Darvel Class Acts
Rolling back the years!

Although we look forward to our new musical beginnings from 2017 onwards it is good to look back with satisfaction over the past 15 years of the Darvel Music Festival. Launched in 2002 by our friend and fellow music lover Lynn Brown, the festival eventually featured over 260 acts and most musical genres, including;

Paul Carrack, Eric Bibb, Love and Money, Hue and Cry, Richmond Fontaine, Hamish Stuart, Glenn Tilbrook, Larry Carlton, Big Dish, The Silencers, Martin Taylor, The La Fontaines, Justin Currie, James Grant, Nigel Clark, Phil Cunningham, Aly Bain, Capercaillie, Skerryvore, Ruby Turner, Maggie Bell, Eddi Reader, JJ Gilmour, Roddy Hart, Karine Polwart, Gary Louris, Mark Olsen, Larry McCray Band, The Phantom Band, Koshka, Hamilton Loomis, Endrick Brothers, Iain Morrison, King King, The Blues Band, Steve Ferrone, Molly Duncan, Kokomo, Peatbog Faeries, The Mull Historical Society, The Coal Porters and many more….

Photo Accreditations: Nathan B Photography, Jim Stevenson Photography, Stuart Robertson and Jay Mansfield

Darvel Memoirs

Let's take a look back over the years at the headlines we've made and the artists we've had the pleasure of hosting.

Music Town, Funky Town

Stevie Nimmo Trio (with The Rising Souls and The Railwaymen) – Town Hall, Darvel 2nd September 2017

While a fair few Ayrshire and further afield folks were disappointed that the Darvel Music Company’s September event would not feature the blues rockin’ might that is King King (who had to cancel the remainder of their 2017 dates to allow singer Alan Nimmo further rest and rehabilitation time after a vocal cord setback) it’s hard to think of a better solution than to invite the other Nimmo Brother, in the shape of the Stevie Nimmo Trio, to East Ayrshire’s "music town."

Additionally, the Darvel Music Company made sure it was a high quality three-for-one deal by having not just the Stevie Nimmo Trio but two other bands in able bodied support -- the melodic country rock & pop quartet The Railwaymen and Edinburgh based soul-blues rockers The Rising Souls (also now a quartet, having expanded from their three-piece beginnings).

If that wasn’t enough, and as keen-to-make-an-appearance luck would have it, one quarter of King King turned up to help a brother out -- but we’re two bands, 80 minutes of great music and one false fire alarm ahead of ourselves…

Local act The Railwaymen, led by vocalist David Paterson, have played Darvel Town Hall before, opening the final night of the 2016 Music Festival event in fine, countrified pop style.

Nine months on and the four-piece were even more assured, delivering a 40 minutes set that helped promote their new mini-album Bridges, of which the Nashville music bar meets melodic pop title track might be the pick of the well-crafted, six-track bunch.

The Railwaymen's ever more confident stage performances and Bridges release will hopefully get them noticed well outside of Ayrshire; indeed since their previous Darvel appearance the band have played King Tuts in Glasgow (famous for giving up and coming acts a "watch for this space" opportunity) and are now looking at the possibility of supporting touring bands as they head through the west of Scotland on the look-out for local support.

Already making a name for themselves, on the back of semi-acoustic sets as a trio and the acoustic brace of the self-titled mini-album and last year’s Yardbird, are Edinburgh Based The Rising Souls, now in full electric four-piece mode.

The band’s soul-blues rock is a beefy blend of big riffs and heavy grooves (take a step forward 'Roulette, Roulette') but they temper that sonic weight with spacier, soul-infused moments, all fronted and led by the soul-shivering voice and vocal presence of Dave Archibald.

It’s also a testament to how solid the ‘Souls are that guitarist Stevie Hunter, who stepped in at short notice (Darvel was his first gig with the band). played as if he had been with the group since the get-go and not just for three rehearsals.

With a bit of musical luck the name The Rising Souls is also a statement of bigger things to come.

Stevie Nimmo doesn’t need any introduction to fans and followers of the British and European blues rock scenes, both with his own band and as one half of the acclaimed (but not acclaimed enough) Nimmo Brothers, but he would have been an unfamiliar face to many at Darvel, having never played the town before (nor Ayrshire for that musical matter).

Fair to say however Stevie Nimmo and his band of other brothers Mat Beable (bass) and Craig Bacon (drums) made many new friends after a delayed (courtesy of that false fire alarm) but powerful 90 minute performance that focused on current release Sky Won’t Fall (one of the best blues-based (but highly diversified) releases of 2016).

The threesome put the Power in power trio right from the get-go with the opening salvo of 'Roll The Dice Again' and 'Still Hungry;' the enormity of the latter’s mid-tempo swagger gave the former’s dirty great groove a serious run for its money.  

By contrast, and helping to highlight the stylistic diversity of Sky Won’t Fall, were the back-to-back pairing of atmospheric slows blues 'Running On Back To You' (Stevie Nimmo’s expressive guitar notes floating through the space created by Mat Beable and Craig Bacon’s rhythmic framework) and the relaxed, soul-blues pop of 'Change.'

Not that it was all about Sky Won’t Fall -- the melodically infectious take of Storyville’s 'Good Day For the Blues' (which features on Stevie Nimmo’s first solo album, the excellent and semi-acoustic The Wynds of Life) is a highlight of any Stevie Nimmo set, as is the ten minute fusion-blues tour-de-force 'The Storm.'

Originally written and performed by the late and great Glasgow blues guitarist Big George Watt, 'The Storm' is nothing short of being the best song Robin Trower never wrote.

'The Storm' would have been a hard act to follow if not for the surprise but hugely appreciated appearance on stage of Alan Nimmo, who supplied the introductory power-down riffage for the muscular 'Chains of Hope' and then stayed for another three numbers, including the infectious funky-pop of 'Loving Might Do Us Good' and a searing, twin guitar take of 'Going Down.'

The well-covered number was the perfect platform for the Nimmo Brothers to re-engage in six-string action (with licks so hot it’s no wonder the fire alarm went off for a second time not long after the lights had come up) while Mat Beable and Craig Bacon drove the rockin’ blues standard to a rollicking conclusion.

If you can’t get one Nimmo Brother, get the other. Better still, get both.

Review courtesy of Ross Muir – Fabrications HQ