The days before the Blues Festival in Colne

The 24th Rhythm and Blues Festival was held here, in our ancient market town of bonnie Colne, just a few weeks ago.

SMOOTH MUSIC: The 24th Rhythm and Blues Festival in Colne. (S)
SMOOTH MUSIC: The 24th Rhythm and Blues Festival in Colne. (S)

Founded by “Mr Cool” Gary Hood in 1990 and organised now by “Miss Smooth” Alison Goode, once again big names are heading here, including one of my heroes, the 76-year-old Bill Wyman and his Rhythm Kings.

But, wait, today’s annual event could have had much earlier origins, for back in the spring of 1956 our local svengali Lew Askew mooted the idea of a summer “music jamboree” being held in the town.

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Sadly, the brainwave of Lew’s never happened. However, my grey cells are going into overdrive, so let’s go back to June 1956 as we entertain conjecture of a time!

Venue, The Sefton Club on Shed Street, Colne: the stage is decked out in royal blue silk drapes (no strippers appearing tonight!) when suddenly on stage in front of a huge crowd is the sartorial and splendid Lew Askew.

Lew’s voice booms out: “Ladies and gentlemen, direct from the US of A, Big Joe Turner and his Blues Kings”.

As the man himself enters the spotlight, singing his signature song “Shake, Rattle and Roll”, the packed-to-the-rafters audience go berserk. Act upon act follows.

Why here’s Lavern Baker and The Gliders singing “Tweedle-dee”, followed by Little Junior Parker and The Blue Flames singing “Mystery Train”.

Then it’s Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton singing her huge hit “Hound Dog”.

Now Lew’s back on stage and with a beaming smile says: “Now dear friends, our surprise guest to end our marvellous show, please welcome Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup. Arthur hits the stage and as “That’s All Right Mama” rings out the whole place erupts.