With just under a month to go to the Spring Bank Holiday at the end of May, the multi-award-winning Hebden Bridge Blues Festival is gearing up for its biggest ever event with an unprecedented 52 acts across 9 stages over three days.
With all three days being headlined by internationally-known Blues artists, Virgil & The Accelerators, The Motives and Northsyde, festival director Jason Elliott is delighted with the programme and the way this year’s event has built on previous successes.
“Having won our category in the British Blues Awards for the last two years has helped us attract some amazing talent to our little town. There are some world class musicians coming to to entertain us, from places as diverse as Texas, Detroit, Canada and Switzerland as well as all over Britain. We have stuck to a policy of only inviting who we feel are the cream of contemporary Blues music, people who are writing and recording new material, moving the genre forward, and it does seem to have gone down well,” he said. “There is something special about Hebden Bridge the town for people too. It’s not just the music. Everything is within walking distance and the wide variety of independent shops is real treat for our visitors from clone-towns elsewhere.”
As well as the increased number of acts playing, new for this year are extra free gigs during the daytime for the locals, an open Blues jam session for the public, a free Blues ukelele workshop with maestro Manitoba Hall at the Town Hall, as well as a dedicated camping area for tents in the park being run by the Hebden Bridge Round Table.
The primary venues are the same as last year. The recently refurbished Hope Baptist Church will host the main stage in the evening, and Salem Mill will house an acoustic stage and an electric stage for events during the day.
“It’s great the way local businesses have got involved to help bring free gigs to the locals. Residents logically assume and expect that lots of things will be available at no cost during any kind of festival so, as we are completely self-funding, we are very grateful that the local venues are on board with the project,” said Jason.
“We are also very appreciative of the support that both the Round Table and Calderdale Council have shown this year in arranging camping facilities.
“Having an area of the park usable to counteract the shortage of local accommodation will make a considerable difference to the local economy too, whilst leaving most of the park completely unaffected,” he added.