A proper English village gets festive


Semley has a long tradition of music – including its many years as the home of guitarist Julian Bream and more recently the composer Sadie Harrison. Now it is adding local bands to the heritage, with an all-day Music Festival, on Saturday 8th July.
It will be the second festival, bringing together local people and local bands – indies, playing their own music – for a day of fun, entertainment, crafts, food and drink and other activities.

Home-grown band Bare Jams will be coming from Bristol to headline the festival

A successful beginning
In 2022, as we all emerged from the dark days of lockdown, Jane McCarthy and David Curless were inspired to organise the new Semley Music Festival.
As they say, it’s a small village with big ideas: ‘Semley has always enjoyed seasonal events to mark the passing of the year – from traditional summer fête to harvest supper in a barn; bonfire and fireworks to candlelit carol service. We’re lucky enough to have all the key components of a proper English village – a church, school, pub, village hall and community-run shop and café. And at the heart of it all, there’s a broad sweep of common land.
‘What better place for a festival? What better time than after a long period of isolation? The idea was to celebrate together – our return to normality, the summer, village life – and offer musicians the opportunity of live performance after their long absence from the stage.’
With no experience of organising a festival, Jane and David relied on their own ambition and love of music and ‘the certainty that Semley would rise to the occasion.’
Support from local businesses allowed them to book and pay young, aspiring musicians and well-established artists, and expert technical crew to ensure the quality of sound and lighting.
In the event, the nine hours of live music and more of the inaugural festival was on the only wet day in a long summer heatwave. But the torrential rain didn’t dampen enthusiasm and the new event was a great success. ‘We sang and danced in the rain and vowed to do it all again in 2023,’ as Jane and David put it.

Going bigger for 2023
This year’s festival is “bigger and better”, with 12 hours of live music across two stages with something for everyone, from roots to blues, soul to salsa – a strong line-up of original and experimental musicians, many of whom tour the UK, Europe and beyond. They include a band from the streets of São Paulo, a singer from Chile and own home-grown headliners, Bare Jams, who now live in Bristol but command quite a following around the world.
There will be locally brewed craft beer, chilled lager, Pimms or a glass of wine, a wood-fired pizza oven, halloumi fries and homemade burgers, an ice cream van and a tea tent.
Other activities include a free Tai Chi session, glitter tattoos, helping to construct a giant festive rhino and the popular Bubblesman, who returns with his fire hoop dancers to charm the children like a benign Pied Piper.

July. Tickets: Adults £25, YA (16-20) £10, children £5, Family £55. For more festival details, including the full line-up, visit semleymusicfestival.org.


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