Sunderland schoolboy invited to play major music festival by indie hero Tim Burgess

Tom Smith on stage at the Best of Wearside awards.
Tom Smith on stage at the Best of Wearside awards.

Talented Tom Smith has been invited to play a major music festival after tweeting one of his heroes.

The 12-year-old, from East Rainton, was happy just to get a reply from The Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess, let alone be invited to play his stage at this year’s Kendal Calling.

But the indie rock singer was so impressed by Tom’s cover of David Bowie track Lazarus that he asked him to play his Tim Peaks Diner stage at the festival, which has been graced by the likes of Edwyn Collins and Sunderland’s Frankie & the Heartstrings.

Tom is no stranger to performing with music stars. Despite his young age, he’s already shared the stage with chart-topper James Bay, Catfish and the Bottlemen and Hyde & Beast.

He’s also racked up appearances at festivals including Glastonbury and T in the Park, as well as a show-stopping set at the SAFC Fan Zone.

Tim Burgess said: “Tom tweeted me his David Bowie cover and asked if he could come and play at Tim Peaks. It’s as simple as that sometimes – he’s really talented, so we found a space on the bill for him. Twitter’s good like that. I’m really looking forward to seeing him play.”

The Houghton Kepier pupil often uses his gigs as a platform to raise awareness of Little Hearts Matter, a charity which has helped him to live with a rare heart condition.

Tom was born with hypoplastic left-heart syndrome, which means the left side of his heart is severely underdeveloped.

Although it means he can’t play his beloved football because it would put a strain on his heart, it’s never stopped him throwing himself into music.

Dad Andrew, who runs car dealership TRG Houghton, said: “Tim tweeted him back straight away and got in contact further to make arrangements.

Tim Burgess of The Charlatans, who has invited Tom to play at Kendal Calling.

Tim Burgess of The Charlatans, who has invited Tom to play at Kendal Calling.

Tim also tweeted the Lazarus video link to Iman (David Bowie’s widow), who retweeted it and he got 3,000 views on YouTube in a day.”

Speaking about Tom’s health, Andrew said: “He was really ill with glandular fever at the beginning of the year, which wiped him out for a couple of months, but he’s back on his feet now.”

At Kendal Calling, which takes place in Cumbria from July 28-31, Tom will perform a version of The Charlatans’ track The Only One I Know.