Hebden Bridge Blues Festival may be the best in the country
Tuesday, 22 May 2012
This certainly seems to be what some of the thirty-strong industry professionals on the panel of the British Blues Awards think after nominating it for the "Best Festival" award.
After only one year of operation, and running on a shoestring budget, Hebden Bridge came out ahead of over thirty other Blues festivals to receive a prestigious nomination for the 2012 British Blues Awards, instantly launching them into the same category as long-running mega-festivals such as The Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival in Colne, Blues on the Farm and Maryport Blues Festival.
It's not only the festival itself that has been nominated. Between the assorted musicians that are playing there are further 15 nominations in the various categories, including two in the Best Female Vocalist category, two in the Best New Artist category, three in the Acoustic section and and incredible five in the best original song section.
So what is it that makes Hebden Bridge such a magnet for the torch-carriers of new British Blues music? According to Jason Elliott, one of the organisers, it's fairly straightforward and practical. "We have no Council backing and only a tiny amount of sponsorship so we have to select the bands purely on talent, rather than being able to pick big names. Our entire budget for all 37 bands we have this year could have been blown on one big American act so we have to be very selective. Fortunately, my co-organiser Paddy Maguire has one of the most finely-tuned ears in the country when it comes picking a winner. It is worth noting that Paddy chose most of these acts before Christmas so having so many nominations now is just proof of his impeccable taste!"
Maguire himself is more philosophical; "We have a firm belief that the best action and the most excitement in the Blues scene is with those artists who are of the here-and-now. People who are out there gigging, writing and recording new material. These musicians are what keeps fire in the belly of the Blues."
Not that Hebden Bridge is all about unknown bands. Far from it in fact. This year the headliner on Saturday June 2nd is Todd Sharpville who won the British Blues Connection "Best UK Guitarist" award in 1995 when he exploded on to the scene beating fellow nominees Eric Clapton and Gary Moore, and last year the event was headlined by the Texan, Lance Lopez, not long back from opening up for BB King.
The Hebden Bridge Blues Festival will be running from Friday 1st June through to Sunday 3rd with the majority of acts playing throughout the afternoon and evening at the two main venues of the Picture House, operating as the Main Stage, and Bar Place in Crown street which is hosting the Blue Horizons stage. A further five venues around the town, Nelsons, Marshalls Bar, Moyles, the Shoulder of Mutton and the White Swan, will also be getting involved putting on Blues bands as part of the Juke Joint circuit.
More information about the event and how to get tickets can be found at www.hebdenblues.co.uk
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