The Best of York Review

Jason Chinnian gives his verdict on the newest music festival in York: The Best of York Music Festival in aid of The Ambulance Wish Foundation, Sunday 27th May 2018 at York Sports Club, Shipton Road, York.

The renowned sporting venue played host to another large outdoor music festival showcasing some of the best music talent from the area: grungy rock bands, a Ska based Latin combo, big sounding power rock bands and all contrasting beautifully with accomplished acoustic artists.

The event was the brain child of Serina Doran. Personal experience led her to come into contact with The Ambulance Wish Foundation UK. The foundation was initially set up in Holland and was established here in the UK by Alice Berrill relatively recently. Its purpose is to grant wishes to those who are immobile, elderly and terminally ill.  They are given the resources, specialist transport and medical care to make memories and fulfil a wish. These wishes can be simple such as a visit home or to a place of personal significance. The charity has a specially designed ambulance to transport those in safety and comfort using an assist system to reduce stress and provide a gentle, quiet and smooth experience to where they want to go.

So, this event was organised by Serina to raise awareness and funds for this foundation and create a platform for some of York’s best music talent to perform and fulfil this purpose.

Mike Redpath and his team at Yorkshire Stage & Sound provided the stage and PA’s for the main and acoustic stage. The sound from both front of house and the monitor mix on the stages was excellent and helped make the event a success. Feedback from the artists supported this.

The event was opened by Ian Kay Soul Band. This band is a full-on soul ensemble with brass section to give that big punchy beat and piercing rhythmic melody to Northern Soul classics such The Miracle’s ‘Whole Lot Of Shaking Going On’, Chuck Woods’ ‘Seven Days Too Long’, Al Wilson’s cover of ‘The Snake’ and countless others.

They were followed by acoustic musician Kelly Boland at the acoustic stage who sang some beautiful songs which supported her great vocals.

The area designated for the event was a good-sized space and ideal for the 550+ attendees. There was a hot food stall, a well-stocked bar who served everyone very quickly, an ice-cream van, performers on stilts, a bouncy castle as well as the special ambulance on show with qualified and experienced staff on hand to talk about it.

The main stage then played host to what I can only describe as a Ska Latin groove combo. Again, a brass section was present to give The Flat Cap Carnival the Latin vibe needed to get the punters up on their feet and dancing. There was good banter from the lead singer with the crowd and he got people clapping and singing along.

Back to the acoustic stage saw the performance of Rachel Croft who sang her own material and sang it beautifully. Her vocal tone and control was the highlight of the festival to that point. She stunned and silenced the crowd at several points, with a moody and full range voice accompanied by her own guitar playing.  She states her influences as Eva Cassidy and many of the great female vocalists. She has a CD out and is currently recording her next one.  She said ‘she hoped that her playing brought a nice contrast to the bands on the main stage and she was so glad to have been a part of this first festival for the foundation’.

The next band to take to the main stage was 5K who describe themselves as a party band. Personal interest for me in this band was that Laurie Caudwell, the drummer, is actually a drummer in the same band as me, The 515’s. I had not seen his band before but had endured many an hour of him talking about heavy metal and all its various offshoots. So, I was pleasantly surprised to hear, when they struck up, that it was not some weird time-signature like 7/4 but cover versions of well-known grunge classics including a great version of ‘Smooth Criminal’. Their lead singer was also a joy to behold, throwing himself around the stage with his platinum blonde hair and carrying an uncanny similarity to our very own Foreign Secretary; Boris Johnson. He really got the crowd going and was amply supported by the band that were happy jumping about, posing and putting on a proper show. They set the scene for the headline act to follow. Laurie commented on how ‘pleased they were to be asked to play and for such a great cause.  You always hope for someone to have that last wish’.

Other acts on the main stage that helped create the success for this first event were: Honours, Serotones, Lost Trends, Beth McCarthy and Silver Tones. They were nicely contrasted with the acoustic artists, Joe Griffiths, Tom McKenzie, Ava Rose & Dominic Patrick, who also gave performances that both calmed and roused the crowd with the odd sing-along.

Finally, the main act took to the stage: The Super Models. This band has a huge reputation and I am honoured to know some of the band members and have worked them in the past. I was very much looking forward to seeing them. I had caught Jon Stewart earlier who had said ‘how much they were looking forward to playing this event. They had had a break from playing live for a couple of months but had played a couple of times that weekend already. So they were nicely warmed up and ready to give it all they had’. The Super Models open with their big sound with a Who cover ‘Teenage Wasteland’ and Stewart’s vocals really suit this style of song superbly. I close my eyes and he sounds like Daltrey. The set included other Who numbers as well as my favourite Queen track ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ and other huge anthems finishing with Simple Mind’s ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’ a classic show stopping stadium filler.

Congratulations to Serina Doran and all who supported, volunteered, performed and attended. A new festival has made its mark and raised funds and awareness for a relatively new charity. Word on the ‘music’ street is that this festival will be taking place again next year so keep your eyes peeled and your ears open because this is not to be missed.

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