3 weekend events in 3 weeks finally gets you to a very tired stage (probably to do with age and cider consumption) but I still do not give up!
I was contacted a week ago by a band local to me called ‘Black Star Bullet’ asking if I would be coming to see them at the Rock and Blues Old School Weekender in Derby to which I replied ‘oh shit, its this weekend?’.
With just 4 days to prepare and no idea what I was in for, I contacted organiser Gary White to get TBFM on the list for our first visit to the event. Having sold my motorcycle a few years ago, biker related events have not been top of my list (doesn’t feel right turning up in a car to an event full of amazing machines) but this was one I had been wanting to try out and it was only a short 50 mile drive up the M1.
I arrived early Thursday afternoon to a very decent filled field which really surprised me and reminded me of my old rally days when people DID go for the full weekend! I pitched up and grabbed some cider and went to get my bearings on the set up. I had the world famous CAN of AC/DC beer which I would be taking around getting photos of with people too (read about the CAN here).
The actual layout inside the fences was very impressive with the large covered main stage to the side, plenty of space before the generous second stage, which was outdoors and in the corner a small ‘big top’ tent as the third stage. Loads of great stalls and plenty of food choices which not very large queues. Prices very reasonable and I must say the pork baguettes were delicious!
I went around back stage to be greeted by Gaz, the organiser and had a good chat about the weekend. We worked out a few things and I was then left to my own devices… (was that cider I could see back stage nom nom!!!).
Everyone was extremely helpful as I went around chatting to the stage crew, back stage staff and some of the security team too. I felt very comfortable even though it was my first visit.
Thursday night we had 3 amazing bands. The sun was blazing down and the main stage was filling quite nicely for opening act ‘Suicide Tuesday’, a regular TBFM featured band. They kicked off the show with a bang and really did go down very well with the crowds that were pouring in. They were followed by ‘Shackled’ who were just as entertaining.
The headliners of day one, TBFM DJ and 25 year veteran of the Rock and Blues was Clive Jackson’s ‘Doctor and the Medics’. This is my 4th time seeing the band. I know what they do, I know the set list and yet, I still cannot get enough of the Doc. If you want a band to get a crowd going on the opening night of a three day piss-up, just shout the Doctor and he will oblige!
So end of the first night finishes with some back stage drinks with the bands and then Chris Walker, a regular TBFM listener DJ’ed to the crowd who really did not want to go to bed! With 2 hours of excellent music kicking off with Rammstein and finishing with Pink Floyd, everyone went to their tents buzzing.
Day 2 starts off very early with the sun rising around 4-5am and scorching hot before breakfast (thats a Strongbow breakfast of course). Friday sees all 3 stages open and a very hard working day for Mucka Jay. The big headliner of the night was Quireboys, another Rock and Blues favourite.
We kicked off with some great chilled out blues on stage 2 from Howlin Mat then the compare known as
‘Badaxe’ who had been very entertaining, decided to pick on me! He announced the ‘Ugly Bloke Competition’ and I tried hiding as I knew I would win but I got caught out and taken to the front of the stage with 5 other ugly blokes! There really was no contest as the crowd really showed their appreciation for my perfect ugliness and I was crowded ‘2013 Rock and Blues Ugliest Bloke’. I don’t win many things so I can be quite proud although the tin of mushy peas as a trophy is going to be a bit sad looking on the mantelpiece!
The rest of my second day I was backstage a lot doing interviews but I managed to see another few TBFM featured bands including JD & the FDC’s, Dirt Box Disco and New Generation Superstars with all 3 bands playing out better shows than I had seen them play before. Maybe it was the stage, the crowd, the sunshine… I really don’t know but all the bands were playing the best I had ever seen them (maybe I was sober).
We finished day 2 with The Quireboys and although I had seen them before, I wasn’t up for it as fatigue was kicking in plus Spike walked out half way through his interview with me which really put me off watching him (I was sulking really!).
An even bigger line-up of events on Saturday and the final day of this awesome weekender with the showcase of bikes and hotrods in the custom car and bike show, an aerial stunt show and an absolute blistering line-up of bands on the 3 stages, it was going to be a very long but energetic day!
There was some great bikes on display with really interesting paint jobs. The one that caught my eye was the full tank job of Compare the Meerkat favourite Aleksandr. Why did they do it, I really do not know but it looked amazing!
The stunt plane was another fantastic addition to the show and pretty much everyone was out in the main arena with the sunshine blazing down on us as the pilot whose name I cannot remember (Steve?) looped, nose-dived and did some other crazy stunts.
The main stage was opening so I went for a sit down to watch the first band, ‘Kamakaze Hotshot’, a mixture of rock and punk as described by compare Clive Jackson. I was really impressed with this young band. As Clive said, it is certainly not easy to open a main stage on the main day of any event but these boys showed no sign of weakness as they blasted through 45 minutes of music to a half filled room. Very entertaining band whose debut album is being released in August 2013.
We shot through the bands on all 3 stages through the day so fast, running from stage to stage to catch at least 15 minutes of as many bands as I could whilst getting back stage to blag some free t-shirts and do some interviews.
I got to meet my second ex AC/DC member in a week thanks to Chris Slade (drummer from 89-94). He was an awesome guy to chat to, so down to earth considering he has drummed for a hall of fame of bands including Tom Jones, Pink Floyd, Gary Moore, AC/DC, Asia and so many more. I was humbled to be in his presence as we had a great interview talking about his 50 year professional career as a drummer, his chance to be part of a 2 drummer band with Elvis Presley which he turned down and being the last of 100 drummers to audition for AC/DC after the Young brothers saw him at a Pink Floyd gig.
The evening was beginning to cloud over and we knew we were in for rain but it was the end of 3 excellent days of entertainment, friends and fun so I don’t think people really gave a shit!
I had a target of a few bands to see starting with ‘The Parents’, a local punk band with a twist. A lot of sexual innuendoes came from this band as they dumped out a fantastic 30 minute set with the singer Sebastian Vulva dropping his trousers to the song Homosexual which got the girls (and boys) excited!
For the 8th time in around 5 months, I was then preparing myself for Nuneaton/Coventry rockers ‘Black Star Bullet’. I have said before and I will keep on saying it, these boys need to be discovered. They have been my band of 2013 so far (and I have now seen over 300 bands live) and their performance at this event has to have been their best ever. In fact, Gav (drummer) even said to me afterwards that he felt that that was their strongest show that they had played as a band together, which I agreed with 100%.
Their set was met with a very good sized crowd on the outdoor stage, especially considering old boy ‘Ed Tudor Pole’ was playing next door in the smaller stage 3 and Geordie ska band Ska-Toons were on the main stage. The guys went through their set so well, the tightest I have seen the band and with no nerves showing what so ever, I think they are probably one of the bands people will be wanting back at the Rock and Blues.
They finished their set with an AC/DC classic just as the rain poured down but rather than people running for cover, the crowd got up and rain danced to ‘Highway to Hell’. One of the best performances of the weekend and would be hard to top.
I caught the last two songs from Ed Tudor Pole who was as weirdly entertaining as you would see on The Crystal Maze and everyone was packed into the tent for his final song, ‘Swords of a Thousand Men’ in which, the plonker even fell on the floor dancing around like a nutter!!!
Main stage time now and I also managed to catch 4 songs from Ska-Toons, a band I first saw at the Farmyard Party last year and once again, grabbed the audience by the bollocks and had the skanking to every song they sang. This is a great way to kick off the big headlining bands as they had pretty much every single person singing, dancing and going mad! It was a great view from back stage watching them all partying.
I have to give a shout out to Kenny and Fakesnake who played the TBFM Birthday Bash. They were fantastic on stage and when they played… out came a quartet of pole dancers so a definite thumbs up guys! BB Blackdog was another favourite of mine and I did catch a little of the tribute act Gunz V’s Roses.
The night ended though firstly with my favourite Irish band of all time. These guys, discovered by TBFM in 2010 (first UK radio station to give them airplay) have been doing things in the music scene they really wasn’t expecting. From the drunken antics ‘back in the day’ to the complete solid stance of 2013. I always thought from the day I heard these guys, they would be playing to thousands of bikers at a big event and wow, they played well!
For a lot of the crowd, this may have been the first time seeing Trucker Diablo but for me… 5th time so I knew their old songs and new although so did at least a few hundred people crammed into the railings!
They went through their set of old classics, getting the crowd
partying to ‘Drink Beer, Destroy’ (which didn’t take much convincing for the crowd!) and finishing their set with an encore that they truly were not expecting. ‘Year of the Truck’ off their latest album ‘Songs of Iron’ went down a storm (pun intended) as they rain poured down outside and started to flood the fields.
Personally, I have to say yet again, best performance the band has played. Glenn, the bass player had a very tough job playing when he was literally a hard-on away from the pole dancers, with some very funny facial expressions throughout the show!
So here we go then, the big finale of the 2013 Derby Rock and Blues Old School Weekender (to give it its full title!)… Chris Slades Timeline. A show I was really looking forward too although I was wondering how drunk the crowd must have been because every single person seemed to be swinging their arms and singing to Tom Jones’ ‘Delilah’ as the band played some cracking songs.
Obviously, as a typical biker crowd, you’d expect the AC/DC stuff to go down well and it certainly did. Hit after hit, the place was electric. Every single person who came to the weekender must have been in the room as the band played over an hour of great songs. Dirty Deeds, Back in Black, Hells Bells and Thunderstruck… it was like being at River Plate. As the show came to an end, the long stand off back stage while working out whether to risk another track as the curfew was closing in but they just couldn’t leave the crowd without an encore of ‘Highway to Hell’ with guest vocalist Clive Jackson from Doctor and the Medics’ (much to his surprise!).
If you want a way to close an event… THAT was the way to do it. My first ever Rock and Blues and it certainly isn’t going to be my last. This was not a music festival, this was not a bike rally, this was a fucking party!!!
Next year’s event is already in my diary and I cannot wait. Get the date booked and come along, whether you are riding in on a Harley or grabbing a taxi from the train station… it was a great atmosphere and one I was glad to be part of.
A massive thanks to Gary and Mims, the stage crew, security, the bands, compares for all 3 stages, the guys and
girls keeping the campsite clean and safe and everyone at the event for making me feel so welcome.
Finally, I have to also thank my personal chauffeur Helen Perry and my backstage partner in crime Rocky Shades for their assistance!
See you all next year. Early bird tickets are on sale now for £25 at: