Willowman Festival 2017 (June 2017)

By: Jake Brown

As spring draws to a close all eyes are on the upcoming summer, and particularly festival season.

Whilst the eyes of the nation will be on the larger festivals like Glastonbury and Reading & Leeds, there are tonnes of smaller festivals that are hoping to take advantage of the surge in popularity of smaller festivals in recent years. One of these festivals is Willowman.

Started in 2009, Willowman showcases the best of national and local talent for 3 days in June. The 2016 line-up consisted of Punk legends The Undertones, Ska-pop heroes The Beat, and Manchester outfit The Real People as well as local acts such as Kingsley Chapman & the Murder.

The 2017 line up follows the same structure of local, national and international talent. Whilst most festivals tend to stick to one genre to avoid alienating fans, Willowman does quite the opposite: the acts this year are as diverse as ever, with the Friday night being headlined by the self-described ‘Pyro circus massive’ Slamboree whose debut album is incoming. Their single, ‘Cheeky Peppers’ comes across like a traditional folk band ramped up to top speed with a brilliant female sung rap verse slung over the top for good measure.

Also on the main stage for the Friday night will be Transglobal Underground - a London-based collective who merge western, African, and Asian music into an irresistible blend. They’re somewhat veterans of the music world, with their debut album ‘Dream of 100 Nations’ being released in 1993 and reaching 45 in the UK albums chart at the time, but their fan base has refused to die down. Many people might remember their track ‘Temple Head’ which was used by Coca-Cola for their advertisements in the run up to the 1996 Olympic Games. Their use of music from across the globe has earned them immense respect. In 2008, they won the BBC Radio 3 Award for World Music and their last release, 2013’s’Kabatronics’, is a fantastic collaboration with Albanian brass band Fanfara Tirana.

Elsewhere on the Friday night, there are a multitude of special acts such as Bad Fractals - a London trio who go by the monikers of Bang Crosby, Astral Oz and Fred Ashtray - and renowned dance DJ, DJ Jules who will be playing Willow Wobbly on the Friday evening.

Come Saturday night, the main stage will play host to the world famous Soul II Soul with the two-time Grammy award-winning soul collective bringing massive hits like ‘Back to Life’ and ‘Keep on Movin’’ to Willowman as well as other fan favourites.

Also playing the Main Stage on Saturday night will be Reggae group Leanne & The Radix and groove rock trio Blackballed who will be bringing their beards and waistcoats to a field in Northallerton.

For fans of a more chilled-out tendency, the acoustic area will feature a whole host of acts to suit your mood. In addition, new this year is the Sub Rosa dance tent. The Spanish phrase Sub Rosa, when translated to English, means ‘under the rose’ – so details about the party in the dance tent are undisclosed, at the time of writing.

With it being the final day of the festival, Sunday’s main stage headliners Aswad serve to bring this fantastic weekend to a mellow close bringing their 21 albums worth of reggae and R&B material to the countryside of North Yorkshire. However, do not fear, if keeping things mellow is not your type of thing then orchestral art rock band The Red Paintings will keep your ears ringing until Monday morning. To complete the Sunday main stage acts are rock trio The Brew and Little Men.

Willowman Festival as ever promises to be three days of sun, music and good times and is an even you really won’t want to miss.

For further information about Willowman Festival, and to purchase tickets, head to willowmanfestival.co.uk.

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