Still a chance to make mark

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Blackpool’s Mark Thornley Band (above) were pipped to the post in the north west heat of The New Brunswick Battle of the Blues last weekend. “We were runners-up, but could still go through to the final in London in March,” said Mark.

“The runners-up will have film of part of their performance in their heat put on, and people are invited to vote on the site as to who they would like to go through out of runners-up throughout the country.

“We were second to Chris James, a solo artist, singer and acoustic guitar. We beat all the bands, so technically we are the best unsigned blues band in the north west, so it’s not all bad!”

A review on the night said: “The Mark Thornley Band lifted off with a blistering powerhouse blues/rock set of three hand-picked pieces of musical mastery. which reminded everyone what a consistently dynamic outfit they have been over the last few years.

“Mark is the archetypal all-action ‘guitar’ hero who somehow pushes his performance well beyond the known boundaries. Six blues acts went head to head at BJ’s Blues Club, The Hop Pocket in Chorley.

The final is at the famous 100 Club in Oxford Street, London, on March 29.

Other acts competing at the Northern heat were The Revenues from Barnoldswick, Mighty Revelators from Bury, Lee Bates and Billy Newton from Gateshead and Lucy Zirins, 18, from Burnley.

The Canadian Province of New Brunswick has been looking to the UK to provide new performers for its world-renowned Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

Competition organiser Lee George said: “The competition at this heat was fierce. Six excellent acts provided a great evening of live entertainment. But there had to be just one overall winner.”

There is also going to be a public vote from February 2.

Go to to hear acts from each of the heats – and rate all of the runners-up.

The ‘winning’ runner-up will then join Chris and the other finalists in London.