Festival not quite a free for all, but well on the way

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Lancaster Music Festival this weekend showcases both the local music scene as well as national and international acts.

A bluegrass trio from Austin, Texas and a jazz threesome from Israel will be racking up the highest number of gigs at the festival.

The Ragged Union Trio (Texas) and Shalosh (Israel) will play eight shows each at various venues across the city.

They beat Canadian singer Andria Simone to the number one slot on the gigometer, who plays seven shows.

Vienna’s Marina Zettl, Lucerne’s Heidi Happy, and New Jersey’s Sensory Hoverload play a very commendable six gigs, while London’s Virginia Thorn, San Diego’s Lacy Younger and Vienna’s Ozlem Bulut Band are clearly slacking at five.

As the city takes a deep breath before being plunged into musical mayhem, packed pubs and singing streets tonight, Thursday, musicians from all over the world will be fine tuning their strings, cleaning out their mouthpieces, sharpening up their drumsticks and gargling their chosen poison in preparation for what has got to be the north of England’s most eclectic and varied musical offering.

For updates and listings over the weekend, there will be an information booth in Market Square, which also hosts a Busking Booth for those acts who were too late to get on the festival programme.

Pretty much every venue that can plug in an amp and house a drumkit is getting involved, and if last year’s estimate of 15,000 visitors is anything to go by, the city is in for a serious trade boon.

This year the event goes even further towards being an exclusively free festival for all, with 42 venues charging no admission and the historic first public concerts held in the Castle’s 1000-year history costing only £1.

At least one venue (Robert Gillow) will not close at all during the long weekend; there will be the first-ever bands in a bank (still open for business during usual business hours – but with live music too); a London be bop jazz residency (at the Borough); eight new venues; street theatre with beer-fuelled, bicycle-powered rock and roll, live music in Lancaster’s bottle shop, classical music in pubs and cafes, no less than nine international acts, and the involvement of local night club Revolution to provide live music.

The Castle’s addition to the venue line-up has greatly increased interest, with headline performances from The Lumberjack Cowboy Heartbreak Trucking Co (7.45pm, Friday), The Feud (7.45pm, Saturday), and Lacy Younger (6pm, Sunday).

For further information go to www.lancastermusicfestival.com.