In the latest issue of BRITISH AIRWAYS flight magazine Sun-Air Magazine, there is a nice article of what a lot of people claim to be the best blues & soul festival in the world. Thanks to journalist Hans Sejlund for making this happen. (In case it's hard to read the text on a mobile device, the text is here below)
Home of the Blues, which Johnny Cash sang on TV right back in 1958, is of course in Memphis, Tennessee. However, blues music is also alive and well in Europe, primarily in the Benelux countries, Switzerland and Norway, and in Denmark, you will find the largest indoor blues festival outside the USA.
Every year at the beginning of November, 15 blues, soul and gospel bands from primarily the USA and blues enthusiasts from around the world set course to Frederikshavn in the northernmost part of Denmark to participate in the Blues Heaven festival. This year is the 14th time, and now the festival is expanding with a huge gospel concert on Sunday 2 November in Frederikshavn’s church, and audiences from 17 countries have already booked.
The reason that Blues Heaven has become such a big event is all down to one man, Denmark’s Mr. Blues, booking agent Peter Astrup from Blues Productions, as well as a large team of dedicated volunteers who help with the practical side of things.
Peter Astrup fel in love with blues music from the moment he got his first harmonica. As a 27-year-old in 1988, he arranged his first Djurs Bluesland festival in Denmark’s largest circus tent, and there have been many Danish blues festivals since then.
TWO FESTIVALS THE SAME WEEKEND It is expensive to get bands and soloists from the USA, and therefore, Peter Astrup has supplemented his festival every year with other events for the same musicians. For many years, he has arranged events around Europe, but in 2018, Peter Astrup organised a new arena festival in Denmark on the same weekend, Blues Paradise in Næstved, which last year attracted audiences from 11 countries.
Peter Astrup is an acclaimed blues expert and has, over the past 10 years, been a judge at many international championships, European Blues Union events and the big annual International Blues Challenge run by the Blues Foundation in Memphis, Tennessee, and in 2018, his own Blues Heaven was named “International Festival of the Year”.
At this year’s Blues Heaven from 1-3 November, you can experience Kenny Wayne Shepherd, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Shemekia Copeland, Joe Louis Walker, and the 14-year-old English guitar Internet sensation Toby Lee.