In the days after the tragic Manchester bombing, one of the stars of this year’s Sunniside Live Festival says it’s more important than ever to celebrate life through music.
Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick will head up acid jazz band Incognito when they perform on the opening night of Sunderland’s only city centre music festival on Friday, July 7, one of many events which has increased its security following the terror attack.
Like all of the band’s performances it will feature a melting pot of multicultural music, a rich sound which led to the band being at the forefront of a new British acid jazz sound when they formed more than thirty years ago.
Bluey says in light of the recent attack it’s more important than ever to “show the world we are one.”
The guitarist, bandleader, composer and record producer said: “We played the Bataclan every year before the Paris attack and now this awful attack at a Manchester music event, it’s happened again. People are trying to stop us celebrating life, through misunderstanding and a lack of knowledge of what it’s like to share a loving vibe.
“People go to events like this because of their love of music and human life, we celebrate it through music. Now, after that level of ignorance, we have to shine even stronger. Music to us is like breathing air, it makes us come together and act lovingly with smiles on our faces.
“Performers have great affection for their audiences and that stream of life is something we should celebrate to let the world know we are one.”
Music is in Bluey’s blood and is a passion that led to him founding Incognito in 1979, a band which fused jazz-funk, acid jazz, jazz, soul and pop into one sound designed to make people dance.
Over the years the act has released a number of dancefloor fillers including Always There and Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing and have been heralded for bringing a new sound to Britain.
“It’s amazing to be able to open doors in music,” said Bluey. “We listened to the jazz, soul and funk that was coming out of America. At first we didn’t think we were making a new sound, we thought we were copying that. But our music wasn’t American, it was born in a multicultural Britain. I grew up in a community with so many different influences, from Jamaican reggae to African communities and Hispanic. It was a much more open culture and it created this new sound because we belonged to a melting pot.”
Bluey says festivals such as Sunniside Live are the perfect arena for the feel good Incognito sound.
“Many musicians get caught up in the technicality of music,” he said. “They don’t really go out and dance to music, they spend a lot of time making music in studios and talking about it. But right from the conception of Incognito we were about the music we enjoyed dancing to in clubs. That’s the roots of jazz itself. “They had blues but they needed a sound to make people party and forget about their troubles.”
He added: “For me I’m living the dream. Music is something I’ve wanted to do since my earliest recollection of being a human on this planet. This band has afforded me the chance to travel the world and play every day.
“I know what it’s like to not play music, to work in a factory while you’re chasing your dream, so for me it’s a biggy to get up every day and be able to do this.”
Next month’s performance will be Bluey’s first in Sunderland and one that has extra resonance following the Manchester terror attack.
“I’ve travelled the world and been to so many places. I have a map which I colour in for every place I go, but I’ve never been to Sunderland. Now I get to colour it in and bring the party to Sunderland and we can’t wait.
“We’re looking forward to performing more, with all this craziness, because it’s more important than ever to come together.”
The organisers of Sunniside Live, which will take place on July 7 and 8 in Sunniside Gardens, have pledged to increase security following the tragedy at Manchester Arena.
Helen Davies, who runs the festival with Sean Maddison, said: “A week on from the devastating attack in Manchester, the team at Sunniside Live wish to ensure all festival-goers that their safety on July 7/8 is our number 1 priority.
“We are liaising with local police and increased security measures will be taken so the festival is a safe environment for all.
“This is in line with nationwide action for extra caution during events with high numbers of attendance.”
Around 4,000 people are expected to attend the third Sunniside Live, which will also feature performances from Heather Small from M People, Happy Mondays and The Farm.
Organisers have also said that 10percent of ticket sales that take place in the first two weeks of June will go to North East family members of those killed in the Manchester atrocity.
•Day passes and weekend tickets are available from www.sunnisidelive.co.uk