Thornhill Music Festival 2017

Thornhill Music Festival 2017

Thornhill Music Festival 2017

Thornhill Music Festival will return to the Dumfriesshire village for the 5th time, taking place over the weekend of 28th – 30th of April 2017.

Small Town Sounds has been a big supporter of the Thornhill Music Festival for a while now, and we have loved seeing it grow from strength to strength each year. The music is always of an exceptional quality and the people are always incredibly friendly!

We had a chat with John Holroyd, one of Thornhill Music Festival’s organisers and he gave us all the need-to-know information about this year’s festival…


Friday night sees local lass Lauren Dalgleish kick off the festival at the Buccleuch and Queensberry Arms, no doubt in front of a large audience. Lauren’s a versatile performer and is one of the latest in a long line of musical talent to emerge from Wallace Hall Academy in the village. Earl Okin, legendary musician and comedian, meanwhile will be entertaining a totally different crowd at Thomas Tosh. Earl has been around since the year dot, and during the sixties had songs produced for Cilla Black, Georgie Fame and Helen Shapiro. In the seventies he supported acts like Ralph McTell and Paul McCartney and Wings. His act this year will be a mixture of both comedy and song. The Mary Barclay Band- always a welcome addition to the line up – will be performing in the Farmer’s Arms, and the rocking will go on well into the night there. To round off the line up for the evening are the Lewis Hamilton Band. Lewis and the boys have been regular guests in Thornhill for six years now and almost feel like locals. Lewis can play his guitar like the very best, and the band are veterans of well over 500 gigs now.


Saturday kicks off with the ever popular Against The Grain in the Farmers Arms. As the name implies, they are a Rory Gallagher tribute band, but they are so much more than that, and Doug Carroll’s mesmerising guitar work always means a packed house for this very popular band (Doug is also on stage as part of the Mary Barclay Band the night before). They are followed by Redfish, an up and coming band with musicians from Edinburgh and Cumbria who play a fusion of blues, soul jazz and roots, and recently supported the legendary blues man Toronzo Cannon in Edinburgh as part of his world tour. Bad Reputation are local boys and ever presents at the festival, and their hard uncompromising rock always draws a good crowd from well beyond Thornhill whenever they play. Finishing off the evening at the Farmers are one of Ayrshire’s finest bands, Slutcake. They made their first appearance last year, but have appeared regularly in the village, and they too pull big crowds from well outside the area.

The Thornhill Inn’s two bands are the ever popular Tom Killner in the afternoon, and favourites from last year making a very welcome return are the Gerry Jablonski Band. Tom Killner, despite playing live for the last five years, is still only a relatively young performer at the grand old age of 21 but he’s already well known and liked on the UK blues scene and has a live act that really does rock. Gerry Jablonski played a great set up at the Buccleuch last year and more of the same from him will certainly not go amiss as they interact with their audience.

The Buccleuch and Queensberry Arms this year is hosting music for folk to be able to sit down and relax to as they listen to the artists. First up on Saturday afternoon is Al Hughes who appeared in Thomas Tosh two years back, with his own blend of blues and ballad.  He has a haunting voice, described by one critic as it “having been aged in oak casks, capable of conveying a huge amount of moods from gentle and wistful to raucous and raging.” In the evening, The Razorbills will be performing their set, a set that critics find hard to define, but this Gatehouse of Fleet band have played numerous festivals with their blend of “alternative folk/indie acoustic” according to their website, and have a growing following.

For the first time Thornhill Music Festival is capitalising on the success of previous Ska bands that have appeared there and are holding SKA Saturday at the Community Centre, instead of having a headline act in the Bowling Club as has been the case in the past. Appearing there are three bands, Urang Mutang, Leanne and the Radix and the SKABABS. Holding it all together throughout the night are the wonderful Easy Skankin Crew from Dumfries with their sounds. Urang Mutang are welcomed back for the first time since they graced our very first festival. A very popular band with their own unique style they will have the floor bouncing. Leanne and the Radix are a festival touring reggae group renowned for big rockers anthems and smooth lovers rock. A completely authentic bass heavy floor filling and field driving dance set gracing the main stages of most of this summer’s main events. For those who saw them last year The SKABABS really need no introduction at all – they simply blew everyone away with their high tempo brand of Ska. An eight piece band from the Borders they make a very welcome return indeed. Admission to SKA Saturday will be £7. Tickets are limited to just 125 because of fire regulations, and they can be bought from either the Farmer’s Arms, Thornhill Music Festival website, or John Holroyd locally on 01848 330547. 


Sunday sees Pirana Blues at the Thornhill Inn. They do contemporary and classic blues, with a smattering of jazz, a feel for the funky, a country twang and a sometime light hearted twist. Whatever genre of music you like there should be something there for you. Used Blues play in the evening, from Glasgow, they’re very active on the festival scene for 2017 and as well as the Thornhill Music Festival they play Callander, Colne and Stafford later on. Vintage right through to contemporary blues they make a welcome debut at Thornhill.

At the Buccleuch, John Alexander starts off in the afternoon slot, and if dustbowl blues is your thing this is the gig to be at. According to the Sunday Herald “Think Robert Johnson via Mark Knopfler”. Lee Bates and Billy Newton perform in the evening and you can expect Delta, Chicago, Jug Bowl Blues and some great slide guitar courtesy of Lee – some of the best around according to respected critics.

The Farmers Arms host four bands again, Anonymous, The Dogz, Boneshakers and the annual Lewis Hamilton jam session. The Dogz are a relatively new arrival on the local music scene, albeit those involved have been around for a long while in Dumfries. Rockabilly and punkabilly tunes means the place will be bouncing. Anonymous’ act is influenced by the likes of Led Zeppelin and Guns and Roses and play with a raw passionate sound which is captured well on their debut EP, released in 2015 – a mixture of classic rock, hard rock, and blues. The Boneshakers follow them, fronted by Alex Fawcett – another one returning to the festival having gone down very well last year under the Alex Fawcett Band. From the north east they play gutsy blues, and Alex is one of a number of genuinely exciting young blues players at the moment. The Lewis Hamilton Jam session basically finishes off the Festival, and always goes down well. A platform is given to numerous musicians to come and jam with the band and have an exceedingly  good time.

Last but not least, Thomas Tosh hosts TMF Introduces on Sunday afternoon where the cream of Scottish musical talent is given the opportunity to ply their wares under the wary eye of local music maestro Rab Maitland. This is a genuine opportunity to see the very best of what Scottish youth has to offer, and hopefully one or two might grace us with their presence at future festivals. Whatever else goes on at the festival this is surely what free access for all to music is what it’s all about. Get there early, it’s always a very well attended event.

Other than the SKA Saturday event at the Community Centre, all events are absolutely free but they do need to your support! Head along, have fun and tell your friends. I cannot recommend this festival enough!

Thanks again to John Holroyd for this great summary of what to expect over the weekend, and to co-organiser Nick Hamilton for providing us with great information throughout the year!
For more information you can check out the Thornhill Music Festival Facebook Page.

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