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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Bell & Bucket New Orleans Jazz Festival. May 25

Paul Bacon (drums), Liz Bacon (clarinet), Jeff Milner (trombone & vocals), Sarah Thatcher (banjo & guitar), Mike ‘Spike’ Kennedy (double bass) & Emily Bacon (vocals)
Review by Russell).
Bank holiday Monday at the end of May means one thing…it’s the Bell and Bucket New Orleans Jazz Festival! This 2015 festival, the second of hopefully many more to come in years to come, mimicked last year’s inaugural event; a two day event, a one o’clock start with invited guests from around the UK and the support of the weekly Monday session’s regulars.
The Bacons – Paul and Liz – are dedicated practitioners of the music of New Orleans. In a nice touch they invited daughter Emily to return to Tyneside to sing at this year’s event. Ms Bacon lives in Bangor, Wales. Sarah Thatcher (banjo and guitar) lives in Newport (in Wales, not Rhode Island), making for a one-third Welsh-based contingent on the stand. A fifty-fifty split in genders made for an unusually healthy number of female musicians in a world all-to-frequently dominated by BOFs (of the male variety). Trombonist Jeff Milner returned following his well-received appearance at last year’s festival and Spike Kennedy (bass) was making his debut at the Norfolk Street festival.
Emily Bacon wasted no time getting up to sing In a Sentimental Mood and, iPhone at the ready (a lyrics’ download, you know), You Are My Sunshine. Mr Milner showed he could sing as well as play trombone on Love Letters in the Sand. Liz Bacon (clarinet) and Emily Bacon teamed up on Crazy and Emily stayed on to sing everyone’s favourite – All of Me.
Festival interval raffle prizes were many – bottles of plonk and various Bacon/Mississippi Dreamboats’ CD releases to choose from. Cullercoats Brewery dominated the bar (no bad thing) and the sun shone, what more could one ask for on a holiday weekend?
Second set. One or two (welcome) later comers boosted numbers. A Ducal treat – Creole Love Call and Mood Indigo (the latter featuring Emily’s vocals) – ensured that day one of this year’s festival got the thumbs-up from all present. Sarah Thatcher’s musicianship got the thumbs-up from your reviewer, as did her rhythm partner Spike Kennedy.
Day two (Tuesday) features three of the north east’s finest; Mr Mac Rae (on this occasion on clarinet), trombonist Laurence McBriarty (to quote Paul Bacon: He can play anything) and pianist Dick Straughn. Sarah Thatcher and Mike Kennedy are staying over. They are well-worth catching. One o’clock start and it’s free admission.        
Russell.

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