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Chris Powers.
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'Mr. Festival' finds the blues suits him
Article by John Anson, Lancashire Evening News

You get your first clue when you drive up to Chris Powers' home. After all, only a true music lover would name their house after the Booker T and the MGs song Green Onions! Then when you step inside you realize  that the man who has resided over countless festivals round the country is passionate about the blues. 

Signed album covers line the halls, in the corner there is a Fifties' jukebox and going up the stairs are photographs of music legends, many with personalised dedications. 

Anyone who has attended festivals at either Burnley or Colne will know Chris Powers. His lively personality and even more extravagant dress sense have made him a cult figure. You suspect as many people go along to see what he will be wearing as to watch the artists themselves. 

"This year there are 25 acts on the main stage during the festival," said Chris. "I've got a different outfit to introduce each me of them. "There's some real bobby­dazzlers among them, I can tell you. 

Chris starts planning his wardrobe months in advance. He does rough sketches and then has the suits specially made for him - in the Gambia! "We go on holiday every year and I have a tailor there who will knock suits up to my design. "Let's put it this way, I don't think you'd find me going out in the street in some of my stage clothes."

Chris makes the art of MC-ing look easy but he's an absolute professional when it comes to preparation.

"I actually keep a record of what outfit I wore and when so that I don't wear the same thing twice," he said.

"The audience is not there to see me waffle on, I'm just the link between the artists and the audience," he said. "I think it's important to build up a good relationship with the audience".

"Although I may only appear on stage for a couple of minutes at a time, I'm really working all the time".

"I act as an unofficial stage manager and try and keep things to time. Musicians would play for ever if you let them".

"I also meet every artist beforehand and ask them if there's anything special that they want me to say".

"I work to the motto that continuity is only noticed when it's not there. The acts are the stars of the show and I'm just there to help things run smoothly". Blues and soul have always been part of Chris's life. Growing up around Rochdale, where he still lives, he initially thought about being in a band.

"I stuck a gob iron (harmonica) in my mouth and shouted a bit," he said, "but I soon realised I wasn't talented enough."

From there he went on to become an in-demand DJ with his extensive record collection and in-depth knowledge. This led to the opportunity to work at the Colne festival and this is turn led to him becoming the official MC, a role he has undertaken for over 10 years. Chris also takes charge at other festivals and at special soul and blues weekends.

"For a fan like me to get the chance to meet these artists is magic," he said. "Many of them are my heroes, they are legends at what they do and I do still get goosebumps."

 

Other comments from the Press:
 
Blues in Britain, May 2013: Boogaloo Blues Weekend Alvaston Hall, 23rd - 26th March 2013:
".... and special mention for DJ & MC Chris Powers who again brought his gravelly tones, sharp suits (and hats) and magnificent collection of vinyl to entertain us".   John Mitchell

Blues in Britain, March 2009: Boogaloo Blues Weekend Alvaston Hall, 6th-9th March 2009:
"..... finally a word about the MC for the weekend, Chris Powers. Well known as the MC at Burnley and Colne festivals, Chris is a real character, with his booming voice, colourful suits and hats (changed for every band) and the most amazing collection of vinyl records which we ran through during the weekend. Chris only plays vinyl, but had received recent 45s from some of the bands on the circuit to sit alongside older material from across the R 'n' B era. Chris is more than happy to play requests and many weekenders took full advantage - thanks Chris!"

Blues in Britain, March 2004: Warners Blues Weekend Alvaston Hall, 27th January 2004:
"..... and throughout the weekend, M.C. Chris Powers, who was unfailingly colourful when introducing the acts, linked proceedings expertly with a very appropriate selection of his hugely impressive collection of vinyl recordings".

Blues Matters, October 2003: The Great British Rhythm & Blues Festival, Colne, August 2003:
"..... oh, and before I forget, this year we had an extra attraction - that of a 'one man fashion show' presented by Chez Powers Boutique Unlimited!  Each night Chris Powers M.C. donned a new outfit to introduce each main act on the Municipal stage .....".
  
" ..... the following band the Vargus Band (Spain) started off really well (and had the introduction of a lifetime when the flamboyant M.C. Chris Powers replete in red shirt, black fitted trousers, matching bolero jacket and Sombrero!"
  
Blues in Britain, June 2003: Connie Lush at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, 2nd May 2003:
"..... the sartorially elegant Chris Powers introduced the main attraction .....