Carnival colour in Sunderland park

A steel drum band called 'Don't Panic' brought an air of Caribbean music to the festival.
A steel drum band called 'Don't Panic' brought an air of Caribbean music to the festival.
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SUNDERLAND came alive to the sounds of home-grown and world music as a colourful carnival of noise journeyed through the city.

The Summer Streets event brought thousands of people to Thompson Park in Southwick, after a parade, including steel band Don’t Panic, set off from the community’s primary school.

And despite overcast and wet weather for large parts of the day, those attending said they were glad to see the fun staged in the city for the first time and hoped it would become a regular fixture.

The programme of events was organised by The Futureheads’ bass player Ross Millard, on behalf of The Cultural Spring, a multimillion-pound Arts Council-funded project bringing arts and culture to five wards in Sunderland and five in South Tyneside.

The weekend’s event followed on from the first segment of the three-year cultural scheme, the Great North Passion, which took place in South Shields on Good Friday.

The parade made its way to the park, as bands including Turkish group Kolektif Istanbul, Sunderland’s own the Lake Poets and City Road Survivors, featuring BBC Look North’s Jeff Brown, performed.

Thornhill chemistry teacher Amer Sheikh and his hip-hop collective The Word also took to the stage, as did Bluegrass band Kentucky Cow Tippers. Rock fans Kevin Martin, 49, and his son Ben, 13, of Southwick, said it was great to see music performances close to home for once.

“I went to see Green Day recently but I had to go down to the Emirates Stadium in London for it,” said Kevin.

“There’s all different types of music today and it’s brilliant that they are here in Sunderland.”

Sunderland folk musician and author Keith Gregson has been working with Town End Farm and Bexhill academies in the area to create a “Sunderland Anthem”, which a newly-formed choir made up of pupils from the schools performed on the Summer Voices Stage.

“This is a long-term project and I think it’s fantastic,” said Keith.

“The song we’ve written is about what the people of Sunderland like about their city, whether that’s the football team, the seaside, the parks or even the Bridges.

“I think there are a lot of people who maybe play music at home, sometimes in their bedrooms, and this is about getting them out and involved in performing and showing off their talents.”

Southwick councillor Norma Wright, who was one of those who came along to watch the performances, said: “It’s fantastic to see the park used in this way.”

“We’ve been working for years to see things improved so that residents can reclaim it as their own and that’s what’s happening today.”