Tenby Blues Festival 2021 – Day Two – Things Get Bluesier

Errol Linton and his band

This Sunday morning, in hotels and holiday lets across Tenby, and in kitchen-diners all over Pembrokeshire, there’s one question, and one question only, on everyone’s lips.

When does Errol Linton get a chance to breathe?

There are many lead singers who play an instrument while they sing, but this guy’s different, because his instrument is the harmonica, and in almost every moment of every one of his songs, he’s either singing or playing, with a split second’s gap between the two. I don’t know how he does it without collapsing. Maybe he breathes in through his harmonica?

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Day Two of the Tenby Blues Festival treated us to a second premium line-up of three superbly professional bands. First up were Jo Carley and the Old Dry Skulls. Between the three of them, they seem to play about a dozen instruments, from washboard to banjo, to kick-drum, to a very creepy double bass with a ribcage painted on it. Come on guys, Halloween was last week! 

The emphasis with the Skulls was on quirky entertainment, and they were a winning warm-up for this festival crowd.

Second up were the Cinelli Brothers. Marco Cinelli introduced the band as “three parts Italian, and one part south London”. What he omitted to mention was that they were 100 per cent solid gold rocky blues.

This band have two accomplished lead singers, both of them also excellent guitarists. When they both actually play guitar, they give the band a rare asset that only a handful of others have managed. The Beatles had it, but not many others… the Cinelli Brothers have a rare on-stage symmetry, thanks to the fact that the guitarist who stands on the left of the stage (Tom Julian-Jones, the non-Italian contingent) is a left-hander, just like Paul McCartney.

But this unusual visual symmetry does not last long, because they’re multi-instrumentalists, regularly swapping between guitar, keyboards, harmonica… at one point, without so much as a by-your-leave, even the bassist and drummer were at it, swapping instruments, and calmly going about their business with nonchalant excellence.

Then came the headliners, Errol Linton and his band. These guys are five cool dudes with five opinions about the appropriate headgear for these occasions. (In case you’re interested… hat-free, pork pie, gaucho, Peaky Blinders and Where’s Wally?) In some places they veered into jazz, each man offering an imperious solo then smoothly passing the baton onto the next. Other songs had a reggae feel. But throughout, it was the driving, insistent harmonica of Linton himself that held the sound together. 

It was standing room only at the De Valence, but that was fine. Whole families were there, and they stood, swaying, in the aisles, or went to the front and boogied. It was all good.  

This was a great middle day of the festival. Day Three has a lot to live up to.

The Cinelli Brothers

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