Saturday, 20 August 2022

Jazz and blues stars back in town for Brakspear festival

TWO local music acts with international reach will be helping get the third annual Brakspear Jazz

TWO local music acts with international reach will be helping get the third annual Brakspear Jazz and Blues Festival off to a flying start.

Friday, November 13, is the opening night of the 10-day festival — the venues for which include seven pubs in and around Henley.

First up on the night is the Five Horseshoes in Maidensgrove, where Rebecca Poole, who grew up on the Joyce Grove estate in Nettlebed, will be in jazz chanteuse mode.

By coincidence Rebecca, who performs solo under the name Purdy, will be celebrating the release of her alter ego’s debut album Diamond in the Dust earlier that day — along with a double A-side single, All Change/Dream in Colour.

That evening, however, she will be fronting the Rebecca Poole Trio, whose other members are Hugh Turner on guitar and Paul Jeffries on double bass.

For those who can’t make it on the 13th, the trio are playing the same venue the following Friday (November 20). Both gigs start at 8pm.

Although Rebecca is shortly due to go out on tour supporting Jools Holland, she is excited to be making her jazz and blues festival debut close to home.

She said: “I love coming back to my jazz roots and singing with such great musicians, so it should be a fun couple of gigs.”

Tracks from Diamond in the Dust have been played on Paul O’Grady’s Radio 2 show and Rebecca is hoping to get playlisted soon.

Looking ahead to the album’s long-awaited release, she said: “I think most people would be surprised how much hard work and dedication goes into every aspect of making an album, aside from the blood sweat and tears creative side. I will be proud to finally have it in my hand.”

Tony Seaman, one of the guitarists with the five-strong Backbone Blues Band, is no stranger to the hard work of making albums and touring.

The group have just returned from their annual pilgrimage to the Mississippi delta, where among the venues they played was the Ground Zero Blues Club owned by Morgan Freeman.

The club is named for its proximity to the junction of Highway 61 — the “Blues Highway” running from Memphis down to New Orleans — and Highway 49.

Located in Clarksdale, this is reputed to be the very crossroads where blues legend Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil in return for his guitar-playing genius.

Tony said: “It’s quite humbling for us when we play in America. Ground Zero is a really famous tourist place now but it’s a really iconic blues venue — I suppose it’s the equivalent of Ronnie Scott’s over here.

“It’s a very hard place to get into — it takes a lot of the big artists and stars. It’s a very famous place, but we play there.

“I find it very humbling — we’re playing where blues was invented. We’re right there. You can’t get any deeper into where it started.”

That being said, Tony is greatly looking forward to Backbone’s gig at the Little Angel in Remenham, which starts at 8.30pm on Friday, November 13.

As Tony explains, the band played the same venue at last year’s festival and have already been back once this year by popular demand.

He said: “I live in Henley, so the Little Angel, for me, in all my years of playing in bands, the greatest gig I’ve ever had is at home.

“We had such a great night there last year that they said, ‘Right, you’re on next year — whatever the date is, you’re on!’ So we knew that it was on in advance.

“When we played there in April it was absolutely heaving and they booked out all the tables. Everyone came down for dinner and there were tables of 20 at a time — people booked groups of tables — and it went on and on. People were dancing...”

Entry to the gig is free, but for those wanting to eat, a two-course set menu will be available, priced £21.50.

Booking is advised, as all 60 dining tickets for the Rebecca Poole Trio’s gigs at the Five Horseshoes have sold out on both dates. Entry to the bar area remains free to all.

To book tickets for the Little Angel, call the pub on (01491) 411008.

For full details of all the festival events, visit www.brak

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