while they were queuing out of the tent to catch a glimpse of Taylor, who is at the top of her game. But in terms of old-school power, Ian Siegal, the Mick Ralphs Blues Band and Bernie Marsden delivered the goods. Marsden brought the day to a fitting climax with one of his biggest hits with Whitesnake, Here I Go Again. Maidstone might be a world away from Mississippi, but it was blues heaven today.
Gallery, from left: VerseChorusVerse, Mick Ralphs Band, Aaron Keylock, Frankie Davies, Bernie Marsden, Della Mae, Jess & The Bandits, Jason & The Scorchers, Ian Siegal, Joanne Shaw Taylor, Buck & Evans, Shooter Jennings.