If you like your blues music, then Belfast is the place to be at the end of next month. The 11th Belfast City Blues Festival, presented by American Holidays and Brand USA, is back and is set to take place over three days in 24 venues with 45 acts and almost 70 gigs.
The festival, which runs from Friday June 28 to Sunday June 30, sees the return of a whole host of festival favourites as well as some new local and visiting acts to the stages.
This year’s tribute to Rory Gallagher, ‘A Taste of Rory’ on June 29 at the Black Box will feature The Pat McManus Band, The Willie Byrne Band and Blackwood.
Maintaining the Rory Gallagher theme this year on June 28 at the Belfast Barge (docked beside the Waterfront Hall) local musicians Sam Davidson (guitar), Albert Mills (drums) and Lyn McMullan (drums) will perform their Tribute To Taste show.
Visiting from London this year is the Robin Bibi Band from London, who will be performing throughout the weekend at The Hudson, The John Hewitt and The Northern Whig.
Bibi is one of the UK’s top blues/rock guitarists having paid his dues working with such names as Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and Ben E. King.
Locally on the line-up will be acts such as Rab McCullough, Speedy Mullan, The Reverend Doc and The Red Hot Roosters as well as Tony Villiers & The Villains and The Lee Hedley Band who played the festival launch at Kelly’s Cellars in Belfast City Centre.
“There’s always such a fantastic buzz around the whole weekend” said Lee Hedley.
“Belfast really come alive over those few days. I just love playing it – and the guys in the band, they just can’t get enough of it either.”
Also in attendance at the launch was Lord Mayor Deirdre Hargey who said: “I am delighted that Belfast City Council is once again supporting the Belfast City Blues Festival as it celebrate its 11th anniversary. The festival continues to highlight Belfast’s rich blues heritage and raise the profile of many of our brightest local artists, as well as attracting top international names to our city.
“The event has become one of the ‘must see’ highlights of the blues calendar for local fans and for visitors who travel from far and wide to enjoy a weekend of wonderful music. I hope the organisers, the performers and everyone involved have a great weekend.”
The Belfast City Blues Festival weekend is packed full of gigs as well as the now famous Blues On The Boat Music Cruises, taking place over the weekend on Belfast Lough. More than just music, there will be complimentary food and drink for all ticket holders. The cruises are set to host top performers such as Rab McCullough, the Rev Doc, the Lee Hedley Band, Tony Villiers & Doc Doherty and the Red Hot Roosters.
Once again American Holidays and Brand USA are on board as headline sponsors and Festival Director Seamus O’Neill says without them the festival would not happen.
He added: “A huge thank you to all the bands and artists who will be performing over the weekend – and to all who will be visiting our great city over that weekend and who plan to attend many of the gigs and performances.
“Your support will be greatly appreciated and no doubt will contribute to help keep our festival alive and kicking, well into the future.
“And to our sponsors, without you we could not put this fantastic festival on every year.”
Karen Sheals Hoy, Manager of American Holidays, added: “I’m proud and privileged that American Holidays are once again key sponsors of this fantastic festival.
“Now in its 11th year, this is the only festival of its kind in Belfast and is a great opportunity for people to come together to enjoy the city’s lively Belfast Blues heritage and to discover new talent.
“This year we are delighted to have alongside us our partners Brand USA.”
Other sponsors of the festival include Sunday World, Hop House, Europa Hotel, Grand Central Hotel, Kolormaster, Bairds and Oranga.
The festival is also supported by Belfast 89FM, Lagan Boat Company, Destination CQ, Linen Quarter, Nova Print, NI Hospice, FT Contractors and Excalibur Press.