We posed a few questions to Ellen Cole, the woman behind York’s Little Festival of Live Music. The seven-day fundraising extravanganza takes place on Parliament Street between the 18 and 26 September (excluding 21 and 22) and showcases some of the best of York’s established and up and coming musical talent, and delivered to York music lovers completely free of charge. We found out about the changing face of the festival and its charitable aims.
By Graeme Smith
It’s not long to go now until York’s Little Festival of Live Music. How excited are you right now?
I am pretty excited, I love nothing more than planning and preparing festivals and then seeing the outcome. The real excitement for me though won’t happen until the festival actually begins, because then I really get involved with the festival atmosphere and I love seeing musicians and audiences have a great time.
What can the audience expect from the festival?
A bit of everything really. What is unique about our festival is that we always aim to keep entry charges to a bare minimum or free, as we want to encourage new audiences to experience live music. I didn’t get into live music until 2009 and kick myself that I didn’t become a part of it sooner. Audiences can expect a bit of everything from this year’s festival from rock to country, folk to pop, punk to acoustic and even a bit of surf-rock which is a genre of music which isn’t hugely known in the UK.
You started out in 2013. How has the festival evolved since then?
I am surprised how far the music festival has come in under 2 years. Not only have we worked with over 70 musicians across the UK, had well-received festivals, but we have also raised a considerable amount of money for several local charities.
The festival was originally a one-off, but when it came to an end I had already caught the music bug and couldn’t turn my back on it. In 2014 we experimented with a number of small venues to see if the festival could work on its own two feet, which thankfully it did and was a huge success. This year we’re only doing the one festival as we have big plans in 2016. Unfortunately I can’t tell you what those plans are yet, but if you come along to the festival on Wednesday 23 September all will be revealed.
What are some of the acts you’re personally looking forward to?
If I am honest, all of the acts are different in their own way and I am looking forward to seeing them all play. I can’t wait to see Vesper Walk as they recently increased their band size to 8 and I am looking forward to seeing how that works out.
Flora Greysteel – photo by Yellow Mustang Photography
I am also looking forward to seeing Flora Greysteel, who are a relatively new band, but some of their work I have seen so far is incredible and I would recommend anyone to pop along to see them in action.
Proceeds from the festival will be going to York Mind. Why did you choose this charity?
All of the charities that we have fundraised for in the past have all been local independent charities. Many people may think that York Mind is a national charity, due to it being a part of the UK charity Mind, but apart from sharing the branding, York Mind is a standalone charity, which provides mental health services for local people. We decided to fundraise for York Mind because many of the team know someone or have been affected by mental illness and feel it is just as important as a physical condition. By supporting York Mind, we hope that if the proceeds raised help only one person make a full recovery then it would all be worth it.
What’s your opinion of the current York music scene?
Over the last couple of years the music scene in York seems to have exploded, in a good way might I add. The music in York is vibrant and not one evening goes by without there being some form of live music happening. My two favourite places to visit are The Black Swan Folk Club, which regularly puts on a host of folk acts from all over the world, as well as The Basement where you can find me sitting at the back with a large gin and tonic swaying along to the songs.
Any last words for readers?
Well I am sure you’ll be able to guess what I will say… come along to York’s Little Festival of Live Music on Parliament Street from 18-26 September (not 21 and 22), 5pm-9pm. There will be 28 hours of live music, in a warm marquee so you don’t have to worry about the weather. There will also be a champagne bar available and did I mention that the festival is free admission? If you want to find out more about our festival visit us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.
York’s Little Festival of Live Music takes place on Parliament Street from Friday 18 to Saturday 26 September 2015, 5 to 9pm