This Thursday 5th March 2020, the 33rd Swanage Blues Festival gets underway, with music fans descending on the town. Billed as a Big Blues Party on the south coast, the event, organised by local legend, Steve Darrington, sees musicians performing in a variety of pubs, bars and restaurants around Swanage. Programmes and entrance wristbands are now on sale from venues across town.
Tall, Skinny Mama
Kicking off the festival on Thursday evening at The Legion, will be one of Swanage’s best-known names, Hugh Budden on vocals and harmonica, with Andy Stone on vocals and guitar. Expect to hear one of Hugh’s favourites, ‘Tall, Skinny Mama’.
Speaking to Swanage News, Hugh Budden said that he was looking forward to catching up with old friends:
“There will be great music and I always get to meet some lovely people. They come from across the country every year and it’s great to catch up. There’s always such a tremendous spirit, even when it snowed, people still made the effort to brave the ‘Beast from the East’ and join in the party!”
Following Hugh and Andy’s set at The Legion, will be the ‘fast and wild’ keyboard player and singer, Marky Dawson, who grew up in Poole and is often described as a mix of Elton John and Freddie Mercury, with piano chops to make Jerry Lee Lewis blush!
Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion
Other well-known names on the Blues circuit, who are performing at the festival over the long weekend include the hugely talented Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion, established Blues musician and founder of the Ealing Blues Festival, Robert Hokum, the powerful five piece Blues unit, Backwater Roll Blues Band and also Eric Ranzoni, the entertaining pianist who’s played all the major Blues festivals in Europe and appeared on the BBC2’s ‘Later with Jools Holland’.
Venues in Swanage include the Grand Hotel, The Legion, the White Horse, the Waterfront, the Black Swan, The Centre and the Red Lion.
Experienced musician, Steve Darrington
The Swanage Blues Festival was started in March 2001 by experienced musician, Steve Darrington, initially as a birthday party in a Swanage nightclub for local blues fan, George Crane. It quickly grew to become a regular annual event with other venues like pubs and restaurants joining in. With the March event proving so successful, it then expanded to become a bi-annual event. There’s another Blues festival in Swanage, later this year, from 1st to 4th October.
Steve Darrington, who continues to organise the massively popular event, describes it as primarily a ‘pub trail’ of the best kind! There are now 18 indoor venues with 44 bands doing 70 gigs from Thursday until Sunday.
Those who come to see the bands perform, are asked to buy a £10 wristband to cover the costs of organising the festival, which is run as a not-for-profit venture.