Live review: The 1st Overton-on-Dee Blues, Roots & Real Ale Festival – 8th/9th May

Posted on: Friday, May 15, 2015

Next up on the main stage were the hugely entertaining Blue Swamp from Lancashire/Manchester, featuring the vastly experienced line-up of Mike Bowden (vocals and acoustic guitar), John Williamson (electric guitar and vocals) Jim Moseley (bass and vocals), and ex-Harpbreakers drummer, and all-round lovely guy, ‘Big Vern’ – aka Colin Seymour. The band were quite excellent and entertaining, with Mike Bowden’s ‘lived in’ vocals and ribald tales; the lovely fluid guitar of John Williamson, and the top rhythm section.

They featured some tunes from the new “Voodoo Soup” album, including the lovely “Be Still” with some delightful slide guitar and four-part vocal harmonies; and the self-explanatory “Respect For The Wolf” – a tribute to the legendary Howling Wolf. Other treats were the opening cover of “Love Potion No. 9” – which was a huge hit for The Coasters and covered by many – and a really different working of R.L. Burnside’s “Jumper On The Line”.

Published on the 22 April

Peter Slepokura (Contributor)

Somewhere in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame there is a checklist for what makes a really good band: crunching bass drum, crisp cymbals and rhythmic high hat; solid but fluid driving bass guitar lines; a powerful gravelly, lived-in voice with just the right amount of twisted emotion and humour; and soaring lead guitar work that while spare, plucks at the heart, but is never self indulgent; two-, three- and four-part harmonies that underscore and reinforce the song lyrics.

All of the above packaging just the right songs, in just the right order.

Well, Blue Swamp ticked all those boxes and a great many more beside when they appeared at the Craigmore Bowling Club on Saturday, April 19, during the Bute leg of their Scottish tour.

Their hugely enjoyable and danceable set comprised original songs and encompassed elements from a variety of genres, while remaining rooted in the blues. The wonderful four part harmonies and between-song-banter from Mike Bowden all added to the experience that is and always will be Blue Swamp.

The Great British Rock & Blues Festival, Skegness 24-27 January 2014

Review by Pete Feenstra

The evening session in Jaks was hosted by another fast up and coming band the southern roots rockers Rosco Levee and the Southern Drive, who seem to be ideally positioned in the contemporary rock market, in which all things southern are making a comeback. Back in Reds Johnny Williamson’s Blue Swamp Band combined dodgy humour with their take on Americana, in which Williamson’s beautiful tone soared into the rafters.

Blues Matters Magazine Review. Colne R & B festival Aug 2013

by Bernie Stone

If there is a more laid back, talented, blues guitarist in the country than Johnny Guitar Williamson, I’d like to meet him. Johnny used to be lead guitar with The Animals but a few years ago teamed up with Mick Bowden as Bowden & Williamson. More recently they have been performing in a great four piece band under the name of Blue Swamp, which is how they appeared on the British Stage at Colne. Apart from anything else, they are one of the few blues bands who all sing, including the drummer!

Given their pedigree I’m amazed that more people don’t flock to their gigs, if only to hear Johnny play guitar. He’s another member of the grey haired brigade but a cool guy in every respect. Wonderful intricate melodies, a lovely tone, understated throughout, but capable of great emotional intensity, his guitar playing is what all blues guitarists should strive for; music that expresses the inner life, thoughts, and emotions of the songwriter. My vote for blues guitarist of the year.”

Review for Maryport Blues Festival 2013

Lancashire Blues Archive goes to Maryport – by Rosy Greer

On the Main Stage the infamous ‘Blue Swamp’ from Manchester, with Mike Bowden and John Williamson and the full band. Great players, and with Mike’s storytelling they have the added extra. They could have done with a few more ‘bodies’ in the marquee, but that didn’t stop the humorous patter interspersed with the excellent music. Capital ‘E’ for entertainment.


(Friday, March 23, 2012) – The Assembly Rooms Derby with Nazereth….

The Bowden And Williamson Band, named after Mike and John respectively, with Brian Marston (bass) and Big Vern (drums) completing the line-up. Introducing Four Penny Rope, the third song of their set, Mike said they were going to slow it down some, do something a bit more “bluesy”, which was kind of strange as, the first thing I noted down for this review was that very word.


Admittedly, the un-introduced first song and Jump Up On The Line were more blues-rock than out and out blues, but there was no denying the influence.

Vocals were shared between the two main men, while John also sent forth some rather impressive guitar solos which brought to mind early Dire Straits.

There was an air of the tongue-in-cheek through a portion of the set, with The AM/PM Blues (there’s that word again) highlighting how Williamson isn’t exactly a morning person and the wonderfully titled Jesus Walks On Water But I Crawl On The Wine being an example of a new musical genre – that of “Perverted Gospel”.

The too-short set was rounded off with the superb Rock And Roll Dream, featuring a near- rap, spoken mid-section and the equally excellent Outlaw Romance during which Williamson showed just how easy guitar playing can be made to look.