Setting the stage

Songbird Sessions performing at last year’s Wanstead Festival. ©Jennifer SchenckSongbird Sessions performing at last year’s Wanstead Festival. ©Jennifer Schenck

Pete Feldon is looking for local bands, choirs and solo acts to complete the line-up for this year's Wanstead Festival. Videographers are also needed to document the performances.

Wanstead Festival provides a great opportunity for local musicians to perform on a professional music stage and, hopefully, entertain an appreciative audience. I am a Wanstead resident who has been helping with finding performers for the music stage at the Wanstead Festival since shortly after it first began.

We usually have a good variety of musical genres. Last year included a choir, a jazz band, a couple of rock bands and Songbird Sessions, who had competed in BBC TV's Pitch Battle. Every year, we have someone from Wanstead High School, and last year it was the Fab Sisters.

In choosing the performers, preference is given to those who have at least one member who is a Wanstead resident. But it has to be good music, so sometimes we widen our scope to include other Redbridge residents. As well as aiming to provide a range of musical styles, we try to ensure there is a diversity of performers and also those who play covers of well-known songs and those who write their own material.

Most of our performers are amateur musicians, but they all take music very seriously and play to a high standard. Some of the performers have gone on to greater things, such as the O'Neill sisters who formed Bleech with Matt Bick and recorded two well-received albums. All three were Wanstead High School students. Many performers only play once, but some have played several times, such as Murray Salmon, a jazz bassist who has played with artists such as the Humphrey Lyttleton Band.

I first got involved 17 years ago when the Wanstead Business Partnership ran the Wanstead Festival. I remarked at a consultation meeting that there wasn't enough rock music, so I was asked to volunteer to sort this out. Ever since then, I have been involved in finding performers and supporting them on the day. I've played several times myself, although always in different bands.

It has been a great experience for me, but looking to the future, it would be great if someone could take over the finding of performers and stage-management. The organisers of the festival at Vision RCL could do it and I'm sure they would do a good job, but a local volunteer would be better.

We don't have much in the way of a record of previous performances other than photographs. It would be good if we could make a video, so in addition to musicians, I would be pleased to hear from any videographers out there who are interested in getting involved.

The Wanstead Festival will take place on Christchurch Green on 16 September from 11am to 6pm. For more information about performing, email  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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