HRH Blues III shook Sheffield to its core as the biggest names from across the globe celebrated a genre in rude health. HRH Mag’s Simon Rushworth wraps up the Day Two highlights.

Aaron Unlocks Key To Blues Success

Believe the hype. Watch this kid fly. Pin your hopes on the most exciting thing to happen to Blues since Joe Bonamassa. Aaron Keylock arrived in Sheffield weighed down by expectation on the back of his brilliant debut album and critical acclaim across the board. But you wouldn’t have known. His super-cool, almost casual approach – albeit fused with serious professionalism and a dedication to his craft – made for the standout set on Day Two. Authentic. Audacious. Awesome. Book your AAA pass now.

Feathers Fly

Crow Black Chicken win the prize for most animals in one band name but the Irish trio also take the plaudits for surprise package of the weekend. The hairy trio even managed to sell a copy (we saw at least one) of their album on vinyl for the princely sum of £25! But that was no surprise. Matching their brilliantly dark blues with some equally entertaining banter, the band’s early afternoon acoustic turn was bettered by an even more memorable fully plugged set on the second stage. Frontman Christy O Hanlon moved seamlessly from rugged blues vocalist to stand-up comic – imagine Mrs Brown playing Pat McManus and you’re halfway there.

 

Unplugged And Proud

There’s nothing like listening to the blues stripped down and basic and the acoustic stage threw up a succession of spine-tingling sets for those lucky enough to gain entry to the festival’s inner sanctum. Chantel McGregor up close and personal was a particular treat – the supremely gifted singer songwriter made an instant connection with a wrapt crowd and with nowhere to hide let her talent shine. Late addition Jack J Hutchinson might have been sporting the best hat of the weekend but his foot-stopping three-tune turn proved there’s substance to match the style. And then there was the brilliant Big Boy Bloater – an unusually early start failing to blunt his pin-sharp banter and cutting blues.

 

Read It And Weep

HRH Blues marked the final opportunity for festival goers to grab a copy of Volume I of HRH Mag and the free copies were flying off the shelves – out front and back stage. But if you missed out because you weren’t there then don’t despair. Festival bosses are considering a subscription service so that everybody can enjoy the 132-page melting pot of blues, prog, metal, classic rock and more – so watch this space. Volume II will be available from September 1 with Volume III set to follow in November. And we’ve already lined up a raft of big-name stars, emerging talent, lifestyle features and more.

 

Tee He He

It probably seemed like a good idea at the time. But what on earth was Aaron Keylock’s bass player doing wearing the weekend’s most inappropriate tee-shirt? The ‘breast print on a white top’ is funny when you’re 15 and you’ve downed a bottle of WKD vodka but it looked utterly out of place on the HRH Blues stage on Easter Sunday. And it doesn’t help when your singer is one of the most stylish young chaps on the planet. We’re not the fashion police but this was a terrible crime against good taste.