The August Bank Holiday weekend was a bonanza musical experience. The variety of bands outside several venues (the Kino cinema, the Butter Market under the Town Hall , and Simply Italian, to name but a few) brought a massive amount of people into the town as did the amazing line up of concerts inside St Mary’s church in Lion Street.
Louis Turpin, (shown right), has been a blues performer with different musicians for many years, yet every time he entertains the audience he gives 110 % in energy and love for the music he plays.
He is also a well known artist who has exhibited in the Rye Art Gallery, as well as in London, and is one of the organisers of the month-long summer exhibition of the Rye Society of Artists. He has a lot of followers.
At the free events, chairs were quickly filled and soon it was standing room only.
My high point in the St Mary’s concerts , while enjoying Seth Lakeman (singer and multi-instrumentalist) was definitely Eric Bibb and his band.
Seth Lakeman (shown left)was a solo artist playing, alternately, guitar and violin and with his beautiful voice he captured the audience. However, my friends and I were a little frustrated because the church acoustics prevented us from hearing the lyrics which sounded heartfelt and personal. This may have been because we were sitting in the side pews.
So Eric Bibb, of whom I had not heard before, blew us away and being someone who loves the blues, I was enthralled by him, his voice and his warm personality.
In the festival guide his music is described as “blues meets gospel and soul” within his “gospel-infused” repertoire. Eric Bibb’s career has spanned fifty years and his music is uplifting and inspiring. The lyrics were important, talking about love, the struggle of the oppressed, and a world that may lack spirituality.
His voice was mesmerising, clear, gentle and passionate depending on the content of the song. It was the best blues concert I have been to for a long time, and one of his CDs will certainly grace my collection. The audience adored him, going both by the applause during and after the performance, and their participation when he encouraged it.
The town should thank Ian Bowden, his colleagues and volunteers who worked very hard throughout the the three days, and before, to make this musical weekend a success, organising each venue and making sure that local people living near the venues were inconvenienced as little as possible.
A wonderful surprise, as it was not advertised in the guide, was the sight of Harvey’s Brewery horses (shown above left, ) making their way through the town with Dom Pipkin and The Ikos playing on the dray which used to carry barrels.
I recently attended a music event in Northern Ireland as part of their Bangor festival. The organiser told the audience that the town took an extra one million pounds during the festival.
It lasted a month, true, but I wondered if Rye Chamber of Commerce or the Heritage Centre could find a method to check just how much more the shops, hotels and restaurants benefit over the jazz week-end. It might encourage more sponsorship for next year’s offerings.
Photos by Tony Ham, Heidi Foster, Ray Prewer and courtesy of festival organisers