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Last updated: November 27, 2012 - Phuket, Thailand
Jimi Hendrix, the world's undisputed greatest electric guitar player in the history of rock music, would have been 70 today. He gained world fame after his 1967 Monterey Pop Festival and although he lived only til 27, he became one of the world's most influential musicians in the 20th century. R.I.P.
Latest News on Phuket Blues:
After seven successful Festivals we asked a number of our audience members having attended two or more shows to review the performances. Below are the results. We congratulate the winners!
1. Best male performer: Chris Thomas King, followed closely by Eric Bibb
2. Best female performer: Grainne Duffy, followed closely by KNiKi
3. Best acoustic performer: Eric Bibb
4. Best bassist/bass solo: Andy Gonzales (The Rockin' Angels)
5. Best drummer/drum solo: Jeff Mills (Chris Thomas King band)
6. Best electric guitar: Rich Harper
7. Best harmonica: Charlie Musselwhite
8. Best tribute performance: Disraeli Gears (aka Rich Harper Band) - CREAM
9. Best instrumental performance: AkashA
10. Best showmanship: Chris Thomas King, followed closely by The Prodigal Sons
11. Best all Thai band: TOKEN
12. Best Thailand based band: The Rockin' Angels
Below: Chris Thomas King at the 2102 Festival
For seven years we have held what many consider the best music event in Phuket – the annual Blues Rock Festival, held for the first six years at the Hilton Arcadia in Karon and this year in Laguna Phuket. As stated by Neil Quail of the Phuket Gazette on the morning of Saturday February 25th this year, “Friday nights don’t get much better”. Read the whole story on the ‘Press 2012’ page.
There have been many memorable moments since the fateful morning of December 16, 2005 when we woke up at the Hilton Arcadia to find the entire concert field under water after extreme weather the night before. The first Festival almost did not get off the ground, but luckily we were able to relocate the production to the ballroom and the show kicked off as planned. We then moved the time of the event to the end of February for the best possible weather, and except for about five minutes in 2011 and the same this year in Laguna – NO RAIN!
From Victor Brox’s roof-lifting voice at the Hilton Arcadia ballroom in 2005 to Grainne Duffy’s magnificent rendition of Etta James’ ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ in 2012, we have seen and heard some stellar performances by musicians from all around the world. Rich Harper’s guitar playing in 2008 was favourably compared to that of Eric Clapton; by many considered the world’s #2 guitar player (Jimi Hendrix is #1). In addition to Rich we’ve had brilliant guitar performances by the likes of Australia’s John Meyer and Sweden’s Clas Yngstrom, USA rock legend Mason Ruffner as well as Phuket’s own Khun Teung (Hatsamrat Trodpol) – the award-winning Santana tribute guitarist. Norway's Prodigal Sons dazzled us twice with their showmanship by front man Kai Rutherford. Malaysia’s AkashA took us around the world no less than three times with their exotic blend of blues and fusion music. Eric Bibb stole the show with his incredible solo performance in 2009, and in 2010 we had the man behind Dan Aykroid’s involvement in the blues – Charlie Musselwhite – one of the greatest harmonica players ever. John Belushi’s blues music mentor Curtis Salgado topped the bill in 2011, and his show is considered by many as the best we have had so far. But multiple Grammy and Oscar winner Chris Thomas King delivered a performance worthy of his numerous awards - second to none, in many people’s opinion. The man who gained mainstream fame with his performance in the 2000 cult film ‘O Brother Where Art Thou?’ showed Phuket why he has sold 11 million records and counting.
We had four tributes - all very good, but CREAM in 2011 played by DISRAELI GEARS aka Rich Harper Band, was a step above the rest.
We also had very good local and regional acts like Bangkok’s Cannonball, Phuket’s Groove Doctors, Colin Hill Band and Rockin’ Angels plus many more.
So – it is with a very heavy heart we must inform you that there will not be a 2013 Phuket International Blues Rock Festival. We held the most successful show to date this year at Laguna Phuket, but unfortunately they cannot host it next year. We have searched high and low for an alternative, but have not found any other suitable venue on the island. We will get back to it mid 2013 to see what can be done for 2014.
We extend a BIG thank you to all our sponsors, but in particular the Hilton Arcadia for hosting the first six events; HotelTravel.com as our Presenter the first three years; Laguna Phuket for their superb hosting this year; The Phuket Gazette, our main Media Partner since the beginning, and finally 91.5FM Phuket Island Radio for their great coverage, artist interviews and much more the last three years and being this year’s Presenter, also broadcasting the event on the world wide web.
February 27, 2012:
The 7th Festival is over. It was a great success at Asia's finest destination resort - LAGUNA Phuket - and we raised 101,000 baht for our charities; the local Ban Bangtao school and the Rotary Club of Patong Beach, earmarked for their children's education fund. Read on for music review:
For two nights at the end of February 2012, top musical acts from around the globe gathered on the grounds of beautiful Laguna Phuket to perform their unique styles of music at the 7th annual Phuket International Blues Rock Festival, presented by 91.5 FM. For the audience, it was to be a feast of sensory delights. The venue was fresh, the lagoon shimmered in the night, and the smells of Thai and Western food drifted through the huge white tent.
About 6pm Friday February 24th MCs Ricky Zen and Marc Mulloy welcomed the crowd and the first performer, Australian Jack Derwin. This acoustic solo artist served up a beautiful appetizer of the blues, while accompanying himself on a variety of instruments.
Moscowfish were up next. This Canadian duo (guitar & harmonica player) exhibit tremendous energy and passion. They let loose a fine blend of ‘old timey’, reggae, and blues, and standards that got everyone in a good mood.
Phuket’s very own house band – The Rockin’ Angels followed and as usual ‘Rockin’ Patt’ filled the stage with talented musicians, including Richard Wright of New York on guitar and flute. For the first time two teenage musicians from the local group The Legends of Siam, Rannze on drums and Paul on guitar, joined the band. Rounding out the group were the lovely Ya and Nida on backing vocals and on percussion Drew (USA) and William (France). A highlight of the powerful set was ‘Cocaine’ – opening slowly with Richard’s flute and Patt’s understated guitar, and then shifting gears and rocking to a sizzling ending that found Patt & Paul trading blistering guitar riffs. You never know what to expect from Patt and his band. Check out the jam every night in Phuket Town at Rockin’ Angels Blues Café.
TOKEN is a Santana tribute band fronted by the highly talented Hatsamret aka Khun Teung, who won the 2011 Singha sponsored Santana Guitar Legend contest and got to meet and open for the man himself at Santana’s Impact Arena concert in Bangkok. He and his fellow young Phuket musicians wowed the crowd with their faithful versions of Santana classics and proved, once again, that your hair can never be too long for rock ‘n’ roll. Opening with the classic ‘Jingo’, Khun Teung soon left the safe zone and seamlessly blended in lifts from Jimi Hendrix’ ‘Third Stone From The Sun’. Joined by a young vocalist, they performed the 1999 chart-topper ‘Smooth’ and ‘She’s Not There’ – originally a hit for the Zombies, but also covered in 1977 by Santana. These guys were the best Santana tribute we’ve heard in a long time.
Rain fell for about ten minutes, but the new big marquee covered the audience completely and this was not a problem. It did cause a brief power outage which was quickly corrected and then SKY HIGH took to the stage. In complete contrast to the budding young talent that had been trotting the boards earlier, Clas Yngström (Sweden) and his band have toured the world and recorded numerous albums since their launch in the late seventies. With a lineup featuring original drummer Uffe Åhman and ace bassist Arne ‘Mr. Dynamite’ Blomqvist, the band plowed through a set of original blues & rock material mixed with great classic blues. In what was perhaps the boldest wardrobe choice of the festival, Clas opened the show with his hit ‘Don’t Move’, dressed in what appeared to be Leopard spotted pajamas. But this big, talented veteran performer indeed pulled it off.
AkashA is a 7-piece Malaysian band playing music straight from the heart. Some call it World Fusion Music, but it’s more than that. They explore all corners of the globe by experimenting in Jazz, Blues, African, Latin, Celtic, & Asian rhythms - just to name a few. This was their third appearance at the Blues Festival, and by now they have a solid Phuket fan-base who eagerly awaited their entrancing performance. They really are unique. For example, they opened with a sitar playing Ragtime banjo runs, followed by straight-ahead jazz piano riffs, all coming together on an Indian melody, under laid with vocal and rhythmic percussion. Who else does that?? Amazing. They did not disappoint and no doubt this talented ensemble picked up many more fans who will look forward to their return at some point.
Seems the weather Gods are continuing to bless the Festival as Saturday night was free of any rain and the eager crowd was ready to rock when the Stuart Bush Band took the stage. This affable Australian quartet plays regularly in Koh Samui. Stuart sings and plays lead guitar, Derek lays down the bass groove and Mark keeps the rhythm going on drums. With Chris on keyboard, they are a solid rock-based group got everyone warmed up with their solid set including a beautiful version of Jimi Hendrix’ ‘Little Wing’.
International seems to be the operative word for this year’s festival, and no act reflects that better than the Colin Hill Band. On lead guitar Colin ‘Illy’ Hill has been fronting and supporting bands and artists in his native Australia since he was a teenager. Several world tours under his belt, he decided to stay in Phuket a few years back and the island has been a better place ever since. The incredibly gifted P Jae Stanley from Texas sang a riveting version of the late great Etta James’ ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’. With Jeffery Sevilla from the Phillipines on keyboard, Tom Adolphi (South Africa) on bass, Mauro Gilli (Italy) pounding the drums and saxman Milo Reznikoff (New York,) the band was rocking when blues shouter Jimmy Fame (USA) and Arvid ‘Snakeman’ Munthe (Norway) on harp joined them with Jimmy belting out a rollicking cover of ‘Eve Of Destruction’ and got the crowd rocking.
Very few artists can claim to have played the legendary Glastonbury Festival, but newcomer Grainne Duffy had that honor in 2008. This Irish lass and her band (including Phuket’s own Ricky on drums) won over the Blues Fest crowd immediately with her wonderful mix of blues, rock and soul. Her voice bears a striking resemblance to Bonnie Raitt (and there ain’t nothing wrong with that). Grainne’s set featured many songs from her albums ‘Out of The Dark’ and ‘Test Of Time’, including ‘Bad To Worse’ and ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ (two versions of this powerful song in one night – no problem – tribute to the late great Etta James). No ‘chic rocker’, Duffy sang with raw emotion, felt by all fortunate enough to witness her stirring performance.
Rock ‘n’ roll is a hot, sweaty job, as proved by the sweat running off the brim of John Meyer’s straw cowboy hat. Representing Australia, yet again, were John Meyer’s Blues Express. John first appeared at our Festival in 2009 with singer KNiKi. He and his new band played in 2011 and the crowd was eagerly awaiting his return. Featuring Peter Oats on bass and vocals, Ric Eastman on drums and John on guitar, the band performed songs to perfection from their self-titled debut album. John’s slide guitar was particularly noteworthy and we hope to see him back yet again – soon!
Finally – what most people were waiting for - headliner Chris Thomas King - showed Phuket why he has sold over ten million records. Born in Baton Rouge, Chris had an early baptism in the blues and in his early twenties he was touring and recording for Warner Bros. Securing a major role in the Coen brothers' film ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’ in 2001 gained him international fame and a mainstream audience.
Old Bangkok hand, bass player Jimmy Bell, joined Chris and his drummer Jeff Mills for almost an hour and a half of fantastic music. Drawing on songs from his latest albums ‘Rise’ and ‘Antebellum Postcards’, Chris’ sweet vocals and intricate guitar runs were all this crowd needed to cap off a fantastic weekend. From the very first song ‘Dirty Water’, it was obvious we were in the hands of a master showman (he also played the guitar with his tongue – mind you). But it was ‘I Wanna Be Your Drug’ that got everyone on their feet. With its infectious hook, precise timing, changes, raw energy and sheer showmanship – Chris delivered perhaps the best performance ever seen at the Blues Rock Festival. Songs like ‘Caught In Between’, ‘Tell Me What’s Wrong’ showcased Chris’ songwriting as well. My Fedora hat is off to Chris Thomas King. Come back soon!
All good things must come to an end, and at midnight the festival drew to a close. The move to Laguna proved to be an outstanding success – the setting was perfect, the food & drink delicious and easily available, plenty of parking providing easy access to the venue. Throughout the two nights Phuket 91.5 FM Radio employed its mobile unit to record the whole festival for airing during the week following and online. The last three hours of Saturday night were even broadcast live on radio as well as world wide through their website www.phuketfmradio.com. Television coverage from Phuket TV was extensive, and with all that recording and filming, we lucky festival goers will be able to savor this wonderful weekend for many years to come.