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Zurich gets the blues

Zurich is the unlikely host of an international Blues and Soul festival this weekend, with some of the world's most respected contemporary artists taking part.

This content was published on September 29, 2000 - 15:06

Twelve venues across the city will be involved as New Orleans comes to Switzerland. Appearing will be acts from the United States, Britain, Germany, and France, and home-grown talent too.

The event is the idea of promoter, Albi Matter.

"I'm a Blues fan and I've been in the business for 32 years," said Matter. "I always thought that a Blues festival would work well alongside the Country and Dixie festivals already held earlier in the year."

One of the highlights of the festival is the appearance of mouth harp maestro, James Cotton.

Cotton was born in Tunica, Mississippi in 1935. As a child, he toured the Delta with Blues figures such as Sonny Boy Williamson, learning the drums, the mouth harp and the ways of a Blues vocalist.

"He's one of the most successful mouth harp players in the world," says Matter. "He's played with BB King and other big stars. He started his success about 20 years ago and we're lucky to have him."

Other headline acts include Britain's The Blues Band and Cotton's compatriot, Popa Chubby.

Switzerland's presence will be led by the vocalist, Yvonne Moore.

"I expect a lot from her because she's Switzerland's number one Blues singer," says Matter. "She's booked to play two nights in the Monsoon restaurant and I hope she will play a lot from her new album."

Matter says the Blues is too often neglected by radio stations and promoters, keen to tap into mainstream tastes. He hopes the festival will gain a little more attention for the genre.

He wants to bring the music to as many people as possible and with this in mind organised gigs on Sunday morning.

"Sunday brunches are always a great success because they attract lots of families with children who can relax, eat an American breakfast and listen to great music."

Matter admits that Blues and Soul are minority musical tastes but he has attracted the support of the city authorities and commercial sponsors, and aims to make the event a regular spot on Zurich's cultural calendar.

by Michael Hollingdale


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