Despite a little drizzle (call that rain, pah...we’re tougher than that in the ‘wood) there was a decent crowd building up in time for the relentlessly enthusiastic compere Tom Naylor to introduce the sixth Bearwood Shuffle’s first act Simon Boswell who kicked off (you’ve guessed it we’ve got World Cup fever!) with his chilled out acoustic covers of Hey Ya!, 3 Little Birds and, as he described it, ‘the acoustic cliché’ Wonderwall.
His classic closing mash up of Mr Pitiful, Johnny Be Goode, Ride Sally Ride and I Want You Back got us nicely in the mood for The Blue Notes Junior and Senior.
Juniors first and the ‘new notes’ ranged in age from 8 – 16ish, the late great Andy Hamilton would have very proud that his legacy lives on in Bearwood’s youth.
The band includes several of Andy’s grandchildren and they finished their set with a gloriously upbeat Happy! dedicated to all the Dads in the park for Father’s Day. Bless ‘em!
It was then time for the seniors to get Lightwoods Park in the jazz mood….niiiiiiiiice! With the velvety mellow tones of Vic Evans (man, does he know how to play the bongos!) and Dutch Lewis on flute Lightwoods Park came over all Caribbean and one of the highlights of the afternoon for me had to be their version of It’s A Wonderful World. Replace the word World with Wood and it sums up their set in Lightwoods Park perfectly.
Bearwood based producer and DJ Kouben was next in da ‘wood (oh yes we’re down with the kids!) and with his Detroit style beats prepared us for party people Dantanna.
Ragga, hip hop, the mad hatter tambourine player, saxophonist, they’re a damn funky bunch. Their song ‘One Life To Live’ was definitely their testament to life and it showed by how much fun they were having on stage (and how much fun the audience were having off it too).
Unfortunately I didn’t get to see all of the Beatfreeks performance as I was busy serving on the cake stall but the Birmingham street poets got a big round of applause and we heard lots of people saying how much they enjoyed their set.
The headliners of the Bearwood Shuffle, the Atlantic Players, had Stax-appeal by the bucket load. Think Memphis in the mid-1960s and the band exuded old school soul classics from every pore. As big fans of Tainted Love we couldn’t fault their version and Mercy left the crowd begging for more.
MC Tom Naylor kept everybody going with his boundless energy and although the park didn’t seem quite as full as previous Shuffles (we blame World Cup hangovers, the summer drizzle and Father’s Day) the Bearwood Shufflers who were there stayed for the whole afternoon and looked as if they were having a great time.