Review: The Kelso Country and Western Festival -
October 2018

Review by Nutty Norah



The weekend started off with the Welcome Party on the Thursday night which included entertainment from Robyn Taylor and Julia.  The Festival proper started on Friday at noon with the first Showcase Artist of the weekend and that was Robyn Taylor.  I hadn't got to Kelso by then so I missed Robyn's performance, but I was told that she was well received by the audience and all were very impressed by her voice and choice of songs.

Tom Collins

The Friday afternoon continued with Tom Collins and the Angie King Duo both doing two spots.  Tom Collins has a great voice and works with backing tracks providing two entertaining spots with plenty of music for the Line Dancers.  The Angie King Duo are very popular and showed just why with their two sets.  Angie is a lovely singer and Davy is brilliant on the steel guitar, a winning combination in anyone's book.  For just one song Angie's 15 year old daughter, Abbie, joined her on stage to sing "Burnin' Love" in front of an audience for the first time!  I think this may be the start of the Angie King Trio!

Angie King

During the disco break PJ the DJ said that we should all think of our friend Gary Perkins and send love to him and his family.  He played Gary's "Do You Love Me Like I Love You" and everyone took to the floor, forming a circle and joining hands, swaying to the music and finishing with a huge out pouring of love with much applause.

The Friday evening show got underway with the Country Music Disco from PJ the DJ at 7:00pm and the first artists on stage were Johnny and Lynnette with a really rocking first set with some of the songs from their new CD with the Rocky Road Ramblers.  After a short break Jonny and Lynnette were back on stage to get everyone dancing and shouting for more! Two great spots from this popular hard working duo and just what Kelso audiences like!

Jonny & Lynnette

Atlanta were on next and they are a brilliant band, they played some great music, but more on the modern side, which didn't seem to go down too well with the more traditional Kelso audience.  For their second spot they continued to rock and put on a very energetic show,  which still didn't impress the dwindling audience, such a shame as Atlanta were excellent and I certainly enjoyed their music.

Atlanta

Saturday was an early start with PJ the DJ giving Line Dance tuition, to those who wanted to learn, for an hour from 10:00am.   At the same time, in another hall the fast draw competition was taking place and there were games for the younger festival goers.  After the obligatory sound checks the first band on stage was the Showcase Artists "Delta Smoak", a five piece Scottish band, who really wowed the Kelso audience.  Superb musically, though a little shy of speaking to the audience between numbers, but perhaps that was because lead singer Les was suffering from a cold and sore throat.  Keyboard player Kenny did interact with the audience and it all paid off as they were invited to play a couple of numbers later during the afternoon.  They played a great mix of music from rock-a-billy to the Chris Stapleton song "Tennessee Whiskey".  As a result "Delta Smoak" were booked to appear at the Kelso Festival in May next year.

Delta Smoak

Paul James

PJ the DJ became Paul James the country singer for a couple of spots - is there nothing this man can do?  He can certainly sing and play guitar, pleasing the listeners and the Line Dancers.  Next "Cool Breeze" were scheduled to appear, but were unable to do so.  Stepping in at short notice were the duo "No Regrets" and certainly the Kelso audience had no regrets about missing "Cool Breeze" as Vic and Mel did a couple of superb sets and had the audience calling for more.  Let's hope they return to Kelso again soon.


Kelso is famous for it's Trilogies and the first of the weekend was the Mexican Trilogy, led by "The General" Steve Hamilton, who stepped in to perform the Dance of the Flags as the usual leader and flag twirler of the Trilogy was unable to be there.

Little Rock

The evening got underway with "Little Rock" always a very popular duo, and rightly so, they did a good variety of songs and "Seminole Wind" was particularly good.  Great musicians and Steve's voice is amazing, often with an Orbison sound to it.  Before the Danny Lee Band took to the stage, there was an unscheduled set from Zenne, who was great as usual!  Zenne came back a little later to sing "Girl Crush" for someone who had to leave early!

Zenne

The Danny Lee Band were excellent as usual, and this is the "older" Danny Lee Band, there being two with the same name!  They have a very smooth sound, not "in your face" but easy listening, that's not to say that they didn't do some up tempo numbers and get the place rocking at the end of the night!  Altogether a brilliant day of Country Music with PJ the DJ closing the night with the Country Disco until 1:00am when the bar also closed!
Danny Lee Band

Another early start on Sunday too, Line Dance tuition from PJ the DJ for an hour from 10:00am and the Fast Draw competition and games continuing until 1:30pm.  The first artist on stage at 1:30pm was Darren Jones, a solo artist with backing tracks, playing mainly for the Line Dancers on this occasion as he had been booked to do that, but he does have a very wide repertoire of country music.  Two excellent sets from Darren.  "American Routes" a well established duo were on next and were a welcome contrast with Irene taking the lead and doing some different songs including one done acappella. Their second set closed the afternoon session following the Native American Trilogy.
American Routes

Belle Boyd's Western Ladies Afternoon Tea takes place in another hall and the ladies (all in Western Dress) parade through the main hall.  The Native American Trilogy also takes place during the afternoon with Chief Eight Bears of the Kiowa officiating. 

In the evening "Clear Cut" started off and they have such a full sound you'd think there was a full band on stage!  Both Don and Darren are multi instrumentalists and put on a very energy packed show.  Don does a great version of "On the Road Again" and sounds a lot like Willie Nelson!  Darren keeps the music lively and upbeat, leaving the audience wanting more, but having to wait for their second set later in the evening.

One of the highlights of the Kelso Festival is the American Trilogy.  I have seen versions of this at other venues, but at Kelso it is very special and extremely well done.  You have to be there to really appreciate it.

"Blue Horizon" always hit the stage running with Christine jumping about and really enjoying what she does!  This was the full five-piece band version of "Blue Horizon" including fiddle player Derek, who really gave the band that special full country sound. 

Following the Fast Draw results and the presentation of trophies, "Clear Cut" took to the stage again and were as brilliant as ever, the dancers were loving it and the place was already rocking when "Blue Horizon" took the stage to close the Kelso Festival.  An excellent choice as the headlining act for Sunday night, the audience calling them back several times for encores, but it had to end at Midnight.  The final tribute was everyone on the dance floor in a circle holding hands and singing along to Gary Perkins' song "Thank You".  The end of a great weekend, but we are all looking forward to the next Kelso Country and Western Festival on the weekend of May 10th to 12th 2019.