Brightlingsea music festival celebrates 10 years

PUBLISHED: 15:51 15 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:53 20 February 2013

Brightlingsea music festival celebrates 10 years

Brightlingsea music festival celebrates 10 years

Brightlingsea's annual music festival has been a highlight in the town for the <br/><br/>last ten years. Jo Jarvis learns what is planned to mark a special anniversary

Stars shine in Brightlingsea

PLANS for Brightlingseas biggest event of the year are already well underway. For the past ten years, people living in Brightlingsea have celebrated summer with a music festival and this annual event continues to create quite a buzz in the seaside town. In fact, it has become a real community event and this month invited guests will be gathering to mark the tenth anniversary of this amazing success story.

Each year people become involved with the festival for a variety of reasons. Committee secretary Valerie Waters, who organises the programme of activities for the festival, became involved three years ago as a chance to meet new people.
Valerie explains: Im a socially-minded person and when I saw the committee was looking to recruit volunteers I contacted the current chairman, Chris West. I had a little extra time on my hands and I wanted to do something that would give me a sense of achievement. This year the committee has worked together to create a new approach to the festival to make it more cultural and community led. We want to get more art on the Green. There are a lot of good local artists and all this will create a sense of community. Rather than just have music, we want the music to support other aspects of art and I hope this will continue to develop in the future.

Working to develop the original concept of a rock gig and turn it into a community event that encompasses other areas of the art world is the festival committee, a team of six passionate people. Running from Friday, July 30 to Sunday, August 1 the Brightlingsea Music Festival 2010 expects to welcome more than 5,000 people. Visitors will not only be able to listen to a variety of genres of music (including jazz, world music, acoustic and electric music), but they will also be able to browse local artists work and stalls and enjoy street theatre.
It all shows just how far the festival has come since it was first established by festival director and band recruiter, Mick Barry. Just ten years ago visitors to the festival watched the bands perform from the back of a lorry.

Mick explains: The original idea was to promote local and alternative music. It was apparent there were a lot of bands playing gigs and pubs, but not many had the opportunity to play on a big stage, so we managed to secure a good stage and sound system. We found bands wanted to play at the festival because of the guaranteed audience and in the past we have had bands from Russia, Africa and Australia play at the event.
Mick had already set up gigs at the local community centre knowing there were lots of bands that hadnowhere to play and then people asked him to organise something in the open air.

Mick adds: We have since greatly developed the event and the stage we have used since 2005/07 wouldnt be out of place at Glastonbury. As a result we pride ourselves on creating a quality experience and enable people to see bands they wouldnt necessarily see otherwise.
The festival costs around 20,000 a year to hold with some funding being contributed by Essex County Council, Brightlingsea Town Council and sale proceeds from wrist bands, T-shirts and programmes.

Committee chairman and record producer Chris West got involved in 2006, when he was horrified to see in the local press that the festival was in danger of coming to an end because of a lack of funding.

I had been to the festival two years previous, just before moving to the town with my family, explains Chris. I thought it was important it was saved because it had always been the biggest event in Brightlingsea.

Chris pleaded with people for help and Hampstead Homes, which was building a 23million marina development in the town at the time, agreed to back the festival. According to Chris, this support has saved the festival for the past two years. Chris, who has recorded Status Quos last five albums, is particularly passionate about working with young musicians in the area and helping them to turn their energy into something positive.
I enjoy helping young people to develop and as a result Im involved with 4Youth Club in Brightlingsea. We have lots of instruments there and we hold music workshops. A band called Condemned opened last years festival and played at the youth club. We want as many young people in the area to get involved with the festival as possible. It doesnt matter if they arent in a band, we are encouraging them to get involved in the hope that one day they will take over the running of the festival.
It really is the chance for new stars to shine in Brightlingsea.


Friday, July 30
Classical evening at Hurst Green, 7.30pm to 9.30pm
Music in the Pubs, organised by local publicans

Saturday, July 31
Acoustic Roots, Folk and Blues on Hurst Green. From 12.30pm to 6.30pm
Other attractions include stalls on the Green, street theatre, more music events in the Community Centre and a second evening of Music in the Pubs.

Sunday, August 1
World Music, Jazz and Art on Hurst Green, 12.30pm to 6.30pm

For more information or to become a volunteer at the 2010 festival, visit

The festivals tenth anniversary
will be celebrated on March 27 in Brightlingseas Community Centre. The event is invite only and will enable the committee to thank people who have contributed to
the festival in the last decade
and to generate enthusiasm
for future festivals.

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