AROUND 2,000 music fans are expected to attend the Swanage Blues Festival - which boasts 70 shows by 40 bands at 18 different venues this year.

The four-day event, taking place across the Victorian seaside town from Thursday, has become a firm favourite on the Purbeck music calendar.

Organiser Steve Darrington said: "Swanage Blues attracts fans from all over the world for a weekend of dancing, drinking, eating, laughing and listening, plus the renewal of old friendships and creation of new ones.

"We bring the rhythms of life alive in this quirky little seaside town we love so much."

The weekend is set to start with an appearance by Steve on piano at The Legion, alongside friends Hugh Budden and Robert Hokum on harmonica and guitar.

Other venues include Swanage Bay View Holiday Park, Grand Hotel, Herston Caravan Site, Sea Breeze Restaurant, Tawny’s Wine Bar, the railway station and most pubs.

Bands and artists appearing include Zoe Schwartz & Blue Commotion, The Jawbreakers, Northsyde, The Blues Machine and Red Butler, and the Fabulous Fezheads.

Ray Dorset of Mungo Jerry fame also hopes to perform some old Lead Belly songs.

As in previous years, the festival will also include regular open mic sessions and the Robin Bibi electric jam sessions.

Steve wants revellers to buy at least one wristband for £10 to help cover the costs of the event.

He said: "It is an honesty thing. We hope people will voluntarily cough up a tenner to keep things going.

"If they don’t, we’ll have to bring in authorised door staff and tickets and that will push the price up to over £30, so it’s in everybody’s interests to chip in a tenner.

"Blues music has long outgrown the image of a sad solitary figure bemoaning his lot outside an old shack.

"This is all about Fun."

Look at the videos on the website at if you can’t come along yourself.

The festival takes place from March 3-6