13:34 Monday 06 May 2013

SLIDESHOW A spell-binding weekend at Stortford Music Festival

Written byPAUL WINSPEAR

ORGANISERS, performers and fans of live music can reflect today (Monday) on a fabulous Stortford Music Festival.

The two-day event in the grounds of St Mary’s Catholic School in Windhill made a welcome return at the weekend after a hiatus in 2012.

It featured some 35 acts, ranging from solo singer-songwriters to 10-piece bands, largely unsigned local and regional talent with a smattering of household names – all performing on two undercover stages through Saturday and Sunday and into the late evenings.

But, true to its community ethos, the festival offered so much more to visitors of all ages than purely great live music.

After actor Rupert Grint had cast his spell over Harry Potter fans with an appearance at the festival on Saturday, the focus yesterday (Sunday) was very much on some real-life young wizards of the musical kind.

The 24-year-old – known to millions worldwide as Ron Weasley in the films adapted from J K Rowling's best-sellers – was there to see his singer-songwriter sister Samantha perform as The Ghost of Samantha.

Rupert fitted in among the crowd in black trousers, a black T-shirt bearing the slogan "Cult Member", a burgundy hoodie and sunglasses.

He is no stranger to Hertfordshire: he was born in Stevenage and attended Richard Hale School in Hertford. His family – he is the eldest of five brothers and sisters – live at Watton-at-Stone.

The dual headliners on Saturday were disco tribute band Uncle Funk and hard rock outfit The Quireboys, “Britain’s answer to Poison”, who enjoyed success in the late 80s and early 90s, with their debut album, A Bit of What You Fancy, reaching No 2 in the UK charts.

Stortford firm favourites Mozzy Green and The Strangerhood were joined on the two stages throughout the day by the likes of Farnham-based singer-songwriter Elliot Porter, The Broken Chords, Death by Sexy, Fred’s House, Dirty Lions, Fallen From, The Rise, Navacross, Tom Dibb, Governors Luck, Nothing, Jerry Nineacres, Troika, Harlow College band Wonder Pony and the Bishop's Stortford Ukulele Society.

Sunday’s headliners were Liverpool-based 80s and 90s pop-soul hitmakers The Christians, whose 1987 eponymous debut album contained their first five UK hit singles, including Forgotten Town, Ideal World and Born Again.

Preceding them on the main stage were Wood Cut, Daisy Lewis, Jamie Fallon, Theo Howarth, Charlie Turner, Oka Vanga, The 150 Friends Club, Aliceband, Raided by Waves and North East “industrial folk collective” The Jar Family.

Stage two hosted JJ and the Swordfish, Luke Silver, Stolen Horse, Dan Starr, Shakila, David Youngs, The Valaitis Brothers, 27 Strings, Nate Maingard, Beaten Track, Jack in Water, Death Surf and Benjamin Bloom.

It was 27 Strings – a band comprising 10 students of the Bishop’s Stortford High School, including an 11-year-old fiddler – who generated the biggest buzz yesterday with a folk set which had the Stage 2 marquee jammed with, and surrounded by, onlookers.

Youngsters from the Livewire Rock Academy kicked things off with a set of classic rock covers, and there were performances from the Belly Belles belly dancing troupe and the Burlesque Jems.

There was a special zone for children, where they could enjoy music workshops, art activities, a graffiti wall, face painting and body art, story tellers, magicians and a bouncy castle.

The only bum note was sounded on Twitter by newly re-elected Herts county councillor Colin Woodward, who said that he had been called by a councillor who had received noise complaints from Chantry Road residents and added that the event could be heard in Parsonage Lane.

When one of his followers, Gary Aldam, replied: “People need to chill a bit. Lucky to have something so wonderful on our doorstep”, Cllr Woodward responded: “Perhaps not if they chose not to go/hear it; seeking to quietly ‘chill’ at home a long way away.”

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