Below is an article produced by one of our students and budding writer, Paris. Photos taken by another DSFC student, Maisie.
The Dereham Blues Festival was first established in 2013 in the heart of Norfolk and it’s still going strong on its sixth year of running. It is organised by the Norfolk Blues Society founding members Doreen and Stewart Aitken and has now become a well-known festival within the area and across other locations too. The opening act to the Dereham Blues Festival 2018 was jazz and blues act Georgie Fame located at Dereham Memorial Hall.
The festival lasts over a period of four days with around 13 venues for the public to visit, with more than 40 acts at local pubs including a hog roast. Thousands of people attended the event with one member of the public commenting, “We are having such a good time, I think it is great for the community!” This year the Blues Festival was packed with people, from all over the UK, from Dereham to Newcastle and the East Midlands. It was also noticeable this year that a range of different age groups attended the event and people even took the afternoon off work to come.
The main event was held at The Old conservative club and this year visitors to the area stayed in hotels or camped at The King’s Head public house and hotel or at Toftwood Scouts for the duration of the Blues Festival.
Automatic Annie and their electric blues machine played at the Railway Station who had travelled all the way from the East Midlands commented, “This is my first year at the festival, it is amazing to be able to come here the first year we applied! It is a marvellous event and we are really pleased to be here and to be providing music for the public today.” She continued, “It’s great that people from Dereham are coming out to listen to live music and we would love to come back next year.”
A member from the audience who watched Automatic Annie’s live set said, “I think the festival is a wonderful thing to be apart from its really good.” Also a couple was there who travelled all the way up from Newcastle, when talking to them they commented, “We’ve travelled all the way from Newcastle to see Automatic Annie, and we love the festival!”
Along with people travelling from areas as far as Newcastle, a couple from Cromer attended the event. They commented, “The festival is good for the town and brings lots of people in, we love it!”
Another band who are new to the blues festival this year is Joe Goes Green, when speaking to a member of the band, he commented, “I live in Dereham and I’ve been listening to the festival for years now. Last year was the first time I came down and watched a few bands and I was gobsmacked at how many people attend the event. So I decided we needed to play this year!”
The atmosphere was so busy when walking through the streets of Dereham and everyone was jovial and enjoying themselves. A member of the public travelling to the next venue to listen to some more live music commented, “The festival brings people in from outside the town and I’ve now attended the festival for 5 years now.”
Despite all the acts performing to a very high standard and everyone loving the entertainment, there was one man who really stood out of the crowd. Albert Copper, he said, “I’ve been performing since 1954 when the band was formed, 1972 is when we started playing as a band and this is my first year at the festival.” He continued, “The atmosphere is great, you have to work with the audience and they will respond because everyone wants to enjoy themselves.”
Albert Cooper’s Blues and Boogie Band played at The George. Albert is originally from Norwich and is very well known within the area for his outstanding music and entertainment, still performing at 85 years of age. He feels that his current band are the best in the business and he has no intention of giving up the group or the blues.
The Festival was extremely successful once again this year and had a great turnout from the locals, the bands and those who travelled to it from other areas.
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