GOIN' UP THE COUNTRY
Welcome to GOIN' UP THE COUNTRY
Formerly Hooker Blues
Blues is easy to play, but hard to feel.
Hooker Blues Club was formed in November 1997 after dentist Pete Evans, having visited Chicago with Wrexham Rugby Club, decided that as there was not a blues club in north Wales, it would be an ideal opportunity to promote live blues music and to make money for the rugby club.
Having contacted two friends, fellow dentist Paul Taylor and bank manager Ian Williams, both committed blues fans, the opening night featured local blues band Joey along with fifty interested music enthusiasts.
The first nationally known band to appear in february 1998 was The Producers when a sell out 200 crowd proved that Hookers had arrived. The first American artist soon to follow was Deacon Jones, John Lee Hooker's band leader and accomplished organist who had made his name with Freddie King. He brought some autographed photos from John Lee who was thrilled to hear that a club had been named after him and. a Hookers T shirt was taken by Deacon to present to John Lee.
In the following years the club grew from strength to strength presenting all the biggest names in British Blues - The Blues Band, Connie Lush and Blues Shouter, Nine Below Zero, The Hamsters, Otis Grand, The Producers, The Nightporters, Paul Lamb and The Kingsnakes etc. and American artists who have graced Hookers stage include Jimmy Dawkins, Kenny Blues Boss Wayne, James Wheeler, Jimmy Burns ( to date the only club appearance in the UK) Michael Hill's Blues Mob, Percy Strother, Byther Smith, R.J. Mischo, Fred James, Mojo Buford, Eric Sardinas, Studebaker John and Lazy Lester.
The club has also hosted the Welsh Dragon Blues Festival - and this festival is now well and truly established on the international blues calendar and is known as the "Friendly Festival" such is the relaxed informal atmosphere that it creates.
However the club hosted its final gig at the rugby club on December 19th 2003 when mounting problems made the venue's future uncertain.
Luckily a new excellent alternative soon became available and the club relocated to the North East Wales Institute (NEWI) when the student's union bar was offered. Also the superb William Aston Hall at NEWI was available for larger events and, with a capacity of 1,100, the first gig booked there was The Blues Band.
With its two facilities, bars, food hall, lecture and DVD theatres, en-suite accommodation in the Halls of Residence it seemed to be the perfect venue for Dragon Blues 2004 but sadly regular followers just did not take to the new venue and in December 2004 it was decided to suspend Hookers until a suitable new location could be found.
It was a shame that Dragon Blues 2004 was a flop because the line-up was one of the finest in the UK that year, with from the USA, Little Ed and the Blues Imperials, Li'l Dave Thompson, Doug McLeod, Studebaker John and the new rising star in female blues, Lisa Mills all played superbly along with the best acts in Britain, Rab McCullough, The Wildcards, Trafficker, Robin Bibi, Kyla Brox, Harry Skinner and Dave Saunders, Perry Foster and Amy Wadge.
However, a one off gig arranged by Pete Evans at his local village hall in Worthenbury before Christmas 2004 for Bill Sheffield and Dave Saunders really caught the local imagination and the 100 tickets sold out two weeks in advance. This then resulted in the formation of "Goin' up the Country" Blues and Roots club and at the time of writing (Sept 05) the seven gigs presented have virtually all sold out. There was also a very successful one day festival in Worthenbury with Lisa Mills headlining when over 400 people had a great day in the sun in July.
Goin’ Up The Country Roots & Blues Club 2005-2010 (updated September 2010)
The club has continued its fantastic rise to prominence in the British blues scene by continuing to present some of the biggest names in blues and roots music from not only the UK but also Europe, Australia and of course the USA.
On June 6th 2010, The Guardian presented a feature on small out of the way music venues featuring an old chapel, water mill, tin shed and various other venues in the UK where top quality live music could be heard. To our great delight Worthenbury Village Hall was featured as “the village hall that rocks…” and stating that the club was set up to promote blues music in north Wales and the north west. We have now also started to use Overton on Dee Village Hall for bigger electric gigs and have featured The Hamsters, Nine Below Zero and Mud Morganfield with The Big Joe Louis Band.
Some of the musicians and artistes who have graced the little stage in the old village hall in the last five years have included from the USA, Otis Taylor (2 visits), Louisiana Red, Fruteland Jackson (2 visits), Robert Belfour, Lazy Lester, Studebaker John, Toby Walker, Doug Macleod and Catfish Keith (2 visits each), Geoff Muldaur, Woody Mann, Mojo Buford (2 visits), Big George Brock and Bill Abel, Lightnin’ Willie, Mud Morganfield, Louis “Gearshifter” Youngblood, Shar Baby, Kent DuChaine, Lisa Mills, Dianna Braithwaite and Chris Whiteley, Harper ( 2 visits), Groanbox , Guy Tortora, Zach Parrish and Brad Wheeler and The Black Oil Brothers. (Think that’s everyone!)
By the end of the year we will have added the prestigious bookings of The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, Michael Burks and Ben Prestage and Ian Siegal.
British, European and Australian acts have included Nine Below Zero unplugged (2 visits), Paul Jones and Dave Kelly, Dave Kelly solo, The Gary Fletcher Band with Pick Withers, Sonny Black, Tommy Allen and Johny Hewitt, The Tommy Allen Band, The Spikedrivers, Bob Hall and Hilary Blythe, Derrin Nauendorf Band, Roland Chadwick, Rory Ellis and Alex Roberts, The Cadillac Kings. Benny Gallagher, Martin Harley Band, Hans Theessink, Claude Bourbon, Peter Price, The River Devils, Sandy Tweeddale and Tim Elliott, Rick Payne, Jim Crawford, John Crampton, Phil Bates, Harry Skinner and Dave Saunders, Rod Clements, The Hokum Hotshots, Paul Cowley and Grahame Robinson.
With the introduction of some superb real ales from either The Plassey Brewery or Stonehouses of Oswestry, new stage lighting, our own pa system and dozens of posters, pictures, flags and other memorabilia from our annual trips to the King Biscuit Festival Arkansas, Clarksdale Mississippi and Memphis we have now created something that gives us and all our regulars immense pleasure. Come down and see us sometime.
Since 2005 the annual festival has grown in size and importance in the British blues calendar.
The event of 2006 was located as in 2005 at Glandeg farm about a mile outside the village but sadly due to the soccer world cup and England's protracted extra time and penalty shoot out against Portugal, the evening attendance was badly hit and the overall numbers were down.
Then in 2007 came the event which is fondly remembered as the Blues in the Barn Festival. After days of continual heavy rain, it looked unlikely that the event would take place. However, 24 hours before the date, a dedicated team of volunteers cleaned out a big old sileage barn at Glandeg farm making a dry, slightly smelly but superb venue creating an event that was brimful of atmosphere. It prompted headliner Big George Brock from Mississippi to say that it reminded him of an old delta juke joint.
We moved location in 2008 to Bowling Bank farm right in the village and it proved to be a great move with a larger than average crowd watching 8 acts with Lightnin' Willie and The Poorboys from Texas headlining.
In 2009 the crowd was even bigger - approaching capacity with fans from all over the UK coming to watch 9 acts with The Stumble as headliners. A sell out was achieved in 2010 proving that the event had truly arrived on the british festival scene. Again 9 acts thrilled the fans with The Cadillac Kings as headliners and four blues fans from Jonesboro Arkansas even planned their UK holiday to take in the event.
Thanks for all your support and helping to keep blues music live and kicking.
"Every bad situation is a blues song waiting to happen"
“For me there is something primitively soothing about this music, and it went straight to my nervous system, making me feel ten feet tall”
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