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Author Topic: 2005 European Blues Association Blues Week  (Read 1760 times)

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Offline Johnm

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2005 European Blues Association Blues Week
« on: August 26, 2005, 03:36:56 PM »
Hi all,
I just got back about a week ago from the EBA's Blues Week.  It was a great time.  The event was held for the first time at the University in Northampton, which is much more centrally located in England than is Exeter, where the event had been held the previous five years.  One of the effects of having the event in a new location was that I think it made the entire event feel new, even for old hands who had been to many or all of the Bluesweeks in the past.  This, combined with a significantly larger group of students and staff than in any prior year made this year's event feel like a particular watershed.
It was good to see many Weenies in attendance, some of whom I know by their Weenie monickers, and others whom I know by their given names.  Blues Home (Phil) and Norfolk Slim (Simon) were in attendance, as well as Andrew, David Popple, and John Anderson.  There were also many strong players among the first-time attendee contingent.  In hearing people play, I had much the same feeling as at Port Townsend, that the general level of musicianship has risen a great deal in the years I have been attending the Workshop.  I felt this year, in particular, that many of the harmonica players had made big strides in terms of tone production and being comfortable soloing. 

First time additions to the staff included Ari Eisinger, Mike Dowling, Kenny Sultan, Tom Ball, Ethel Caffie-Austin, Delnora Roberts, and Eddie Martin.  Ari was really snake-bit by the British Airways strike.  He ended up being switched to Air Canada, which bumped him and then proceeded to lose his guitar and bag.  They showed up eventually, thank God, but I can't imagine someone dealing with such a frustrating situation with greater equanimity than Ari did, with unfailing good humor, and his wry wit.  He played his public concert set on a borrowed guitar (thanks to John Cephas for the loan) and if you know the kind of material Ari plays, the idea of doing it on any instrument other than your own is pretty daunting.  His playing and singing sounded as great as ever and it was great to hear him and have a chance to hang out.  Mike impressed everyone with his all-around high quality musicianship and excellent teaching.  It was neat to get a chance to play some of that duo stuff we worked up for Port Townsend again.  Kenny and Tom, whom I had heard of for years but never heard or seen, did a great job and did a really strong concert set.  Tom is a pretty amazing harmonica player, and Kenny backs him perfectly, as well as getting off some nifty solos of his own.  It was wonderful to see and hear Ethel and Delnora again.  Ethel had an amazing piece in her public concert set that really sent everybody.  Eddie is a strong singer and player who does a really good job as a one-man band.  Not too many of them around!
Returning staff members Michael Roach, Phil Wiggins, John Cephas, Homesick Mac, Michael Messer, and Johnny Marrs were all in fine form, as well, and it was good to hear them.
It will be interesting to see how this event continues to evolve.  It grew so much this year, it is hard to imagine where it might go next.  I hope the participants (called delegates in England) enjoyed it as much as I did.  What do you say, guys?
All best,


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Re: 2005 European Blues Association Blues Week
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2005, 11:38:52 PM »
I was at Northampton as well... and Exeter for the last 3 years.

I followed Kenny's teaching regularly. He's a very good teacher, - despite 25 students - everything is clear and immediatly playable and adaptable to your "style". We worked on rythmic patterns in OD and standard and included some slide solos in. At the end of the week we had a big presentation with Tom's harmonica class. We were 30-40 students on the stage... !!!

I also went to Mike Dowling's class and worked on improvisation on a boogie woogie style. I experimented a long jam with Mike even playing Django swing.

I've been to Ari's ear training class. You all know how a good guitar player he is, be sure he's also a very friendly person.
I really expect Ari and Kenny to come back next year to teach "intermediates".

I experimented a Michael Messer slide / lap steel teaching. I know Michael for 4 blues week on now. He's a wonderfull slide player and very friendly.

We add big jams - some of them were great - in the evenings. I just regret that they began a bit late after a long stay at the pavillion bar.

And  we had great teaching - that I followed twice a day as each year on now - and concert from John Miller but this is not a "premiere" for you Weenies.

Yves the "froggy"

Offline Norfolk Slim

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Re: 2005 European Blues Association Blues Week
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2005, 12:19:11 PM »
I second all that Yves and John say.

The staff were another notch higher this year which was quite something, and so many of the newcomers turned out ot be really fine performers.  Really enjoyed Kenny and Tom- having started to learn from Kennys books x years ago.  Great good time blues music especially live.

One of the highlights for me was seeing a 13 year old lad who attended last year via the John Jackson Scholarship Fund the EBA administers.  This year he has been saving up his lunch money to come (and presumably not eating much at school during the day!).  The improvement in his harp playing is stuning.  Such confidence and tone from a 13 year old; he brought the house down more than once with his performances.  He could really make his way in music if he sticks hard at it.

I've got two songs in particular from John M's lessons which I intend getting stuck into Ishmon Bracey's woman woman and Papa Charlie Jackson's Loan me your heart.  Fun stuff.

Sorely tempted to see if I can make it to PT next year instead  /as well....

Offline Buzz

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Re: 2005 European Blues Association Blues Week
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2005, 02:42:45 PM »
Sounds like a terrific time was had by all!
So many Blues Camps, so little time! :P
Do good, be nice, eat well, smile, treat the ladies well, and ignore all news reports--which  can't be believed anyway,


Offline harvey

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Re: 2005 European Blues Association Blues Week
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2005, 03:37:27 AM »
Thanks for writing this review of our week John/Yves/Simon. I was going to post something myself but been to busy since returning. Then I thought I would give my perspective anyway so here goes....

Once again a great time of course. The Pavilion bar wasn't upto much on the beer front but a good venue for playing and some good weather, which is unusual for Northampton.

I agree 100% the standard was really high both from the students and staff. In general I would say that it is big enough now but as the EBA need to raise money for the archive project I would not begrudge them growing it again in the hope of raising more funding.

The problem from my point of view but it is a positive one. If you play country blues and you want to do a bit of slide you have the choice of John M, Ari, Mike, Michael R, Michael M, Mac, John C, Kenny. It is always best to stick with a one set of classes during the week so there is just too much choice !!

John's classes were excellent again. Songs covered (apologies if I missed any I am doing this from memory) Drunken Spree - Skip James, Loving Babe - Henry Thomas, Woman Woman Blues - Ishmon Bracey, Turtle Dove Blues - Peg Leg Howell and to finish of the week and bring a smile to my face Baby Please Loan me your Heart - Papa Charlie Jackson....... So as you see, for us part time players a lot of homework to do.

The rest of my week was spent on slide and John Cephas Skip James lessons (More homework!)   

This week is exceptional. There is nothing that I am aware of compares to this in the UK.  The standard of teaching is superb and the fact that the staff members mingle and chat with all the delegates all week, and they say they get out of it as much as the students is great.  I come away from my second year with my head throbbing with information and new songs.

Couple of other mentions, as above Ari Eisinger, frankly if I had his travel issues I would have probably turned around and gone home. He not only arrived, performed and teached with borrowed guitars, the smile didn't leave his face once and he had time for anyone who wanted to talk to him.  Then there was the performance. We had One Dime Blues and  Matchbox Blues - with the words changed slightly to his current situation (His clothes and guitar did not turn up until the second part of the week) Frankie, Jesus Gonna make up my Dyin Bed (probably some more but I am doing this from memory and Blues week does this to your brain, so much music you forget bits and pieces). Ethel Caffie-Austin was stunning as well as John mentioned above, Gospel wasn't really my taste before I saw her but I was blown away and you could not help but be moved by it.

Finally Yves, thanks for you little pieces of advice regarding Bo Carter. I hope to become as proficient as you with his music some day :-).  I agree with you on the jams. Because they were large and late it did not lend itself for learning new stuff but that was just the set up of the place.  Overall I preferred Exeter in that respect but I would not complain if they said Northampton again next year.

Till next year, John Let us know if you will be in the UK again before then....