Wilko Johnson among stars at Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival

Wilko Johnson
Wilko Johnson
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Guitar hero Wilko Johnson, R&B favourites Nine Below Zero and American singer Nikki Hill are among the performers at this year’s Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival.

A mixture of old favourites and first-timers have been lined-up to perform at this year’s event, in Colne town centre, on August Bank Holiday weekend.

Other attractions at the four day event include former Whitesnake guitarist Bernie Marsden, much requested Dave Edmunds and rising British blues-rock trio Wille and The Bandits. More names are to be confirmed.

This year there will be a few changes to the usual format to give the festival a different feel. The big changes will be at the International Stage and the British Stage.

When it comes to capturing the true spirit of the blues in an intimate setting, nowhere offers a parallel to the extremely popular Acoustic Stage.

Year-on-year hundreds of people pack themselves into one half of The Muni and year-on-year hundreds of people miss out due to its popularity.

Nikki Hill

Nikki Hill

This has been taken on board and for 2016 the Acoustic Stage will move into the much bigger setting of the International Stage in the form of Acoustic Afternoons. On Saturday and Sunday, between 2pm and 6.30pm, acoustic musicians will be able to perform to a much bigger audience; then the venue will revert back to the International Stage for the night, featuring an array of high calibre Blues talent the Festival is known for.

Friday night will remain the same and the music will finish at 6.30pm on Monday, following an afternoon of top-class international acts in order to end this 27th annual event on a high.

For 2016, Pendle Hippodrome Theatre, just off Colne’s main high street and with a capacity of just under 500, will become the British Stage.

The amateur-run theatre is a stunning Georgian building with a grand stage and fixed seating. For the festival the first few rows will be removed to enable people to dance and the balcony will be closed off to keep the intimacy of the venue.

Wille And The Bandits

Wille And The Bandits

Radio Lancashire will once again take over the proceedings on the Friday night, with a talented line-up, live broadcasts and celebrity interviews; and Monday will be Blues Matters Day, with the popular magazine taking charge of programming.

The Lesser Muni, which in previous years has acted as the Acoustic Stage, will be used to serve food and drink, with background music from buskers.

And there will again be five official roadhouses, sponsored by Barnfield Construction, for 2016 – Colne Legion, Colne and Nelson RUFC, The Admiral Lord Rodney, The Crown Hotel and The Little Acoustic Stage at The Little Theatre.

Festival spokesperson, Sue Madigan, said: “We are really excited about the changes we are making and hope they will attract a wider audience. Every year we try to cater for all musical tastes and keep the Festival alive and fresh with different ideas and initiatives, and we are sure this new venue will bring a whole new feel to the British Stage.”

The changes to the Acoustic and International stages will mean a drop in ticket prices. A full festival ticket will cost £95.

This year an individual day ticket for Friday, Saturday and Sunday night at the International Stage will cost £28 each; an Acoustic Stage badge, costing £5, will be required for the Afternoon Acoustic Stage on the Saturday and Sunday – these are free with any day tickets; and it will cost just £20 for a Monday afternoon ticket for the International Stage.

A British Stage badge, costing £5 for the whole four days, will be required to gain access to this venue and Roadhouse Wristbands will again cost just £1 for access to the five official venues over the four day event.

For details visit www.bluesfestival.co.uk