AN internationally recognised singer-songwriter has become the first patron of the Upton Blues Festival.

Benny Gallagher, who is famous for songs like When I'm Dead and Gone, I Wanna Stay With You and a Heart in New York, will champion the free riverside celebration which runs from Friday to Sunday, July 18-20.

To celebrate his involvement, Benny, who was one half of hit-makers Gallagher & Lyle, will perform on the Sports Field Stage on the Sunday.

He said: "I feel very proud and privileged to have been invited to be a Patron of Upton Blues Festival.

"I have been a regular attendee at this marvellous festival which provides a wonderful platform for both up and coming and established blues artists, while introducing the public to quality live music in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere."

Benny added: "It is an excellent example of how a well run, well organised event which has no public funding, or major sponsors, can manage to remain independent, self financed, successful, and manage to win the respect, love and affection of the crowds in attendance”.

Organising committee member, Robin Staite, said: "We are really pleased that Benny accepted our request. He is at the top of the tree when it comes to British songwriting, and reflects what the UK music community aspires to in both professional writing and performing.

"Upton Blues Festival has a clear desire to deliver excellent entertainment in its own inimitable style and that's what Benny does."

The festival features three main stages and more than 100 performances throughout the town.

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