Blues, Rhythm & Rock Festival featuring:

Chantel McGregor, Dana Gillespie, Kyla Brox, The Cinelli Brothers, The Ryk Mead Band, When Rivers Meet


The Apex, Bury St Edmunds


Saturday 28th August 2021


To paraphrase the promoter of this event, this was a ‘new’ idea; people gathering together in a room and listening to music… well the room wasn’t quite full but that was perhaps understandable after 18 months of a pandemic.

The festival was opened by the Essex duo and UK Blues Award 2021 winners When Rivers Meet. Enthusiastically greeted by a partisan local crowd, they started with an ‘a cappella’ number. A gentle start, but the husband and wife pair, Grace and Aaron Bond, were soon into their blues-rock with a selection of self penned songs. When fully into their stride they produce a sound that feels like there are more just the two of them on stage, and a thumping beat from the single drum Aaron plays with his heel kept the audience’s feet tapping. The set included, from their debut album ‘We Fly Free’, ‘Battleground’, ‘Walking On The Wire’ and the much played ‘Did I Break The Law’. From ‘The Uprising’ EP there was ‘Don’t Let Me Fall’ & ‘Kill For Your Love’. The set ably demonstrated Grace’s distinctive vocals, fiddle and ‘eMando’ (electric mandolin known as Bluey) and Aaron’s harmonies, guitar and bass drum. When Rivers Meet have a unique sound that is well worth going out for. If you haven’t seen them yet, then you probably should. Catch them later in the year supporting King King.

Second on stage was The Ryk Mead Band, a blues-rock trio with Ryk Mead (vocals/guitar), Steve Cooper (bass guitar) and Adam Bond (drums). This was a well crafted set of electric variations of the blues. Stand out for me was the title track from the 2015 album ‘Chicago’.

Next, and on their way up were London based The Cinelli Brothers. This four piece band consisting of Marco Cinelli (vocals/guitar/keys), Alessandro Cinelli (drums and occasional bass guitar), Enzo Strano (bass guitar and occasional drummer) & Tom Julian-Jones (vocals/harmonica/guitar) provided a mix of blues, RnB, shuffle rhythm with some funky elements which gave an enjoyable variety of tunes. To add a bit of spice, towards the end of the set Alessandro & Enzo swapped places & demonstrated their transferable rhythm section skills. It is easy to see why they are tipped for greater things.


The next on bill were three very different female vocalists, Kyla Brox, Dana Gillespie and headliner Chantel McGregor:

Kyla Brox gave us a beautiful set which included ‘Pain And Glory’, title track from the 2019 album, and the auto biographical ‘Bluesman’s Child’ to name a just a few. There was a different twist on Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ with some great guitar work from Paul Farr. Brox’s vocals are amazing, she is one of the best soulful blues singers around and you can clearly hear why she is the reigning European Blues Challenge winner.


 Dana Gillespie on the other hand is ‘old school’ blues. After 70 plus albums her set was effortless in its vocals and inter-song banter, all original songs except for just one cover, ‘St Louis Blues’. Hobbling onto stage with crutches, she wasn't going to let a mere recent hip replacement stop her performing. A true professional and a perfect foil for the blues/rock/prog style of Chantel McGregor.


This was Chantel McGregor’s first return to the site of ‘Bury’d Alive’, the 2019 live album was recorded at The Apex. With Colin Sutton on bass and Tom Gardner on drums, the set started with a heavy-rock wall of sound, from the riff laden ’Take The Power’, the frantic ‘Killing Time’ and ‘Like No Other’. At this point the set list went out of the window as Chantel decided to launch into the haunting ‘Eternal Dream’ with its floating guitar sound filling the auditorium. The set contained all the tracks from the live album albeit in a different order, plus some extras like ‘Burn Your Anger’ and ‘I’m No Good For You’. Half way through and left alone onstage Chantel gave some us some gentle acoustic numbers; the smooth notes and soulful voices of ‘Anaesthetise’ and the ballad that is ‘Inconsolable’. With the rest of the band back, the pace picked up with ‘Lose Control’ and ‘Freefalling’ in which McGregor delivered a superb solo. The instrumental ‘April’ showcased Chantel’s wide ranging styles with some epic guitar riffs. All too soon we were at the end. As an encore there was the spell binding ‘Walk On Land’, it closed out what had been a very good day of Blues, Rhythm & Rock. It was nice to be back with live music.


Words: Bronwen Harvey

Photo: Laurence Harvey