Full-flavoured festival for 2013

US STAR: Larry McCray will headline on the Friday night of this year's Big Wheel Blues Festival

US STAR: Larry McCray will headline on the Friday night of this year's Big Wheel Blues Festival

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THE Big Wheel Blues Festival will return with yet another astounding line-up brimming with soul, swing and good old fashioned blues this spring.

Normally held in Laxey, the weekend festival was forced to relocate to the Villa when the Laxey Pavilion closed for refurbishment in 2011.

SATURDAY STARS: King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys. Photo by Merlin Daleman

SATURDAY STARS: King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys. Photo by Merlin Daleman

It returned to its roots last year as the pavilion re-opened but in 2013 it is heading back to the Villa in Douglas.

Organisers have been fairly discreet about the reason for the move but have said it has had to find an alternative venue again due to ‘uncertainty over the pavilion’.

This year’s festival takes place between Friday, May 10 and Sunday, May 12, with evening concerts, featuring three of the best blues-based acts from across the world, in the Villa’s Promenade Suite, on the Friday and Saturday.

‘Headlining the Friday night is major US artist Larry McCray who is on tour from the States with his full American band,’ explained organiser Pete Christian.

‘They will be supported by up and coming roots artist Tom Attah, and top harmonica player Giles Robson and the Dirty Aces.

‘And the Saturday night will start with one of the acoustic legends of British roots music Wizz Jones, continue with the soul blues crossover of the Dani Wilde Band and end with the superb swing and R&B of King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys.’

He said: ‘The big draw this year is the mix of top quality styles and sounds, as we try to showcase the widest aspects of the blues. And particularly Larry McCray who doesn’t often become available.’

There will also be the usual afternoons of homegrown blues and roots musicians on the Saturday and Sunday.

Weather permitting the acoustic stage will be in the Villa Marina Gardens and the electric stage in the Promenade Suite.

There will also be a variety of family fun activities run by The Children’s Centre in the gardens.

Pete added: ‘Such variety and quality of talent could not have been lined up for the festival without our sponsors. We are pleased to have continued and generous support from Tyrer Webster Ltd, Peter Norris Music Ltd, Bushy’s, The Isle of Man Arts Council, Manx Radio, and Events Services Ltd. And we are delighted to welcome our new headline sponsor Domicilium Ltd.’

As always the festival is a fundraising event for island charities run entirely by volunteers. All money raised in 2013 will be going to the Isle of Man Children’s Centre.

Tickets for the evening concerts cost £20. They will go on sale on Friday, February 1 at the Villa Marina reception, the Welcome Centre, from the box office on 600555 or online at www.villagaiety.com

Full festival details are available online at www.bigwheelblues.com

2013 Line-up:


Based in the UK, Tom Attah is a strong and soulful performer of new and original acoustic blues material.

Combining the raw power of Son House with the dense hypnotic rhythms of Howlin’ Wolf and the barrel-chested roar of the old blues shouters, Tom’s live shows take audiences on an intense journey from the Delta to the Download.  Traditional and transitional, Tom is the modern, living bluesman. Taking the music from the past and carrying it into the future, he has stories to tell and songs to play.


Some of the world’s greatest harmonica players and prominent magazines have lined up to sing Giles Robson’s praises.

BBC Radio 2’s Paul Jones, harmonica player and lead singer of legendary group Manfred Mann, twice praised Robson’s ‘superb harmonica’ on his radio show.

The Chicago blues tour called him a ‘harp phenom’ when he competed in a harp showdown in the Windy City. Time Out London magazine also frequently mentions his ‘scalding harmonica work’.

He plays with Filip Kozlowski who’s virtuoso guitar has been likened to ‘The Hoax at their brilliant best’ by Blues Matters, the magazine which loves his ‘choppy, insistent guitar riffs’.

In the duo’s original material, many influences weave through their original and powerful material. Echoes of Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Sonny Boy Williamson, Django Reinhardt, Elvis Presley and Howlin Wolf can be heard.

These memorable songs are infused with a tough humour, earthy sentiments and wicked grins. Kozlowski brings to the table an advanced and creative music knowledge that melds with Robson’s melodic ideas and fresh, original lyrics.


US performer Larry McCray is one of a handful of talented young blues performers leading the genre across boundaries.

His blues-rock guitar and warm, soulful vocals have drawn attention worldwide.

All the hard work paid off when he became the first artist signed by Virgin Records’ blues division – Pointblank Records.

In 1990, they released his debut Ambition which was well received by the US and European critiques.

Eight years later, Born To Play The Blues moved the story of McCray’s broadly appealing music forward another giant step. Bold, brawny, often dazzling guitar lines are matched with confident, soul-drenched vocals.

McCray also sights a career highlight as being honoured as the Orville Gibson 2000 Male Blues Guitarist of the Year.

His appearance at Carlisle Blues & Rock Festival in November led to a review in Blues in Britain stating: ‘Larry McCray and his band headlined the day with a brilliant top-of-the-bill performance. Larry’s silky vocals and superlative guitar playing were supplemented by a superb rhythm section to provide a marvellous conclusion…’


There are few artists with more claim to being a musician’s musician than Wizz Jones.

Inspired by Big Bill Broonzy, Rambling Jack Elliot and Muddy Waters after seeing them live at Alexis Korner’s club in London, Wizz learned his guitar licks from the likes of Davy Graham and Long John Baldry while playing in the coffee bars of London’s Soho during the late 1950s.

He followed the time-honoured buskers’ trail from the streets of Paris to the markets of Marrakech during the early 60s and returned to Britain with a unique acoustic guitar style, an eclectic repertoire and ‘a right hand worthy of Broonzy’.

John Renbourn, Clapton and Keith Richards have all named him as an important early influence and even Bruce Springsteen sang Wizz’s song When I Leave Berlin at his Berlin concert in May 2012.

After more than 50 years on the road Wizz continues to tour on the acoustic folk and blues circuit.

Over the past two years Dani Wilde has performed more than 300 concerts across the UK, Europe, America and Canada.

She has produced three solo studio albums on Ruf Records, gained number one positions in the i-Tunes official blues charts in Portugal and Italy and opened for Jools Holland at The Royal Albert Hall.

The singer has been the featured artist on the Radio 2 Paul Jones show several times, shared the stage with Pee Wee Ellis at Womad festival and opened for Robben Ford in California and Johnny Winter in Times Square NYC.

She has also worked with top producers such as blues royalty Mike Vernon and the Grammy award-winning Isaac Nossel, and most recently had her cross-over single R U Sweet on Me played on MTV.

Influenced by a range of musical genres from soul to pop, blues and country, Dani’s new material is all about great songs and great musicianship.

‘She releases a sort of diesel roar from her throat, pierced with little darts of high falsetto. It is like two voices....The place goes mad, as if it can’t quite believe what it’s heard,’ explained Alan Franks of The Times Magazine.

And Guitar and Bass Magazine reported: ‘A sultry vocal that could breathe soul into inanimate objects, make Wilde one gifted lady. Love it.’


After 60 TV appearances, three barnstorming decades on the road and 11 red hot CDs, King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys are widely-established as the world’s greatest swing band. They are an institution.

Blues & Rhythm described them as ‘A formidable combo that can blow any band off the stage’ while New York’s Atomic magazine reported: ‘To those that say swing is a musical form best left to Americans, prepare to be proven wrong. This British combo is bullet-proof!’

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