Stars of the show

SPLIT 2011: Hyde and Beast.
SPLIT 2011: Hyde and Beast.
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SUNDERLAND bands Hyde and Beast, B>E>A>K, The Lake Poets and Chased by Wolves are gearing up to appear at this weekend’s Willowman Festival in North Yorkshire.

First held in 2010, the Willowman is a four-day celebration of arts and music set in the middle of the countryside – an hour and a half drive away from Wearside by car.

The Sunderland acts will be sharing an eclectic bill which includes Benjamin Francis Leftwich, former Stranglers front man Hugh Cornwell, Ska legend Neville Staple from The Specials, Utah Saints, Vintage Trouble and Jah Wobble.

The event takes place over the Summer Solstice weekend from June 21 to 24 at the Hillside Rural Activities Park, near Thirsk.

Festival organiser Steve Williams Steve Williams said: “l am delighted to pepper my line-up with some of the most innovative emerging talent from the North East of England. Hyde and Beast will entertain the masses with their retro sound and Beach Boy-esque harmonies.

“B>E>A>K are ranked very high in the Willowman pecking order and promise a very visual and innovative set, while solo performer The Lake Poets will not be outshone with his own brand of thought-provoking lyricism. He also has the distinction of recently being voted by Sun FM Radio as this year’s best unsigned act.”

As well as live music, the Willowman real ale tent is back, along with a wide range of food stalls and this year there are hot showers available too.

Steve added: “Willowman is an event that appeals to all ages and this is reflected in the line-up, which is a blend of emerging and established acts.

“This year’s Children’s Willow Wonderland is going to be the best yet, and should keep the younger visitors happy and give a truly family feel to the festival.

“There will be games, robots and toys as well as stilt walkers, jugglers and magicians.”

Steve Williams, whose Viking Productions is based in Northallerton, is the ex-musical director of Scotland’s Wickerman Festival, which won the Best Grassroots Event in 2007.

The event has been moved this year to show and events venue Hillside Rural Activities Park, between Thirsk and Northallerton. The site boasts flat camping areas, campsite water points and easy access from the A19.

l Tickets, which include four days camping, are £70 each (children under 12 can go for free) and are available online from or from Hot Rats music shop, in Stockton Road, Sunderland (Tel. 567 2099)