Lee Bates & Billy Newton





Live- BJ's Blues Club, Chorley (Jan 2011)

Lee Bates & Billy Newton were next to entertain, and that’s exactly what they did. This North East acoustic duo have been great ambassadors for the blues for many years. Lee Bates plays resonator and acoustic guitars and sings, accompanied by Billy Newton who plays harmonica to great effect. Lee Bates has a natural connection with an audience and is extremely adept as a raconteur introducing his songs and engaging the audience with gritty Geordie humour which was evident from the outset. One of the highlights was Brampton Blues a self composition based on the trials and tribulations of performing musicians. This duo are a great credit to themselves and the music they make and impressed us with their performance, their determination to be true to the blues, and above all a self belief in themselves as performers.

Lucas Campbell

Nothing But Trouble

Blues In Britain- Vol 1 Issue 95

...some excellent acoustic blues with well chosen material...

The duo puts in a fine performance on a varied range of pieces, with Lee on acoustic, Resophonic and, occasionally, electric guitar and Billy proving to be a very articulate harmonica player. Seven of the peices were written by the lads and a couple by the late, sadly missed Brian Cookman. Other offerings include re-workings of originals by the likes of Charley Patton, the Mississippi Sheiks and the Memphis Jug Band. 'Aunt Caroline Dyer' and 'She Done Sold It Out' from the latter band also feature one Michael 'Fruitlips' watson on jug, who is also part of the Last Gasp Spasm band with Lee, Billy, Rob Mason and the Hokum Hotshots.

So, in a nutshell, if country blues is your thing, you have come to the right place...

Rating 9/9

Michael Prince


Leeds Blues Festival 2008

Monday's proceedings started with a set from Lee Bates on guitar and vocal & Billy Newton on harmonica, who played some great acoustic blues. They played several of their own songs which included Brampton Blues a song about a place they once visited. Other songs played were Arthur Crudup's Mean Old Frisco, Snooky Pryor's Nothing But Trouble, J.B. Lenoir's Talk to your Daughter, Robert Johnson's Walking Blues and Charlie Musselwhite's Blues For Yesterday. This was once again  excellent and  enjoyable music.

Tony Higgings - www.earlyblues.com

Blues In Britain- Vol 1 Issue 54

Stroud Blues and Beyond Festival 2006

...(Kevin) Brown was followed by the duo of Lee Bates (guitar) and Billy Newton (harmonica) who proved equally popular with the knowledgeable audience. These guys really kicked up a storm with a selection of material from, among others, Robert Johnson, Sonny Terry and Son House, and their anecdotes in between numbers, often very amusing, were much appreciated. Behind this humourous stage presence there was some well-crafted material performed with great energy and commitment. They worked exceptionally well together and before long had the whole audience clapping along with great delight, creating an electric atmosphere...- Bob Tilling


Lee Bates & Billy Newton - All Talk & No Action

Clean and clear, complimentary guitar, harp, and vocal acoustic duo Lee Bates and Billy Newton, are based in the North-East, and take Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee as their template. Lee plays guitar and slide Guitar, and sings, and Billy plays harmonica, sings and (inaudibly) dances. The set opens with a well-paced reading of ‘Hard Drinking Woman’ dedicated to a be-slippered, early morning, corner-shop customer, and former neighbour. Blind Willie Johnson’s ‘Keep Your Lamp Trimmed And Burning’ is sufficiently intense from the intro and follows through well. Cruddup’s ‘Mean Ole Frisco’ has good harmonica work at a tempo. ‘Tired As A Man Can Be’ is the first of two numbers penned by Tom Ball and Kenny Sultan. The second is also a good choice; ‘All Talk & No Action’, the title cut, is dedicated to the pub bore. ‘Cousin John’ has Billy on his own doing the Sonny Terry solo country harmonica thing, (which you either love or hate; (I love it)), complete with those gutteral in-breaths. Nearer the end of the set Lee takes his solo turn on a well-read ‘Terraplane Blues’(Johnson). ‘My Last Meal’ is a particular highlight; all I can say is that you need to hear it! All in all, this is another demonstration of the wealth of talent in the North-East that the rest of the country is often unaware of. - Frank Franklin

Blues Matters- Issue 30 Feb/Mar 06

Both these guys are from the North East, of whom Lee Bates is a talented guitarist who has studied and absorbed well. Billy Newton is the veteran of the two who followed Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee around the country when they played here...Lee plays clean lines without sanitising the blues as he picks strums and slides...Billy Newton, apart from being a Sonny Terry devotee, can resurrect many styles on diatonis harp, wether miked or not...Billy Newton flies solo on Sonny Terry's "Cousin John" in a folk to country blues styling- nice stuff this. Lee is particularly fine on both (Robert and Blind Willie) the Johnson boys style. Bates and Newton work well in coming up with original material. Bates and Newton are well worth seeking out further afield, for thier act has gelled from both decent apprenticeships and time together. - Billy Hutchinson

Blues In Britain- Vol 1 Issue 41

Lee Bates and Billy Newton are an acoustic duo from the Northeast who share vocals and play guitar and harmonica respectively on "All Talk And No Action". This very enjoyable album clearly displays the instrumental competence and versatility of both musicians. Bates moves easily between finger-picking and slide guitar, while Newton is equally comfortable playing lyrical, wailing, train-style harp... - Lionel Ross