July 13, 2024

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The Holland International Blues Festival 2024, 15 acts from home and abroad managed to charm the audience: Video, Photos

The Holland International Blues Festival! Three days of bluesing while enjoying great music, a snack and a drink and in good company with music friends. That is the Holland International Blues Festival. Over three days, 15 acts from home and abroad managed to charm the audience.

Photography: Marco van Rooijen. View all photos in the photo album Holland International Blues Festival 2024.

GROLLO calls itself ‘the only, and therefore the best, Cuby & The Blizzards tribute band in the Netherlands’. Their shared love for music from the sixties and seventies gave rise to the idea to start a tribute band. In terms of repertoire, the band sticks to the first ten Cuby years; from the album ‘Desolation’ to ‘Kid Blue’. The audience appreciated their performance in Grolloo 100%!

British blues and soul singer KYLA BROX has already been described as ‘the best female blues vocalist of her generation’ and even ‘the British answer to Aretha Franklin’.

Brox won both the UK and Europe Blues Challenges and was named Best Female Singer at the European Blues Awards in 2019. To date, she has released five studio albums.

MELL VF, founded by music veterans Nico Brandsen (keyboards) and Ton Dijkman (drums) with the young singer Melanie ‘Mell’ Jonk, is a favorite with radio DJs and audiences alike and has released three albums to date. They were featured in TV programs such as Linda’s Zomerweek and We Want More and Mell recently scored highly on her own in Best Singers.

Due to illness, Brandsen had to leave the band and unfortunately passed away in January 2024. Fortunately, the band decided to continue with keyboardist Martin Scheppink. This year the band will be at many major festivals such as Pinkpop, Bospop, Huntenpop and Zwarte Cross.

German blues singer and guitarist KAI STRAUSS has recorded seven albums to date. The latest, ‘Night Shift’, was released towards the end of 2022. Straus received several German Blues Awards and put himself on the map as a band leader but also as a gifted sideman; he played with greats such as Jimmy Johnson, Mike Wheeler and Lurrie Bell. He tours very successfully with his own band, The Electric Blues All-stars.

Hammond-driven power trio DEWOLFF has already released ten albums and three live albums, won an Edison, recorded an album with Black Keys producer Mark Neill and performed more than 1000 gigs in Europe, Australia, Indonesia and Russia.

With their 2023 album ‘Love, Death & In Between’ under their belt and their ‘XL’ band with bass, percussion, horns and backing vocals, they managed to blow Grolloo away, just like they did in 2022.

Last May, the band traveled to Muscle Shoals, Alabama (USA) to record their 10th studio album with Grammy Award-winning producer Ben Tanner at two legendary studios: FAME and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. Heroes such as Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Little Richard, the Stones, Leon Russell, the Black Keys and hundreds of other legendary artists recorded world-famous albums in these studios. The album release party is planned for December 7 at their own DeWolffest in TivoliVredenburg in Utrecht and immediately afterwards the band will start a new European tour!

Thorbjørn Risager discovered the music of B.B. as a late teenager. King and Ray Charles and had been singing the blues for a long time when he was accepted at the conservatory in Copenhagen.

In 2003 he formed Thorbjørn Risager Blue 7, which was renamed THORBJØRN RISAGER & THE BLACK TORNADO in 2014. This popular Danish band is successfully touring Europe and has a long list of albums to their name, with the latest being ‘Navigation Blues’ from 2022. And… the successor is now in the making!

JJ GRAY & MOFRO were on the very first edition and now return with a brand new album, ‘Olustee’. It is their tenth album, and the first in no less than nine years.

The band comes from Jacksonville, Florida and is formed around singer and composer JJ Grey. Mofro was the word he used to describe his music and sound when he was still working in a woodshop. It now stands for the passionate musicians he plays with.

Canadian guitarist and singer-songwriter MATT ANDERSEN started his music career in 2002 and has worked and toured with quite a few big names, such as Bo Diddley, Buddy Guy, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Marcus King and Beth Hart. He has also won a host of prestigious awards, including several Maple Blues Awards and European Blues Awards as Best Solo/Acoustic Act. His most recent album ‘The Big Bottle of Joy’ was released in 2023. It is his tenth studio album and the successor to the acclaimed ‘House To House’ from 2022. At HIBF he performed with his band, also called The Big Bottle of Joy.

Devon Allman is Gregg’s second son. But Devon is also known for its own bands, such as Honeytribe and The Royal Southern Brotherhood. He came to Grolloo with THE DEVON ALLMAN PROJECT, a six-piece band that has already toured through about twenty countries. Last year he set a world record with 50 concerts in 50 different American states in 49 days.

BUDDY GUY’s performance was part of his ‘Damn Right Farewell Tour’. After a career spanning more than five decades, the blues legend is calling it quits. The guitarist is known as one of the hardest working artists in the music world, with 150 shows a year and a new album every two years. His latest, ‘The Blues Don’t Lie’ from 2022, featured Mavis Staples, Elvis Costello, James Taylor and Jason Isbell as vocalists.

Towards the end of the performance, Buddy asks three more guitarists on stage: Ally Venable, Devon Allman and Leonardo Giuliani. Together they close Buddy’s set on fire!

Known for her dynamic live show, Texas singer-songwriter and guitarist ALLY VENABLE started making music at an early age: she formed her first band at the age of thirteen and released her first EP just a year later. She scored Buddy Guy and Joe Bonamassa as guests on her latest album ‘Real Gone’ from 2023, after she already received help from her mentor Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Devon Allman on its predecessor ‘Heart Of Fire’.

Ally gives a refreshing performance here with her excellent band. A flaming set of Texas blues, funk, rock and pop, cast in a very accessible sound. Excellent guitar playing and Ally is also very strong vocally. She knows how to deliver perfect slow blues, but her tribute to SRV is impressive. Great class, this young lady!

Singer, composer and guitarist JOE LOUIS WALKER first picked up a guitar when he was eight and is now well into his seventies. As a teenager he already played with many greats, such as John Lee Hooker, John Mayall, Muddy Waters and Jimi Hendrix. His mantelpiece boasts six Blues Music Awards and he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. San Francisco-born ‘JLW’ released his most recent album ‘Weight Of The World’ in 2023.

37 years ago, JLW first set foot on European and Dutch soil and he has loved coming here ever since. After a somewhat faltering start to his performance, he suffers from allergies and associated nasal discharge, he manages to regain his composure not much later and then we hear a great blues set, as we are used to from him.

A leading role is certainly reserved for his excellent keyboardist, whose birthday is today! The audience has now warmed up and is clapping enthusiastically in appreciation. There is also a lot of dancing to the sounds of this bluesiest performance of the day.

Blues rocker ERIC JOHANSON got his first guitar at the age of five, taught himself to play and quickly became a great promise. He also developed a love for hard rock and now uses blues as a springboard to a harder, broader sound. On his latest album ‘The Deep And The Dirty’ from 2023 he offers ‘everything from roadhouse roots rock to dark, bluesy Americana’. The album debuted at number 1 on the Billboard Blues Charts.

Eric is backed up by the super tight German rhythm section drummer Christin Neddens and bassist Tom Germann. Eric is a master in both heavy work and bluesy ballads. His wonderful voice, reminiscent of Aynsley Lister, in combination with his subtle guitar playing blows many people away.

The man from New Orleans, Louisiana also knows how to play a nice slide guitar! We get one guitar solo after another and it has to be said: every note is right, not too much and not too little. In the fall, Johanson will be back in Europe with RUF’s Blues Caravan.

ROBBEN FORD taught himself to play guitar after hearing the two guitarists of The Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Although he embraced many different genres, the blues remains the core of his guitar playing. Ford received five Grammy nominations and was named one of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of the 20th Century” by Musician magazine.

His latest album, ‘Night In The City, was released last December. Robben plays with his British band for the first time tonight and we recognize none other than the British Jonny Henderson on keyboards/bass, drum icon Ian Thomas behind the kit and Paul Booth on sax. All of them are accomplished musicians who know how to take Robben’s fantastic playing to even greater heights.

Robben’s guitar playing is particularly passionate tonight and his performance is incredibly swinging and funky. His performance of Jealous Guy is surprising! During the entire performance, his good friend Warren Haynes is visibly enjoying himself in the wings. How beautiful!

It is not the first time for WARREN HAYNES to play in Grolloo; in 2017 he was already there with Gov’t Mule. Since he first picked up a guitar at the age of 11, he hasn’t let it go. Haynes released three albums and collaborated with a wide variety of artists: he was recently a guest on Dolly Parton’s last album ‘Rockstar’.

Warren starts his concert as always with “How you’re doin’?” His newly formed band features John Medeski on keys, Terence Higgins (drums), Kevin Scott on bass guitar and Greg Osby on saxophone, and they rocked Grolloo with a steaming set of original songs and a nice selection of Warren’s favorite songs, chosen from his extensive career. Man In Motion, Thorazine Shuffle, Hattiesburg Shuffle, Invisible and Banks Of The Deep End, to name just a few. Each song is played in a long, drawn-out manner. Here is a jam band in all its glory!

After this European tour, the band continues their tour in America with Warren’s ‘Now Is The Time Tour’, which includes performances with well-known symphonic orchestras. This seventh edition of HIBF Grolloo ends with the final notes of Soulshine encore at 11:45 PM. It was raining heavily outside the tent, but inside the sun was shining. The organization hopes to see everyone again on June 20 and 21, 2025.

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