What a Day!

Well it has taken a week but I am just about recovered from last Saturday’s spectacular day and Beastie Fest but I am well satisfied that the day went off without too many problems and the feedback I have had from the day has been tremendous.  Thank you.

It was of course intended to be a memorial to our great friend and inspiration Steve Beastie who did so much to help promote live music and provided the motivation to develop Leeds Blues Club to where we are now. The love for Beastie and for his family represented by his wife Janice, daughter Hollie as well as his brother and sister, grandson and in-laws was there for all to see.

All the bands who performed were at the absolute top of their game including late stand in Blind Pig Gang who set the tone of the day with some great funky, upbeat sounds that got the impressive early crowd going from the off. They were followed by Bloomin’ Hummerz who had a close attachment to Beastie gained largely by listening and enjoying a connection through his broadcasts and had written a song in his honour  ‘Chuffin’ chuffed’ which included some good old audience participation and really hit the tone perfectly.

They were followed by the incredible Pearl Handled Revolver a band that were unfamiliar to me and from what I could gather most of the audience too, but one which Beastie had mentioned as a band which he really wanted to be there and wow what a band they are. They absolutely blasted their way through an incredible set of ‘psychedelic blues rock’ with some definite Doors and Pink Floyd style thrown in for good measure. Safe to say that they almost lifted the roof off Boom and there was an impressive queue afterwards wanting to buy merch.

Next up was the imperious Emma Wilson who in contrast was well known to many there especially following her appearance at the Cross Keys in November, and she certainly didn’t let anyone down in her resplendent scarlet red suit she looked and sounded every inch the star that she undoubtedly is. She has amassed a fantastic band around her too including Leeds based Nick Svarc on guitar and Bennett Holland on keys who has also previously appeared at the Cross Keys with his partner Julie as ‘Jube.’ As if anymore stardust was required Emma invited on to stage Matt Long who is without doubt one of the finest guitarists of his generation and who performed 3 songs with Emma and the band including a rendition of ‘Hoochie Coochie’ which will live long in the memory.

In complete contrast of styles Hard Stairs were next. By their own admission their style of raw, garage blues is not to everyone’s taste and a few people took the opportunity to top up with some food from the Twisted Kitchen food truck or have a catch up chat with friends. The sizeable number that stayed were treated to an energetic performance of quality musicianship and sharp songs. These guys were one of Beastie’s absolute favourite bands and from their performance it was easy to see why.

Finally, McHale’s Permanent Brew took to the stage. They have publicly declared that Beastie’s efforts to get them on the stage at HRH Festival signalled the kick start for their careers and since then have struck up a close friendship and have been very supportive through his illness so absolutely deserved their place on the stage. Once again, their performance was a fitting emotional finale and which included Matt Long returning to the stage to perform an incredible version of All Along the Watchtower. MPB would probably have gone on for another hour and certainly the audience would have loved them to do so but a local curfew meant that the evening had to come to an end.

 

I would like to say thank you to a few people who helped the day be a success. Firstly to the guys at Boom who could have not been more helpful and who did a great job on the sound. Along with many grass roots venues they have been experiencing financial challenges following Covid and need as much help as they can get so a few quid spent over the bar was very welcome to them.

Next everyone who helped me on the day including Joe, Nick, my niece Evie and Rachel and Liz who did a fantastic job on the merch and raffle sales.

All my clients who donated raffle prizes including Whitehall restaurant, Three’s a Crowd, Whitelocks, and the Collective. The Chambers who did me a special rate for accommodation as well.

Finally a thank you to  the wonderful musicians who performed and waived their normal appearance fee and a special thank you to Matt Long and his partner Sam who just wanted to be there to pay their own respects to Beastie in spite of their ongoing health issues.

As well as a memorial to Beastie, the day was a charity fundraiser for Beastie’s nominated charities including Issabelle’s Appeal as well as the Beastie Foundation which we have set up in his name to  support live music. With Matt Long’s recent diagnosis we also decided to make sure that we could contribute to Matt’s fund for his potential life saving treatment in the USA and the sale of Beastie’s CD’s will be heading that way. At time of writing we have still to finalize the total contribution but we are confident that there will be a healthy donation going each way.

As we were leaving after my 14 hour day I was asked (not for the first time) is it going to be an annual event? My response was and is that it is too soon to say and I’m not sure that we could improve that but never say never………..