36. Rawa Blues Festival
September 29th-October 1st 2016
Keb' Mo' & Polish National Symphonic Radio Orchestra, Corey Harris Solo
Main stage, Spodek Hall
JJ Grey & Mofro, Shemekia Copeland, Albert Lee, Toronzo Cannon, Shakin' Dudi, Dżem
Krzysztof Głuch Oscillate, Janusz Hryniewicz, Joe Colombo feat. Kasia Skoczek, Cheap Tobacco, Hot Tamales, F*ck The People
Small stage, Spodek Hall
Pokój Numer 3, Levi, Black Job, Black Bee, Blues Drawers, Elephant's Escape, Forsal, Jurajski Oddział Bluesowy
Keb' Mo' & NOSPR
JJ Grey & Mofro
36th edition of Rawa Blues was more impressive than the previous one. The prologue was the first of two meetings with Albert Lee, broadcast by Radio Programme 3. It was the story about his musical biography illustrated by the performance of several pieces.
The first concert day of the Festival in the Main Hall of the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra was opened by Corey Harris singing with an acoustic guitar. In less than an hour, the musician transported the audience of 2,000 to the world of African-American music. His recital, featuring songs composed by Charlie Patton, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Skip James, among others, was an enchanting blues history lesson in a nutshell.
After three years, Keb' Mo' performed again on Rawa Blues. This time with the NOSPR Symphony Orchestra conducted by Krzesimir Dębski, the author of arrangements of the popular artist's works for such a large ensemble with the rhythm section composed of Polish musicians. He performed twelve well-known songs from his repertoire. In the finale of this concert, Irek Dudek, who was invited on stage, played the harmonica in three tracks.
Day two of the festival began with a traditional contest, the winner of which was the band Levi, with a great harmonica player and vocalist. On the Main Stage, the audience heard a record number of performers, and the tension did not subside for almost ten hours. Polish performers included the duo F*ck The People, followed by the acoustic trio Hot Tamales. In turn, the electric band Cheap Tobacco, reinforced at the festival with a brass section, gained clarity in their own blues-rock repertoire. We then listened to the acoustic duo of Joe Colombo and Kasia Skoczek in blues standards, with plenty of slide guitar exposure. The event of this part turned out to be the Krzysztof Głuch Oscillate band. The leader and pianist presented an unusual line-up: violin, trumpet, trombone, guitar and scratches. The vocalist Agnieszka Łapka showed her vocal maturity. After them, another duo of Janusz Hryniewicz and Tadeusz Puton appeared on the stage of Spodek, performing the programme included in the term "music of the blues area"
The head of the festival, Irek Dudek, this time reached for his artistic incarnation of Shakin' Dudi, but the whole concert was filled with music that cleverly mixed blues, swing and jazz improvisation. Dudek played electric violin with an inventiveness not heard in a long time, bidding for solos with guitarist Grzegorz Kapołka.
Chicago's electric blues hopeful Toronzo Cannon has convinced audiences to think positively about the future of the music. He presented dynamic, motoric and rocking blues with exciting developed guitar parts, strong voice and variation of moods. During a very spectacular performance, he not only filled the entire stage with movement, but also entered the audience while playing the long guitar solo.
He was followed by Albert Lee, this time with an accompanying band. The audience was surprised by the country repertoire, appreciated the guitarist's extraordinary playing technique and succumbed to the lively renditions of rockabilly and country songs. Lee demonstrated his true class as a vocalist by performing two beautiful piano ballads.
Much more energy was introduced by the musicians of the band of the queen of the blues, Shemekai Copeland. The singer sang with a balanced expression, allowing one to admire the scale of her voice, her excellent emission and phrase leading, to appreciate the power of the message in her singing. Her blues additionally took on a guitar character, thanks to her excellent two guitarists. The concert, kept at a high pace, consisted of ten songs and reached its climax in Johnny Copeland's "Ghetto Child", sung without a microphone with extraordinary emotionality.
JJ Grey & Mofro concert turned out to be a real provocation. Guitarist and vocalist JJ Grey mesmerized some with his voice and expressive music, while others were disappointed with his departure from the previously cultivated soul-blues style.
Some of the songs mixed even more different stylistic elements. In summary: a sensational group of musicians, a charismatic leader and a fine thread of blues woven into modern, original music.
The festival ended with a performance of Dżem, that returned on Rawa Blues stage after twenty years of absence.