So what is the thinking behind this Priory Park Festival? Surely the world does not need one more music festival….
Well the Priory Park eclectic weekend is part of the massive and glorious Festival of Chichester which has over 200 separate events taking place all across the City this summer. We are the relatively recently added little brother, which brings family and music fans of all shapes, sizes and ages together to have a good time, enjoy some local food and some quality drink and get into that “festival state of mind”. What makes us special is our location and who we have on the stage.
Last year we kicked off proceedings with three days of music, spoken word events and all the music in a large Marquee in the Park This year we have made a few changes, which we hope, are for the better. For a start the tickets are a bit cheaper, and are entirely free for under 11’s and anyone who is a carer. Secondly we are taking advantage of our marvellous location-right in the middle of the beautiful Priory Park, by doing away with the big music marquee.
Instead most of the big name bands will play on an open-air stage, just like at Woodstock! But meanwhile we will also have a new addition, a lovely “Little Big Top” just perfect for housing a made to measure bar, and also a stage for comedians, family entertainers, blues bands, jazz trio’s you name it…. a great new space for us.
Then there are posh loos for those who want them, a second VIP “backstage bar” for audience and celebs to mingle and some fabulous local food and drink purveyors headed up by the marvellous O’Hagan’s with their world famous sausages.
Then there is the music, on Friday night we have gone a bit Jazz and Blues with a terrific line up: the Little Big Top is taken over for the evening by Nic Saunders and his Chichester based jazz Club La Havana. That means Nic ‘s own trio will be playing, there is also a larger jazz band and the great US harmonica star Johnny Mars,plus we are delighted to announce home town girl Deborah Bonham and her truly awesome band on the main stage, with guest vocalist Chris “Out of Time” Farlowe and one of the all time greats of British music : the amazing Georgie Fame. His list of iconic songs is virtually unending, and he is someone we are very lucky to be hosting at this festival.
I have always wanted to have Georgie Fame on the bill of a festival, as he is such a great and inspirational performer, writer and musician. From the birth of the blues boom back in the 1960’s Georgie has always been an innovator, a pathfinder for others who challenged boundaries and tradition and also is a great player with a wonderful vocal style. He is the definition of an all time great. A living legend no less. There is also the chance to sample the contrast this festival delivers. Pop veteran superstar Georgie Fame at the end of the evening and young, talented and local Flustered Mothers opening the proceedings. The Soul of Santana add to that Woodstock vibe! It really is Eclectic.
There is more on all of the artists appearing elsewhere, but the intention on the Saturday is to be a bit more “mainstream” rock and pop with again a fabulous line up: on the parochial front we have the prodigious Station 47, and the Cathedral choristers Nos Miserie Homines, the Brighton based Heath take to the main stage, before making way for the Bog Rolling Stones, so C’mon !
Then there is a mighty trio of powerful popsters-one of my favourites Dodgy, then a creative superstar, the man who caught the zeitgeist of the 70’s and turned it into melody, aggression and angst the man who created The Stranglers: Hugh Cornwell, and finally those melodic hit makers The Christians, who will bring proceedings on the main stage to a close. Meanwhile the Blues are not dead, as Ruby and the Revelators will be creating wonderfully crafted classics in the Little Big Top. All it needs is some decent weather and that is one cracking day-what value.
I have wanted to bring Hugh to Chichester for some time; he manages to personify the creative explosion of talent that carried a generation across the river from Prog rock to pub rock to new wave to Punk. His songs are full of clever words and ideas, they reflect his fascinating life story and the bravery he showed in just doing his own thing, despite the fashions and the time he lived in. He is a great guitar player too. Do not underestimate that, just listen to the brilliant long version of Walk on By.
Meanwhile Dodgy epitomise the best of what became known as Brit Pop. Terrifically talented and bright, they suffered at the hands of record companies but still produced some ground-breaking songs, and set the store out of the rest of the 90’s. I can’t help smiling when I hear them play, they are such fun.
Meanwhile The Christians are here for simple reasons: Harvest for the World, Forgotten Town, When the Fingers Point, Hooverville and Ideal World. Those on their own are reason enough
Then on Sunday our intention is to create a fun family day, in addition to all the sideshows and food attractions there is plenty to marvel at on stage: from Abba Chique, via S Club to Jim Cregan is a clear line of huge pop songs. Jim, another local-ish boy, burst to fame when he put that classy guitar solo in the middle of Come Up and See Me for Cockney Rebel, since then it has been hit after hit playing, writing and producing with Rod Stewart. A really eye catching new act Josephine and the Artizans will start the day on the main stage, something not to miss, with Cured Riot and Sideways Symbol also creating something special from our burgeoning and blossoming Chichester musical scene.
Then to round the day off two highlights…the amazing Tony Christie and the fun of the Spirit FM family disco with hits from the 80’s. Beat that!