Newry gets the Blues

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Scrap whatever's in your diary next weekend (August 1-3) as Newry City will play host to a phalanx of local talent in the inaugural Newry City Blues Festival.
In a mouth-watering programme, staged in four venues over three days, blues aficionados can expect to enjoy a weekend of revelry and bonhomie, to a sonic soundscape of the cream of local talent, with acts such as The Backbone Blues band, The Nooks and Cold Porter already pencilled in to perform.
Speaking to The Democrat, Event Director, Ian Sands said: "This was first proposed to me by Marie-Therese McKenna from the Brass Monkey, who, seeing what's been done with the Blues on The Bay festival in Warrenpoint, thought that it was viable in Newry".
“The Brass Monkey, Cobbles, The Bank and Amplified have all invested themselves in this, as they see the potential for growth, have confidence in the potential and are looking to provide a platform for the local talent we have at our disposal in Newry," said Mr Sands.
“I've looked first-hand at the ambiance and festival vibe that's been created in Galway, Kinsale and in Warrenpoint and feel that, with Newry's fortuitous geographical position, and its range of hotels, bars and restaurants, we can simulate something equally as special for Newry."
Mr Sands said that he envisioned the growth of a festival that could eventually be on a similar scale to the Blues on The Bay, but that because the festival is still in its infancy, ambitions had to be tempered until it was established.
“We don't want to run before we can walk, although it is undeniable that Newry is home to a wealth of local talent that we believe will become the lifeblood of this festival. We want the focus to be on the great music and to create a festival atmosphere through that, for people to come and enjoy, soak up the event and tell people about it, because people will vote with their feet ultimately," he said.
In what could be described as a long overdue shot-in-the-arm for the local entertainment scene, Mr Sands believes that a key strength of the festival is the close proximity of the venues to each other, cutting out the need for to traverse inordinate distances.
"I've been to festivals where to go from one venue to another you have to get a taxi," he said.
"All the bars are within walking distance from each other, meaning that you can get to see a lot more music without having to travel huge distances, as this helps keep the buzz vibrant and within close quarters."
For more details and regular festival updates visit and

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