top of page

Review of Main Street Blues shows from 2012 - 2017

Highway to the States Venue No. 57. The Jazz Bar

Shuffling grooves, wailing guitar solos and growling, whiskey-drenched vocals: This is Main Street Blues, who for one hour brought a slice of America to Scotland. Usually a three-piece band, they were joined by Ali Petrie on keyboard who assisted on their latest album. The variety of tracks proved that there’s more to the genre than simply a twelve-bar chord sequence, performing electric blues tracks by the likes of BB King and Freddie King as well as some favourite originals from their established set, ranging from funk to boogie-woogie.

The band were tight performers loaded with energy. Bassist John Hay and drummer Allan Cranston provided a solid foundation and Petrie’s deft keyboard solos were a great addition to the sound. It was Derek Smith’s lead guitar and vocals that were the real focus though, easily whipping out licks and solos tinged with pedal effects. Consummate professionals, the band were comfortable on stage, visibly enjoying themselves. This enjoyment was infectious: the audience were clearly fans and they erupted in applause for each song, tapping their feet and even air drumming.

With their raw, sexy music, Main Street Blues provide a brilliant start to the night - just get in early to ensure yourself a seat.

Reviewer: Ed Nightingale

Tweets from Main Street Blues fan

Ian Rankin, author of the Inspector Rebus


Review by Jessica Adair in Blues in Britain Magazine August 2012

As the Fringe, and my blues journey, came to a close, I returned to the Jazz Bar for local band Main Street Blues' final performance. The atmosphere was jubilant, and the venue was packed to the rafters as the Main Street boys expertly played their way through an hour's worth of blues and soft rock classics. ‘Too Tired', a real stand-out track, included one of many eye-popping solos from supersonic keyboard player Ali Petrie. In 'Feels Like Rain', it was front man Derek Smith's turn in the limelight, with a face-melting guitar solo delivered with incredible deftness. A blues band in the truest sense, Main Street Blues provided the perfect conclusion to my blues on the Fringe experience.

Blues in Britain revew of Main  Street Blues at the Caves Edinburgh December 2012 supporting Paul Lamb and the King Snakes


Opening with Sean Costello’s “Hard Luck Woman”, the Main Street Blues’ six track set had something for everyone, including a brilliant rendition of the old Freddie King track “Woman Across The River”.  Despite apparently shaking off a bad cold (although we couldn’t tell) front man Derek Smith was in fine song with keyboard player Ali Petrie on typical rip-roaring form. A worthy headline act in their own right, the Main Street Blues left the crowd not just warm but positively roasting.  Jessica Adair.




Mike 'Dr Blue' McKeon - Diary of a Bluesman for the British Blues Archive Dec 2014


As I soaked up the authentic atmosphere of this cellar venue at the heart of the city and the festival, the electric set kicked off with a solid blues groove.

The sound engineer had done a great job, every voice, every instrument on  the stage was warm and crystal clear.

This was a confident assured performance, where the traditional roles of rhythm and lead guitar were shared, both soloing and filling- it reminded  me of watching Lynard Skinnard back in the 70’s . No lines of demarcation between the two guitars, just sweet driving blues. A wonderful range of influences, Walter Trout to Robert Cray, all beautifully delivered and backed by a bass player and drummer most front men/women would kill for!

The band moved up another gear slipping effortlessly into a more rocky vibe. The Fender Gibson rivalry that played out on stage was as faultless, as sound engineer Bill Kyle (also the bars owner) spun his musical alchemy, hardly touching the desk- why mess with perfection?

The guys morphed into a mean and funky groove, I wonder if there is anything these guys couldn't showcase?

Black Cat Bone fills the air, the drum and bass laying down a groove so solid you could drive a ten tonne truck over it.

 I was left craving and shouting for more with a crowd who were happy having shared this great show. I wish I had recorded it. But perhaps not, these are the nights we will remember, we share and enjoy, knowing we are having a unique experience – a night of live music.

for you to tell a story and let your users know a little more about you.

“Simply first class”- P&J review Main Street Blues in Inverness

23 April 2016 by Susan Welsh

Despite being a man of few words, Derek Smith, lead guitarist and singer with Edinburgh-based band, Main Street Blues revealed his ambition was to one day, play the larger Empire Theatre at Eden Court.
If last night’s show was anything to go by, it won’t be long before that wish is fulfilled. They played Inverness just a few months ago and are already booked to come back in November, such is the demand to hear them.
Playing to a packed theatre, with little fanfare or words the four piece band strolled onto the stage, then proceed to blow everyone away with a show featuring blues served with a heavy slice of funk and soul.
Opening with Last Dirty Deal (Coco Montoya) before heading almost straight into God Broken Heart, the band offered a masterclass in musicianship.
Derek is the only singer. Being sole vocalist is a big task but he pulled it off beautifully thanks to his unique voice that has echoes of Eric Clapton, Van Morrison and Robert Cray.
His guitar playing is exemplary, but matched by the superb skills of bassist, John Hay, drummer John McAvoy and Iain Hanna, keyboard wizard.
Each of these older lads puts the focus on music rather than style or patter, and are individually first class musicians. Together they are simply first class.
Highlights for me included a tribute to BB King, with The Thrill is Gone; Before the Bullets Fly (Warren Haynes); Old Love (Eric Clapton and Robert Cray) and the stonking Fade to Blue, the title track of their new album.
Regular performers on the blues circuit, they are deservedly breaking out to a wider audience. I suspect the box office will be busy today with people booking to see them again.

Edinburgh Fringe 2017

Blues : High Energy Electric Blues

Main Street Blues


Genre: Live Music

Venue: Jazz Bar, Chambers Street

Festival: Edinburgh Fringe


Low Down

Cracking hour of blues rock from one of Scotland’s high-voltage ensembles.



Down to the half-light of the Chambers Street Jazz Bar for an evening of blues.  But at least these days you can actually see what’s going on.  Roll back ten years, pre-smoking ban, and there’d have been a fug in there denser than the London smogs of the 1950’s.  The irritant these days is far more visible – a plethora of smartphones focused on the stage, their holders too busy to give their full attention to the wonderful sounds cascading all around them, too intent on capturing a moment in time to post somewhere in the ether that is the internet.

And giving your full attention to Main Street Blues was essential to appreciate their up-tempo electric blues and top quality rhythm and blues which they imbued with their own stamp of soul and funk influences.  The band came together about five years ago and have quickly established themselves as exciting electric blues band with the energetic Derek Smith on lead guitar and vocals, the laid-back John Hay on bass, the Falstaffian Ian Hanna on keyboards and George Logan on drums.

Another packed Jazz Bar was treated to a set including Hard Luck Woman, Before The Bullets Fly, Fade To Blue, Tin Pan Alley, Cold Bed, Big Legged Woman and many more, including hits from BB King, Mike Zito, Freddie King and others who have influenced the band’s development and style.

Arrangements were tight and balanced with Smith’s husky vocals and guitar riffs backed with solid bass and drums together with occasional forays on the keyboard from the gifted Ian Hanna that created an overall effect that bounced off the walls, getting the audience tapping its collective feet in time to the pulsating music.

Four very talented musicians, some great blues with some interesting twists all delivered in an atmospheric venue just made for this kind of entertainment.  Can’t really ask for much more.  There’s one more gig on the last day of the Fringe (28th). If you fancy going along, I’m sure it will be worthwhile.

Published August 22, 2017 by Tim Wilcock

bottom of page