The organisers of this Saturday's Stanley Blues Festival expect a crowd of at least 10,000 and say interest has come from one end of the country to another.

The free festival has grown from humble beginnings featuring pub bands to become a major event in the British blues calendar.

Paul Green, of organisers Northern Recording, said: "There is a lot of interest from people who have never been before. It is the strength of the line-up that attracts people. Stanley has a very knowledgeable crowd.

British Blues veteran Stan Webb and his band Chicken Shack, Louisiana guitar maestro Sherman Robertson - who played on Paul Simon's Gracelands album - soul-inspired Charles Walker from Nashville, British act The Hamsters and North-East groups The Blues Burglars, who recently reformed, and The George Shovlin Band make up the bill. Comedian Mike Elliot is the compere.

The festival takes place in a huge marquee on the King's Head Field between noon and 6.30pm. Parking costs £3.

There are food stalls, a beer tent and fairground rides for children.

Mr Green said although people can take their own drink they are asked not to take glasses for safety reasons.

For more details call Northern Recording on (01207) 507310 or visit the web site at