Bed Fest shows strength of Harrogate live music scene

By Graham Chalmers
Harrogate band Hell Fire Jack.Harrogate band Hell Fire Jack.
Harrogate band Hell Fire Jack.

If proof were needed that Harrogate has a healthier music scene than most people suspect, it comes in this year’s Bed Fest in Knaresborough.

Taking place at Henshaws Arts & Crafts Centre at Bond End in Knaresborough on Saturday, June 13, the day of the town’s annual Bed Race, this free music festival is awash in local talent.

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On behalf of the Harrogate Advertiser Series, I will have the great pleasure of introducing on stage a few of the 25 acts announced so far in my capacity as an MC for this charity event.

Who could turn down the offer from organiser Rufus Beckett when it involves bands like the wonderful Dragonfly Tattoo or this year’s AMP Awards winners Backyard Bisons from Ripon Grammar School?

Running from noon until late on three stages, Beckett, a musician himself, believes this full day of live music offers the best line-up to date since he launched it in 2013.

Rufus said: “The support from local musicians this year has been phenomenal. We’ve got an amazingly eclectic mix of music this time, from indie to acousatic to dance. Bed Fest is starting to feel established.”

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As well as acting like a bit of an ‘after show party’ for Knaresborough Bed Race there’s a rich variety of local rock bands on offer, topped up with a few names from further afield such as Leeds.

The bill includes Set Sails, Strangers in Paradise The Superlatives, Greenwell’s Moodhook, The Omega Era, Oscilantern, and Citizen Smith.

Rufus himself is looking forward to two bands in particular.

He said: “Headliners The Blue Dawns have toured nationally supporting the likes of Pete Doherty of The Libertines. One of the highlights of last year’s event was the moshpit that Hell Fire Jack got going.

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“They’re only a duo but they’re in even finer form now. They’re a really exciting band.”

For fans of something quieter, the acoustic stage is being run this year by The Residents Association who can normally be found running a popular ‘unplugged’ acoustic night at Harrogate craft beer pub Ten Devonshire Place.

The list of acts proving quiet is the new loud runs all the way from folkies Skinner & T’witch to the Johnny Cash-flavoured youngster Adam Tait with the likes of Aaron Bertenshaw, The Paper Waits, Paul Pedro Mirfin, Andrew Cameron and Jake Pattinson in between.

Even The Four 45s, which feature Beckett himself on bass, are getting in on the act at Bed Fest by performing an acoustic set.

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And no local music event would be worth its name without two very different local DJs - king of rock Trev and successful music producer Rory Hoy.

All-in-all, it promises to be more than a good charity bash or an enjoyable - and free - day of entertainment.

Bed Fest is a celebration of what Harrogate and district has to offer musically outside of its traditional strengths in classic and choral music.

Rufus said: “It’s a superb line-up this year. It not only raises funds for Henshaws, it raises the profile of the centre by bringing in large numbers of visitors who wouldn’t normally come here.

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“I would urge all music lovers locally to come and see the talent on display. I’m sure they won’t leave disappointed.”

Visitors will also be treated to Roosters on tap and a barbecue.

All bar proceeds go to Henshaws Society for Blind People.

More information at the Bed Fest Facebook page.