Alnwick is alive with the sound of music

The Baghdaddies at Alnwick International Music Festival 2017. Picture by Jane Coltman
The Baghdaddies at Alnwick International Music Festival 2017. Picture by Jane Coltman

Belly dancing, lively drumming and sounds from around the globe – this year’s Alnwick International Music Festival is alive, kicking and in full swing.

The eight-day event, which started on Saturday, showcases the diverse cultural riches of the UK and the wider world, with genres such as folk, Celtic, Balkan and Americana, as well as live poetry thrown in for good measure.

Tom O'Donnell. Picture by Jane Coltman

Tom O'Donnell. Picture by Jane Coltman

This year’s festival is featuring more groups than ever before and it is going down well with fans, who have packed into the Market Place to watch the performers. And the sun has even shone during the event!

Chairman Jonathan Justice is delighted with how things have gone so far.

He said: “The festival is going really well.

“The seats have been full for the performances of the Alnwick Academy of Dance and the Helwa Belly Dancers, while Tom O’Donnell has warmed the hearts of the audience with his easy-going charm.

Appreciative crowds all week.

Appreciative crowds all week.

“Soznak were a hit with their Eastern European and Mediterranean music, and their Congolese and Nigerian members blended their own distinct tones with their Newcastle band-mates.

“The Baghdaddies have made everyone laugh with their on and off-stage antics and humour, so we’re keenly awaiting their final performance today at 2pm.

“The crowd favourites have been Alnwick’s own Rhythm Stix. Their enthusiasm and energy ensures the Market Place has been packed with happy festival-goers.

“Meanwhile, Paul Tutleman proved that poetry can make people laugh and cry in the same instant. His clever wordplay and striking imagery ensured a memorable performance. Glaswegian duo, 50 Shades of Blue, have delighted with Scottish and classic songs as well as their own material. They’re also running a workshop today to teach you how to play the washboard.

From left: Tom O'Donnell, Fifty Shades of Blue, Alnwick Mayor Coun Alan Symmonds, Pistol Pete Wearn and Dave Wearn at the Americana Night on Sunday in the Northumberland Hall.

From left: Tom O'Donnell, Fifty Shades of Blue, Alnwick Mayor Coun Alan Symmonds, Pistol Pete Wearn and Dave Wearn at the Americana Night on Sunday in the Northumberland Hall.

“At our Americana evening, hosted by Alnwick Mayor Alan Symmonds on Sunday night, father and son Dave Wearn and Pistol Pete teamed up with Mark Donaldson (from 50 Shades of Blue) for a rousing finale that packed out the Northumberland Hall.

“I’ve been delighted to bring to Alnwick our biggest ever selection of groups and performers. My personal favourite of the festival is local balladeer Andrew Lobb, whose beautiful songs illustrate the lives of the people of the North East past and present. I’m looking forward to Ian Brown, Eve Williams and Ukrainian Cossack dancers, Orlyk.

“From talking to festival attendees, I’m always amazed to hear how far some have travelled. I met two ladies from Derby and Lincolnshire who’d come up especially, as well as a party from France!

“It’s great to know that Alnwick’s fame is spreading far and wide.”

50 Shades of Blue. Picture by Andrew Mounsey.

50 Shades of Blue. Picture by Andrew Mounsey.

With three days still to go, there is plenty of fun still to be had and lots of music still to hear, before the festival closes on Saturday.

As well as daytime performances and workshops, there are also a series of evening performances.

Tonight, a poetry and music session is being staged at Alnwick Working Men’s Club, while a Celtic Night will be performed at Alnwick Playhouse. Both start at 7.30pm.

The Playhouse is holding two more evening concerts at 7.30pm; Northumbrians Entertain (tomorrow) and International Evening (Saturday).

For more information, visit alnwickmusicfestival.com

l See a selection of Facebook Live videos from the festival on the Gazette’s Facebook page.

Soznak. Picture by Jane Coltman

Soznak. Picture by Jane Coltman

Helwa Belly Dance at Alnwick International Music Festival. Picture by Jane Coltman

Helwa Belly Dance at Alnwick International Music Festival. Picture by Jane Coltman

Horovod. Picture by Jane Coltman

Horovod. Picture by Jane Coltman