The Chase Park Festival is a one day accessible festival that I’ve now been to twice. This year it relocated from Chase Park to Saltwell Park, retaining the Chase Park name and brand. The Saltwell Park site was a perfect enclosed setting in the afternoon and early evening sunshine.
You can read all about this festival on their website. I can’t recommend it highly enough, especially if you have a family (the kids loved the goodie bags from sponsors; Voyage Care & Honda and the free face painting). The tickets were an absolute steal at less than £35 for a family of 4 (when we went in 2015 it was an astonishing £10 for a family of 4!). If you are lucky enough to be a fan of any of the acts playing, then it’s incredible value, but if you aren’t, for that price it’s worth a punt regardless. Two of the acts playing yesterday are two of my current favourite bands and I was able to reacquaint myself with a band I was a big fan of in the 2000’s.
The accessible aspect of the festival is what makes this unique. There’s a huge mix of people of different abilities in a superbly organised, inclusive arena. A second stage (band stand) demonstrated an outstanding array of talents from those who unfortunately don’t get many opportunities like this.
The pace of the music didn’t let up until the final three acts on the main stage. Until that point, the acts on both stages alternated with barely a pause for breath, so there was no time for restlessness.
We missed the first act (Fiona King) on the second stage. All (Percy Hedley, White Dove, The Twist) were entertaining, but the final act, The Soundbeam Band, were the pick of them for me, despite some unfortunate power cuts.
Present: I was there with my wife, Clare and our two girls; Lana & Erin. Andrew was there with his daughter. My brother, Mike, was there with his wife and two girls. We set up for the afternoon and enjoyed a picnic in the sun while enjoying the music.
My daughter, Erin, has become a bit of a poster girl for the Festival’s press since we attended in 2015, with the following picture attached to virtually every article that pops up on social media feeds (just search chase park festival on google images and you’ll see):
Drinks: Wylam Brewery provided an excellent bar and I enjoyed several Galatia during the afternoon. My brother sampled each of their real ale offerings. The only complaint about the bar was how busy it got after 5pm, but it’s always a tricky balance to know how busy it will be.
James Leonard Hewitson opened the main stage with a thoroughly enjoyable set. This was soon followed by Vito playing some good indie rock. Alex Francis then slowed things down with a fabulous acoustic chilled out set in the blazing sunshine. I’ll be adding Alex to my spotify playlist. Boy Jumps Ship then turned up the volume and our kids went to the front and really enjoyed themselves (Andrew & I went for a bit of a trek to the nearest cashpoint for most of this set).
Cattle & Cane
One of my current favourite bands took the stage at around 5pm. This is the 4th time I’ve seen them in the last 12 months and they never disappoint. Both Lana & Erin declared them as their favourite of the day and you can’t fail to see why. There’s a slight possibility of bias from my kids after we spotted Helen and Joe on site earlier in the day and they were kind enough to do some signings for all of our kids. They are a band from teesside who deserve more recognition than they get. The Poacher is always a set highlight for me, but Saviour wasn’t far behind.
I’ve seen Little Comets 3 times now and they seem to be getting better each time. I think this set just edged it as my favourite on the day. The band seemed to be really enjoying themselves and that always seems to add something to the show. There were loads of highlights form this set; Bridge Burn (Lana’s favourite), The Man Who Wrote Thriller, Joanna, A bientot, Dancing Song to name a few. Another band that deserve more recognition (latest album, Worhead, deserved a higher chart placing than 83), but I’m glad I was introduced to them back in 2015.
Headliners on the day were The Coral. I’ve caught The Coral 5 times now, but most of these were in the early 2000’s. I became less familiar with their albums after 4th album, Roots & Echoes, but I plan to get reacquainted after this excellent headline slot. It was really only the middle of the set that I was unfamiliar with, but it was a good career spanning retrospective. There were some incredible guitar solos on show here, and the crowd were heavily involved on the way to a crowd-pleasing end with Dreaming Of You.
If you’ve never been to the Chase Park Festival or have never heard of it, then it would be well worth keeping an eye out for their offering next year (fingers crossed there is one) as it’s sure to be something special.