Sit back and enjoy ... A festival of music

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The Sunderland Festival, which launches tomorrow in the city, sees a host of live music being performed around Wearside.

Katy Wheeler looks at the highlights.

THE Sunderland Festival begins with live music from leading local bands including Kings of Lyon, The Generals, Rayne and The Familiar Ones.

It takes place at the Northern Area Playing Fields, tomorrow, from 7pm to 11pm.

Tickets are £3/£2 conc and are available online from or from the Tourist Information Centre, now based within the City Library & Arts centre, Fawcett Street, Sunderland.

l Northern Area Playing Fields, Saturday, 7pm to 11pm.

Country and Western Night with live music and dance from Lee Davis, Texas Back Four and Knoxville.

Tickets as above.

l The Aaron Bayley Band at Herrington Country Park on Saturday from 6pm.

Aaron was a finalist in the first series of Pop Idol when he fondly became known as “The Train Driver”.

He was dubbed the people’s champion by Simon Cowell, who also said that Aaron had one of the best voices he’s heard.

The Newcastle singer has since performed in national arenas around the country and has become an accomplished song writer with many of his songs recorded by artists around the world.

He has also recorded a new album, Guardian Angel, which is a blend of country/rock and is available on iTunes.

This event is free.

l Bill Stewart, Northern Area Playing Fields on Saturday from 2.30pm-3.15pm and Sunday from 2.30pm-3.15pm.

Hailing from Jarrow, singer/songwriter/guitarist Bill, it’s fair to say, is probably little known outside his native North East.

He has, however, been a semi-professional musician for many years with a leaning to folk blues and country.

His album, On Top Of The World, was recorded at Studio One in Houghton and includes old blues chestnut. Sittin’ On Top Of The World, as well as Stewart’s own Who Do You Think You Are?, an ode to the hard life of miners and their families in the early 1900s and the misery they had to suffer.

l The Rae Brothers New Orleans Jazz Band, Northern Area Playing Fields on Saturday at 11.30am-12.15pm and 4pm to 4.45pm. Also Sunday at noon to 12.45pm and 4pm-4.45pm.

The Rae Brothers New Orleans Jazz Band was formed in 1995 and set out to capture the sound and feeling described by Ken Colyer (New Orleans jazz giant) as the “New Orleans Bounce,” the style made famous by musicians who lived and worked in and around New Orleans, Louisiana.

l Barnes Park, Sunday from 2pm to 4pm, Sounds of America. Free American swing and jazz music from the Bright Street Big Band in the newly-regenerated park.

The Sunderland Festival runs in the city from July 1-4.

It replaces the Kite Festival and has an American theme to celebrate first American president George Washington’s links to the area.

People attending any of the four days of Sunderland Festival events can expect everything from classic American car displays, funfair rides and American football to cheerleading, music and dance, performed by local schools and community groups, American cuisine along with family and professional kite-flying.

Events are taking pace at venues across the city including the Northern Area Playing Fields, Arts Centre Washington, Sunniside Gardens, Washington Old Hall and Roker.

The festival culminates in Independence Day celebrations at Washington Old hall on Monday, July 4.