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Friday, 01 August 2014

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Bishop gets the blues

A Cumbrian bishop will have the blues this summer – as he is helping out at an annual West Cumbrian music festival.

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steward: Bishop Robert Freeman

The Rt Rev Robert Freeman, Bishop of Penrith, has signed up as a steward for the Maryport Blues Festival from July 25 to July 27.

He is a keen music fan and his Who’s Who entry lists one of his hobbies as “playing air guitar”.

He will be joined by his wife Chris, and Canon Bryan Rowe, of St Michael’s Church, Workington, and the rural dean of Solway, and his wife Sheila.

Bishop Freeman is an electric blues fan, counting artists such as Buddy Guy, the Nimmo Brothers and Walter Trout among his favourites.

He said: “I have been fascinated by the Maryport Blues Festival for years.

“I’m not sure where we will be stewarding exactly. We could be at the far end of the car park or in the middle of it all, but either way we’ll still feel the vibe of the event.

“What really attracts me to the electric blues is to hear people singing about the profound things of life.

“They’re singing about when things can go wrong and yet they’re not giving up. There is so much going on in blues music, both in the lyrics and the depth of the music and its rhythms.”

Mr and Mrs Rowe have been stewards at the event for the last nine years and invited Bishop Freeman to join them after they learned of his love of music.

Mr Rowe said: “I’ve always loved listening to the music at the festival.

“It’s an awesome event and amazing to watch the musicianship. It’s also a good opportunity for members of the community to see their local vicar out there.

“I won't have my dog collar on but I’m a well known face in the area. It will be another example of the church getting involved in community life.

“And how many bishops will have stewarded at a blues festival?”

Debra Park, of the festival’s organising committee, said: “We’re delighted that they are helping out. They will both be used to marshalling their congregations, so they can put those skills to good use with some music fans.”

The event, now in its 16th year, will feature artists including Coco Montoya, Eric Sardinas from America, James Harmen and Danny Bryant.

Tickets are available now. To book or to volunteer for stewarding, visit www.maryport blues.co.uk

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