10 Reasons Why You Should Check Out The Belfast City Blues Festival

With 50 gigs across 22 venues in Belfast the annual Belfast City Blues Festival is set to give gig lovers a jam-packed weekend of music.

Every year over 15,000 people attend the festival which runs from June 23-25 and hosts a wide range of local and international artists.

And this year is no different. Once again sponsored by American Holidays the festival is welcoming some amazing home grown talent to the stages across the city. Here are 10 events you might want to check out this year:


1. A Taste of Rory

The annual tribute to the man who made Belfast his second ‘live’ home, Rory Gallagher, sees the Co. Fermanagh guitar legend Pat McManus appear with his band at the Black Box on Saturday 24th June. Pat’s talent is something to behold – and if you’re really lucky he may give you a few blasts on the fiddle too. Also appearing are the Willie Byrne Band and Blackwood.

Tickets are priced £12 (incl. Booking Fee) are available from www.blackboxbelfast.com.

2. Light – Remembering The Pound Club

In the 1970s Light kept the music alive when Jim Armstrong laid down blistering licks with singer and bassist Albert Mills. In a tribute to Jim’s talent a rejuvenated Light will play the Black Box on the closing night of the festival, June 25th. Renowned local guitarist Ian ‘Speedo’ Wilson will take on Armstrong’s role.

Tickets, priced £10 (incl. Booking Fee) are available from www.blackboxbelfast.com.

3. The Belfast Barge – Friday and Saturday

As part of A Weekend of Legends feature there are two nights at the Belfast Barge at Lanyon Quay. Friday sees The Kenny McDowell Project take the stage, while on Saturday it’s the Ronnie Greer Band, featuring Ken Haddock. The evenings are both ‘bring your own’ and reasonably priced.

Tickets are priced £10 for the Friday and £12 for the Saturday and are available from www.skiddle.com

4. The Steve Payne Trio (SP3)

He’s one of the most talented roots/blues singer songwriters, and Steve Payne’s resume includes sharing stages with Bob Dylan, BB King, Dr John and Loudon Wainwright III. With Paul Hobday sharing guitar duties Northern Ireland’s own Billy Boy Miskimmin on harmonica this is a gem of a show. Just to see Billy Boy is well worth the effort. SP3 play Kelly’s Cellars on Friday afternoon and The Spaniard on Sunday.

Admission for both is free.

5. The Backbone Blues Band

They are one of those unusual entities in terms of UK acts – The Backbone Blues Band are better known in the US of A than in the UK! They play the Northern Whig on Friday, June 23rd.

Admission is free

6. Red Hot Roosters

Playing good old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll that harkens back to the era of Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Eddie Cochran the Red Hot Roosters will get you set to jive. They play Kelly’s Cellars on Saturday, June 24th from 3pm.

Admission is free

7. Blues on the Boat

There are three blues cruises across the Belfast City Blues Festival that will see you take to the high seas – well around Belfast Lough – for food, drink and, of course, music! The Friday cruise gives you a chance to see the Red Hot Roosters before their Saturday show. Saturday afternoon Rab McCullough & the Rev Doc, while Saturday evening its Lee Hedley & Co.

Tickets are priced £35 and include food provided by Grapevine and complimentary drinks. Visit www.titanicboattours.com

8. The Unholy Gospel Band

It’s one of Belfast’s best kept Sunday secrets in the wonderful Aether & Echo just off Royal Avenue on Lower Garfield Street. Cormac Neeson from The Answer fronts a five-piece that play classic songs that will get you singing along. There’s a good food menu and plenty of craic.

Admission is free.

9. Billy Bob Miskimmin workshop

He’s regarded as Europe’s number one exponent of the harmonica – or as it should be known, the Blues Harp. Billy Boy will be giving a masterclass in a Festival Music Workshop in Dawson’s Music on Royal Avenue on Sunday, June 25th. He has played with The Yardbirds, contributed sessions to Stiff Little Fingers and Marc Almond. Fans include such music luminaries as Alice Cooper, Jimmy Page and Scotty Moore.

Admission is free.

10. St George’s Market

The award winning market hosts three events over the weekend, so you can do a little shopping and dining at the eclectic offering before checking out Ludwig and Co on Friday, David Taylor’s Soul Surfers on Saturday and The Iconettes on Sunday.

Admission is free.

Remember that this is only our choice – go to www.belfastcityblues.com to see the immense range of music on offer.  You can also download the 2017 programme from www.belfastcityblues.com

Love Belfast
Belfast guide to restaurants, bars, nightclubs, concerts, events, hotels, entertainment, special offers, news, gossip, travel, festivals and culture. https://lovebelfast.co.uk

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