Swanage Blues Festival

Summary Info Festival StoryFestival EventsOther SourcesPractical Info

Country and Region United KingdomEngland
Type of Festival Music
Location of Festival Swanage, Dorset, England UK
Festival Contact Information

Swanage Blues Festival
Steve Darrington
Swanage Blues
The White House
Shore Road
Swanage, Dorset BH19 1LB
England UK
Email: s.darrington@btopenworld.com

Festival Description

The Swanage Blues Festival takes place two times a year (March and October) starting this year. The program presents a diverse line-up of musicians including—acoustic, electric, rural and urban blues. In addition to the concerts there are open mic sessions, jam sessions, workshops, and a blues steam train ride. In 2012 there will be 20 Indoor Venues — 50+ Great Gigs — 100+ performers — all free to customers. Admission is free at all venues, but you will be asked to make a donation.

Festival Dates March 1 - 3, 2013
Festival Links http://www.swanage-blues.org/default.aspx?p=2009m

Festival Story:

The festival attracts fans from across the world, showcasing traditional acoustic and modern sounds in the idyllic setting of this lovely Dorset seaside town. Veteran musicians play alongside aspiring artists who can strut their stuff at the Open Mic and Jam Sessions every afternoon, and on Saturday there will be Street Theatre from England’s premier sand dance vaudevillian illusionists The Fabulous Fezheads (lots of fun for all the family) including Ken the Camel.

The festival has come a long way since the first one in 2001, when the sole performer on the first night was a lone pianist. Festival organiser (and lone pianist) Steve Darrington said: “What started off as a bit of a party for a few locals has rapidly become a definite must for fans from all over the UK and abroad. I’ve had people from New Zealand and USA tell me they plan their holidays around it, and last year one guy flew from Scotland just for the day!

”The beauty of it all is that admission is free to all the Swanage venues and with most of them in the High Street, people can wander from place to place as the mood takes them. There’s a fantastic party atmosphere and everybody says they wouldn’t miss it for the world!” Steve is full of praise for the festival-goers who contribute towards his expenses by throwing money in the official collectors’ buckets, and the businesses that support the event by spending £12 for an advert on the festival website.

Despite catching polio at age six, Steve overcame his disabilities to play piano for many American blues artists, Lonnie Donegan, Marty Wilde, the Everly Brothers, and even had Mark Knopfler in his band before Dire Straits. He has appeared on over 50 albums. Steve came to Swanage for a couple of days in August 2000 , fell in love with the town and never left!

An accident three years ago put him back in a wheelchair for the first time since he was 15, but that had not stopped him either. “Obstacle into Opportunity!” he proclaimed. As a musician he spent 30 years travelling, then he could not do it anymore so he had to get people to come to him. Wwe are happy to announce that since that time Steve has gotten back on his feet—after he began to play the piano for therapy!


Festival Events:

Lineup 2013:
  • Andy Grant Trio
  • Assorted Buskers
  • Back Porch
  • Blind Lemon Gliders
  • Blue Touch
  • Blues Machine
  • C Sharp Blues
  • Dan Sowerby Band
  • David Raphael Band
  • Fabulous Fezheads
  • Hugh Budden
  • Jam Sessions with Robin Bibi Band
  • Jason Manners & 3 Buck Shirt
  • Jawbreakers
  • Jay Tamkin
  • Johnny Sharp
  • Jon Walsh
  • Lewis Cohen
  • Milton-Farrow Skiffle ‘n’ Blues Band
  • Motel 6, Mustangs
  • Open Mic Sessions with Johnny Sharp and Martin Froud
  • Paint It Blue
  • Riotous Brothers
  • Riverside Blues Band
  • Robert Hokum & The Devil Drives
  • Robin Bibi Band
  • Saiichi Sugiyama Band
  • Stan’s Blues Jamboree
  • Steamer
  • Steve Darrington
  • Tim Harrison
  • Tin Cats
  • Tommy Allen & Johnny Hewitt
  • Will Killeen
  • Zoe Schwarz
  • Blue Commotion
  • and more…


Other Sources:

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Podcast interviews:
Social networks:
  • Facebook — Swanage Blues Festival
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Practical Info:

  • Main venue
    • Bar Se7en (formerly Shades Bar) at the Victoria Club
      Located at lower high street near the pier.
  • New venue
    • The East Bar, situated at 1 High Street near the pier.
  • Venue changes
    • This year Moonlight Bistro and the Purbeck Hotel will not host any events.


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