Two U.S. Music Stars will round off the fifth Leek Blues & Americana Festival

Two U.S. Music Stars will round off the fifth Leek Blues & Americana Festival


West Virginian Lisa Mann and Texas raised Rodney Branigan will round off this year’s Leek Blues and Americana Festival this week.

Following a tremendous five days of live Blues & Americana music throughout Leek’s bars, restaurants, Foxlowe Arts Centre (and even Sparrow Park!) the Festival  took a deep breath and will kick in again this Thursday 12th October 9pm at the Cock Inn, Leek (no door charge)  with an additional gig to the programme, Lisa Mann and her band. Rodney Branigan will then ‘wrap’ this year’s Festival on Saturday 14th October at the Foxlowe Arts Centre doors 8pm for 8:30pm, £10 admission.

Award winning Lisa Mann has added the Cock Inn, Derby Street, Leek into her already packed UK  tour schedule.

Lisa has been awarded the prestigious 2016 Blues Music Award for her mighty skills on the bass guitar, an award which she also took home in 2015. Her first award win fell hot on the heels of her win for Blues Blast’s Sean Costello Rising Star Award, as well as three Muddy Waters Awards from the Cascade Blues Association for Contemporary Blues Act of the Year, Bass Player of the Year, and Northwest Recording of the Year. Her latest release, Hard Times, Bad Decisions debuted on the Living Blues radio chart at #7, and on the International Blues Broadcasters Association chart at #10, and can be heard burning up the airwaves worldwide.

Originally from West Virginia, Mann’s vocals effortlessly straddle the line between the honey sweet warmth of the south, and the force-of-nature sound Mann has cultivated by mastering everything from hard rock to rhythm and blues. Her clever blues balladry is complimented by her considerable prowess on bass guitar. Her bass grooves touch on the hallowed soil of soul greats James Jamerson and Bob Babbitt.

Her influences run the gamut, from low down blues sisters Etta James and Koko Taylor, to singer-songwriters like Bonnie Raitt and R&B belters like Little Milton. She writes the majority of her recorded material, and her songs paint pictures of a gritty (and sometimes humorous) personal experience in life, love and the not-always-pretty music business.

UK Promoter Dudley Ross: “we are SO excited to be playing the Cock Inn, Leek on Thursday 12th October with the amazing American artist Lisa Mann!! I play guitar with Kirk Fletcher, and we were in Leek as part of the Kirk Fletcher UK Tour during the Festival and we loved it! So I thought it would be great to bring Lisa to your fantastic town! Hope to see you there, it’s going to be one hell of a party!”

Lisa’s UK Tour Line Up comprises: Steve Watts – keyboards, Dudley Ross – guitar, Mike Horne – drums, Lisa Mann – vocals & bass.  CONTINUED….




Multi-instrumentalist ‘one man – two guitars’ Texan Rodney Branigan returns to Leek on Saturday 14th October 8 for 8:30pm at the Foxlowe Arts Centre, Leek with support from local singer/songwriter Rob Davies who will be featuring songs from his latest album. Tickets are £10 and available from the venue and on-line at

Rodney is a Texas-raised Londoner who learned to play in Austin, perform in Los Angeles, craft songs in Nashville, and put it all together in London.  A master of several instruments, with a rich and soulful voice, Rodney’s heartfelt lyrics have often led to comparisons with Jeff Buckley, even described by France’s Crossroads magazine as “the revelation of the year or even the decade”.

His infectious blend of organic progressive folk, rock, flamenco, classic, bluegrass and jazz sensibilities have seen Rodney tour the US from coast to coast and travel the world across China, India, Africa and Europe, where his reputation as an outstanding live performer has led to turns supporting the likes of Billy Sheehan, Jack Johnson, Angelique Kidjo, Pentagram, Shair’n’Func, Show of Hands and Francis Cabriel among others.


Music Connection Magazine has described Rodney as “…one of the most amazing artists you will ever see. Not simply because he is unique, but rather because he is impossibly talented”


Leek Blues & Americana Festival Organiser, Dave Swarbrook added “It’s fantastic to be able to welcome Rodney back to Leek again. He played a small private party last time and so I was keen to share our unique experience with everyone in town! As well as being an incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist, fabulous singer and with tremendous song writing ability he’s also a great bloke! I’m looking forward to showing Rodney the pubs of Leek and introducing him to North Staffordshire Oatcakes, which has become a pre-requisite for all visiting international musicians.”

Music Store Pro / PreSonus Competition

Another first for the Leek Blues & Americana Festival. A Comp!

Again, our friends at Music Store Pro and their friends at PreSonus (it’s just one big love in isn’t it?) have got together to offer Festival goers the chance to win a fantastic prize.

Only the PreSonus Audiobox USB 96 Studio! Worth over £175.

To enter simply register your email address either in store at Music Store Pro or grab a flyer and submit in one of the collection boxes you’ll find at The Cock Inn, The Roebuck or Infinity Live.

The winner will be chosen at random by 5th October 2017…. Best of Luck!

You too can look as good as Ella! – Dave

Thanks to our good friends at Music Store Pro and working with local sportswear manufacturer Supersport we are proud to unveil our first Festival Tee Shirt!

2017 Festival Merch will only be available exclusively from the Cock Inn on Derby Street, and please try to avoid busy times at the bar when purchasing. We hope you like the design as much as we do and can support the Festival whilst being the envy of your friends.

Limited stock is available, but if there is sufficient demand we may order additional items after the Festival has completed.  Any requests for out of stock sizes should be sent via website or Facebook. This is a new venture for us so we are seeing how it goes.

Seating Arrangements: Kirk Fletcher/Chris Bevington Organisation

Please be advised that, due to demand, we will be going for a room layout offering approximate 50:50 seating : standing options.

If you want to be sure of a seat (or a good standing spot) then you would be advised to arrive prior to 7:00, we will however only open the room once soundchecks have completed.

If you require any specific assistance with seating or access to the venue, please try to contact us in advance via the website or Facebook, ramped access is via the rear of the Foxlowe.

We shall try and accommodate everyone, but it is set to be a busy night tonight so please help us as much as possible.


Keeping The Blues Alive – Mike Gledhill

Mike writes….

Back in the midst of time, I was leading something of a double life. By day, I enjoyed a brilliant job, teaching at Westwood High in Leek. By night I enjoyed a brilliant time playing slide guitar and singing with The Johnny Waterhouse Blues Band, keeping the Blues alive in town upstairs in the The Wilkes’ Head annex every month in the 80’s and 90’s. One such night, I remembered a group of students, who some years earlier had approached me at school with “You know about Blues, don’t you, Sir. Who should we listen to?”. That night, there they were at The Wilkes’, now a bunch of Jimmie Vaughan lookalikes, asking us to play Fabulous Thunderbirds stuff, which we did!

Fast forward to now and it’s amazing how things come together. Our band is still playing the Blues, we’re now known as The Bluesmakers. We’re on at The Leek Blues and Americana Festival this coming week, Sat 30 Sept at 10pm at The Cock Inn. One of the ex JV lookalikes is now in our band. Another is the chief booker of acts (65+) at the Festival. A 3rd, who fortunately realised that he hadn’t quite got the hair to be a JV, is the chief co-ordinator of the Festival.

The seeds for the band started way back then at The Wilkes. So thanks, JW, Malc, JB, Pete and Fran. The seeds for the Festival, I’m told, started 6 years at the Wilkes with a conversation (thanks Dave). And here we are with our lively and innovative town (thanks Marc and many others) about to embark on a fabulous 5 day festival of the best in Blues and Americana which is mostly free admission (thanks landlords and sponsors). One final link goes back to that night too. When JV left The Fabulous Thunderbirds he was later replaced by Kirk Fletcher, who is our headline act on Friday 29 Sept at Foxlowe. Small world, isn’t it!

 Mike Gledhill (vocals/guitar – The Bluesmakers)

Our first gig North of Watford – Richard Staines

I remember receiving an email from Dave Swarbrook 5 years ago. The conversation was something like this, “Are you interested in playing at our new blues festival?”


“We like your music but we are frightened that it’s too different for the punters. Oh sod it! We like it, so you’re booked.”

So we had a booking in a place we’d never heard of. Our first gig north of Watford. And a set of 90 mins which we had only done once before. And with a harmonica player for the first time. So it was practise like mad time.

The day of the gig I looped the town a few times trying to find the Cock Inn and some parking. A nice old market town, lovely. Parked up, met Alan the landlord, was fed and watered. I remember looking at Satinder and saying we don’t usually get treated this well. And it continued like that. The sound guys were happy and fun and the audience were great.

We did 2 x 45 min sets and I got blisters and then blisters on my blisters but enjoyed every minute of it.

In the interval and after the gig everyone wanted to chat. Such a friendly festival.

The strange thing is the date has always been inconvenient for our regular harmonica man, Jonathan but this year he can make it. He’s probably fed up of me telling him about Leek!

And of course when we did the live album  and was looking for an interesting photo for the back cover. In the Leek album, Satinder at the bar drinking a cup of tea with the curry sign and the guy in the background photo bombing him. That was the one!

As far as Maharaja Blues is concerned, Leek Blues & Amricana Festival is our northern home, a priority booking.  If they want us we’ll be there.


Richard Staines ( vocals, guitar – Maharaja Blues)

What if no one comes? – Alan Ward

Alan Writes……Flicking through the freshly delivered laminated posters for next week’s headline acts, I thought back to the first year we did a musical festival. Dave Swarbrook full of enthusiasm, a handful of publicans showing interest – mainly those that were already established music venues, JR Mountford taking up the reins with Dave and Marc Briand whose hand on the tiller was a much-needed levelling influence on what was then a bunch of well-intentioned amateurs.

For some long forgotten reason I was appointed Treasurer a more unlikely choice for the care of large sums of money would be hard to find so that shows how desperate we were. It`s much repeated but on the eve of the first gig I looked at the list of artists and the cost of the bands we`d booked, the marquee dripping with rain in the rear yard and a cellar full, and I mean full, of as yet unpaid for beer and thought`What if no one comes?` but they did come, in their droves and have done so with each successive year.

This year sees us celebrate 5 years of the Festival and it`s grown and acquired its own life, band and solo artists contact us through the year asking if there are any spare spots. The list of venues grows as does the list of sponsors, those lovely people that make it financially possible. Some of the artists have become friends Matt Walklate, Maharaja Blues, whose first CD back cover was a photo taken of them at our second year, Elvis Fontenot who are playing here again this year and the tradition of Last Call at the Roebuck opposite which last year saw me, Dave, Nick Bradstreet from the Roebuck and JR sitting outside on the pavement each with a large malt listening to the great music being played inside saying `Well that`s that for another year`.

It`s all starting again next week boys, let`s make it a good one.

Alan Ward – The Cock Inn

Leek, you can’t beat it!- John Crimes

John writes…. Just under eight days to go now before Leek once again celebrates with some of the best Blues and Americana music to be heard in pubs, clubs, bars and even Sparrow Park! A few years ago I was quoted as saying that the town “literally breathed music” during the Festival. Well, that was how it seemed to me on a blustery Saturday afternoon as I wandered down Derby Street with the sound of bands coming at you from the Cock Inn and the Roebuck and a guy (sorry can’t recall who but probably Steve Giddings!) busking. I wandered down to the road and met and listened to a dear old mate from Stoke playing in the Quiet Woman and I remember him telling me how he was astounded by the quality and quantity of music on offer in the town.

The Festival has grown year by year and now offers even more choice of venues and artists… this year will be incredible with the likes of Kirk Fletcher from Los Angeles (with brilliant support on the night by Chris Bevington Organisation), Slaid Cleaves from Austin, Texas, even more international & national artists and a selection of acts from Leek and the surrounding area’s own incredible pool of great musicians.

Myself, I’m back living and working in the town again this year after 14 years and can’t wait to immerse myself in the Festival.  I’ll be making a noise at the Acoustic Session at the Cock Inn (where else!) on Thursday the 28th September and with the Bluesmakers (34 years of great R&B!!) again at the Cock Inn on Saturday the 30th.

If you don’t live in Leek, come and visit – if you do, come out and support the Festival – you won’t be disappointed!


John Crimes (Drummer – The Bluesmakers)

Come On You Blues! – Dave & JR


We are chuffed to have be able to select tonight’s playlist for the local derby of Leek Town FC v Kidsgrove Athletic @ Harrison Park, K.O. 7.45pm.

We’ve even included tracks from Kidsgrove’s own Chris Bevington. Wishing the Best of Luck to the ‘Grove but we’re naturally backing Baker’s boys for a 3 pointer tonight!

So it’s Blues for the Blues!   All the artists featured are appearing at this year’s festival (apart from that Bonnamassa chap obvs.)

Here’s the playlist as compiled by JR:

Kirk Fletcher: Bad Boy

Slaid Cleaves: If I had a heart


The Fugitives: Bigger Than Luck

Chris Bevington Organisation: Better Start Cookin


Rodney Branigan: One Man Two Guitars

Elvis Fontenot: Sugar Bee Stew

Walklate & Fuschi: Ain’t no big deal on you

Hannah Johnson: Your Girlfriend Hates Me

Maharaja Blues: The Maharaja Blues

Westerburgh & Micaela: Wanderers (From now on)

Lissy Taylor: Ride

John Dhali: Here

“Pistol” Pete Wearn: Jesus on the Mainline


Oli Ng: Into the Dark


Joe Bonnamassa feat.Kirk Fletcher: Shake For Me

Tom Attah: Well well, my my.

Nixon Tate: Dance Hall Blues

Clair Brennan: River Trent

Kirk Fletcher: Congo square


Chris Bevington Organisation: Change The World


Counting down the days – Chris Bevington

Chris write… So, the clocks ticking down and the long awaiting festival Gig supporting Kirk Fletcher is fast approaching. I am delighted to be included in this year’s festival and to be sharing the stage with just a great Musician and Band.

2017, has been a great year for CBO as the band has spread its wings and played all over the UK and enjoyed a steady increase in Airplay and especially the wonderful support of the Legend who is Paul Jones on his BBC Radio 2 Blues show.

It’s always great to see a Gig at Leek in the diary and as Sarah Miller and others are Leek based, it’s in some way a coming home Gig and it also never ceases to amaze me how the Band and Music has grown and friends and follows has increased over the last few years.

The Leek Festival is a very respected UK & European Event and you can see this when you browse the headline acts and Artists booked, so it’s a testament to the growing respect the Festival has in the Music World, that attracts the array of Stars that it goes.

To be honest so it should, especially as the Leek Festival Organisers work so so hard every year to make it a fantastic success, so they all should be justly proud.

I always count my blessings and to be able to share the stage with Jim Kirkpatrick, Scott Ralph, Sarah Miller , Kate Robertson , Dave Edwards and Neil McCallum is a delight and I guess thanks go to Bill Dayson who I first meet in 1986 and he introduced me to Blues music and as his Bass apprentice,  I then started to try and learn Blues Bass. So now my 32-year apprenticeship has finished or maybe not , you never stop learning and I must say I love Music more year on year.

So , let the Festival commence and let the Good Times Roll and I hope everyone has a great weekend and lets raise a glass to another amazing weekend  …….Really hope to see some friends on Friday 29th September at the Foxlowe Arts Centre too ,CBO are onstage at 7.20pm and then we hand the stage to the wonderful Kirk Fletcher ….Happy days x

Chris Bevington  (Bass – Chris Bevington Organisation)

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