Join our Mailing List

Want to Play?




There are currently no openings for paid shows (see NOTES below) but some of our regular paid Artists first came to our notice by taking part in the following activities, although nothing is guaranteed.



On Saturday afternoon (1pm – 7pm at The Royal British Legion – 150 High Street) musicians can take part in Stan’s Blues Jam. All backline provided. Please arrive early to be sure of a slot – see Stan or Helen to get your name on The List.

There are also a limited number of ½ hour long Showcase Slots for Bands during this event. These Showcase Slots for Bands are exactly that: an opportunity for your band to appear before a discerning audience and there is no guarantee of being booked back at the festival for a fee. If you are interested in a Showcase Slot for Bands please contact Stan by email:- 

For more info see


Jam Sessions will  be hosted by the Robin Bibi Band at Swanage Bay View Holiday Park on Saturday afternoon and The Legion on Sunday afternoon. Check in with Robin at the Jam Sessions, drummers bring own sticks. Several of our regular performers first came to our attention by playing at the Jam Sessions.


The Open Mic Sessions are held at the Red Lion on Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Slots are not booked in advance, so turn up early! Preferably Friday but 1.30pm on Saturday's OK, and book in with the host. Several of our regular performers first came to our attention by playing at the Open Mic Sessions.



Swanage Railway has in the past allowed Busking from around 11am on the Swanage station platform only. Buskers sort things out with each other at Swanage Railway Station in the mornings, and make sure  Swanage Railway Station gives you permission at the time. At the October 2016 festival, some buskers were invited to play at The Diner, under the Mowlem facing the sea.

With regards to anywhere else, please see the councils' advice at If unavailable, go to Dorset For You and enter Busking in the Search Engine.



Why do we not encourage applications from Acts to play at Swanage Blues Festivals?

Swanage Blues Festival started in 2001 as a birthday party and in 2007 developed into a ‘Pub Trail’ held twice a year in March and October to attract people into town when it would otherwise be very quiet. Admission is free and some festival-goers voluntarily purchase a support wristband to help with costs towards the not-for-profit organisation. The ‘Venues’ are small pubs and restaurants, a hotel bar, a British Legion club, two rooms in holiday parks and on this occasion a golf club too.

Festival-goers expect a ‘Show’. It helps if you have a big and impressive social media presence, regular videos on Facebook etc as well as publicity in the music magazines. All Acts are required to be highly entertaining and perform for at least two hours per performance (2 x 60 minutes or one continuous slot). Each Act is required to have Public Liability Insurance and supply their own backline, drum kit, PA and lights (unless specifically agreed otherwise - which is rare); equipment must be PAT tested. Then it comes down to the acts' availability, how many slots they require to make it work for them, and if the festival can afford them. Finally I submit my recommendations with alternatives if required to the venues for their approval - if they want a new act, that is.

You see, many venues specifically request the same acts back again because they work well together, their customers want them, the musicians have become ‘part of the family’ and they know it’s going to be a financial success. Why risk all that by getting rid of their regular bands to take a chance on someone new? Sometimes a substitute band is required because the regular band didn’t reach the venue’s expectations last time, a musician is taken ill, the band splits up, takes a sabbatical, is touring abroad or something like that. Even then, each venue has specific needs and knows exactly the type of act they want, and if the venue hasn’t a specific substitute in mind, there are dozens of bands on file from which to choose – most of the acts on the ‘reserve’ list have played here previously or done particularly well at Stan's Blues Jamboree or at open mic or jam sessions.

We don’t open up applications to play to the public any more because when we did, it was a time consuming, expensive and wasteful exercise resulting in receipt of promo packs from acts that were either not of the standard required or from people who did not understand how small the festival is or that if chosen they would be playing in a small pub at small pub rates.

With regard to the open mic slots, jam sessions and showcases, there is no guarantee that anybody will make the transition to a paid gig, it says that above. It’s the exception rather than the rule, but it is a way to improve your chances, that’s all. One particular musician comes to mind. He tried for years to get a gig of any sorts at Swanage Blues; did the Open Mics and Jams for ages, and then eventually got a showcase slot. After that so many fans and musicians demanded his return, his band was booked at a venue and he has become a regular. He had to work very hard indeed for a long time to get his place here.

Of course some musicians will be disgruntled, some punters won’t return, that’s life, you can’t please everybody. However, according to our marketing statistics, 70% of online purchasers of wristbands have bought previously, so they must be happy to come back; and the other 30% are new to Swanage Blues Festivals, which indicates future sustainability, I guess.

By the way, I do understand your frustrations. I was the guy in the band who got the gigs for 35 years and it’s not easy. But I was given some advice that has stood me in good stead over the years: “As in all Sales, if your Prospect doesn’t want to become a Customer, accept it and move on to someone somewhere else who does want what you have to offer.”

website by apexweb