A BAND forced to leave their home country due to civil war will headline a new festival of “music exploration and discovery”.

Desert blues group Songhoy Blues are at the top of the bill for The Great Western, a multi-venue music and arts festival which organisers say will focus on celebrating “underused and underappreciated spaces” in Glasgow’s west end.

Fifty acts from Scotland, the UK and beyond will perform as part of the all-day festival, which will be held in 10 venues including established gig venues such as The Hug and Pint, the QMU and Oran Mor, and community spaces such as the Burnbank Bowling Club and Maryhill Community Central Halls, where The Pastels will curate their own programme.

The Mackintosh Queen’s Cross Church in Maryhill, the setting for a few memorable gigs to date making use of its excellent acoustics, is also taking part in the festival, which sees Songhoy Blues return to Glasgow following a series of shows in the city including as part of the BBC 6 Music Festival at the Barrowlands in 2017.

In Johanna Schwartz’s 2015 documentary They Will Have To Kill Us First, the band tell how they were forced to leave their homes in the city of Bamako during the breakout of civil war in 2012 and the subsequent proscription of music by militant group Ansar Dine.

Their name reflects both their Songhoy or Songhai ethnicity and the style of music they play – an exuberant and highly danceable mix of reworked traditional songs and sizzling electro blues.

The National: Songhoy BluesSonghoy Blues

Other big names to perform at The Great Western include veteran Californian dance punks !!! (CHK CHK CHK), Free Love, indie heroes Malcolm Middleton and Cass McCombs and 2018 SAY Award winners Sacred Paws.

Luke Fowler’s powerfully atmospheric Rev Magnet also appear, and the moody grooves continue with Art School Girlfriend, the new signing to Paul Epworth’s Wolf Tone label.

Elsewhere, the line-up is a who’s who of some of the best emerging names around, such as singular blues man Callum Easter, electronic duo Chuchoter, Scarlett Randle, the heavenly Heir Of The Cursed and Lost Map Records’s new signing Molly Linen.

In celebration of local legends The Blue Nile, their 1989 album Hats will be performed by Start To End ahead of its 30th anniversary next month.

The tribute supergroup will be joined for the performance by Admiral Fallow’s Louis Abbott and Dana Gavanski, a Canadian solo artist whose singles this year have been a delight.


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Yet more names are to be announced for The Great Western, which organisers say will also include a variety of workshops for locals and visitors to learn a new skill or sharpen an old one.

Festival founder Brian Reynolds says The Great Western will be held in an area he knows well.

“We’re all absolutely thrilled to present this unique new all-day festival in Glasgow, which basically spans the area I have lived in over the past 16 years, centred around Great Western Road,” he says.

“It’s a very personal festival for me and one that I have wanted to present for many years. The line-up includes some of the most exciting acts I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the years as well as tonnes of fantastic new artists that I can’t wait for everyone to check out.”

Reynolds, who is also the owner and head booker of gig promoters 432 Presents, adds: “To be able to take bands we love and host them in some of our favourite spaces and underused venues in the area is a dream and we’re all buzzing for November.”