As hundreds of people got down to the vibes from the North Wales Blues and Soul Festival held in Mold over the weekend, Debra Greenhouse reviews the action from Saturday night...
I was texting a friend when my partner turned to me and said ‘Hey up, they look suited and booted’.
Next moment I wondered if there was an echo in the air but it was the bloke behind us talking to his mate. ‘Suited and booted’, his voice trailed off, as he nodded to the stage.
My eyes followed his gaze. There appeared a six piece outfit dressed from head to toe in sky blue.
The drummer called for a quick sound check – in a continental accent.
Hmmm, Italian or French?
Despite the seemingly Welsh surname, the Alexis Evans band turned out to be French. They’d jetted in from Bordeaux and Toulouse. With both those cities currently melting in a heatwave the sky blue troopers brought a red hot feel-good factor with them.
I want to believe it was their vibrant get-up, warm and sunny mood that caused the clouds to part as they gave us ‘Comon Let’s Do It’ from their latest album ‘Girl Bait’.
“Come nearer”, Alexis summoned us. “It’s weird you being over there. We want you to dance, that’s why we came.”
And so the crowd moved out from under the shelter of the festival site’s giant gazebos and they danced while Alexis and co. delivered a slick and joyously contemporary take on the sixties groove.
Oo la la, such a young and exuberant band from La Francais was not what I was expecting at a blues festival in the centre of Mold, Flintshire.
But then this increasingly popular annual event is full of surprises.
Alexis Evans Band were not the only ones to go the distance and help make 2017’s festival a success.
The Saturday line-up alone also included stand out acts from Greece and the USA.
That’s not to mention the South Walian blues harmonica phenomenon who is Liam Ward. With vocals as hypnotic as his award winning playing he’s rightly at home centre stage.
Returning to the scene where they gave a storming performance last year Greek band Deep in the Top kept the atmosphere upbeat, their non stop high energy style coupled with tongue in cheek dance moves.
Old hands Connie Lush, followed by John O’Leary and Sugarkane showed they can still cut it like the true professionals they are.
And credit must go to Born Healers who gave us a defiantly rip roaring start to a rainy afternoon.
Making a first visit to the festival Hamilton Loomis from Galveston, Texas, headlined the Saturday night, rounding off that day’s outdoor show before revellers moved to pubs and restaurants in town for the music to continue.
The event, like Mold itself, has a growing community feel and it is good to see so many local venues joining the party.
While it would be true to say the weather could have been better, the musicians were among the very best there is on today’s blues and soul scene.