Carlisle’s Still Got the Blues

The 10th Carlisle Blues Rock Festival is set to bring some of the world’s best together.  

After the triumph that was last year’s event, the small but successful Carlisle festival is back with it’s biggest line-up to date. Taking place from 28 – 30 September the event will welcome leading blues acts from around the world to Cumbria. International names such as Ian Siegal, Thorbjorn Risager, Todd Sharpville and USA’s Wayne Baker Brooks all feature across the impressive weekend line-up.

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A firm fixture on the Carlisle music scene since 2007, despite a hiatus in 2015 and 2016, the festival relaunched with a vengeance last year. As the 10th event approaches, it looks as though it’s here to stay.  

“It’s definitely a milestone,” said Nick Westgarth, who organises the festival single-handedly. “I have worked for 10 years to put this on in Carlisle and in that time it has gained a worldwide reputation in the music field; people from the States and all over Europe know about the Carlisle Blues Festival.”

He added: “10 years is a long time and a lot of work. I have a great crew who come and help out on the weekend, but on the organisational side, it’s a one-man-band.”  

All these years on, it seems the festival is finally getting the recognition it deserves. It has been nominated in the Carlisle Living Awards Event of the Year category and Carlisle City Council have got on board for the first time, hosting a special ‘10th year session’ at the Old Fire Station on the Sunday.

“Hopefully now I can branch out into other areas,” said Nick. “Between the Crown & Mitre and the Old Fire Station, there are several potential venues, so it could expand. It would be really nice to have a bigger festival that would bring more people into Carlisle.” 

Having previously been entirely self-funded, this year the festival has also received sponsorship for the first time. Local businesses, Peter Tyson Audio & Vision and insurance experts MacBeth Scott & Co. have offered their support at this year’s event. “It does feel like it’s moving forward,” added Nick. “It would be nice if Carlisle got behind it and more people in the area recognised it.”

90 percent of festival-goers come from outside of Carlisle to enjoy a weekend of world-renowned blues. As ever, it’s the event’s reputation for strong, uncompromising line-ups featuring some of the best in its field that keeps the crowd’s coming back.  

“I’ve built a reputation on the line-up in Carlisle, it’s as good as any blues line-up in the country and I’ve kept that going,” said Nick. “The three headliners this year are pretty special.”

The opening night, at the Crown & Mitre Hotel, sees headliner the Ian Siegal Band, flying in from Amsterdam for an exclusive performance. He will be joined by up-and-coming singer-songwriter Elles Bailey, the Chris Bevington Organisation and Cumbrian festival favourites Redfish.  

On Saturday, headliners Thorbjorn Risager and The Black Tornado – voted European Blues Band of the Year in 2017 – return following their knockout appearance last year. There’s also music from Mike Vernon & The Mighty Combo, the female-fronted Northsyde and local blues stalwarts Bowie & Saunders among others. 

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Then on Sunday, the festival relocates to the Old Fire Station, where British Blues Awards legend Todd Sharpville and his band will feature the Chicago blues master Wayne Baker Brook on a rare visit to these shores, to round off the weekend. 

With tickets selling well, Carlisle Blues Rock Festival seems to be on track to see another success as it celebrates its 10th year of bringing the world’s best blues music to the city. 

Nick added: “With 14 bands over three days and 20 hours of top quality music, it doesn’t seem bad value when you put it like that.”  

For more information and tickets visit  

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