Sunderland folk urged to write a song

Terri and Eric Freeman of the Davy Lamp Folk Club.
Terri and Eric Freeman of the Davy Lamp Folk Club.
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WEARSIDERS with an ear for music are being given the chance to showcase their sound.

Organisers of the city’s first Sunderland Folk Festival are hoping to unearth talent in a songwriting competition.

The winner will be able to sing their song on the festival main stage while also winning a day in Studio One with one of the region’s best recording engineers.

Terri Freeman, of The Davy Lamp Folk Club, who is programmer for the festival, said: “This is a great opportunity for a songwriter in what is hopefully going to be a very high-profile event.

“The tune has got to be good and the words meaningful, maybe reflecting something of Northern culture.”

The themes for the competition, which closes on August 15, are the River Wear and the changing face of Sunderland.

Echo editor Rob Lawson will be one of the judges along with local songwriters Jez Lowe and Billy Mitchell.

The Sunderland Folk Festival has been organised by Sunderland City Council, Phoenix Folk and The Davy Lamp Folk Group and will run from August 27 to 29.

Events will be split across city venues including Mowbray Park, the National Glass Centre and Independent on Holmeside.

The festival is hoping to attract newcomers to the folk scene after the surge of “indie-folk” music entering the charts in the last few years, with artists such as Fleet Foxes, Mumford and Sons, Joanna Newsome and Iron and Wine leading the new movement.

Terri added: “Folk music tends to go in cycles. I’ve been involved in it since I was a teenager and it was very trendy then. I think maybe during times of austerity people revert to something real. The manufactured pop in the charts at the minute is a bit remote to people’s lives.

“But acoustic music seems to be very in vogue.”

As well as performances by popular folk artists including The Peatbog Faeries, The Doonan Family Big Band and BBC Radio 2’s 2009 Musician of the Year The Tom McConville Band, the festival will also feature workshops.

Coun John Kelly, Sunderland City Council portfolio holder for safer city and culture, said: “The festival will be the biggest folk festival in the North East. We’re hoping to reach people around the city but also for areas like Cumbria, to bring people into Sunderland for the festival.”

Twitter: @SunechoKaty