Big Boy blues and beer in Preston

Big Boy Bloater & The Limits will be appearing in Preston on October 7
Big Boy Bloater & The Limits will be appearing in Preston on October 7

With a name like Big Boy Bloater, you would expect this blues musician to hail from America's Deep South. But leafy Farnborough in Hampshire is as far removed from the swamps of Louisiana as you can get.

Bloater or Bloat, as he likes to be known, is a guitarist, singer, songwriter, radio presenter and entertainer of the highest order. His take on roots and rhythm and blues has impressed many people within the genre, from the original greats of blues and roots to modern aficionados.

But how did he acquire such a strange nickname?

"It was a school nickname - at the least the Bloater bit. Then just as I was getting into music I added the Big Boy bit to give myself a more bluesy name, as many blues artists have names like Big Boy.

"And I've been stuck with it ever since. Even my wife calls me Bloater!"

Having been in the music business for about 30 years he has gained quite a collection of big name fans. Jools Holland describes him as one of the greatest blues men of our time. And Craig Charles, who has had Bloater as a guest on his BBC Radio 6 Music show, The Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show, said: "I love this guy... he has a voice that sounds like it's been soaked in turpentine for the last decade!"

When asked how he feels about having these big name fans, he simply says he is "lucky".

"I don't know how it happened. I guess I have just written some good songs and they happen to like them! It's great though and such an accolade for someone you look up to to enjoy your music. It really spurs you on."

His introduction to music came from his parents who always had records or the radio on. He had always wanted to play guitar since the age of eight or nine, and as he wasn't very academic, it was a good option for him. His influences from this early age were artists like Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters. Nowadays it is anything from rock to ska, to country and R&B.

"But blues is my first love," he said. "And it is a good bedrock to start on.

"Bands like the Rolling Stones and Fleetwood Mac all started as blues outfits, but they moved on. And so have I - making my own sound and style."

After signing to the Mascot Label Group record label in 2015, Big Bloater has seen the release of the album Luxury Hobo in February 2016 to great acclaim. A second album, due for release in 2018, is already written and ready to go to the studio.

"We've been playing some of the new stuff as an experiment at our gigs and so far the response has been great," he added.

So what brings Bloater to Preston?

"The gig was originally booked as a straight gig, but then the pub approached us and asked if we would headline their beer festival. Of course, I love beer and a good beer festival, so I quickly agreed! And a beer festival is a great way to expose yourself to an untapped audience."

Bloater will be bringing along his three-piece band on the night - Matt Cowley on drums, Steven Oates on bass and himself on guitar. "There's only three of us but we make a big sound!"

And on the night we can expect the unexpected. As Bloater explains: "I have a few tricks and surprises up my sleeve. So come on down, have a beer and a boogie."

Big Boy Bloater & The Limits are headlining The Continental's Beer Festival on Saturday, October 7. They will be onstage around 9pm. Tickets for the night are just £4 and available at the bar or by calling 01772 499425.