BlakeFest 2017 included the musical acts David Devant & His Spirit Wife, Gwyneth Herbert, Tymon Dogg and Joe Butt. The event was held at Bognor Regis' Newtown Social Club.
2018 Deborah Rose
Harmony and haunting melody weave together in the voices of Deborah Rose and Mari Randle, a sound cradled by guitars with a strong sense of story and magic.
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Amazing, jaw-dropping, spirited sets that raised the bar in Bognor Regis.
Each band performed their own original material from 14 year-old Bognorian, Bella Estelle to David Devant and His Spirit Wife to crowd-pleasers, Dodgy.
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Sounditions' weird world music style went down incredibly well, alongside performances from Sky and The Speak.
There was something in the air and Niall posted 'A beacon has been lit on the Coast'.
All those involved are keen to carry on supporting an authentic Blakean Festival and Attila made a promise to the audience to help organise the next one if the land could be secured.
Tyger tiger burning bright!
“Let your imagination run wild"
BlakeFest is a unique cultural experience by-the-sea celebrating an eclectic and exciting mix of music, art and poetry, as well as offering a varied programme of talks, walks and workshops.
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An eclectic mix of words and music set in the Sussex seaside town of Bognor Regis. William Blake lived in the adjoining village of Felpham from 1801-1803, where he saw visions of angels, was inspired to write Jerusalem and was later placed on trial for sedition in Chichester after an altercation with a soldier outside an inn. Poetry events are curated by the South Downs Poetry Festival. Music includes Charlotte Glasson jazz trio, with legendary guitarist Chris Spedding. Many more bands and musicians lined up throughout the day.
Soundbox - Rob Abbott and Phil Macamara
Acoustic harmony-heavy country-folk blues The Soundbox band is Rob Abbott (guitar vocals) and Phil Macamara (bass vocals). Based in Brighton UK. They play acoustic harmony heavy country-folk blues
Shabbigentile & The Reddleman’s Daughter
Alan Morrison, Mandy Pannett and James Simpson. Three fine South Downs poets present individual takes on poetry today. Coruscating political poetry from Alan Morrison as he launches his newest book, Shabbigentile, South Downs wit and wisdom from Mandy Pannett and Hardyesque mythology from James Simpson’s The Rhyme of the Reddleman’s Daughter. Morrison is well known in new left circles and was nominated for the Forward Prize; Pannett has been nominated for the Robert Graves Award and Simpson is an Arvon/Jerwood Award winner.
Lucy Kitchen - In the search for touchstones
Lucy is often compared to the likes of Joni Mitchell, Beth Orton and, vocally, to Sandy Denny – "Lucy’s vocal tone has hints of the late Sandy Denny in it – a rare and precious thing indeed" (bestnewbands.com) but her sound is all her own. Since her last album, Waking, Lucy has been in demand as a vocalist, working with a number of electronic music acts to write and record songs that have been championed by the likes of BBC Radio 1 and Mixmag. She’s also performed on the John Peel Stage at Glastonbury festival. "These are strong and striking songs, delivered with both fragility and conviction, which deserve to be heard. A gorgeous, atmospheric offering." - Folk Radio UK “Lucy Kitchen has one of those real summer breeze voices, fresh and warm, and it’s very much to the fore on her second album that contains a myriad of delights. And she’s opened up her musical palette here with piano, steel pedal and strings all featured on a release in which she also brings in elements of Americana and lightly toasted psychedelia.” - The Crack Magazine
POETRY AND jAZZ with Raine Geohegan, Barry Smith and Andy Brown
Stimulating mix of poetry and jazzy sounds. A stimulating mix of poetry and jazzy sounds. Raine Geohegan is a Romani poet currently performing at festivals with her Hedgehog Press book of Romani life poems, Apple Water: Povel Panni. Andy Brown is a Professor of Creative Writing at Exeter University with several collections of poetry to his name, including The Fool and the Physician based on the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch and Fall of the Rebel Angels: Poems 1996-2006. He is also a novelist and the editor of A Body of Work, an anthology of poetry and medical writing. Barry Smith was runner-up in the BBC Proms Poetry Competition and is the director of the South Downs Poetry Festival. Widely published in poetry magazines, he regularly works with jazz and roots musicians.
Charlotte Glasson – Jazz Combo
Charlotte Glasson is an in-demand multi-instrumentalist who has played with the likes of Oasis, Unkle, Divine Comedy, Nick Cave, John Cooper Clarke, Foy Vance and Julian Lloyd Webber... She brings her own jazz combo to Bognor BlakeFest at the Regis Centre on Saturday 28th September. A massively experienced performer, she includes, in her musical line-up, the legendary Chris Spedding which absolutely guarantees a high quality musical experience for anyone who attends. Apart from his hit single "Motorbikin", Spedding's guitar credits read like a who's who of popular music... Paul McCartney, Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds, Nilsson, Jack Bruce, Alan Parsons, Roxy Music, The Wombles, Roger Daltrey to name a few. Simply put, this guitarist's guitarist has chosen to play with Charlotte Glasson and brings an extra element to her esteemed musical talent for a not-to-be-missed performance.
Noah’s House Band
From within the hull of Noah’s Ark comes a quirky series of family-friendly folkesque tunes, unlike anything you’ve heard. Using vocal dexterity, honky instruments, household implements and the furthest reaches of imagination, the cast of characters regale us with their wonderfully enchanting tales.
The crew: BRUCE KNAPP // Slidings /, Dobro, Ukelele & VocalsDAVE SOOTHILL // Ramblings / Mandolin, Guitar & Vocals STEVE CUBITT // Gruff / Box on Legs & Vocals PHILIP PALMER // Noah / Guitar, Banjo & Vocals ROB SMITH // Twinklings, Banjo, Ukelele, Toots, Clunks & Vocals
Sirens of Titan Heralding the death of a distant star some 4000 years ago, Sirens of Titan sang the universe into a new period of spiritual liberation and inter galactic musical exploration. Rings of milky pop melodies and strident moons of psychedelic rock orbit around constellations of expressive joy, and improvisational tendencies. The Sirens are fronted by the mighty bardic Titan Mike Fry and joined by percussive time-traveller Steve Cubitt, and the emissaries of the Hedula galaxy, Duncan Burgess and Keith Sutton. “They blew me away... one of the best live bands I’ve seen in a longtime... they really cast a spell all their own. Perfectly poised between structure and disintegration the Sirens aren’t afraid to explore new musical territory. Mike is majestic at the helm, bringing a visceral energy to proceedings and his cerebral reflections on life the universe and everything are well worth listening to!” Olivia Stevens
Free Art Exhibition featuring artist Julie Goldsmith + Aldingbourne Trust artists
Julie works in ceramic, bronze and found objects. Taking the forms of animals or mythic creatures, influences are from literature, music and the Gothic. “I like to tell stories. For this show I have made works that are inspired by Blake’s belief in the imagination, and his visions of fairies in his garden.” Julie's work explores the hidden recesses of the subconscious holding both a dreamlike quality and emotional intensity. Based in London she has exhibited her widely. Last month her work was on the front cover of the International Times Vincent Gray. With wide industrial experience including television, theatre, design and manufacturing, Vincent Gray has worked alongside some notable and highly regarded names in the arts, engineering, military and entertainment, both in the UK and in Scandinavia. His work has introduced him to many leading lights and free thinkers, which he says, ‘do not fail to inspire and influence’. He is the sculptor of the life-size statue of John Keats in Eastgate Square and Leonard Bernstein at St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester. He is currently working on a bronze of Admirals Nelson and Murray and has the ambition to erect a statue of Blake’s Glad Day on Bognor Regis seafront.
Prof Fiona Price Blake, the French Revolution and History. History has always been important to the British, particularly when they think about politics. Blake was no exception. But his imaginative recreations were subversive. In his poem The French Revolution Blake uses allegory and allusion to challenge monarchical government and to re-imagine past and present. His poem can be read as part of the explosion of imaginative history that occurred in Britain after the French Revolution. This paper examines Blake's tactics and compares them to those of his fellow radical, Mary Wollstonecraft.
Dr David Fall on The Road of Excess: Blake as Patron Poet of Pop Music
Blake is everywhere in pop music and has infused his flavour into a radical strain of mythic and visionary songs since at least the 1960s. In this talk I’ll look at why Blake’s works might be so inspiring and hold such appeal for pop musicians. I’ll examine some examples of pop songs inspired by the Blakean muse by, among others, The Doors, Nick Cave, and Julian Cope. I’ll be showing how Blake’s rebellious spirit informs not just the content of the songs, but the songwriters’ approach to Blake himself.
Dr Luke Walker.
William Blake and British Counterculture: Poetry, Politics and the Children of Albion.
William Blake re-emerged one hundred and fifty years after his death to become a presiding spirit of the transatlantic counterculture. His poetic and spiritual influence was central to the ‘new vision’ of the American Beats, but Blake was also an important part of British counterculture and radical politics in the 1960s and 1970s. This talk explores Blake’s influence on the poets featured in the 1969 anthology Children of Albion: Poetry of the Underground in Britain, and shows how this can be linked to the New Left politics and radical social movements of Britain in the period.
‘BlakeFest went brilliantly this year... it just seemed to flow from one exciting thing to the next. Everyone seems to have thoroughly enjoyed it. And so good to have the boost of that Arts Council support’. ‘The whole day was an absolute joy and made more so by you (Charlotte) and your wonderful co-musicians. Feedback has been 100% positive, with many complimentary comments. Barry Smith - South Downs Poets From Bognor Regis Post. From Facebook, Dr Naomi Foyle.
Congratulations Rachel Searle, Olivia Stevens and all who co-created another marvellous Blakefest! As the winds roared along Bognor seafront, fiery Tygers prowled through the forest of our minds... thank you to Fiona Price, Luke Walker and David Fallon for the fascinating talks on Blake, revolution and counterculture, to Beatnik Barry Smith for his properly jazzed up poems, performed with Charlotte Glasson and her band, and for curating compelling readings from Alan Morrison, Raine Geoghegan, Mandy Pannett, James Simpson, and Andy Brown, spanning radical politics, Roma histories, South Downs discoveries, illness and eco-apocalyptic folktales; to artist Julie Goldsmith for her fabulous fairyland figurines, sculptor Vincent Grey for his vision of a 15 foot tall bronze 'Glad Day - Albion Rose on Felpham's shore, and finally to poets and Blakean guides Stephen Micalef for bringing the Blakean banner 'Everything that Lives is Holy' into Extinction Rebellion, and Niall McDevitt for illuminating Blake's contrariness in his view of 'Nature as Devil'... Yet 'without contraries is no progression' and at a time when children are forced to weaponise their innocence, and XR is fuelled by our collective creativity, Blake is a prophet for our times, as much as for his own and for the sixties. BlakeFest is now deservedly in receipt of Arts Council funding, and I look forward to seeing it continue to grow, brightly asserting the role of the arts in regenerating and re-enchanting our sick rose of a world.</div>
'William Blake and the Spirit of the 60s' @ The Regis Centre/Alexandra Theatre, Belmont Street, Bognor Regis.
The people who came were part of a unique cultural experience by the sea! Blakefest is a multi disciplinary arts festival featuring international art, music, poetry, talks and guided walks. Blakefest 2018 is bigger and brighter than ever before, and in 2018 we shed light on Blake’s influence on the 1960s spirit of rebellion and freedom. Headlining in the theatre were 80's new wave rebels THE LENE LOVICH BAND as well as the ALL THINGS MUST PASS ORCHESTRA - a celebration of George Harrison the visionary Beatles music, performed by a 10 piece band. Come and be part of the festival that stimulates those parts other festivals find hard to reach!
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In the unlikely location of the West Sussex seaside town of Bognor Regis a cultural stirring is occurring. 'The William Blake and the Spirit of the 60s' event (including live music performances/poetry/art/talks) is the centrepiece of the 3-day celebration of the life and work of William Blake (1757-1827) who is nowadays recognised as a visionary poet, artist, engraver and prophet despite dying unrecognised and close to poverty in 1827.
BlakeFest 2018 occurred over the weekend 14th-16th September with the main focus being the all-day Live Music Festival on Saturday 15th at The Regis Centre/Alexandra Theatre from noon onwards.
Blake lived in the village of Felpham, on the outskirts of Bognor, from 1800-1803 where he saw visions of Angels, was inspired to compose the text which is known as, and widely-celebrated as, 'Jerusalem' and also ended up on trial for assault and sedition after an altercation with soldier outside a local drinking establishment. In a letter to John Flaxman from 1800, Blake wrote that "Felpham is a sweet place for study because it is more spiritual than London. Heaven opens here on all sides her golden Gates; her windows are not obstructed by vapours; voices of Celestial inhabitants are more distinctly heard, & their forms more distinctly seen; & my Cottage is also a shadow of their houses." After a successful 2017 event this year's collection is once again spearheaded by local resident and Blake-enthusiast Rachel Searle to gather together different artistic streams to celebrate William Blake.
Blake's work has spread like through the generations, persistently inspiring groups of artists beginning with The Ancients including Samuel Palmer, George Richmond and Edward Calvert, who all studied directly under Blake until his death. The Ancients inspired the pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, notably Dante Gabriel Rosetti, who resided, for a time, in Bognor and acquired a manuscript book of Blake's "from an attendant at The British Museum" which he obsessively studied and laboriously copied out. Modernists such as James Joyce clearly show Blake's influence and his influence also inspired such 60's Beat Generation poets and performers as Allen Ginsberg, Michael Horovitz, John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison and Patti Smith.
BlakeFest 2018 - Line-up
BlakeFest2018 was an exciting fusion of Arts in various forms headlined by acclaimed Post-Punk/New Wave Legend, Lene Lovich. Lovich and her band were playing a rare UK gig at BlakeFest in Bognor Regis in the midst of an international tour with The Psychedelic Furs. A 'purveyor of Love songs for the weird', this performance was a real coup for Bognor and not to be missed as this was not just a 'normal gig', Lovich and her superb band, headed by Jude Rawlins, are a cut above and, together create memorable eccentric dynamic 'events'.
Second on the bill were the 10-piece All Things Must Pass Orchestra. This George Harrison tribute takes in a range of songs by the 'visionary Beatle', many of which are ingrained in popular culture. George Harrison ‘The quiet Beatle wrote some of their greatest songs. Bob Dylan said of him ‘He inspired love and had the strength of a hundred men. He was like the sun, the flowers and the moon’.
The evening event at The Alexandra Theatre was opened by a talk on 'Blake and the 60s' by the accessible and scholarly Tobias Churton. The internationally-recognised and respected Churton, a very erudite orator, was shedding light on Blake's enduring contribution to our culture, focusing on the resurgence of his popular influence through the 1960s which still resonates across the arts, philosophically and spiritually.
In the afternoon, before the evening event takes over in the main auditorium, in the Studio room were an accompanying set of live music sessions headlined by the Jamie Leeming Trio - a fast-rising, exciting Jazz combo, this was a fantastic opportunity to sample the very lyrical style of guitar playing by Jamie and creating an overall wonderful vibe to soothe the soul.
Jamie will also be accompanying the Southdown Festival Poets.
Joy: Poetry & Jazz with Sasha Dugdale, Niall McDevitt, Naomi Foyle , Barry Smith and Jamie Leeming (guitar). The genre-crossing compositions of Jamie Leeming (Heartsong) with strong roots in the jazz tradition, but with folk-influenced imagery and textures meet the Blake-inspired words of South Downs poets culminating in Sasha Dugdale’s vocalising of Catherine Blake.
Surreal Man and the Nutter in the Shrubbery: Ciaran O’Driscoll and Margaret Farrelly with John Davies (aka Shedman)
Irish wit and wisdom meet itinerant poet Shedman for an hour of scintillating poetry interspersed with lyrical Celtic sounds from Margaret Farrelly.
If you haven't seen Lem and the White Fire yet then you are in for a real treat. Lead singer, Lem Parker's colourful personality shines through her strong voice which can light up any room. Backed by a band as powerful and dynamic as Lem's vocals, with a collection of infectious, foot-stomping songs you will end this set singing along with a broad smile on your face.
The Boy Wonders formed recently to breathe live life into the original songs of lead singer/guitarist Joe Butt. Joe's intelligent, guitar-driven pop songs are perfectly complemented and enhanced by the thoughtful guitar playing of Jeremy Hayward with a talented solid rhythm section behind them. This was one of their first gigs together and the song melodies will stick in your head long after they have packed away their guitars.
The solo acoustic songs of David Farnan are the culmination of years of writing and performing with several local bands and performers of note. David combines a wonderfully melancholic, yearning voice with soulful lyrics from various perspectives and manages to be sublimely uplifting. His accomplished guitar playing supplies a beautiful accompaniment to his thoughtful tunes.
If you want to explore the work any of these performers, or if you are in the slightest doubt about attending, simply type their names into YouTube and then make up your mind. We doubt you will be disappointed by this incredibly varied, very talented, collection of artistes.
Alongside the wonderful musical lineup there was a graffiti art exhibition, literary walk plus re-enactment, a free Silent Disco, bitesize talks, performance poetry and more...
Bognor Regis is a town poised at the brink of regeneration following similar projects in Margate, Hastings and Liverpool, possibly including a major "William Blake Theatre" (in one of the proposals), which channel local Culture and Arts to enrich their current heritage and touristic allure.
Mikey B Georgeson has been a major mover and shaker in his invaluable involvement with Bognor BlakeFest in capacities ranging from Musician, Art Exhibition Curator, Speaker and generally inspiring those around him. As an Artist he recently gave a talk to the Royal Geographic Society Conference on his nonbifuracedman installation at Bognor Regis Library, BlakeFest 2017. 2018 was no exception, contributing an art installation ‘'An Actual Occasion' reflective of Dancing with Albion.
Vincent Gray was unveiling, and available to discuss, an exciting possible sculpture as another part of the Bognor Regis Regeneration, Albion Rose. Vincent recently completed a Keats Sculpture now permanently installed in Eastgate Square, in Chichester.
Bite-size Festival talks were provided by Dr Luke Walker on Graffiti, Ginsberg and Blake, Dr Simon Mouatt on Blake and the Divided Brain, Professor Fiona Price on Female Revolutionary Figures. Dr Naomi Foyle will be reading from a Blade of Grass an anthology of Palestinian Poetry and American Poet Tamar Yoseloff with A Practical Visionary and more.
'William Blake and the Spirit of the 60s' @ The Regis Centre/Alexandra Theatre, Belmont Street, Bognor Regis.
Festival Director: Rachel Searle
Festival Organisers: Sedge Seymour, Olivia Stevens and Simon Mouatt
Our first BlakeFest, Golgonooza, was held in 2014 in Rectory Gardens in Felpham, by Blake's cottage and featured a selection of Art, activities and Entertainment for all.
2017 Kenny White Flyer
Here is the flyer for the Kenny White gig that BlakeFest organised and promoted in Bognor Methodist Church. Kenny is an acclaimed songwriter and has the respect of and has worked with many great artists such as David Crosby from Crosby Stills & Nash. The event was such a success that Kenny played for far longer than was originally arranged!
In 2017, punk rock legends The Vibrators, who were the first punk band to be played on Radio One and released the classic album Pure Mania, played a gig for BlakeFest at Bognor Regis' The Pier Bar music venue. Support came from solo performers Sedge Seymour and Joe Butt.
2019 Boy Wonders Gig
In 2019 we organised and promoted a charity fundraiser for local community hub, Grandads Front Room, at the TAO venue in Bognor Regis High Street. This event was headlined by local originals band The Boy Wonders, support came from punk tribute band Crash Course and acoustic songs from Sedge Seymour. The event was very busy and a total of over £400 was raised.
2019 Vibrators Gig
Once again, the legendary punk band The Vibrators played a fundraiser gig for us, this time at Bognor's TAO bar in 2019. Support came from The Boy Wonders.