Seaside Blues Party Beckons
Recession-beating party more popular than ever!
Twice a year, in March and October, blues refrains are heard drifting through the streets of Swanage as world-class musicians of all ages converge on this quaint seaside town to enjoy a weekend of collaboration and performance.
Unlike other town festivals, this joyous event is different. It’s not run by a committee, instead one man (with an extensive musical career himself) opens his vast contact list to local venues and establishments, enabling them to book national acts through him at a fraction of the usual booking cost, thus allowing some of the best blues acts in the country to meet-up, enjoy a short ‘working holiday’ and play in our local pubs and clubs – taking them back to the ‘good old days’, when the audience was spitting distance away!
How did it start?
Keyboardist, Stephen Darrington moved to Swanage in 2000 and, seeing local venues struggling through yet another recession, Steve approached local pubs and restaurants with the notion that if various venues would agree to collaborate and book blues music over one weekend, a ‘big town blues party’ may be had, encouraging visitors and helping town coffers at the quietest times of the year. One blues weekend a year swiftly became two, falling in March and October, extending the tourist season for those in hospitality.
Hugely popular with not only the playing artists, a new wave of visitors has been introduced to Swanage through the blues, boosting bookings with local accommodation providers and keeping retail tills ringing throughout the town during both blues festivals every year.
Steve said: “As an idea I came up with to try and help local establishments raise additional revenue when times were bad, Swanage Blues Festival has grown beyond my wildest imaginings.
“We have kept it local and on the same original format – each venue taking part runs their own events, I simply discuss what performers may suit them and get the bands booked in for them. New venues are welcome to join us, in October 2022, Swanage Conservative Club came aboard and had a fantastic weekend and from March 2023, The Showbar at the Mowlem joined in too, offering a top line-up throughout.”
“The more venues, the merrier! Helping the local economy was always the idea behind bringing the blues to Swanage and optional ‘Blues Wristbands’ are available to show your support for the festival and cost just £15, which helps cover some of the costs involved. Each event is run by a tiny not-for-profit limited company. Entrance to most venues is permitted without a wristband, thus enabling everyone to attend!”
For more details go to www.swanage-blues.org