Folk Off And Get The Blues


Occasional contributor Gary Hudson discovers that it can never be too loud – even at an acoustic festival.

Out with the folkies. In with the blues rockers. That’s the message from the organisers of this year’s Acoustic Festival of Britain at Uttoxeter racecourse. And it might justify giving it consideration for a weekend away in Staffordshire this coming June.

It’s always been one of the quirkier, smaller festivals – and at £85 for a three-day weekend ticket can claim to offer some of the best value for money. For that you might expect a surfeit of singer-songwriters, traditional folk bands and a Carthy or two.

But you’d be wrong. Promoter Mike Stephens says he has reduced the number of pure folk performers: “They have their own audience and appear at a lot of folk festivals. That audience tends to follow them to those festivals rather than here.”

He gets particularly excited when he talks about the blues players drafted in instead. Glasgow blues-rockers King King and the Krissy Matthews Band are established on the European circuit with a particular appeal to those who enjoy hard-driving blues rock.

Bonamassa-collaborator Beth Hart describes Matthews as the real deal, while King King have been touring with Thunder – maybe not the most credible but definitely not the softest rockers on the planet.

“I’m a blues man, that’s my music,” Mr Stephens says. “These people are phenomenal and I’m sure our audience will love them.”

Jumping jive, cajun and zydeco and the pseudo-Victorian sounds of steampunk are also well represented in Uttoxeter.

The Blockheads are set to be the main headliners – playing all the hits of the late Ian Drury. They are usually fronted these days by actor-comedian and Never Mind the Buzzcocks veteran Phill Jupitus.

The billing of tribute acts the Counterfeit Stones and T- Rextasy also suggests a rockier approach.

The Acoustic Festival is now in its seventh year in Uttoxeter. This year it’s on June 3rd-5th. Tickets are available from with a pricing policy geared to attract a family audience. It’s a pound for the whole weekend for infants aged four and under, while 5 to 9 year-olds get in for four pounds. Children, defined as those under 16, are charged £20.

Camping facilities are offered on site for out-of-towners, and Mr Stephens points out that it’s one of the few festivals where you can park next to your tent. Even if only a few of the artists suit your taste, that’s got to make it worth a try.

 Picture: Not your average folkie. One of the visitors setting the tone of the Acoustic Festival of Great Britain in Uttoxeter in June.

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