Upton Blues Festival 2022 Review

The first full day, on Friday, of the Upton Blues Festival 2022 was the first since 2019 due to the COVID pandemic.

Thre3e Live on the Riverside stage

The festival takes place in the Worcestershire town of Upton-on-Severn and is a free festival. It has three main stages Riverside, Big Top and Acoustic (which takes place in St. Peter and St. Paul’s church). There are also multi gigs taking place in the pubs and bars dotted around the small town so you are never too far away from some more music.

Gallery: Festival Photos

The Friday headliners at the three separate stages were Sean Webster (Riverside), Hardwicke Circus (Big Top) and The Achievers (Acoustic stage).

Sean Webster band

Sean Webster and his band consisted of Sean Webster (lead guitar and lead vocals), Ash Wilson (guitar and backing vocals), Phil Wilson (drums) and Greg Smith (bass guitar).

They got a large crowd dancing to a great selection of blues numbers with both Sean Webster and Ash Wilson showing off their spectacular guitar playing, ably backed by Greg and Phil. The band was on its last and final tour with Sean now based in The Netherlands with wife and son, and the difficulty of getting dates available what with Ash Wilson having his own highly successful band.

The numbers included “You Gotta Know”, “Forever Gone Away”, “Hear Me Now” and finished for an encore with “Rather Go Blind”

This was the first time for the band at the Upton Blues Festival and they were knocked out by the large crowd and great atmosphere.

Also, on the Riverside stage were London band Thre3e with their powerhouse blues/rock songs. The band name owes homage to Paul Rogers of the band Free.

The other band on the stage was Stephen Dale Petit with their dynamic blues numbers including tracks from their 2020 album “2020 visions”

The Big top stage at the far end of the village also featured The Big Ginge Blues Band, Born Healer, Leamington Spa band The Swaps and American blues singer Kat Pearson

The Swaps

The Acoustic Stage was a more mellow place (most of the time) with singer/songwriters and smaller acoustic groups entertaining the knowledgeable crowds in the church.

The headline act The Achievers are from Stroud, Gloucestershire, and are a 5-piece band with multi-part harmonies, along with powerful singing along with guitars and drums, bringing an exciting and beautiful sound to the audience.

Also appearing earlier included Reverend Robert, Eddie Martin, Jo Carley & The Old Dry Skulls, and Acoustic stage MC Trevor Babajack Steger.

On Saturday, there were several highlights with awarding winning blues guitarist and singer Laurence Jones, from Shipston-on-Stour headlined on the Riverside stage on Saturday evening.

The band is Laurence Jones (guitar and lead vocals), Bennett Holland (keyboards and backing vocals), Jack Alexander Timmis (bass guitar), and Samuel Jenkins (drums).

Laurence Jones

The last time he played the festival was 10 years ago in 2012 when he was playing in one of the town’s pubs, not the main Riverside stage.

The set kicked off with “What’s it Gonna Be” and “Good Morning Blues” to get the crowd roaring their delight.

Next up was his new single from his soon to be released album Destination Unknown (release date 9th September 2022), “Anywhere with Me”.

Also included in his set were another three songs from his new album “Can’t keep from loving you”, In Too Deep” and “Tonight”

The set included “Thunder in the Sky” which is a fan favourite and was one of the first songs Laurence recorded.

On the big top stage Mumbo Jumbo was the first set of the day and they were followed by the Five Points Gang were a very late substitution and had less than 12 hours’ notice to come up from London.

Sons of the Delta, from Gloucester, lost their normal river cruise stage on Sunday, due to the boat being sold during the lockdown. So, they busked across the road from the Acoustic stage in St Paul’s & St. Peter’s church, playing their Americana influenced blues as the duo of Mark Cole (Vocals, guitar & harmonica) and Rick Edwards (guitar).

Next on the Riverside stage was Hooli from Portsmouth with their alternative rocky blues songs.

Sons of the Delta

During the early afternoon, there was a flypast of a Lancaster Bomber from the Battle of Britain collection, based in Lincoln.

The Acoustic stage had a selection of individuals, duos, and bands entertaining the large audiences in the church. This included Michael Woods with his songs from County Durham and the Northeast coalmining communities.

He was followed by Olivia Stevens & Co and Adam Norsworthy before a major change brought the Director of Music Stephen Steinhaus (an American originally from Chicago) to the stage with his Boss Acoustic with the songs from Bruce Springsteen. This ended with dancing in the aisles with the great sound reverberating throughout the church.

Stephen Steinhaus was also a guest singer with Mister Shakes on the Riverside stage early that day.

On the Riverside stage, we next had Ben Poole, who was another change with only two weeks’ notice. It was his only UK festival this year and the first time he had played at Upton Blues and was blown away by the response (he also went walkabout into the crowd with his guitar)

Then the evening was finished off with the brilliant Laurence Jones on the Riverside stage.

The Upton Blues Festival 2023 returns in mid-July 2023.

 

 

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