Welcome to CRAZY COWBOY 3, fifteen live bands in one day and it was sold out weeks ago, once again all thanks to the hard-working dynamic duo Steph Raymer and my brother from another mother Alec, along with a team of soundmen, lighting and bar staff, not forgetting Mr Cash the lovable dog or Super Cash tonight, complete with cape.
It is no mean feat to put on an event as huge as this and to run it so smoothly but that is what these guys do: two stages, everything running on time (well almost) and providing wonderful food throughout the day, big up to the curry man and his wife.
The red room main stage, the blue room smaller stage which will henceforth be called red, and blue in this review.
Red First band of the night SONS OF LIBERTY five musicians from Bristol and south Wales. I had heard good things about this band and was interested to see how they would handle kicking off the proceedings, all dressed in cowboy hats except for the bandana clad bass man Mark, lead singer Rob and the rest of the guys smiling; Fred guitars, Andy Moose guitars and Steve drums, play southern rock the way it should be played. These seasoned professionals know this genre inside out, showcasing their new EP Aged in Oak and also playing songs from their first one Shinola: they had the audience clapping singing and also laughing at Rob’s stories throughout their set. Rob has a great throaty vocal and plays a mean blues harp, his stage presence is a mix of Ronnie Van Zant and Ricky Medlocke: crouching at his mic stand and singing songs about whiskey, north American Indian culture complete with war dance and even being Up Shit Creek and tonight they played a cover of Train Train as it was Alec’s favourite. I really want to catch these guys again for a bigger set and look forward to seeing them somewhere on the road. What a great start to the festival.
I missed most of the next group BACKBONE BLUES BAND, but from what I did catch they play a laid back slow and smooth old school blues. And while I was upstairs networking, I could hear them doing a great version of House of the Rising Sun that must have been awesome in the smaller room.
Completely missing STONE THIEVES set (sorry guys networking) we did have a chat upstairs and you have my card contact me!
Determined not to miss any other bands I made my way down to Blue for THE OUTLAW ORCHESTRA, first time seeing them but once again had heard good things about them. I wasn’t disappointed, they play foot stomping blues rock and I loved the banter between lead singer and guitarist Dave and the crowd: reading a text from their banjo player who couldn’t make it as he had to work. It had the crowd in fits and really warmed them to the band along with Alex on Oversized Violin sorry! Double bass, and Ryan on drums. Dave said they were the three amigos for today and this trio rocked the room, some great slapping from Alex on his bass and Ryan beating away in time and great to see the room so full it was packed in there! They smiled and joked throughout their set and really enjoyed themselves, and the crowd and I certainly did.
Red: BUILDING GIANTS these four lads from Preston play rock with energy and passion: Joe, Tom, Matt and Huw deliver a fast and furious set. I saw them at Crazy Cowboy 2 in the smaller room and was impressed right away how tight a band they were, but a year on and they are now as tight as a ducks ass, a bigger stage for Tom to dance jump and generally go apeshit on with his guitar waving around, Joe’s vocals are stronger than ever and he was knocking out some great bass lines; Matt along with Tom playing dual guitar and impressive solos and Huw bashing some crazy drum patterns. The hall wasn’t too full unfortunately but for the people who didn’t see them they missed a great band and a great set.
Blue: Next up in the smaller room, THE NILE DELTAS: a Leicester six piece, Craig vocals, Tom and Nige guitars, Giles on Hammond piano/organ, Bruce bass, and Damon on drums they play a mix of rock and southern blueish songs. The first thing I noticed when they came on stage to a lot of smoke was Craig’s face: he wasn’t that impressed having to start the set in a cloud of fog, but when he did what a voice! reminiscent of Paul Rodgers, a loud vocal that impressed me straight away. They were showcasing their debut ep Life and began the set by playing the first three songs from it: Don’t Play with Me, Lying Eyes and Dust Me Down. I love the sound of the Hammond organ and Giles had plenty of opportunities to show his skills on it. They reminded me a lot of early Whitesnake and I really enjoyed seeing them do their stuff and, I repeat, I look forward to seeing them again somewhere on the road. Went for some lovely food and I bumped into some good friends and got talking so only saw the last couple of songs by the next band in Red: EVERYDAY HEROES. I was very surprised to see the big hall with very few people in it, I saw them last year at the Hard Rock Hell afterparty and they were really impressive. I don’t know if it was the lack of audience but I felt they didn’t seem to enjoy themselves as much on stage tonight. I might be totally wrong because admittedly I only saw the last bit of their set so maybe they were buzzing earlier, but from what I saw they weren’t feeling it tonight, sorry guys. Blue: the room was rammed, probably why the main room before wasn’t: TROY REDFERN BAND were about to hit the stage. Troy and the rest of the band, Adam Bertenshaw on bass and drummer Jack Marley not only play blues, old school dirty and modern rock blues, but also in your face rock and roll. Troy lights up a stage with his slide guitar work and really enjoys himself: his guitar talks to the crowd and says you are going to listen to this and you are going to enjoy it, and judging by the massive crowd’s reaction they sure did. His voice has a real blues growl when needed but also a powerful rock vocal and, along with chatting to the audience throughout the set, he had them clapping and fist pumping.
SIOBHAN MAZEI was to do a solo acoustic spot in Red next. Leicester born Siobhan has her music deeply influenced by folk but this is no one trick pony: she also sings grunge and rock and has a really powerful voice but also a sweet melancholic one when it needs to be. I was really impressed with her sound board and neck tapping and some of the incredible harmonics she produced, when Siobhan plays, she disappears into her music and its lovely to watch. She played a great cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Chains and bravely in my opinion, as this is not a song many soloists would take on, and also a version of something I hadn’t heard in a long time: Slipknots’ Danger Keep Away. Unfortunately, some noisy people in the crowd decided to talk over some of her slower numbers and didn’t appreciate the beauty of her voice, but I loved her performance and you could see she loved playing for everyone too.
Blue… MATTY JAMES CASSIDY BAND: Matty, who also plays bass guitar with Tyla’s Dogs D’Amour, is a Northern Ireland guitarist and singer who originally started off as a drummer. He and his own band comprising of Phil (his brother) on guitar, Bret Barnes on sax, and Ace Carlton on drums, play rabble rousing songs, some with a country folk vibe and some with punk and definitely a Celtic rebel sound to many of them. He has an amazing presence on stage with his chiselled sideburns and rock and roll appearance, but what I loved most about this band was the energy and excitement they created on stage, Bret looking and playing like a heavy metal version of Roxys Phil Manzanera, and the great duet of Phil’s guitar and Ace’s hand clapping and fist pumping rhythms it was a real rock and roll rebel punk country time in that room: the place was packed but everyone still managed to dance and pogo around to Matty and the guys, it was like some kind of Ceilidh mosh pit. I look forward to seeing Matty again later in the year at HRH Sleaze when he’s playing with Tyla and the gang.
Red: A band I had wanted to see for a while was on next, THE BRANDY THIEVES. I walked in just as Andrea Kenny lead vocals and acoustic guitar was starting her beautiful acapella intro on the song Parting Glass. She is like a tattooed punk version of Fairground Attraction’s Eddi Reader: an incredible vocal range and stage presence. Another of the Leicester invasion this band just blew me away, they play a mix of blues, country, and even a little bit of reggae thrown in, Seb on banjo and slide guitar and the wonderful drum technique of Chris along with a nice deep bass sound played by Cain and excellent harmonies. The medium crowd never stopped dancing to everything they did, playing songs from their first album Old Tattoos and their new release Devils Wine they entertained us and their set seemed to fly by; I wanted more and I will definitely see them again on the road.
Blue: JACK J HUTCHINSON BAND. Jack was playing tonight with one of Gorilla Riot’s orange amps they lent him as he blew his own Marshall DSL up. The band are Jack vocals and guitar, Felipe Amorim (drums) and Lazarus Michaelides (bass). They are currently working on their follow up album to their critically acclaimed Paint No Fiction. Jack is not only a fantastic musician but a real all-round nice guy: he always takes time out to have a chat and his incredible guitar skills and powerful vocal range never fail to entertain. The room was once again packed out, to see him do his stuff; having recently toured with Kris Barras he played songs from PNF and you just have to be there to witness his version of Peter Green’s Oh Well: absolutely awesome, he also treated us to a new song Lucky Man which had a great reception and he had great news after his set, the girls behind the merch stand had sold everything and he had made enough to get himself another amp YAY. If you’re lucky enough to be going to HRH Blues in a couple of weeks you will see Jack again delivering his special brand of music.
Red: DEAD MANS WHISKEY. Anyone who has seen my reviews will know how much I love these guys, I’m always saying this but they get better every time I see them. Nico’s voice, Billy’s and Elliot’s dual guitar work, James’ driving bass and Charlie’s drumming: this bunch get tighter and tighter, they must rehearse and rehearse to be such a well-oiled machine. All the Whiskey Chasers were there to see them, but I was surprised that being on the main stage there wasn’t more people in the hall. I’m guessing that after such a long day and it was hot in the rooms that many were outside getting air. Kicking off with a crowd favourite Live Loud and Ready they had the fans singing along straight away, My Year, War Machine; all the favourites were there, then they went into a little jam before the fun theatricals between Billy and Nic on Hoe Street. I won’t give anything away, just go and see them you’ll love it, then the emotional Make you Proud, ending with their latest single Racing Bullet. Their forty-five minute set ended much too quickly but once again the Whiskey boys had shown why they have such a huge fanbase and are so popular around the circuit.
Blue: the penultimate band of the night and one many of the punters had been waiting to see all day, the Manchester Five-piece GORILLA RIOT. Having recently secured a record deal with OFF YER ROCKA this band are going from strength to strength and have amassed a huge fan base, their style of blues rock with a tinge of stoner and a lot of country is getting them gigs everywhere and straight after this festival they are off to Spain.
Their laid back down and dirty blues has taken them on a roller coaster ride since they started in 2014 playing at The HRH awards, playing on the rising stage at Ramblin’ Man festival, two eps and an album in the making, things are not going too bad for them, are they? The band are lead singer and guitarist Arjun Bhishma, in his signature hat, Liam Henry guitars and vocals, Charly T guitars and vocals, James (Degsy) Degnen bass, and newly acquired ex Voodoo Blood drummer Will Lewis. Whatever style you want to call their music these lads play it with a lot of soul, Arjun’s approach to the crowd is just so free and easy: he relaxes everyone who listens to him, you just drift way into the music and I think that’s one of the reasons they are so popular – they appeal to everyone. I saw children in the audience wearing Gorilla Riot tees and dancing, you don’t see that everywhere. I’m not exaggerating when I say big things are going to happen for this band in the future: already being played frequently on Planet Rock and other radio stations, the gigs keep piling in for them and I can’t see it slowing down.
Headliners tonight are BAD TOUCH, led by the flowery shirt wearing Stevie Westwood who has an incredible voice range ably assisted by the two guitarists Rob and Daniel, with Mike on bass and the beast on the drumskins George. They have been going now since they were in college in 2010 and unlike the Riot boys, haven’t received the massive attention they deserve. I have seen them along with LadyGigger many times now, and they always give 110%. They are all terrific musicians in their own right, yes, they have their fans but why oh why do you not hear them played on the radio much and why they struggle at times to get the gigs is beyond me. Doing an hour set to a packed hall they played all the songs that the fans love… Too Many Times, Hammer Falls, Sky Man, Believe in Me, Outlaw, and more and ended with everyone’s favourite anthem 99% where the hand clapping and crowd singing brought a massive smile to Stevie’s face. I also don’t know many bands who write their set lists on paper plates, love it! The punishment that George was giving the poor old drums all night was painful, tub thumping wasn’t in it! He beats those skins to within an inch of their life and I enjoyed every moment, the impressive hooks and sounds that the two axemen played all night, the fast bass lines it was all there and it was a great end to an incredible 11 hours of music and fun. I do hope these guys eventually break into the big time because, believe me, they deserve to.
Well that was Crazy Cowboy 3 a wonderful day of music, fun and meeting old friends and making loads more.
Congratulations to all the crew and the bands making it all run smoothly and efficiently, but the biggest props must go to Steph and Alec who told me the idea of CC originally was to create a family fun atmosphere and they certainly have accomplished that, see yawl in September for CRAZY COWBOY 4.
Review by Dave Martin & pics by Carol Henson aka LadyGigger
Exclusive to Jace Media and Metal Planet Music.