Blues and gospel legends held Portsmouth Guildhall enthralled

The programme for the blues and gospel caravan.
The programme for the blues and gospel caravan.
Opening of the new school by the home secretary in October 1927. The headmaster, Canon Barton, is on the lowest step, on the left. Dorothea Barton is possibly there, somewhere. (PGS Archive)

NOSTALGIA: A red bluestocking at Portsmouth Grammar School

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As we continue to mark the 125th anniversary of Portsmouth’s Guildhall, Dave Taylor wonders how many of you remember a A Blues and Gospel Caravan night there 51 years ago?

The star-studded caravan rolled into the Guildhall at the end of April 1964.

A page from the programme for the caravan of blues and gospel music at the Guildhall, 1964.

A page from the programme for the caravan of blues and gospel music at the Guildhall, 1964.

Dave, of The Crescent, Purbrook, recalls it included some legendary names.

On the bill were Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee; gospel singer/guitarist Sister Rosetta Tharpe; the Rev Gary Davis, Cousin Joe Pleasant and Otis Spann.

And, as Dave says, ‘the great Muddy Waters who was a major influence on the Rolling Stones who named themselves after one of his songs’.

He adds: ‘This was the first opportunity for many to see these blues and gospel legends in the flesh and it was a very memorable and inspiring evening.’

Muddy Waters.

Muddy Waters.

He’s kept the programme, which he still treasures, and a copy of The Evening News review.

Critic ‘JN’ wrote: ‘It was called a ‘folk, blues and gospel caravan’, but it was simply one of the most swinging romps Portsmouth has seen.’

The Rev Gary Davis.

The Rev Gary Davis.