A fine finale
Cognac Blues Passions - Sunday

All good things come to an end and alas this includes the wonderful Blues Passions Festival. This being its 19th year things are run with confidence, the atmosphere one of relaxed fun and sociability and it must be said Clash is sad to leave. House himself got to reveal his musical persona to a delighted many while Mr. Tom Jones proved that age can't dull a voice thats wowed millions for over four decades. After a raucous set by Guy Forsyth the night before Sunday, in true European style, is a day to wind down.

To the Chateau Bagnolet then where coffee is passed around and Jimi Hendrix's psychedelic tones are heard quietly emitting from the P.A. This afternoon marks a special performance by artist Imany. A huge star in France, Hennessy's 'Chase The Music. Own the Stage' winners NexCyx are looking forward to an intimate acoustic performance with aforementioned diva, the towering beauty handling vocal duties. They head to the river and with jam soon over and its time for the lady to take to the stage and for the guests to flock to the gardens and take a seat.

With an instantly recognisable voice that adds weight to her tales of heartbreak and complicated love Imany can't help but demand ones attention. 'You Will Never Know' gets maximum crown involvement while 'Please and Change' fits the sunny conditions ideally. With dual cello backing 'Bohemian Rhapsody' gets a unique re-arrangment, the iconic number's rock tones and headbanging leanings morphed into smooth lounge jazz with a classical twist.

Hennessy Cocktails over and US gospel choir Joyful are bringing the holy vibrations to the Sabbath while later in Les Jardins du Blue UK's own Jono McCleery showcases his brand of folk. With McCleery's last notes ringing out the festival is, at least for the most part, done. The attendees are left to enjoy the scenic surroundings and various lone performers dotted around the town's courtyards and alleyways.

It has been a fast six days despite the more relaxed pace. The town's people have loved to accommodate the visitors and the visitors have loved being accommodated. Clash grabbed one of the festival's repeat volunteers to help explain why Blues Passions is so different, "It's like family" she starts. "I've volunteered for years now and we all look forward to this wonderful week in our calenders. We all meet up again and cry with emotion, then when everything is finished we all cry again! Michel is a great man and remembers everyone's name. The festival gives life to the town."

Bags packed and we head back to Bordeaux, the sound of twelve bar blues, trumpets and slide guitar in Clash's ears. Here's hoping that Blues Passions 20th Anniversary can top this years - somehow were sure it will.

Words by Sam Walker-Smart
Photo by Al De Perez

View a photo gallery from Sunday at Cognac Blues Passions featuring Imany and Hennessy's invite only event at the Chateau Bagnolet.

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