The 34th annual Cahors Blues Festival was a bit of a mixed bag this year, hardly surprising as it was there last year that Johnny Winter gave his final performance before passing a few days later. To commemorate his presence, the local town authorities have renamed the street leading to the Festival site backstage areas after the late bluesman which is now known as Allee Johnny Winter.

by Iain Patience. Photo: Janet Patience

Chicago blues was well represented in this year‘s programme – possibly over-represented, it could be said – with Lil‘ Ed and The Blues Imperials kicking up a storm onstage and Magic Slim‘s old band The Teardrops, now led by his son Shawn Holt, also creating a fine storm of electric, searing, soaring blues. Ana Popovic also guested with her own style of electric-fuelled blues explosion while the UK was well represented by young, leading bluesman Laurence Jones who also did a storming set under a baking, high humidity and boiling-hot sun, where temperatures repeatedly reached and exceeded 40C.

From Deep South USA, veteran guitarist Leo Bud Welch showed the youngsters how to keep the mood and spirit laid-back, cool and easy despite the soaring temperatures with two fine sets, while Candye Kane, supported by guitarist Laura Chavez, also turned in a mighty fine show. Rising UK band, King King, gave their usual kilted blues set with bags of noise and verve while Canada-based blues-jazz-soul songstress Shakura S‘Aida turned out to play with many of the guests, adding a sizzling soulful core to their acts with her searching voice.

US gospel diva Ruthie Foster also primed the pump with a glorious late-night set, excellently supported on keys by Scotty Millar, as she ran through much of her current ‚Promise Of A Brand New Day‘ album for an ecstatic crowd.

For me, the surprising, star-turn of the event proved to be the appropriately named Zydeco Hellraisers led by Louisiana squeeze-box king, Dwayne Dopsie. Dopsie clearly knows how to work a crowd and played with abandon, wild hollers and huge ability, taking the huge, full-house crowd with him every step of the roller-caoster way.