Review / Photo Credits: Andy Gregory
A rainy Sunday 28th July 2019 saw the third annual Summerfest at Himley Hall in Dudley. Billed as the ‘Black Country’s Biggest Music Festival’, Summerfest is gaining traction and growing in size year on year. Like many new festivals, it takes a few years for an event to become established, so with Scouting For Girls headlining in 2019, this festival feels as though it has already come of age!
Summerfest supports the Mary Stevens Hospice in Dudley, raising much-needed funds to support terminally ill people and their families and it is one of many events they arrange each year.
The 2019 festival was sponsored by Signal 107 Radio and Sadler’s Brewery and as well as Scouting For Girls had some other excellent acts to cater for all age groups.
Opening the event on the main stage was singer/songwriter Rachel White and three young girls from her Superstar Academy. Rachel has supported a variety of bands over the last twenty years, including Steps, Westlife, Mis Teeq, Five and Atomic Kitten.
Her first independent release with the self-penned track ‘Cinderella’s Playing Out’ reached No.7 in the UK dance charts as well as No.20 on the Box TV Charts. After her opening tracks, she brought three new protégés on stage for their first performances in front of a large audience.
Next on stage was local acoustic guitarist Charlie Davis. He gave a great set including covers of Mumford and Sons ‘Little Lion Man’ and Ed Sheeran’s ‘A-Team’ (Facebook link @charlielive21 )
Davis was followed by Russell Jones Jr, a South Wales Swing and Jazz singer. He was formally an original member of BGT’s Welsh Choir ‘Only Boys Aloud’ and has since branched out on a solo career. He really entertained the crowd with his selection of covers, including great versions of Randy Newman’s ‘You’ve Got a Friend in Me’ (from Toy Story), a selection of Rat Pack songs and a wonderful finale of Jungle Book’s ‘I Wanna Be Like You’, where he jumped down from the stage and took selfies with the crowd!
After a short break, 2018 X-Factor contestant Georgia Burgess took to the stage and impressed the crowd with covers of Adele’s ‘Rolling In The Deep’, Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstition’ and Chaka Khan’s ‘Ain’t Nobody (Loves Me Better)’. She was really confident, and the biggest cheers of her set were for her own excellent single ‘Confessions’.
Kimberly Wyatt (former Pussycat Doll) was next on stage with an hour’s DJ set. Due to her pregnancy, she wasn’t singing her own material but kept the crowd entertained with dance tracks from the early 80s through to the present day.
The penultimate set was from the former ‘The Voice’ contestant Becky Hill, who delivered a great performance. With her backing singers, she started with a powerful version of her 2013 number eight hit ‘Afterglow’, followed by her 2014 number one track, a collaboration with Oliver Heldens called ‘Overdrive’. This song made her the first contestant from The Voice to have a UK number one hit and the fans at the front barriers happily sang along! Other highlights included her collaboration with MK and Jonas Blue called ‘Back and Forth’, her recent single ‘I Could Get Used to This’ and her final song ‘Wish You Well’.
The final set of the afternoon was from headliners Scouting For Girls, Their name is a play on the title of the 1908 Scouting handbook Scouting for Boys. The band consists of childhood friends from London, Roy Stride on piano and lead guitar/vocals, Greg Churchouse on bass guitar and Peter Ellard on percussion. They were joined on stage by additional touring member Jamie O’Gorman. The band formed in 2005 and over the last decade have become firm favourites on the UK summer festival circuit. Although the weather had been poor during the early part of the day Roy Stride really did entertain the crowd and for a period of their set, the sun shone brightly.
The highlights of their set were the big hits ‘Heartbeat’, ‘Elvis Ain’t Dead’ (intertwined with Elvis’ ‘You Were Always on my Mind’) and ‘James Bond’. The impressed the crowd with some newer material, including the new single ‘Grown Up’ (written with pop legend James Blunt) and finished with a rousing performance of the firm fan favourite ‘She’s So Lovely’. The band seemed to really enjoy the festival and delivered a sterling performance on a wet day; lead singer Roy Stride even jumped down from the stage a few times to mingle with the crowd and take selfies!
Overall, this was a great festival and lived up to its billing as the Black Country’s Biggest and Best Festival.