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Green Light in the City

Live Music Review: Gate to Southwell Festival 2019

18 June 19 words: Adrian Shaw

Our Adrian headed back to his favourite festival this side of the Trent...

My second visit to the Festival for LeftLion saw me with wheels - very important because, again, public transport was limited and made more difficult by the vicissitudes of wretched weather, especially towards the end of this four-day festival. The festival’s main site is Southwell Racecourse, with other venues in the locale, including Southwell itself.  A whole range of supporting activities including Kids’ entertainment, folk-dancing, and instrumental lessons plus all the expected music and spoken word.

Though the thunder and lightning polka played pretty much the whole time, the punters enjoyed a real feast of entertainment and talent, especially some of the new voices to the Festival – notably the Canadian Band, Jessica Pearson and the East Wind, from my adoptive Canadian home city of Ottawa. Also, we enjoyed the wonderful soul-wrenching solo songs by Danish performer, Ida Wenoe – a musical equivalent of one of my favourite visual artists, Paula Rego – the sweet harmonies of the Dutch trio, Sya, and the amazing gender politically power of Grace Petrie.

New talents to make their mark during the Open Mike competition was this year’s winner Oliver Lee, and a lad named Kieron – sorry I didn’t get his second name – doing his particular rendition of the Bob Dylan favourite, ‘Forever Young’.  The attraction of this wonderful musical festival was once again evident with the return of old favourites such as Kids’ band Johnny and the Raindrops, Truckstop Honeymoon, Ranagri, and Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel (a real tour de force).

Personally, I particularly enjoyed the Scottish pounding rhythms and pipes of Skipinnish, and the very talented guitar and vocals of Joshua Cook and Sunjay, both separately and in their fantastic duo performances.

Another particular highlight of this year’s festival was its tribute to Buddy Holly, and a multi-talented Celebration of the great Woodstock Festival.As someone who was lucky to be in South London’s Crystal Palace area in the seventies, when several stars from that event were flown in later to entertain a sun- and rain-soaked crowd of thousands, I can vouch for the verisimilitude of the performances with the originals. I was particularly taken by tributes to Janis Joplin (Amy Kakoura), and Joan Baez (by Nancy Kerr) respectively, and Ritchie Havens (by Josh).

Space here, and human frailty, denies me anything like complete coverage of the whole event, and wide range of talents on show during the Festival: but I must mention again, the international flavour of the musical talent performing was tremendously here.  And of course, that a particularly efficient and successful and memorable effort, was made by the Organising Committee and the extremely hard-working and gifted technical back-up of the sound and light engineers: all unsung heroes and heroines too often!

Finally, I must make a special note to myself for next year, to include more coverage of Mishra,  Jessica Pearson & The East Wind, Blue Rose Code, and Rosenblume. Suffice to say ALL – and others – were absolutely TERRIFIC! See y’all next year Folks!

Gate to Southwell Festival website

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