The 31stSwanage Blues Festival
28thFeb to 3rdMarch 2019
The biannual Swanage Blues Festival takes place over the first weekend of March and October, attracting blues fans from all over the country and beyond, to the small Victorian seaside town. The festival offers a variety of Blues, Roots and Blues Rock to keep the fans entertained through a variety of jams, open-mics, busking sessions and band performances.
Jams and open-mics start early afternoon and give musicians that are in town for the festival the opportunity to perform. Lists fill up very quickly for these events and it has been known for bands to perform at the jams to showcase their talent and hopefully get a band slot in one of the venues in the future.
There are more formal showcase slots during Stan’s Jam on Saturday that allow bands to show what they can do in a 30-minute gig in the hope of securing a place in future festivals and many bands from the Showcase slots have gone on to become festival regulars. I remember Elles Bailey playing a showcase a few years back before she started climbing the ladder to international success.
Over the course of the weekend there are around 60 gigs played by 40 acts across 15 different venues, ranging from pubs and restaurants, through some of the local caravan parks to larger venues such as the British Legion Hall and the Grand Hotel. Even the local Golf Course (Isle of Purbeck) hosts bands on the Saturday. Clearly with this much choice, it is nigh on impossible to see every band so decisions must be made and you will see many a reveller bent over their programme trying to decide who to see next.Some of the highlight acts from this festival were:
Robin is a festival circuit legend and absolute showman. With his band, Dave Raeburn (Drums) and Tony Marten (Bass), he delivers a powerhouse set of covers and originals, evoking memories of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Hendrix, Green, all in his own inimitable style.
Backwater Roll Blues Band Facebook
Raw, dirty guitars and dirtier harp, performing old fashioned Blues Rock. Led by Harpmeister Miff Smith, this 6-piece band deliver powerful blues rock music with passion and swagger. BRBB started as a Showcase band in 2015.
Gospel inspired blues from New Zealander John McLean (Guitar, vocals), wife Jennie (percussion, backing Vocals), Son Benjamin (Drums), Alastair Murray (Guitars) James Daniell (Harmonica) and Davidi (Bass) perform a mic of Folk, Blues, and Rock guaranteed to get people dancing.
Heavy duty Blues Rock delivered by the captivating Andrea Maria on vocals backed by Neil Sadler (guitar), Merv Griffin (Bass) and Hugh Lawrenson (Drums), reworking Blues Classics along with their own material.
With all this activity, and one of the friendliest crowds around, it is little wonder that the Swanage Blues Festival is known as the “Big Blues Party” on the South coast.