Swanage Blues Festival
By Claire Price
The Swanage Blues Festival fulfilled its promise to “blow away those winter blues” with acts ranging from Dorset’s Hightown Crows to Japanese blues master Saiichi Sugiyama and headline act The Barcodes...
It might have been a sunny Saturday afternoon at the seaside but that didn't keep hundreds of blues fans away from the dark, smoky Kings Bar in the centre of Swanage.
The Swanage Blues Festival, 2 to 4 March, hosted a weekend of free gigs around the town’s pubs and hotels. This was the seventh year for a festival that started as an idea for a birthday party.
Festival creator and organiser Steve Darrington explains: “We started in 2001 with just a few local bands. Since then it’s just grown and grown. Now we’ve got top acts taking part in the festival that you’d normally pay to see perform in London.”
The festival kicked off on Friday evening with ten venues hosting acts that include Dorset’s Hightown Crows, Japanese blues master Saiichi Sugiyama and the Incredible Blues Puppies who are billed as “one of the best blues around.”
Pete Harris sings the blues
Other Friday night acts included south coast trio Harris, Budden & Osborne. Bournemouth’s Hugh Budden is one of the UK’s top harmonica players. He has played with The Producers, which was named Blues Band of the Year in 2001. Hugh has also performed with members of Queen, Manfred Mann and Fleetwood Mac.
On Saturday afternoon many of the artists got together to jam in the Kings Bar. Highlights included performances from headline act The Barcodes and festival organiser Steve Darrington himself.
It was all a warm up for Saturday night, when the Hammond-led Barcodes, funkmaster Robin Bibi, plus sensational Hampshire band The Mustangs performed in venues across the town.
Guitar fans had the chance to hear performances from Jim Tigwell, Pete Harris and world-famous Taylor Guitars’ demonstrator Pete Smith.
The weekend concluded on the Sunday afternoon in the Kings Bar, with the amazing Jon Walsh Blues Band, supported by festival organiser Steve Darrington on piano and harmonica.
Steve summed up the reason for the festival's success: "This is a fantastic weekend showcasing Blues Music in all its glorious forms – rural, urban, electric and acoustic. There’s something for everybody here. And admission everywhere is free!”
last updated: 03/10/07
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