Hairy Bikers' Si King on what to expect from Sunderland's new Soul Food and Music festival

“Come and support what’s going on” says Hairy Biker Si King about a new Sunderland festival he’s helped curate.

Tuesday, 31st May 2022, 4:33 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st June 2022, 9:29 am

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Soul Food & Music Festival is hitting the city from June 10-12 bringing a host of street food traders, food demos and musical performances to the city.

The festival will span two sites, with free demos and performances from local artists taking place in Keel Square from 11am on all three days. Food stalls at Keel Square will include Noodle Express, gin stand Ginka, Taste of Germany, beer stand Caps Off and Flavour of Coffee, as well as Greek food, Venezuelan burgers, Polish food and a horse box cocktail and Prosecco bar.

Then, each evening, from 6pm to 11pm, there will be musical performances taking place on a specially-erected stage over the road on the old Vaux site, for which tickets must be bought.

Soul Food and Music Festival is running over 3 days from June 10-12.

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Featuring performances from acts such as The King Cush Band, Voices of Virtue choir, Groove Train, Vandebilt and Smoove & Turrell, the musical element is called Souled Out. There will also be street food traders such as Scream For Pizza, Dosa Kitchen, burger specialists One Dining and Nan Bei with stalls next to the stage.

Si, who rose to fame as one half of chef duo The Hairy Bikers, had come up with the idea of a festival which combined music and food and had mentioned it at a meeting with Sunderland council executives who suggested he should host it here.

"What’s wonderful about it is the willingness by executives to push forward and get the licence,” said Si. “The level of enthusiasm in the council and the willingness to get stuff done has been tangible. We’re so excited to be part of the collective that’s bringing the first festival to this new site.

"Wearside has never lost it character and personality, but it’s been hidden over the years. But events like this are a great way to say ‘this is who we are and what we do.’ It’s a chance to reinvigorate people to support the city.”

Si King is curating the event

He added: "Given the level of adversity in the past, the people have always been warm and kind and the next stage in the regeneration of the city is showing other places that Sunderland is a great place to come.

"Events like this literally bring the city alive again and I know there will be a groundswell of support. A continual programme of cultural events helps to create a culture of stake holding and ownership within the community.

"The biggest role the people in Sunderland can play is to come and support what’s going on because it’s for them. I can come up and make suggestions and help, but it’s their city.

"What’s important about events like Souled Out is that it’s all local people so all the money spent goes into the infrastructure of the community, money in the circle of change that spills into every day lives.”

Smoove & Turrell will be performing

County Durham-born Si went to school in Washington and said he’s been impressed with how much the skyline has changed since he moved away from the area.

"I got lost at first, there’s a new road, a new bridge, new City Hall,” he said. “It’s amazing and says so much about the willingness for change and the want and need for change.”

::Day time events for the Soul Food and Music Festival are free. Tickets for the evening performances are priced £15 plus booking fee from wwwsoulfoodmusicfestival.co.uk/

Voices of Virtue choir
Scream for Pizza are one of the confirmed traders
The free element of the festival takes place in Keel Square