This year marks the 5th anniversary of the Leek Blues & Americana Festival. The event runs Wednesday 27th September to Sunday 1st October with over 65 events hosted by the majority of the pubs, clubs, cafes in the historic market town as well as the Foxlowe Arts Centre and, for the first time,a dedicated outdoor stage at Sparrow Park, Derby St. As ever, the line up is a mixture of local, national and international artists showcasing the wider spectrum of music to be found in the genre. There’s a whole new feel to the festival with new venues hosting events. Traditional pubs such as The Quiet Woman (recently reopened by Lymestone Brewery) The Britannia Inn & The Blue Mugge and Benks join craft beer speciality bars BeerDock and Beyond The Pale as new hosting venues this year. Leek Bar & Grill and Club Infinity join the event for the first time alongside long standing live music advocates in the town centre, The Cock Inn, The Roebuck, The Wilkes Head, Spout Brewhouse, Den Engel and The Red Lion. Around the town centre (but still in easy walking distance) The Wellington Inn, The Dyers Arms, The Fountain and the award winning The Earl Grey Inn, feature special events during the five day festival.
Festival partners, Biddulph Up In Arms launch the event with the first of four visiting North American acts to the festival. Wednesday at The Biddulph Arms hosts State Of The Union (Tickets: £12), ” A masterclass in songwriting, showing off the talents of bluesy Americana stalwart Brooks Williams and cult British singer-songwriter Boo Hewerdine” while on Thursday night at the Foxlowe Arts Centre, Slaid Cleaves returns to the festival (Tickets £15), celebrating a partnership between Biddulph Up in Arms and Leek Blues & Americana Festival that has endured since the very first festival. Austin based singer songwriter, Slaid Cleaves will be promoting and playing tracks from his new album ” Ghost On The Car Radio”
Friday night at the Foxlowe Arts Centre is the last of the ticketed events and represents the festivals ethos,spirit and ambition to champion local artists, sharing the spotlight with international greats. L.A native, Kirk Fletcher and his band share double billing with last years headline act, Chris Bevington Organisation. (Tickets: £14) Kirk Fletcher has shared the stage with such legends as The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Hubert Sumlin, Pinetop perkins, James Cotton, Doyle Bramhall Sr and Joe Bonamassa. Joe Bonamassa describes Kirk as “….hands down, one of the best blues guitarists in the world” whilst Blues & Rhythm Magazine said that Kirk “….exudes class and style, knows all the classic licks but never resorts to mere copying, always with his own take in his kit bag” The Chris Bevington Organisation are currently recording their third album with previous album “Better Start Cooking” receiving global airtime and critical acclaim.
The festival is full of free entry events, (far too many to list here) with lots of new acts lining up alongside some returning favourites from the past five years. In many ways the festival feels more like a reunion or homecoming this year with old friends like Elvis Fontenot, Maharaja Blues, McRooney, Blues Train, Tex & The Hardcore Troubadours and The Nick Steed Band will be trading licks with our homegrown “musical family members” Bad Soul Buskers, Red Berryn and the one dozen berries, The Bluesmakers, The Les Hunt Band, The Funkbreakers, McLovin’ and (Ray Walmsley’s) Circle of Thieves. Old friends in different guises join us this year too. Festival regular Nick Whitfield (Mike Sanchez, Drugstore Cowboys) returns in the form of the Downtown Drifters who will be busking in the morning near the market place stalls during the Totally Locally Sunday Supplement before moving to the Roebuck Hop Yards’ (now traditional) Rockabilly Sunday afternoon with Jim Hammonds Electric Mudshack. The theme of old friends reunited continues with a visit from Swampdog Millionaires (The Cock Inn, Sunday. 3pm). Al and Lynne host the band from “the Mersey Bayou” in what will be an afternoon of Louisiana funk blues, reminiscence and rum.
The Quiet Woman present a day of Americana on the Saturday starting with Rick Ford & Friends from 2:30pm – 5:30pm. Rick is joined by, amongst others, The Birdscarers and Adam Coxon. Oli Ng form 5:30pm leads to a special performance from Hannah Johnson and The Broken Hearts (with support from Lissy Taylor) If you like pedal steel, double bass, guitar, mandolin driven, traditional Hank Williams inspired Country/Americana, then this is the gig for you. Hannah and the band have spent a lot of the summer playing the famous venues of Austin,Texas promoting their new album “Shakin'” The festival welcomes European acts, with The Wilkes Head hosting Hamburgs own, Soporific Seagulls and Beyond The Pale host, Westerburgh and Micaela, originally from Sweden There’s something for every taste this year so whether you pick up a programme, plot your musical journey via our Facebook page and website or just follow the sounds from venue to venue you’ll find quality music in every venue in town.
With the expansion of the number of venues this year, which the festival hopes will attract an even wider audience then ever to the town, the organisers are bringing the entertainment to the heart of the Totally Locally Sunday Supplement with the addition of an outdoor stage. Sparrow Park.Near the monument, at the end of Derby St, the shared space will host our fourth North American headline act with support from ctd architects and Leek Lands Trust. Vancouver based band, The Fugitives will headline the stage from 1pm with support from The Phil Maddocks Band and Spinster Jones from 10am. The Fugitives, described as “the missing link between Leonard Cohen and The Pogues” will be promoting their new album “The Promise of Strangers” as part of a UK tour. Their brilliant, award winning musicianship, top notch songwriting and funny, uplifting live performances will be set against the background of the award winning market with its own creative vibe and community spirit.
The Festival organisers would like to thank the title sponsors Music Store Pro for their involvement and support. The festival is a non profit event.The festival is grateful for the support from all of the venues and staff, local businesses (both programme sponsors and well wishers) local councils, technical support from volunteers and friends and the all of the artists that will contribute to the 5th anniversary’s success.