The Great British Rhythm & Blues Festival, Colne
The stewardship of the Great British Rhythm & Blues Festival, recognised as one of the biggest and most celebrated Festivals of its kind in the world, has now passed to Colne Town Council, following 27 years of sterling service from Pendle Borough Council and Pendle Leisure Trust. The new executive is headed up by Jason Elliott and Paddy Maguire, the people who set up Hebden Bridge Blues Festival – winners of the British Blues Awards ‘Festival of the Year’ three times running – together with Colne Town Council CEO Colin Hill. The team have a proud track record of innovation, working very closely with the artists and the community to develop new ideas and best practice; something which they intend to bring to Colne.
The most notable difference comes with change of emphasis; away from ‘heritage acts’ to that of booking new, contemporary performers who focus on performing new and original material, with the stated aim of making this event the most up-to-date and relevant of its type in Europe.
As Jason Elliott himself explains “While this is technically a Blues festival, we will offer variety and range to the programme in general. At times, the programme will encompass the wider definition of blues, soul and other related genres, albeit firmly centered in the ‘roots’ music tradition. The reality is that Blues music is the historical foundation for almost all western popular music and nearly all genres are ‘children’ or ‘grandchildren’ of the blues, a fact which needs to be kept front and centre of the story. After all, part of our remit is to keep the genre alive by bringing in new blood; both as audiences an as performers’.
Jason also explained ‘Apart from the world renowned acts we are bringing in this year, ‘The Jessica Foxley Unsigned Project’ – focusing as it does on nurturing young and emerging Blues-based talent – in many ways symbolises much of our new direction. Our mission of bringing new life, new acts and audiences into this key genre, must span all levels of experience, technical ability and all age groups to be truly successful. This is where Colne can create its legacy’.
CEO of Colne Town Council, Colin Hill, added ‘Unlike most large venue-based events that are hosted by cities, holding the Great British Rhythm & Blues Festival in a northern mill town gives it its own unique character. Colne Town Council and the festival management recognise and are grateful for the sterling work that Pendle Borough Council and Pendle Leisure Trust have put in over the last 27 years to make this festival the biggest and longest running of its kind in Britain. The fact that CTC is tiny by comparison to Pendle presents as many opportunities as it does challenges, allowing the event to connect more closely with the people of the town.’
The new team are also very aware that this is very much a ‘transition year’, which will hopefully open doors to higher levels of sponsorship, enabling even bigger attractions and ambitions going forward.
The 28th edition of the Festival will run from Friday at a number of venues including the Hippodrome, The Municipal Theatre and various ‘roadhouse’ venues around the town.
Further announcements, including the line up itself, and ticketing arrangements, are expected within a matter of weeks.