<span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Tahoma, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.1599998474121px; line-height: 15.8079996109009px;">This was the 11th festival held in the small market town of Thouars, about 60 Kms South of the Loire in SW France, an area readily reachable by car from the UK inside a day. As usual, the format included an opening show with a few US players and event sponsors and local big-wigs both present, followed by a few days of educational, blues-in-schools type of bits and bobs. The prime music happens over the weekend, between Friday and Sunday, when it closes with a jam session featuring as many artists as want to turn up and play in a small, riverside bar a few miles outside of town.</span>
This year got off to a flying start on Saturday morning with an American -Scot, Dik Banovich playing a strong, satisfying set of acoustic blues and rootsy Americana in the town‘s market hall. Banovich hails originally from Chicago but spent much of his life in Scotland and now lives in France. US picker Mike Greene and his Harp playing partner, Youssef Remadna, also turned in an absolutely storming gig in the afternoon, possibly the true highlight of the festival for me. Evening sessions featured Canadian Dan Livingstone, another fine acoustic picker from Canada, and from New Mexico, a one-man-band sort of guy with electric slide work, CW Ayon. Two other US players, Ron Hacker and Dave Gross completed the transatlantic visitors, with Hacker backed by French Blues Explosion drummer Pascal Delmas and the same band‘s bassman, Fred Juggas, resulting in a cracking, eclectic and at times electric set that clearly went down well with the local plonk and pleased the packed crowd.
This is a very pleasant, intimate festival; laid-back and friendly, the wine flows, the grub is good and the music continues to please. A festival well worth the travel.