EagleFest 2013: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

It’s a great pity that events like this are not held more frequently throughout the year. Because Eaglefest represents everything that is brilliant about local music. The team thrives on giving a showcase to the fantastic musical talent that is coming through and at the same time raises much needed funds to help out the kids at Brian House.

Eaglefest 2013 organisers Ian Fletcher and David Walsh can afford themselves a huge pat on the back for putting together what was yet another remarkable festival day of music and family entertainment. They will probably say that the credit has to go to the bands that performed, the volunteers that gave their free time to help out and the local folk who turned out in excellent numbers to support it. They may be quite right, because without these people Eaglefest wouldn’t exist at all. But at the same time it wouldn’t exist without their passion, dedication and vision in putting the whole thing together in the first place. I can’t wax lyrical enough about true local heroes such as Ian and David and their dedicated team, which believes passionately in what they do to help these young upcoming bands get some recognition for their hard work, by handing them the stage for the day and giving them much needed promotion.

Along with more established bands and artists, such as the wonderful Drea Knight, Power Trip and The Sonic Jam Project added their weight behind the event and it was a brilliant gesture, and no surprise, that the headline slot was given to one of the area’s finest current young bands, Jekyll. A typical decision by the organisers, because that is what they are all about. Ian was also thrilled to have been able to secure the services of Swankers UK (Sex Pistols tribute band) to add some extra spice to the proceedings. And so were we, as they didn’t disappoint.

Starting at 1pm in glorious sunshine, although breezy, the first half of the event was held outdoors on a portable stage, before moving inside The Golden Eagle at six. As the crowd gathered in good numbers and had settled down after a visit to the bar, the first band to grace the stage were The Sonic Jam Project, giving us a taste of the quality that was to follow. It was a rip-roaring start to the afternoon and the classic rock ditties had the crowd singing along. The sound was excellent too as the desk was ably manned by the skillful Chris Chew, who also was the compere for the afternoon. But it wasn’t all about the music and on a stroll around the grounds of The Golden Eagle, there was much thought put into making sure the kids were entertained too. With face painting, bouncy castles and a couple of large rubber Sumo suits thrown into the mix, it made for a day of fun for all in attendance.

There was a buzz around the place which created a terrific atmosphere and you could see what the event meant to the area as young Leoni Jane Kennedy took to the stage. At just 13 years old, the potential for this young lady is incredible. She writes her own songs and delivers them wonderfully well, with confidence and a lot of ability for her age. Not only that, she has also written a song specifically to help raise funds herself for Brian House which goes to show the dedication and drive these young local kids have. A fantastic effort indeed from a very talented young lady. On stage she showed a maturity beyond her years and the watching audience enjoyed and appreciated her set. As the music continued outdoors with the appearance of the very talented The Atmospherics, who are fast becoming a real force to be reckoned with, the neighbouring bouncy castle was chock-a-block with youngsters enjoying the day. There was certainly a good vibe going on. After a rock’n’roll filled set from The Atmospherics, it was chill time, as the sun continued to show its face. Young Blackpool singer/songwriter April Keen was next to grace the stage and again she is another fine example of the amazing upcoming talent we are lucky to have in the area at the moment. Her unique voice and thought-provoking lyrics held the attention of the crowd, as she delivered a set of her own original songs and some covers, spiced by her own unique stamp. Another great performance and yet another name to watch out for.

It was audience participation time by the time Power Trip had plugged in and struck the first chord with a set of well known rock covers. The crowd were in the mood for dancing and singing along and the beer was in full flow! This continued for over an hour or so, as Stro Marley added a few reggae numbers and was then followed by the energetic and powerful Drea Knight and her band.  Brilliant stuff indeed!

By the time Drea had concluded her rock-filled set, full of familiar tunes, it was time to move the whole thing indoors. It was good timing, because there was a distinctive chill in the air. But the event was warming up nicely inside. The crowd followed the action and the place was packed to the rafters. The stage was set for the evening and what an evening it was.

Paul Huson and Ayshea Manning warmed up the enthusiastic crowd nicely and found them in fine voice as the excitement continued to build. This was followed by a cameo appearance by young Mario and Neo Rice.  This was superb stuff! The desk inside was then taken over by Sebastian Orain, ably assisted by local rocker Jeff White. What followed were amazingly energetic and tight as you like sets from young local bands, The People (winners of Fylde Battle Of The Bands 2013), The Solid States and headliners, Jekyll. These are the bands coming through from the area at the moment and I would be extremely surprised if not one, or all, have big success at some point in the near future . Each write their own material and deliver impeccable competent sets of rock driven tunes. At their age, of around sixteen and seventeen, there is much to look forward to from these guys and I believe there is a renaissance of top quality young bands emerging. It is a testament to the dedication and hard work these youngsters put in and the local venues that are supporting them by giving them the chance to play. I suggest if you get the chance, do try to get out to see these bands play locally. You will not be disappointed.

It was then fitting that festival co-organiser Ian Fletcher later took to the stage with Jonny’s Lunchbox with his son, young Lucas Fletcher, as the front man and guitarist.  They brought the house down and had the place bouncing – the very reason why Eaglefest exists in the first place. A brilliant story.

Further sets from John Carroll (Shakers Blues Band) and the magnificent Swankers UK made up the rest of the day’s excellent entertainment. Ian was particularly delighted to have persuaded the latter to agree to play and they were thrilled to help out such a worthy cause. They certainly went down well with those in the Golden Eagle crowd who remember and cherish those old Sex Pistols tunes, as well as the younger ones, who are going some way to emulate them.

So,what a day and what a fabulous and worthwhile event. And let’s not forget to mention the support from the community. I’m sure Ian, Dave and their team, will be absolutely thrilled to bits with the response from local people to support the cause and its aims. After all the hard work and preparation, it certainly paid off after a long and exhausting day. The public responded in their numbers and donated generously on the day. Not only that, they were also treated to a fantastic showcase of promising and talented young musicians, who rightly should be around for years to come. Eaglefest was again a roaring success and is certainly getting bigger and better by the year.  Long may that continue.

Eaglefest 2013: Photography by Carl Gray

  • Blackpool based self-confessed music fanatic involved in the local music scene around the Fylde and particularly passionate about promoting and assisting new upcoming bands and artists breaking through.

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