StowBlues 2019

You know you’re getting on in years when police officers, sports men and women and office staff look so young. Another indicator is when you’re ignored by those handing out leaflets for night clubs and trendy gyms. It’s also the case that the older you get, the quicker the time seems to go.

With the latter in mind I cannot believe StowBlues has already come round again. The annual celebration of the blues takes place at the Museum Of East Anglia Life in Stowmarket on Saturday, June 8 and once again it’s been my great pleasure to co-curate the line-up with Mike Rushmore. Due to family commitments Mike cannot perform at this year’s event so for the first time in living memory there’ll be no set by Back Porch. Do not fret though, there remains eight hours’ worth of excellent live music with several acts making their StowBlues debut.

Doors open at 1pm with harmonica man Giles King’s outfit Goofa Dust getting proceedings underway at 2pm. They are celebrating the release of a fine album which features covers and originals. I’m pretty sure tracks from the CD will be feature heavily in their 45 minute set. They’ll be followed at 3pm by the country bluesman Mark Harrison who earlier in the year guested on the Cerys Matthews blues show on BBC Radio 2. It was at around the same time Mark appeared at the Duke Of York in Ipswich where he went down an absolute storm.

Another act to have graced Mike Rushmore’s Midweek Blues In Town venture at The Duke will follow Mark at 4pm.  Ben Joseph and the Lay-Lows have a unique take on the blues, mixing in many other genres along the way. Like Mark Harrison, Ben guested on my BBC Radio Suffolk show prior to his Ipswich gig and he too impressed me greatly with his enthusiasm for the blues cause and, of course, his singing and playing.

The next act at 5pm Blues Situation really don’t need any introduction to this region’s blues fraternity. Like Goofa Dust they are celebrating the release of a new album which has more than lived up to expectations. I firmly believe Luke Arnold, John Butters, Craig Fillbrook and Kelvin Hill are at the very top of their collective game.

At 6pm a funky little blues combo from Kent will be on stage. Singer Lee Ainsley and her Blues Storm impressed me greatly at The Salutation in Ipswich earlier this year, so much so that I immediately enlisted them for StowBlues. They have been playing all over the UK and I feel sure they will be well received by the StowBlues crowd.

Another act performing at MEAL’s annual blues celebration for the first time are Automatic Slim. Their frantic take on the blues owes much to Dr Feelgood and Wilko Johnson and helped establish them as a must-see band back in the ‘80s and ‘90s. They did take a bit of break but returned to the scene a few years ago to play a handful of selected dates each year. StowBlues is one of the lucky ones in 2019 with Tim Aves and the gang performing a 75 minute set from 7pm.

Rounding off StowBlues at 8-30pm will be the Dave Thomas Band and special guests. Dave, who’s based on the Suffolk/Norfolk border, is often visiting his beloved Chicago Blues Festival when StowBlues takes place but I’m delighted to report he’ll still be in the UK for this month’s bash and will be providing us with a fitting finale.

Visitors to StowBlues will notice a few changes this year, most notably a switch to a bigger area in the museum grounds. Don’t worry it’ll still have the intimate feel that thousands of blues fans love about the festival. Admission is £15 which I have to say for eight hours of high quality live music remains a steal.

I’ll be your compere from start to finish and all the bands are being recorded by sound man Richard Hersee for broadcast on BBC Radio Suffolk at a later date. I do hope you can make it. You won’t regret it.