Friday, 19 August 2022

Free music festival 'could become annual event'

ABOUT 2,000 people enjoyed a free music festival on Mill Meadows in Henley.

ABOUT 2,000 people enjoyed a free music festival on Mill Meadows in Henley.

Almost 100 young singers, musicians and actors performed on the bandstand at the riverside picnic spot on Saturday afternoon and evening.

The event was organised to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Queen?s coronation and to honour the late Beatle George Harrison, who lived at Friar Park.

It was planned and run by 16 young people from across Henley, who booked the bands and market stalls and designed all the promotional material.

The town council, youth club and Be There Henley project arranged security and insurance.

Soul singer and former club doorman Jamie Bruce, who appeared on the latest series of BBC1?s The Voice, compered the event and performed at the end.

The festival opened with a series of acoustic performances by local youngsters including Gillotts School pupils Jade Allum and Bella Bull. The pair won their slot after coming top in the school?s Superstar talent content, which was judged by T?Pau singer Carol Decker, who lives in Henley.

There was also a performance by 18-year-old Henley singer and actor Toby Marlow, who sang for last year?s Living Advent Calendar with his parents.

Sam Brown?s International Ukulele Club of Sonning Common played upbeat versions of Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn?t) by The Buzzcocks, The Tide is High by Blondie and Ace of Spades by Motorhead, accompanied by Henley singer Peter Moody and jazz artist Naomi Vallance.

Gillotts pupil and aspiring DJ Ross Duncan, 15, who performs at parties as The Stepper, played classic rock songs between sets.

Other attractions included fairground rides, a giant slide and a bouncy castle as well as food stalls. There was also a stall selling animal masks shaped like lions, tigers and the Pink Panther, which scores of visitors wore. In the evening the stage was set for a battle of the bands organised by Henley talent agency Eight Ray Music and Magoos bar in Hart Street.

It was judged by 34-year-old Bruce, of Reading Road, Henley, Mollie Marriott, the daughter of the late Small Faces singer Steve Marriott, Eight Ray?s founder Jayson Jaurigue and sales manager Sarah Lichtenstein.

The competition was won by indie rock quartet 2D Glasses. The boys, who study at Sir William Borlase?s Grammar School in Marlow, were awarded £500, a contract with Eight Ray Music and a slot at the Rewind Festival on Temple Island Meadows in August.

Drummer Robin Jacob-Owens, 17, of St Mark?s Road, Henley, said: ?We were very pleased with our set. There were lots of great bands playing and we all really enjoyed ourselves. We?re thrilled to be playing at Rewind. It?s a great opportunity for us.?

The runners-up were Henley rock group Komodo Krimes, who played songs from their recent debut EP, A Million Other Things.

They closed their set with a new track called Glue and invited the audience on stage to dance. Several artists played Beatles songs to honour Harrison. 2D Glasses closed their show with a rock version of Eleanor Rigby.

Graffiti artists Robert Brain and Lawrence Rose painted a giant mural with the words Here Comes The Sun, a Beatles song written by Harrison.

After the winners were announced, Marriott went up on stage and sang Erma Franklin?s Piece Of My Heart. She was followed by Bruce, who sang Otis Redding?s Hard To Handle.

Following a short performance by Henley?s Acorn Youth Theatre Group, Bruce and Marriott returned to the bandstand and asked all the performers to join them in a rendition of The Beatles? Hey Jude.

Bruce said: ?I have enjoyed myself very much. It was a long afternoon but worth it to give something back to Henley?s young people. The level of talent was fantastic. There are some good up-and-coming acts with serious potential and events like this will nurture them.? The festival raised at least £1,000, although the exact figure will not be known for several weeks. The money will be put into a trust to develop music for young people.

Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak, chairman of the organising committee, said: ?For the young people who organised the festival it required a great deal of initiative and commitment. Putting on something like that takes an awful lot of planning and creativity.

?However, they were absolutely committed to getting the project going and it was just brilliant on the day. It was a joyful occasion and a phenomenal event.

Special thanks also have to go to Maggie Atkinson, who runs Be There Henley and was one of the driving forces behind the festival.?

The said he hoped to make the festival an annual event.

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