The violent and sudden downpour, bucketing just as Bluesfest punters could be forgiven for thinking the rain was over, plays perfectly into the hands of The California Honeydrops.
The five-piece band from (unsurprisingly) California, are now lifting the spirits of a tent overflowing with people.
With a few extra horns on stage, the sensational group perform blue-eyed soul, both originals and covers. Their sound is smoother than silk and main frontman Kech Wierzynski is a real superstar, both vocally and on the trumpet. They finish with an Allen Toussaint cover.
Next is the Bluesfest debut of William Crighton and his band. The Juke Joint stage fills with a loud and eager crowd. Drummer Reuben Alexander’s haunted strains of reverberating harmonica set an eerie tone, before Crighton strides from the wings of the stage with brother Luke on bass and wife Julianne on supporting vocals.
Crighton and band are in full ragged rock mode, opening with a full-blooded rendition of ‘Jesus Blues’. It’s a powerful opening to a mammoth 90-minute set in which the towering songwriter plays material both new and old, plus moving covers of ‘Long Black Veil’ and ‘The Band Played Waltzing Matilda’ (the latter appearing on his new record. A stand-out is ‘Mr Brown’, a stirring ode to a conspiracy theorist.
Crighton leaves nothing in the tank, stalking the stage in his trademark fashion, engaging the audience with various call and returns and maintaining intensity for the show’s duration. With three more Bluesfest sets to go, you can bet he’ll soon be the talk of the festival.
The Wailers, legendary backing band for the late Bob Marley, have everybody moving to the reggae riddums of a hit-laden set. With the setlist including ‘I Shot the Sherrif’, ‘Stir It Up’, ‘Three Little Birds’, ‘No Woman No Cry’, the air was full of love and the sweet smell of jazz cigarettes.
If it's on in Newcastle, it's on Newcastle Live