This year’s Blues on the Farm will be touched by the genius of Muddy Waters with a visit from the great man’s son.
Mud Morganfield will be one of the star attractions at this year’s 24th festival, just outside Chichester, running from June 18-21 (tickets on www.bluesonthefarm.co.uk).
“If you close your eyes, you would think it actually was Muddy Waters,” says festival director Julian Moores who is delighted with the line-up which has come together for this year.
Thursday, June 18 offers Kokomo and The Hamish Stuart Band; Friday, June 19 boasts Layla Zoe, Stark, The Jar Family, The Hoax and Mud Morganfield. The festival continues on Saturday, June 20 with Station House, Ricky Cool and the In Crowd, Ben Poole, The Jive Aces and Kaz Hawkins & Her Band O’ Men. The final day of the festival, Sunday, June 21, offers Malaya Blue, Doug Veitch, Brilleaux, Cajun Roosters, Brothers Groove and Rodney Branigan & John Pointer.
“We try to improve things a little bit each year,” says Julian. “We always have a little bit of a wipe-down session afterwards to see what we can do, but I think the thing is that it is such a wonderfully-compact festival. It has got the cachet of having been called the ‘friendliest festival in the UK’, and I didn’t write that. Somebody else did! But it is a festival which also has a real international appeal. We have got people that come to see it from all over Europe and Scandinavia. There are people that come for the whole thing.
“Last year was good, despite austere times. People have had to become sensible about how they spend their money. I speak to people that run small venues throughout the year, and it has been lean times. Music aficionados instead of going out twice a week might be going out just once a week, being more choosy about what they go to see. I think it has affected quite a lot of venues.”
Also the 2012 wash-out (which forced the postponement of Blues on the Farm from its waterlogged June slot to a sunny weekend in September) prompted a fair old clear-out of festivals, with a number biting the dust. But Blues on the Farm weathered the storm: loyal audiences keep coming back and plenty of bands are keen to play.
Aside from Mud Morganfield, Julian is particularly pleased this year to have secured the services of Kaz Hawkins & Her Band O’ Men: “Somebody who has not played here before is Kaz from Northern Ireland. Her voice has been likened to Adele, but more powerful and more sweet. She has just brought out an absolutely-wonderful CD. Somebody who is an agent sent me an email and asked if I knew of her. I heard the CD, and I have seen videos. She is a real showgirl on stage, and that CD is absolutely superb.”
Julian is also pleased to welcome Brilleaux, a tribute to the late Dr Feelgood frontman: “Brilleaux is in the same genre as Dr Feelgood. They took the name as a tribute to him. They don’t just do covers. They do their own stuff as well. It is very vibrant and high velocity. They are a New Zealand band and are touring over here.”
Meanwhile Malaya Blue will be offering “nice ballady blues stuff”: “She writes her own things, and then of course, we have got the Cajun Roosters.”
Both will be on the Sunday, Julian said.