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No feeling blue as festival marks landmark anniversary

Ten years since it first hit the town, Leek Blues & Americana Festival is back for 2023 from 22nd September to 1st October with a packed programme of over 50 gigs in 10 venues.

It all kicks off on Friday 22nd September when the self-proclaimed “Number one touring rhythm and blues band in the UK”, Nine Below Zero play the Foxlowe Arts Centre.

Formed in the 1977 in South London the band still features original members Dennis Greaves (guitar and vocals) and Mark Feltham (harmonica and vocals).

Their no-nonsense energetic, driving blues sound has kept them fresh and entertaining over the decades and the band’s most recent LP Avalanche came out in 2019 to critical acclaim.

On Sunday 24th September there is a free gig at the bandstand in Brough Park featuring local bands.

On Wednesday 27th September top UK Americana Band, Fine Lines and John Street Revival are at the Foxlowe.

Fine Lines take their inspiration from Dylan, The Band, Bruce Springsteen and Gram Parsons. David Boardman and Zoe Blythe share the vocals, with guitar, keys and bass accompaniment and BBC radio and TV presenter Mark Radcliffe on drums. They have recently played support for Keifer Sutherland on his UK tour.

The John Street Revival have local connections and they describe their raw Americana with infectious hooks and freewheeling melodies an alt-Americana road trip from the UK.

Climax Blues Band return to Leek for their Foxlowe Arts Centre gig on Friday 29th September kicking off a weekend packed with gigs at venues around the town including The Cock Inn, the roebuck, Brewces, Red Lion, Sparrow Park, Hideout and many more.

Founded in the 1960s in Staffordshire, the band have stayed true to their roots of a unique combination of blues and jazz. They achieved chart success when ‘Couldn’t get it Right’peaked at number 2 in the UK charts in 1976.

With a mixture of experience and ‘young blood’ in uber-talented Leek guitarist, Machin and multi -talented musician and producer Scott Ralph on vocals, Climax Blues Band are guaranteed to please the most discerning audience.

Alabama born Debbie Bond plays the Foxlowe Arts Centre on Sunday afternoon. Debbie has been performing for decades in the Alabama backwoods and is now a regular on the Southern US and European club and festival circuit.

Influenced by raw juke-joint blues and the sounds of Muscle Shoals, Debbie’s impressive CV includes playing with US blues stalwarts such as Willie King, little Jimmy Reed and Eddie Kirkland.

Her show promises an immersion in Alabama roots music guitar accompanied by her soulful voice accompanied by British born “Radiator Rick on keyboards and harmonica.

Also on Sunday rising star Ashley Sherlock plays at the Roebuck and there are plenty of other great acts to be seen including festival favourites Elvis Fontenot and the Honeybees, Bluesmakers, Acoustic Anarchy and many more.

The festival ends with its traditional crescendo, The ‘Last Call’ at The Roebuck from 9pm on Sunday night. when musicians and gig-goers alike can round off the festival with an unscripted line-up of bands, artists and jam sessions to round off the weekend.

The festival relies heavily on help from sponsors who this year are Leek Town Council, Leek Arts Festival, Joule’s Brewery, Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, UK Shared Prosperity Fund, Leek Town Lands Trust, Leek Building Society, ctd architects, Leek Link Taxis and Richard Owen Aerials & Satellite.

Festival chair Mike Gledhill said: “I’m really excited for this year’s festival. As ever we retain our two founding principlesof keeping most events ‘free admission’ and supporting our local hospitality and retail economy by attracting visitors and locals to a fantastic five-day festival in Leek.

“I would like to personally thank all our sponsors, venues, volunteers, organisers, artistes and punters. The festival is a real big effort from scores of people, and we simply couldn’tdo it without all the generous support.”

Tickets for the headline acts are available online at WeGotTickets | Simple, honest ticketing or at the FoxloweArts Centre. Details of the festival can be found at on the Leek Blues & Americana Facebook page. Information can be found by scanning the QR code which will be on leaflets and posters around town.


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