Some of Europe’s finest Blues artists descended upon North Yorkshire recently for the 2nd annual Whitby Blues Festival, held in the beautiful Spa Pavillion overlooking the North Sea.
Given Whitby’s association with Dracula (Bram Stoker wrote the story overlooking the harbor at Whitby), it seemed only fitting to have The Spellkasters open the show. Taking to the stage to a rather eerie intro, the band delivered their brand of rock and blues to the sizable audience which had descended upon the venue. Their set included tracks like, “Going Back Home” and “Valley Girl.” Frontman Pete Edmunds strutted his way about the stage, often taking to the audience so they could be closer to the action.
Irish singer songwriter, Grainne Duffy, received a great reception from the Whitby Crowd. Delivering an excellent set of soulful blues, the band genuinely looked like they were enjoying themselves almost as much as the audience. A stunning cover of “I’d Rather Go Blind” by Etta James left the crowd in awe. Grainne treated the audience to some new material as well as old favorites, like “Drivin’ Me Crazy” and “Good Love Had to Die” from her 2007 album Out of the Dark.
Legendary sixties band, The Stray, featuring Del Bromham brought a more classic rock sounding experience to the Whitby crowd. Excellent dual harmonies on guitar are reminiscent of Thin Lizzy.
Next up was Finland’s Erja Lytinnen, who this year released her latest album, The Sky Is Crying. The slide guitar playing was clean and eye catching, an obvious influence from one of the great blues slide guitar players, Mr. Elmore James.
Fresh off the back of a successful tour with The Nimmo Brothers, The Stevie Nimmo Trio made a much welcomed appearance at the festival. They played tracks from their last album, The Wynds of Life, as well as some of their newer material. The band wowed Whitby with tracks like “If I Can’t Change,” “Gamblers Roll,” and a superb cover of “The Storm” by Big George and the Business. The Stevie Nimmo Trio left the stage to a standing ovation.
Headlining the show was Chantel McGregor, who recently picked up the Best Guitarist accolade at the British Blues Awards. McGregor opened her set with “Caught Out” and “Like No Other” from her debut album, before treating the audience to a new track, “Burn Your Anger.” A mesmerizing rendition of “Daydream” received a standing ovation from the crowd, along with fan favorite “Fabulous.” As McGregor glides around the stage, she plays with a focused intensity. The audience enjoyed several new tracks in her set, including the acoustic “Anethesthetise,” riff heavy “Killing Time,” and “Walk on Land,” all from McGregor’s upcoming new album. The day was brought to a close with “Freefalling” from Chantel’s Like No Other album.