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Gloucestershire Business News

Town is tickled pink by the blues

The sounds of the annual Wotton Blues Festival will fill the air across Wotton-under-Edge tonight as the event celebrates its eighth year in what is evolving into a major event on the UK blues calendar.

Six venues in the town will offer a broad variety of blues-related music with live bands, as well as solo artists and buskers. The event even offers workshops where you can refine your own riffs.

At 6.30pm the festival opens with a blues jam at Under the Edge Arts in The Chipping, with the event moving up a gear at 9pm when the Groove Jacks take to the outside stage at the nearby Star Inn, in Market Street.

Lita Ralston, landlady said: "It's a great event that has gathered momentum and now brings a big economic benefit for the town. Blues attracts a broad audience from a wide area and that means bookings for the Swan Hotel in the town as well as busy times for the surrounding AirBnBs. On top of that, we also see more footfall in the High Street, with visitors drawn to the cafés and gift shops.

"We lay on extra bar staff and that costs more, of course, but the takings cover that and if bands performing cost more than £200, the cost is met by the Blues Festival committee, so we have that support."

As well as acts at the Swan Hotel, The Royal Oak, on Haw Street, and the Falcon Steakhouse also take part in the three-day schedule and all gigs and workshops are held by the not-for-profit event on the basis of being admission-free - a feature of the event which helps draw even more visitors.

Angus Wilkinson, who runs the Wine Shack at Number 7 in Long Street told "When I was president of the chamber of trade a decade ago we visited the Upton Blues Festival and were so impressed that we came back to Wotton thinking it had to be an inspiration for our own event. We got together with Martin Clarke, at Under the Edge Arts, and the project then began to get under way. It's taken on its own momentum since then and it's an imaginative calendar point for our town which speaks reams about what we have to offer here."

The schedule includes an appearance from the Keith Thompson Band, at Wotton Town Hall, on Saturday evening.

A festival spokesman said: "We are very excited to secure this peformance. Over the years, Keith has shared the stage with, The Groundhogs, Ten Years After, Paul Lamb and the Kingsnakes, Jeremy Spencer (of Fleetwood Mac), Mike D'Abo, Steve Winwood, Ruby Turner, Larry Burton, Dave Markee and Henry Spinetti (Eric Clapton Band and Tina Turner), Greg Ridley of Humble Pie, Robbie Blunt (Robert Plant), Luther Grosvenor of Mott The Hoople, Gino Washington, and countless others."

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