Wilko Johnson will join young Carlisle band, The 45s, on stage at The Great British R & B Festival at Colne in Lancashire this Bank Holiday . As well as performing a classic Dr Feelgood song with The 45s, Wilko will also present one of his Fender Telecaster signature guitars to 45s lead guitarist Tom Hamilton.
Tom and Wilko’s relationship goes back a couple of years when the then 14 year old blagged his way backstage at a gig in Kendal. Wilko thought he was just a fan and after giving him his autograph said that Tom could ask him a question. Tom asked about his playing technique and Wilko handed him his Telecaster saying show me how you do it? This turned into a masterclass in Wilko’s playing style and a jamming session, while fans waited outside. Tom then sent Wilko a 45s demo CD which Wilko liked and when a tour date in Carlisle was announced for November last year, Tom’s hometown of course, Wilko invited the 45s to be his guests for the evening and support him. On the announcement of Wilko’s terminal illness the Carlisle gig was cancelled and Tom and the band thought they had lost their opportunity to play with one of their icons.
However, when Wilko’s farewell tour was announced, the 45s scrambled to get tickets and were delighted to be going to the Glasgow show simply as fans in the audience. Two weeks before the gig in March, Wilko’s management contacted the 45s and invited them to open the show. This they did to a fantastic reception from the Glasgow crowd who had no idea who they were. Tom even got the chance to play Wilko’s guitar when he broke a string. They were taken to Glasgow’s heart and have since played at a major festival there. There is now talk of the 45s playing at the Commonwealth Games to be held in the city next year.
Now, both Wilko and the 45s are playing at the Great British R & B festival on August Bank Holiday . The 45s had to audition for this unlike Wilko, but they blew the judges away. At this festival Wilko will introduce the 45s, play a number with them and hand over a signature issue version of his iconic red Telecaster to Tom. Only 100 were made by Fender and all sold out in pre-orders.