It has been a fantastic start to Gillingham’s Community Festival, GillFest2016, which despite the wet weather remained 100% mud-free in the large covered area at Orchard Park! Friday night saw local band ‘Loose Connections’ kick off with a set that got everyone in the right mood for the main band ‘The Unravelling Wilburys’ whose amazing song catalogue delighted the crowd.
The band formed a while ago to reproduce the Beatles songs and were known then as Sergeant Pepper’s Only Dart Board Band performing throughout the UK and Europe, but then took on the task of emulating the original super-group The Travelling Wilburys which comprised Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne of ELO, Tom Petty and Beatle George Harrison. The performers captured the style and sounds perfectly and with their own added sense of humour gave the audience an evening to remember.
Saturday night brought singer-songwriter Beverley Craven to the stage with new songs as well as her well-known 1991 hit single ‘Promise Me’. Beverley has a wonderful voice and is a very accomplished piano/keyboard player accompanied by saxophonist Frank Mead whose professional biography mentions more legendary bands and artists than you could imagine.
Sunday brought a different tone altogether with a much appreciated concert from Gillingham’s Imperial Silver Band, a group of talented and polished local musicians who gave their audience a range of music from film and stage musicals.
The festival continues throughout the week with performances from Nicolas Parsons, Gervase Phinn and The Blues Band who will be at Orchard Park on Friday night. The Blues Band, fronted by Paul Jones includes other members of the famous sixties band ‘Manfred Mann’, and musicians who have played with great blues artists the world over. They are widely acknowledged throughout Europe and beyond as the very finest rhythm and blues musicians around. Saturday sees a great swing band take the stage; The Terry Hill Big Band with hits from the 30’s to the 60’s and beyond including all the big band classics and jazz standards.
The Festival rounds off with a remarkable line up for the last night; three of the world’s finest guitarists, John Williams, John Etheridge and Gary Ryan all at Orchard Park.
GillFest2016 is truly a community festival, sponsored and supported by local businesses and people raising funds for local charities Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance, Dorset Blind Association and Msaada.