A NEW addition to Morpeth’s music scene is hoping to make a big impact.
Venue @ Riverside Lodge has been set up in the function room at the High Stanners building after owners Bill and Liz Durning decided they wanted to stage more music-related events.
They were advised to get in touch with Sue Brind, who has a background in music promotion, and after a few meetings, the facility was established.
More than 200 people attended the first gig, a performance by Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash, last week.
Morpeth will have its own music festival over two days in May.
As well as some well-known acts and local bands, up-and-coming musicians will be on stage as a competition has been organised to fill the remaining slots.
Ms Brind said that the function room is the ideal location to run activities as it is a decent size, has a big stage, a lighting system and there is a “great atmosphere” during a concert.
“We’re looking to establish Venue @ Riverside Lodge as the main venue for music in Morpeth, but I believe we’re complementing what is already happening in the town and we’re not competing with anyone,” she said.
“We are aiming to stage concerts featuring well-known bands and performers, an example being From the Jam on June 23, and we will also be giving local musicians the opportunity to showcase their talent.
“But it’s not only about putting on gigs, we will be hosting events and activities for all sections of the community and some of them will not be entirely music-related. These include a workshop by the Newcastle Panto Company in the summer and stalls for arts and crafts in November.
“Some instrument masterclasses will be held here too, such as how to make and play a cigar box guitar, led by Trevor Sewell.”
The festival, called River Fest, will take place on Saturday, May 4 and Sunday, May 5. The two headline acts are Prelude (Saturday) and Trevor Sewell Blues Band (Sunday).
Other performers include Monty’s Travelling Music Show, Simon Todd, Paul Liddell, Steve Daggett, Pete Scott, Anna Corcoran, Amie Addison, Groove-a-matics, Rod Clements and Ian Thompson, Peter Donegan, Jon Strong Band, Hookah and Fickle Lilly.
The competition is open to all musicians and singer/songwriters aged 18 and above. Entrants need to submit a four-track CD, which does not need to be of studio quality, and those short-listed will perform at showcase events to select the six finalists who will be invited to play at the festival.
Ms Brind said: “River Fest is an exciting event and it means people in Morpeth and surrounding areas don’t have to travel elsewhere to see so many high quality musicians perform in one weekend. As the venue is indoors, it doesn’t matter if there is a bit of rain.
“We’re really pleased with the line-up as many of the acts have played internationally. If it goes well, we’re looking for it to become an established part of the music calendar.
“The six musicians who get selected from the competition will get the experience of performing live in a festival environment, which is very different from playing at a buskers’ night or similar events.”
Tickets for each day of River Fest are priced £15 in advance and £20 on the day. They are available from the Riverside Lodge or by calling 01670 512771.
Musicians can get an entry form for the competition from the venue or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The deadline to submit a CD is the end of March.