Rock and Blues Custom Show
Coney Grey Showground, Pentrich, Derbyshire, U.K. July 26-28 2019
Review and Pictures: Nicky Barker
Every year in the month of July The Coney Grey Showground, set in the picturesque countryside in the foothills of the Derbyshire Dales, becomes host to The Rock and Blues Custom Show, where petrol and metal heads come together for a fun packed weekend of custom vehicles and brilliant live music.
The festival, now in its 35th year was once the largest of its kind in the UK. However, after becoming too commercialized the organizers decided to scale it down and bring it back to its roots, giving the festival a more relaxed, personal feel. They have done exactly that. You won’t see security walking around in their high vis jackets at this festival, just good old fashioned bikers in their leather jackets keeping the show running smoothly. The Outlaws Motorcycle Club with their incredibly friendly and helpful attitudes along with the lovely Rock and Blues staff give this festival a refreshing old school, chilled out feel. It is a family friendly festival too with lots of young rockers enjoying the live music and custom bikes.
There are 3 stages at the festival. An intimate acoustic stage, an outdoor stage ‘The Spanner Monkey‘ and the main stage under the cover of a huge marquee. The weekend is not only about the fantastic live music, it is also a custom motor show, where all types of custom bikes, classic motorcycles and hot rods are showcased with a chance of winning prizes and trophies. For the more adventurous, helicopter pleasure rides are available to take you over the rolling hills of the Derbyshire Dales.
The festival opened its gates this year on the hottest day on record. I couldn’t make it for the start but the crowds were treated to music from Bad Habits, Dr and the Medics and Bad Manners.
Saturday and the festival was buzzing. There is a main camping area and a VIP sanctuary camping area where you can hire yurt style tents or pitch your own. There is a hospitality marquee selling food and beer area and you have side access to the main stage. Very well organised and equipped. A very good selection of beers and ciders and lots of food outlets and other stalls to have a wander around.
Opening Fridays proceedings on the main stage were Midland rockers Piston. Fresh from playing at The Ramblin’ Man Fair where the band were voted by Planet Rock Radio listeners to play on the Rising Stage.
Piston definitely are rising stars. I first saw them last year when they were the support for Kris Barras Band. I instantly liked them then, so was very much looking forward to seeing them again. They seem to have grown in confidence a lot since last year, not surprising though as Planet Rock have recently added their song ‘Rainmaker‘ to their playlist and guitarist Jack Edwards has signed an endorsement deal with Gretsch guitars.
Jack’s “White Falcon guitar certainly had stage presence as the band played songs from their eagerly awaited self titled debut album ‘Piston‘… ‘blow it away‘, ‘One More Day‘, ‘Rainmaker‘. Their style is fast paced, full of screaming riffs, slightly sleazy rock. They have some very infectious tunes. They ended their set with a brilliant rendition of Creedence Clearwater Revivals ‘Proud Mary‘. After that set I think Piston will have gained quite a few more fans. Piston will be out on tour this September with their friends Collateral. Catch them now while they are still playing small venues, which will not be very long.
Up next was Gin Annie, a 5 piece hard rock band from Wolverhampton, UK and another band hailed as “one to watch” from Planet Rock.
Their debut album ‘100% Proof‘ is out now and the band were clearly having a lot fun up on the main stage playing tracks from the album. They are very catchy tunes with lots of heavy guitar and melodic vocals from a very charismatic front man David Foster. I really enjoyed this band as did the crowd clapping and cheering them along.
This was an old school festival and the next band Rock Goddess definitely gave it the old school feel. The all female band has been on the metal/rock scene since the mid 70’s when sister’s Jody and Julie Turner started the band. They have toured over the years with big guns such as Y&T, Iron Maiden and Def Leppard.
The band’s third member (currently Jenny Lane) has changed over the years, but the riff heavy 80’s rock vibe remains. Rock Goddess lived up to their name and gave us an old school rocking set with attitude lots of screaming guitar and powerful, gritty vocals.
I have to mention the compere (Editor’s note: That’s “Host” for all us ‘Muricans) for this festival. The one and only Dr Clive Jackson ‘The Doctor‘ singer and front man from the 80s band Dr and The Medics, who I previously mentioned played a set on the first night.
He told us The Rock and Blues Festival is very close to his heart and all his family go and he himself has done the job of compere for the last 30 years. He did an outstanding job, very funny, very flamboyant with numerous costume changes and had the greatest respect from all the bands and crowd alike. In fact he was probably the most photographed person over the weekend. Such a lovely guy.
A quick break came from the live music as Reenies Rockettes took the stage. Reenies Rockettes are a Burlesque troupe. They entertained the crowd with their raunchy pin up style energetic dance. As you can imagine they got a very warm reception and I think the room temperature went up a notch too.
KRIS BARRAS BAND
Finally the Kris Barras Band took to the stage, this is the one band I had been eagerly waiting for and one of the main reasons I was at the festival. I have seen the band quite a few times now and they never disappoint. Their fan base has grown considerably over the last year or so. The band are playing larger venues to more people. They have just come off the road supporting Black Stone Cherry.
Last year Kris Barras Band played on the outdoor ‘Monkey Spanner‘ stage at the festival, this year the band played on the main stage playing to a now packed out marquee. Turns out they had a nightmare 8 hour journey to get to the festival but this did not show in their performance. Kris is an absolute master of his craft, it is incredible what he can do with a guitar. With the support of his equally talented band mates Kris Barras Band produce the most amazing bluesy, Southern rock and roll sound.
We were treated to some old favourites such as ‘Stitch Me Up‘, ‘She’s More Than Enough‘ and the very powerful ‘Watching Over Me‘ which never fails to make the hairs on my neck stand on end. The band have a new album ‘Light It Up‘ due for release in September from which they played a couple of tracks. If those are anything to go by we are all in for a real treat.
The band ended their set on a high with crowd pleaser ‘Hail Mary‘. If you have never seen The Kris Barras Band I strongly advise you do. They head out on the road in September/October. Touring with them will be their backing singers Phoebe Jane and Alex Hart, this will be something special don’t miss out.
The final act for the evening was the brilliant Inglorious, a hard rock band from England. Formed in 2014, the band has gone through numerous member changes, the most recent of which was 2018 when 3 members left all at once. Always at the forefront of the band though has been the big personality and even bigger voice Nathan James. I have seen Inglorious as a support before but never as the main act so was looking forward to their show. The band came on to the stage to a huge roar from the crowd. Flamboyant Nathan with his flowing locks and dark glasses thundered straight into ‘Where are you Now‘ it was clear from the outset this was going to be a big show.
Nathan has an incredible vocal range, nailing the high notes (incredibly high notes) everytime. You wouldn’t know that as a band they have not had many stage hours together as a they were very tight. One new member that stood out for me was the very young 19-year-old guitarist Danny Dela Cruz. What an amazing talent. He is a Jimmy Hendrix with a touch of Slash. His guitar solos were immense. A pure talent, that exudes confidence.
The band played lots of their own songs ‘High Flying Gypsy’, ‘I Don’t Need a Lover’, ‘Freak Show’ as well as a couple of covers… Whitesnake’s ‘Fool For Your Loving’ and Alanis Morrissette’s ‘Uninvited’ which sounds like it would be awful but in reality was very powerful. Nathan put his heart in soul into the song. During the final song ‘Holy Water‘ Nathan came into the crowd before getting back on stage. As today was his birthday the crowd sang ‘Happy birthday’ to him. This show ended a brilliant day of live music.
THE OUTLAW ORCHESTRA
Saturday, and the nice sunny weather had turned into dull and wet weather. Something we in England are a bit more accustomed to. Opening the main stage today and bringing us a bit of the deep South were The Outlaw Orchestra a Southern rock, Bluegrass and Country style band.
They should be a four piece, but as “their bass player had only just landed in Gatwick he wouldn’t make it” said singer/guitarist David Roux, who said “he had got some pedals from Kris Barras so he could be bass as well as lead guitar”. I had never heard of this band before, but they were absolutely brilliant. Bringing ‘hillbilly’ style rock with a lot of humour. David Roux being quite a comedian as well as a fantastic musician.
The blend of guitar, banjo, drums, lapsteel and bass give the The Outlaw Orchestra a very unique sound and showcases the musical talents of the band. This was a very memorable performance, I am pretty sure I wasn’t the only one in the crowd to leave with a huge smile on my face.
Up next were a 3-piece band from London called Sulpher, another band I was not familiar with. However, the bands they have played with as individuals, I was. For example, Rob Holliday played guitar for The Prodigy and Steve Monti has worked with The Jesus and Mary Chain and The Mission amongst others. In the past Sulpher have been a support for the likes of Marilyn Manson. Between them they have played some pretty big venues over the years.
The band came out on stage playing thick, low tuned guitars similar to doom metal that went on for some time. The intro seemed to go for ever and nothing much happened for the first few minutes, I would go as far to say it was dull. They didn’t give us much to shoot really. I left the pit feeling a bit despondent. I couldn’t have been more wrong thinking they were dull. As soon as I left the pit the tempo picked up and they exploded. They continued to play a very heavy metal filled set, lots of drums and guitar. They produced a massive sound for just three of them. Lead vocals from Holliday were exceptional, extremely gritty and industrial sounding. The band played a brilliant version of Marlyin Manson’s ‘Beautiful People’ it sounded like the real deal to me. So, following what was a slow start I ended up really enjoying this band.
Sometimes you discover a band purely by chance. I was actually watching the custom vehicles driving away following the show awards when a band started up in the acoustic tent. It was the voice of Luke Phillips that caught my attention, deep, strong and soulful not too dissimilar to Black Stone Cherry’s Chris Robertson. I immediately went over to watch their set. The band were called Everyday Heroes. A four piece from Wales. I loved their whole acoustic set, especially the song ‘Take Me Home’ a cracking tune that would not be out of place in the mainstream. I don’t think this band realise how good they are, the young guitarists, very unassuming and seemed a bit uncomfortable. They had no reason to be, they were brilliant. I would love to see this band play a full electric set. Check out the band’s EP ‘The Other Side of Nowhere‘, you won’t be disappointed.
MYKE GRAY Ft. KIM JENNETT
When I got an email to ask if I wouldn’t mind checking out guitarist Myke Gray play on the outdoor ‘Spanner Monkey’ stage I was not too sure who he was. After a bit of research, I realised he was the same Myke Gray who played in a couple of bands I really liked in my younger days, Skin and Jagged Edge. So, I decided to go check him out. My goodness I am so very glad I did. Unfortunately, in true British fashion it was raining but that didn’t stop us.
The band started up then Kim Jennett came bouncing out on stage. A super petite lady, with the biggest voice I’ve ever heard. Kim immediately had the crowd’s attention. Her energetic jumping and dancing around the wet stage in her heels, climbing up the frame of the front of the stage at one point, all the while blasting out the vocals which never faltered in quality. Backed up with some incredible guitar solos from Myke Gray who was clearly having the best time up on stage.
He thanked us all for standing in the rain to watch them play. To be honest the show was that good the rain was hardly noticeable. The set included a few Skin tracks ‘Stand Up For Rock n Roll‘, ‘Tower of Strength‘ and a couple, of her own songs ‘Let Me Be The One‘, ‘Unbroken‘ and during ‘Take Me Home‘ Kim came down off the stage to sing and dance amongst what was now a very large crowd.
This whole set was amazing and absolutely blew me away. It was definitely the highlight of the festival for me. The pair are working on a album together. Keep your eyes peeled as this will be something very special indeed.
A great weekend of music was about be topped off with a great band. Glastonbury rockers Reef.
Reef came out on stage to the biggest reception yet. They played a lively set of old and new songs, ‘Naked‘, ‘Lone Rider‘, the crowd singing and dancing as they played the huge nostalgic anthem ‘Place your Hands‘, there were no hands that weren’t aloft.
Everyone was having a brilliant time. Reef played a superb rendition of The New Faces ‘Stay With Me‘ which went down well with the crowd. There was lots of energy in the room as Reef played their encore and final song of the evening and of the festival ‘Yer Old‘
All in all this was one fantastic, well organised, fun weekend. I for one cannot wait for next year’s Rock and Blues Custom Show.
Rock and Blues Custom Show