38. Rawa Blues Festival
September 27th-29th 2018
Marcia Ball, Martin Harley & Daniel Kimbro
Main Stage, Spodek
The Robert Cray Band, Dudek Big Band, Tinsley Ellis, Laura Cox Band
Wild Meg & The Mellow Cats, Cotton Wing, Makar & Children of the Corn, Kraków Street Band, Wicked Heads,
Small Stage, Spodek
Blackberry Brothers, Black Pin, Blues Drawers, Blueshift, Herkonen, KSW 4 BLUES, My z Delty, Teksasy
The Robert Cray Band
Martin Harley & Daniel Kimbro
Dudek Big Band
Laura Cox Band
Wild Meg & The Mellow Cats
Public television was absent that year, but the Festival featured some extraordinary and high-profile artistic events. For two evenings, guitar workshops were led by Tinsley Ellis in the Chamber Hall of the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra. The first of them was broadcast live by Radio Three.
The gala concert on 28th September in the large hall of the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra had two versions: the acoustic one and the highly electrified one. First, the Anglo-American duo of Martin Harley and Daniel Kimbro took the audience by surprise. They performed blues with folk melodies and country rhythms. In a great acoustic space, Harley's lap steel guitar and Kimbro's double bass resonated beautifully and richly. The clear sounds of the instruments intermingled, vibrated, collided and faded in a symbiotic relationship, creating a special kind of accompaniment for the singing musicians.
After years, Marcia Ball performed on Rawa Blues stage again, this time with the band enlarged by a saxophone and a French horn. The concert was great, it lasted two hours, it consisted of twenty songs mostly from the latest Ball's album. The hall received a particularly warm welcome to the song "When The Mardi Gras Is Over", kept in the rhythmic climate of zydeco music. One could enjoy the changing dynamics and rhythmics of the songs, numerous references to boogie and New Orleans music. The show had pace, drama, and combined great music with elements of entertainment. At the end of the concert Irek Dudek joined the band performing a harmonica solo on Randy Newman's song "Louisiana 1927".
Traditionally, the competitions on the Small Stage began on Saturday around noon. A new generation of blues enthusiasts, exuding their own creativity, still lacking ideas for more interesting arrangements and downplaying the stage form. The Blues Drawers, Texans and Blackberry Brothers groups made a big impression.
The concerts on the Big Stage of Spodek were opened by Cotton Wing. After him, the winner of the competition stage, the Silesian band KSW 4 BLUES, referring to the folk blues and raw sound, performed. The next Silesian musicians, the trio Makar & Children Of The Corn, played a mixture of rock, seasoned with Texan and Mexican notes. It was the turn of the two Kraków teams. First up was the quartet Wicked Heads, whose songs had an appealing trance quality to them. The next one - Kraków Street Band, brought a breath of freshness and joy of making music combined with extraordinary liveliness, spontaneity and intensity. In this band every musician is a soloist, everything vibrated with instrumental proficiency.
For the next half hour, Italian band Wild Meg & The Mellow Cats entertained everyone with subtle neoswing. The dance atmosphere imposed by the Italian musicians was swiftly swept away by the French Laura Cox Band's unprecedentedly high decibel level on Rawie Blues. The band's leader with a model's apperance turned out to be an expressive vocalist and a guitarist with an impressive virtuoso touch. She gained the sympathy and admiration of the younger section by performing Jimi Hendrix's "Foxy Lady".
The trio of guitarist and vocalist Tinsley Ellis has taken a mature and noble approach to the blues in ten songs in an essential way. Otis Rush and Freddy King themes sounded alongside their own songs. Guitar enthusiasts must have appreciated the rich catalogue of expressive means contained in Ellis' playing.
The Irek Dudek Big Band concert was supposed to be a repetition of last year's performance at the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Meanwhile, he demonstrated a more condensed repertoire, more dynamic playing, stronger articulation and a fleshy brass sound. The Big Band of Irek Dudek gave great pleasure both to the lovers of great world hits known from the Ray Charles' recordings and to the amateurs of more sophisticated climates from the borderline of blues and jazz.
Several thousand listeners spent the last two hours with blues star Robert Cray. The band led by an excellent vocalist and guitarist played energetically, with almost no breaks between songs, which made the pace of the concert even faster. The quartet of musicians not only did not disappoint, but could have wowed. Cray's sensational vocals and the compactness of his guitar solos proved that the artist is past his period of showing off his instrumental eloquence. In addition to the well-known songs, Cray also introduced several tracks from his latest studio album. What was impressive was the funky rhythmisation of many of the tracks, the variation in the guitar timbre and the numerous keyboard parts. Robert Cray's concert was electrifying from start to finish.
Rawa Blues presented the blues in a wide context and once again confirmed the class of many world-renowned artists.