Annual celebration of Sunderland music talent returns with free concert

An annual celebration of Sunderland's emerging music talent returns tomorrow.

The annual Smile Concert takes place on Saturday, August 18 from 11am to 3pm
The annual Smile Concert takes place on Saturday, August 18 from 11am to 3pm

Since the Smile Concert first took place in 1994 it’s become a platform for some of the city’s brightest music stars including The Futureheads, Field Music and The Lake Poets.

Now the stars of tomorrow will take to the stage from 11am to 3pm at the bandstand in Mowbray Park to showcase their talent.

This year’s concert, which is free to attend, has a strong acoustic flavour with performances from Lee Mackel, Morgan Faith, Tammy Proctor, Day’ve Blyth, Dave Murray, Red Revival, Symbient, Trinity Tweddle, Jarvis Band featuring Alex Connor, Greg Moss and Split Sentence.

The concert is organised by Sunderland Music Workshops, a city music hub based at Deptford and Millfield Community Centre that has helped young people reach their musical potential for decades.

At the helm of the project is Dave Murray, founder and co-ordinator of Sunderland Music Workshops. He said: “It’s great for these young people to have the freedom to excel on the stage and to do something positive for the community.

“These are young, creative people who often aren’t involved in larger music projects in the area, but they’ve made the decision off their own backs to come to the workshops and find their niche.

“This year’s concert is all songwriters so I’m not sure if Ed Sheeran is influencing people to be creative in that way, but it’s great for them to be able to express themselves through music.”

Dave added: “For many this is the first step into the music industry. Some don’t go on to be performers but are involved in the industry in other ways, such as being an agent.”

This year’s concert is being held in memory of youth worker Michael Waters who died from lung disease.

There will also be badge-making and face painting tents at the event.