6th Jumpin Hot Country Cantina (Jamboree) – Sat 27th July 2019 Juan Fitzgerald photos/review
A bad weather forecast doesn’t really make for a bad day out at a lovely little Festival… quite the opposite & actually “sold out” signs were made out the day before.
So arriving with hats & coats at the annual Jumpin Hot Country Cantina, that’s back again in the countryside in Easington – & along a dusty old track, but then the vista of flags hit you on the turn off to this beautiful little oasis in Co Durham, & it fills you with joy.
A decision was made the day before, so today we were indoors in the small barn that was quirkily decorated & had straw bails for seats, and as you’d expect from J’Hot Club – live music to die for. Sadly car trouble meant we missed the community pop up choir, which was said to be the perfect start to any day on the barn veranda before the rain, and caught the very end of the sound of young Scotland – Awkward Family Portraits & their authentic swingy jazzy music. Like many people we are already fans of Gem Andrews & for the Cantina she brought her full band out with her to a place she knows very well, performing her classy country music such as “Calling”, “Looking at You” & “Two Lighthouses”. The calibre of the music was so high I was a bit worried when along came David Broad next playing solo, but with his cinema good looks and easy going ways (& a country blues picking guitar style that was simply amazing) it was just perfect for the mid afternoon spot. Next up birthday boy Martin Stephenson with a rare outing from his Rockabilly quartet The Toe Rags as a celebration. As you could imagine he was in great spirits & in between his many words of wisdom, their fine original and classic songs like ” Sweet Misdemeanour” “Talking To The Child “ and “Papa’s Going Crazy” went down splendidly. I even had the honour of writing the set list out for them as Martin had forgotten his glasses!!!! Next up a young trio from Cheshire with a passion for cheese, Jaywalkers with their folky bluegrass songs & instrumentals & a couple of choice covers, Johnny Cash “Big River” & an unexpected “Tainted Love”. At the break as you wandered around looking for food or even a drink in the stone built little bar, the sound of old 78 rpm records could be heard been played albeit quietly on original portable players (both wind up/little 60’s deco players) by Rob & Shippy. A fella proclaimed he thought things couldn’t get any better until he heard Memphis Minnie playing on a shellac 78 record!
After the break the eagerly awaited appearance of a band of pure quality & a quite convincing American band too (although their from way down in South Shields) Big Red & The Grinners. Dancing was first witness too as the quintet played a blinder with a couple of newbie covers thrown in like “Purple Rain “ & popular pleasers “Walk this Way ” and “No Diggidy” by Dr Dre. They were awesome. Then onto the Rob Heron’s part of the evening where first he held court with a great little solo spot (an achievement in itself) & some Tea Pad songs like “Holy Moly” & “Beaujolais” & then a surprise guest Bethany Coyle duet’ing on Shippy’s song he does “Crazy Country Fool” which was very apt. He was joined by The Shivering Sheiks from Scotland to do some R&B shouting while they played authentic 50’s grooves to classics like Junior Wells & even Dale Hawkins “Suzie Q “ Another achievement in itself. Things were hotting up now as the Shivering Sheiks turned into Strange Blue Dreams & we had three part harmonies, surf rock n roll, dark highlife & a Sparks tune thrown in for good measure. The Country Cantina just couldn’t get any better as they encored with a noir tinged country rock n roll charmer “Mans Game “. Oh no though as we simply had to finish a night in a barn with a dance & two step & Joli Blon Cajun Band provided just that & more. So we foot-stomped along to sounds as authentic as a hoedown in Lafayette by three ladies from London & a guy who looked like he drummed for B52’s. They were fantastic. As a grand finale and this isn’t a lie, outside on the campfire an old piano was set alight then some giant puppets burned as an little extra. It was one of them days.
& If you cared to you could camp but here in Co Durham is a blissful little venue and a quite brilliant music Festival. So well done, to all the Jumpin Hot Club, & the farm workers, & not to forget the great guys doing the sound & lights for keeping everything sweet & dandy & to us the audience. … Until next year “Viva La Cantina”