Blesok no. 54, May-June, 2007
Skopje Blues & Soul Festival, 2007
Skopje Blues & Soul festival takes place every first week in July, and this year is no exception to the rule. Also the high quality of participants makes no exception, all of them are regarded as some of the best in their respective fields, thus making this festival one of the best in Europe.
Eleventh in a row, this festival has already created a nice tradition of presenting variety of blues genres with its best exponents from all over the world, some of them with legendary status within the idiom. This year’s edition will take place on July 3 and 4 respectively, so let’s see what a blues fan can expect on these dates.
Festival openers on July 3 will be the fabulous The Nimmo Brothers from Glasgow, currently one of the best blues outfits on British blues scene. Over the past decade The Nimmo Brothers have proven themselves as one of the most respected modern blues bands the UK has seen since the blues boom of the 1960’s. Having learned their trade by listening to such greats as peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, there was no doubt that, when the time came, they too would produce original compositions fuelled by that very same passion for the shared by their idols. Brothers Alan and Stevie Nimmo are already considered as the premier blues guitarists in Great Britain, which speaks for itself considering the amount of blues artists working there and headlining festivals and leaving sold out signs in the windows of blues clubs throughout the UK, Europe and USA. Beside working as a tight unit, brothers Alan and Stevie Nimmo indulge in their separate, mostly acoustic blues work when heavy commitments allow with Alan being also one of the most sought after blues drummers?!) in the UK. The essence of their live work can best be appreciated after the band recorded their live album “Live at Cottiers” in their home town of Glasgow in 2003. Their brand of blues of original compositions and carefully selected covers makes for great listening and their explosive stage set add the flavor not many bands can touch even in their dreams! Miss them at your peril!
July 3 proceeding will be closed with a concert by Sherman Robertson, already considered as “one of the most important blues artists in blues” (Blues Revue), an artist who “deserve to have his name added to the short list of the finest musicians who play electric blues” (Living Blues). His style is a powerful combination of zydeco, hard swinging Texas electric blues, R&B and swampy Louisiana blues with a touch of rock edge that makes him rather unique on contemporary blues scene. Throughout his career he played and shared the stage with blues giants like B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Clifton Chenier, and Johnny Copeland and appeared on Paul Simon’s legendary “Graceland” album! He recorded material with none less important record producer Mike Vernon whose credentials include John Mayall, Eric Clapton, Freddie King, Fleetwood Mac, David Bowie, etc… Their collaboration on 1993’s I’m The Man (Atlantic) album was nominated for a W.C. Handy Award. Sherman Robertson is coming to Skopje directly from Houston, Texas and will be backed by an excellent British band Blues Move he use when touring Europe. He will promote his latest album “Guitar Man” (Crosscut Records) and Skopje is the first city of his European tour agenda, which is an honor to Skopje Blues festival and a rare chance to witness one of the best bluesmen working today.
What makes this year’s edition of the festival so special for blues lovers in Macedonia is a concert by Vlatko Stefanovski Trio, scheduled for July 4.
Listening for the first time to Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper and their album “Live Adventures” in “Pop Top 50”, then popular radio programme on Radio Skopje (1969), Vlatko Stefanovski was bit by the blues bug and that excitement followed him throughout his carrer as a leader of the legendary “Leb i sol” band and solo artists. Some 30 years and 25 albums later, he felt that the time has come to indulge his life long dream and close his magical blues circle to perform strictly blues material in front of his fans. “I have always listened and appreciated blues and the idea of doing strictly blues concert has been in my mind for the last 5-6 years and I am happy to be able to pay respect to all my blues idols from the past, something that had always been a part of my inner world. Skopje Blues & Soul Festival is a logic place where I want to play the blues and I am looking forward to do it! I am also thinking and soon starting to work on my first blues album that will expose another side of my music personality.”
Music fans could not imagine a better place to hear Vlatko, great name of Macedonian music scene and his band play the blues than the stage of Skopje Blues & Soul Festival, an event not to be missed!
Festival will be closed by another legendary musician; Jan Akkerman will play and promote his recent live album. What can one say for a musician of such proportions as he is? Jan Akkerman for a time eclipsed Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page among reader polls in England as the top guitarist in the world. His time with the great Ducth blues band “Brainbox” in the late sixties brought him great respect from musicians and blues fans alike, paving way to another step in his already rich career as a founding member of “Focus”, progressive rock band which successfully blended various musical styles into some of the greatest music rock scene has ever had which transformed Akkerman into a superstar guitarist. Many years and albums later Jan Akkerman is still a name a lot of musicians from different age groups and fans of fine music worship for his musical abilities, he is at home within every genre you can imagine (rock, blues, classic, folk), sheer eclecticism of his work which makes him very difficult to categorize. In any case, blues fans in Skopje can expect some powerful blues chords that will shake and resonate in the night for some time after the festival is over!