Review: Kelso Country & Western Festival: May 2015

Review by Nutty Norah

The Festival started off at 12 Noon on Friday the 8th, with Angie's Country Disco, followed by Tanya Turner's first spot and then Jonny & Lynnette's first spot, all well received by the audience, which was unusually large for a Friday. Two more spots for them and then a break before the evening show started, a chance for some people to take advantage of Caroline's excellent "Chuck Wagon" food! 

Tanya Turner

Dave Cash from the North-East opened up the evening session with a few songs and of course he was the man who pulled the whole festival together as compere for the weekend. 

Dave Cash

"Twin Falls", a male duo, followed and put on a great show, but stood as far apart as possible on the stage!  A little strange! Gary Quinn and his Band were headlining on the Friday night and as ever he was excellent, but I was surprised that he didn't play more of his own material, however the crowd loved him and I was glad he did "On Your Way Out" (one of his own songs) a favourite of mine!

It wasn't just cowboys at the festival

Saturday started off at 10:30am with Line Dance tuition with Phil and Angie, and in another hall at 11:00am Bronco's Fast Draw Competition took place.  The music started at 1:00pm with the trio "Shiloh" who were well received by the audience, but I felt that they were a little below par; however their hats and coats were quite awesome!

Root'n Toot'n

Next on was "Root'n Toot'n" a hillbilly trio who really got the place rocking!  Lots of audience involvement and all kinds of dancing! At 2:45pm the Western Ladies Afternoon Tea took place in another Hall, the ladies were all looking splendid in their Western style dresses and while they were enjoying their tea and cakes, Angie's Disco entertained in the main hall.  "Shiloh" returned for a second spot at 3:15pm and then the amazing Mexican Trilogy took place at 4:00pm, also known as the "Dance of the Flags", honouring the fallen at the Alamo - quite spectacular, and skilful.  "Root'n Toot'n" brought the afternoon's entertainment to a rousing close, and the Gamblers & Drovers moved to the other hall for their meeting, while the queue for hot meals grew longer at Caroline's kitchen!Kickin' Country

In the evening it was "Kicking Country" who kicked things off, followed by the "Long Gone Daddies", both acts giving of their best and the audience and Line Dancers loved it all. 

Long Gone Daddies
Headlining was John Permenter and Texas Holdem, as usual a very professional act with some great musicians making up Texas Holdem, including John J. Paul and Derek Thurlby. Hardly anyone left before John Permenter had finally come of stage after a couple of encores, so that proves how popular he is. Many of the ladies, when asked what they liked best about the Festival, sighed deeply and said "John Permenter"!
John Permenter

Sunday started off again with Phil & Angie's Line Dance Tuition at 10:30am, and the finals of the Fast Draw competition took place at 11:00am.  Starting off the music at 1:00pm was "Honky Tonkin" followed by the unique style of Mick Sagar and Dillinger, who had everyone laughing, but what a brilliant set of musicians and singers they are. everyone was singing along to "You're Still Gonna Die"! 
Mick Sagar

At 2:45pm the Western Ladies went for Afternoon Tea, and many had changed to different dresses and hats for the occasion, all looking as lovely as ever! "Honky Tonkin" did their second spot just before the Native American Trilogy by Chief Eight Bears of the Kiowa, another spectacular presentation commemorating the end of the Indian Wars.  Dillinger with Mick Sagar entertained once again before the Drovers & Gamblers went off to their meeting.  Again the queue for Caroline's Sunday roast dinner stretched well down the hall!
Chris Raddings

The evening entertainment started off at 8:00pm with a spot from Chris Raddings, which was nowhere near long enough, but as usual Chris gave a good account of himself and everyone wanted more!  Next came the American Trilogy with many people in Western clothing taking part, this is to remember  the American Civil War and all war dead up to the present day, the gunfighters take part in the traditional salute, and the ladies fold the Confederate Flag.  It ends with the rousing march out of the hall to the tune of "Marching Through Georgia" with everyone singing and Davy Crockett and Hooper dancing along at the end of the procession. Truly a solemn, but spectacular event.
Texas Gun

"Texas Gun" a family trio from Ayrshire, who never fail to please, were next and were very well received.  Next the Fast Draw results and trophies were presented, one of the winners was a 15 year old who had been taking part in the competition since he was 11.  Closing the weekend was Henry Smith and Country Dreams (with Derek Thurlby on steel guitar) one of the very best acts in UK Country Music and the crowd did not want him to leave the stage even as the clock passed midnight! 
Henry Smith

The Kelso Country & Western Festival is organised by Brian O'Reilly and Florence (Bronco and Belle) and takes place twice a year, the next one being over the weekend of October 9th, 10th, and 11th.  It is undercover at Spring hall on the Border Showground at Kelso, where there are camping and caravanning facilities and nearby hotels and B & Bs.  A Festival with something for everyone, including Western traders selling clothing and accessories. Well worth a visit!
Organiser Florence (Belle)

The May weekend was dedicated to the Strathcarron Hospice and over £2,500.00 was raised for the charity over the weekend. The audience was estimated at over 600 per day, with room for more at the tables.  As well as Caroline's Kitchen there was a licensed bar, both with very reasonable prices throughout the weekend.