Saws & Sunshine

Through the cobbled streets and winding alleys of Old Cognac and up to the Jardin Public where Clash is walking off a hearty lunch and preparing for its second day of Blues, Soul, Pop and whatever else the town sees fit to throw at us. On the Eden Blues stage Woody & Paul have drawn in the crowd with their energetic set, the band's combination of fine guitar work, mix matched covers and good old fashion manners proving a winning one.

Some time is spent admiring the multitude of street performers such as Olivier Gotti before we grab Austin's finest, Guy Forsyth, for a chat. "As an artist and performer, trying to get exposed to new people is all we can do. Last year we played at the Chateau down in the dungeon, the basement...there was a big crowd and they were wonderful! Now its nice to be able to play the big stage." He smiles a big Texas smile, "As a musician that's all you can want...a progression."

As the day wears on the townspeople begin to flock in and we sit down with Blues Passions founder, Michel Rolland to talk about his wonderful creation. "When you create an event you have to get people around you and the people elected to believe in you - the people around me are the same. Passionate and hardworking, they are family. Hennessy where always interested in the idea, not the event as it didn't exist yet but what the festival could be." He leans back and pauses. "The musicians. This kind of music, love Cognac so it made sense to have them involved. It was natural.

With nineteen years worth of iconic headliners we ask if there can even be a standout moment for Michel and after much thought he answers. "Ray Charles for me was amazing. When I was fifteen I promised myself that one day I would talk privately to him, even just for five minutes and then I did." Through the sound checks and tempting stalls and we find competition winners NexCyX enjoying the sun after a day of acoustic sets.

Andre muses on the path to their current situation, "I kept getting called by this number and ignoring it like ten times! Then I when I finally found out who was trying to call me I found out we were in the top ten! That was the first shocker." Mahalia "After some time we suddenly went on Facebook and it said 'NexCyx are the winner! Freakout." It's been a good weekend to say the least.

The oncoming rain does nothing to dampen the spirits as Roger Hogson appears and plays some of the biggest hits in pop music history, 'Breakfast in America' being a particular treat. Guy Forsyth and band appear just before midnight delivering a barnstorming set filled with drama, fiddles and saws. A Tom Waits' styled 'Summertime' steals the day, the crowd roaring with joy as the bluesman takes a bow.

Words by Sam Walker-Smart
Photo by Al De Perez

View a photo gallery from Friday at Cognac Blues Passions featuring Guy Forsyth, NexCyx and festival founder, Michel Rolland.

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