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UB40 featuring Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue reunites the creative powerhouse behind Britain’s most successful reggae band. Known for their huge hits Red Red Wine, Can’t Help Falling In Love plus their cover of I Got You Babe, their career has seen them release multi-Platinum albums and receive a Grammy nomination for Best Reggae Album four times. The Birmingham trio first began working together in 1978 and still continue to perform new material in front of sold out audiences.

The vocals of Terence Wilson, better known as Astro, is an integral part of the band’s sound. We spoke to Astro in the run up to their upcoming Grandslam Tour about the changing nature of the music industry, the joy of performing live and his what we can expect in the near future.

UB40 featuring Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue tickets are on sale now.

https://www.gigantic.com/ub40-tickets

Hello Astro. How has it been going today? What have you been doing?

I’ve been doing interviews for the Grandslam Tour! (Laughs) I haven’t had chance to get one pint of Guinness down me neck yet.

 

Are you doing anything for St. Patricks today?

At Four-Thirty after my last interview I shall be getting slaughtered on Guinness.

 

Good man! Let’s talk about your career. You have managed to sell an amazing 70 million albums worldwide and still hold a massive appeal. What has been the secret to this incredible international success?

 There’s no real secret. The real reason for out longevity is picking the right genre of music to play which is reggae. Because reggae is an international language which is recognised around the world and it truly does bring people together. People don’t necessarily have English as their first language but they understand a good drum and bass line and that speaks a thousand words more. That’s the reason why we’re still relevant; because of the music we play. And I suppose the lyrics as well, but they are very secondary. For people who don’t speak English it doesn’t mean anything to them but they understand the reggae beat.

 

But lyrics are often very important. For instance, the first two UB40 albums were overtly political. Was there a compulsion to address the issues of the day in addition to pursuing a career in music?

 If you have a public platform then it make sense to talk about something worthwhile rather than some mundane lyrics about love. Y’know; boyfriend meets his girlfriend. It makes more sense to talk about things worthwhile like social issues because that way you can be passionate about something. You can’t trip yourself up. If you’re trying to fool people they’ll see through you rather quickly.

But you say the first couple of albums, nothing’s changed. I think we’ve become victims of our own success with the Labour Of Love franchise because a lot of people think that’s what we are – a covers band. They don’t realise there is only three Labour Of Love albums that are covers. There is actually another twenty-one albums of self-penned UB40 albums and all of them are as political as Signing Off or Present Arms or UB40, or UB44, Geffery Morgan… loves white girls, Promises And Lies, Who You Fighting For?

The success we had Can’t Help Falling and Red Red Wine, the general perception is that UB40 sold out and etc. which is not the case. If people bothered to look through the records and actually bothered to listen they’d realise we are as politically strong as we was, and we are now. Just because they hear Red Red Wine on the radio every single day all the time and Can’t Help Falling In Love every day, we’ve become victims of our own success.

 

There are worse things to happen to a band than be successful! One of the songs I love UB40 for is Rat In Mi Kitchen. Didn’t you write that one?

Yes, I did actually. At the time we were writing material for an album and I’d written that chorus. And Ali only lived about a minute down from me so I thought I’d pop down for some inspiration for another song. So, I banged on his door and said “I need a subject matter to write about”. He says; “If you give me a minute, there’s a rat that’s in me kitchen.” He kept losing him and that was it. So, I wrote about the rat in his kitchen and the rest is history as they say.

 

 Do you think it’s harder to make a living as band these days?

Its hard enough to earn a living from playing music these days unless you’re playing live. Because of all the illegal downloads most bands are now seeing about a fifth of they’d normally have earnt and the only way bands can survive these days is to go out and play live.

Which I don’t think is a bad thing. You can’t force anyone to play your songs. You can’t force anybody to listen to your songs. It’s all about mutual consent.

 

Across the length of your career you have seen it all change. Back in the 70’s everyone was worried about ‘Home Taping Is Killing Music’, then later came the CD-R and now there is streaming. Does that mean you can only make money through live performance?

It is the only way. Luckily for us, we’re one of the few bands that have toured constantly for our entire careers. There’s so many bands who were very successful in the 80’s and 90’s on records and they never toured. Now that their royalty streams are drying up,   now they’ve actually got to go out and actually perform live and there’s so many of them that can’t actually do it.

 

So, there is no money to be made in making your music easily available online?

 You need to concentrate on what you’re doing live and then you know what you’re earning. An artist like Lady Gaga on Spotify, one of the most played artists, and she’d amassed a massive sum of about three hundred quid. So, you can’t rely on that to keep you in silk stockings.

 

 Hah! I guess not.

 The only way you can do it is to perform live and since I’ve got back with Ali and Mickey we haven’t stopped touring for three years. We did manage to have a couple of weeks off (well, a couple of days off) before Christmas last year and everyone was back out on the road again the day after Boxing Day. So, the only way bands are earning these days is by a live situation and I’m all for that.

 

It sounds like you are quite the workhorse when it comes to touring and this upcoming Grandslam Tour is pretty long. Do you still enjoy it? Do you still get a kick out of being on stage?

I live for it. I’ve got the attention span of an ant! In the studio, I get bored really quickly but live – that’s what I live for. I live for the reaction.

I never get sick and tired. The only downside is the travelling. Hanging around in airports. That’s me biggest gripe but you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.

 

There must be an element of instant gratification when you are on stage that you just don’t get in the studio. You play a song and then the audience cheers straight away. It’s a buzz you don’t get in the studio.

 Exactly. You could be working away in the studio for months. Working on what you consider to be the best thing since sliced bread but the only time you know whether or not you’re right is when the public have decided when they buy the record. You only find out if you’ve done something good after the fact.

 

You teamed up with Ali and Micky just in time to record the album Silhouette. Was it like being back in the studio with them?

That was fun, that was. Although most of that had been recorded before I joined back up with them. They put the release date back just so that I could jump on a few of the tracks and add my bit.

It was great because I hadn’t been in the studio with Ali and Micky – it had been a few years. And it was great to see the banter was still there, the chemistry is still happening. And it was like we’d never been apart. It was so much fun doing it. No pressure, and that’s what it’s supposed to be. The second its stops being fun; change your career.

 

 The album that you then followed up with was an acoustic record which is quite a surprise as reggae is so bass heavy. Why did you decide to adopt that route?

It almost like a contradiction in terms; an acoustic reggae album! We never set out to record an acoustic album originally. What happened was we were asked to record a few radio sessions for the BBC. Radio stations haven’t got studios big enough to hold an eleven-piece band and so we were asked to do stripped down versions.

We did four or five sessions and each one was a couple of songs and so we had ten acoustic tracks and the record company said “Get a couple of more hits done” and they combined that with a greatest hits album and they put it out. A couple of weeks later we went Silver! So, it was a happy accident if you like.

As you say, reggae is bass heavy so we renamed it as ‘Cuddly Reggae’ as it goes really well with Red Red Wine.

 

What are you plans then when the tour winds up towards the end of summer? Is there a new record on the horizon?

 That would be nice but no such luck. No, we’re on the road until February of next year. We’ll be doing two tours of the states this year and we’ll be going back to Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, South America – its an ongoing world tour. We’re gonna be Dubai and Bahrain in a couple of days’ time. Its nonstop. So, it’s hard to find studio time, I think we may have a couple of weeks in April. That’ll be it for the year.

But we have got a couple of projects on the go at the moment. Me and Ali produced a dub album a few years ago that you can pick up off the shelf. And there is a massive West Coast reggae movement in the States  . There’s bands like Save Jah, Slightly Stoopid, Revolution and we’ve given our tracks to this West Coast posse and we’re also sending our soundtracks to Latin America and we’re going to let them do their thing on top of these tracks. We’re going to pick the best and pile them out and we’re going to try and tour that around the States. If that’s successful then we’re going to try and bring it to England and Europe.

Plus, me and Ali while we’ve been out on the road, we never stop writing lyrics, there is a studio album in the pipeline. There’s this collaboration album, a couple of projects that I can’t really speak about now as its all under wraps but it will be all good for the public.

 

Thank you so much for speaking to us today. After you have finally wound up the last interview, where will you be going for your pint of Guinness?

 At the bottom of my road is a pub so I’ll start there and then I’m going to make my way up to Digbeth. A little area in Birmingham which is ninety percent Irish and every single pub in Digbeth is an Irish pub. They have a St Paddys Day parade down there that lasts for about four hours. All the pubs have been open since seven o’clock this morning and they’ll stay open till seven o’clock tomorrow morning. So, I can guarantee you; I’m gonna be smashed.

 


Q and A With Fleur East for Newark Festival 2017

 

The Newark Festival 2017 is thrilled to add X-Factor Star Fleur East to the Saturday line up. Fleur will be performing in the afternoon ahead of an evening with reggae legends UB40 – featuring Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue who will headline the festival on Saturday 17 June. Level 42 will join them as special guests along with The Original Wailers who are all performing in the area for the first time.

Ahead of joining in the fun at Newark, Fleur took some time out to answer a few questions:

1) What is the experience for you of playing a festival?

I absolutely love performing on stage at a festival- it’s the best feeling! The crowds are always out to have a good time and the energy from the crowd spurs me on to give the best performance.

2) Will you be playing any new songs at the Newark Festival?

I might just give the crowd a taster of some new music- if it’s ready, I definitely won’t hold back. Watch this space.

3) What can fans expect from your performance?

A full-on party experience! I will be dancing with a team of dancers and having as much fun on stage as possible, so it will be a huge party! Page 2 of 3

4) When can fans expect a new album?

I will be releasing a few singles this year to give people a taster of what’s to come and then the album will follow.

5) How has your music evolved from your first album?

I have kept the uptempo feel with high energy, because I love to dance and put on a show. I’ve kept elements of the throwback style but the sound is a lot more modern

6) Which artists have influenced you during your music career?

Michael Jackson is my main inspiration! Even today, I feel his music is still some of the greatest music around. Artists like Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga and Beyonce inspire me as performers, as I love to entertain and they are all amazing performers.

7) Are there songs or artists in today’s charts that you really admire and if so why?

I really admire Bruno Mars and his last album was on repeat every morning for about a month. I think Bruno is extremely talented. Rag n Bone man’s voice is incredible and I love Dua Lipa’s song ‘Be The One’. I’m enjoying the variety of styles in the charts at the moment.

8) What do you think separates X Factor from other singing talent shows, including The Voice?

I think it allows the audience to get to know the contestants. People at home can really Page 3 of 3

connect with each contestant’s story and there is variety because of the different categories. I love the show and have been a huge fan since the first series.

9) What advice would you give to people auditioning for this year’s X Factor?

Stay focused, believe in yourself, stay true to yourself and most importantly- have fun!

10) Is this your first visit to Newark in Nottinghamshire? It is known for its beautiful castle which forms the backdrop to the festival and for a famous civil war battle.

Yes, it will be my first visit. Hopefully I get some time to visit the castle. I’m very excited to play the festival and am honoured to be on the line up with some amazing artists!


Sunday 18 June – Riverside Park

 

Free Family Fun Day set to be the best yet!

Brainiac Live – BBC Introducing in the East Midlands and Robin Hood’s Magical Adventure

 

Newark Festival 2017 returns for its sixth year with an exciting line-up of entertainment over the entire weekend, and plenty of activities for all the family at the ever popular and free of charge Family Fun Day at Riverside Park, next to Newark Castle, on Sunday 18 June.

The free Family Fun Day knits together a wealth of entertainment and a host of food and drink outlets, coupled with a full day of activities to appeal to all ages, making its location at Riverside Park THE place to be for families, friends and everyone seeking a day out with a difference.

Gates for the free Family Fun Day open at 12.00pm and after a welcome by the Town Mayor of Newark, with support of Radio Newark, the day begins…

Watch out for the fantastic German Band, whose colourful and lively performance always brings a smile, followed by Robin Hood’s Magical Adventure!… a brilliant experience for everyone. Children are encouraged to dress up and join in the fun of the show, with their best costumes. Robin Hood, Maid Marion and all their famous friends from Sherwood Forest will then have a walk around so be sure to keep your eye out for them. BBC Introducing in the East Midlands are hosting a part of the afternoon doing what they do best – bringing new, exciting, local musicians to Newark to perform. Brainiac Live – the popular scientific show that encourages children and adults to participate in some incredible experiments is also coming to Newark Festival; an interactive, highly amusing and engaging show.

Newark Amateur Operatic and the Decent Chaps Band will also be performing in the afternoon, and watch out for Monkey and the team at Radio Newark. By popular demand Flipside Band, Swing Nouveau, Boston Youth Jazz Orchestra and The Good Guys Swing are all taking to the stage. Renowned pianist Okiem will also be performing.

The Family Fun Day on Sunday 18 June opens at 12.00pm, entrance is free, and there is something to enjoy throughout the entire day. There are plenty of food and drink concessions and toilet facilities. Families are encouraged to bring along their picnics and blankets and really make the most of the day.


Notts TV Partner with Newark Festival 2017

UB40 – featuring Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue – to headline

Saturday 17 June with special guests Level 42, the Original Wailers and Fleur East!

Riverside Rocks returns on Friday 16 June

Family Fun Day Sunday 18 June

Newark Festival and Notts TV are delighted to announce an exciting new media partnership for the 2017 Newark Festival, in what will be the sixth year of the town’s biggest summer event.

This year sees the festival present a brand-new format, site layout, extended hours on Saturday – to allow more artists to perform – and a host of fantastic additions, including a Premier Ticket Enclosure complete with luxury treats and improved bar and rest room facilities. 2017 is on track to be the best festival yet!

On air since 2014, Notts TV broadcasts a range of quality, locally-relevant programmes, including sport, factual, lifestyle and drama. In addition, the channel produces 90 minutes a day of local news. As the region’s only dedicated television channel, Notts TV covers the news and events that really matter to the community, making it the perfect partner to work alongside Newark Festival as the three-day event continues to grow and appeal to a wider audience, not just in the Newark, but in the many towns and villages of Nottinghamshire.

Notts TV transmits seven days a week on free view channel seven, Virgin 159 and Sky 117 so there are plenty of ways to follow its popular shows. Viewers who missed their favourite programme can also catch up on the dedicated on-demand service available from www.nottstv.com

With eight RTS nominations under its belt, Notts TV continues to develop its community engagement, offering an unrivalled service across Nottinghamshire, and today forming an integral part of the region’s media landscape.

David Lloyd, Chairman of Notts TV said, “Notts TV likes to play a real part in its county – and as the Newark Festival grows – we are delighted to be a partner and to lend our support. Watch out for coverage!”

Liz Doogan-Hobbs MBE, CEO of Liz Hobbs Group, organisers of Newark Festival said, ” Nott’s TV have a similar outlook to ourselves, in that they are committed to community engagement, and we felt that it made perfect sense to team up with the channel’s team to look at ways that we could continue to develop the festival’s ever increasing fan-base, and to ensure that we are engaging with festival-goers and taking on board their feedback and ideas, so that we can shape the festival to its best yet, year on year.”


Eden Hall Day Spa Partner With  Newark Festival 2017

UB40 – featuring Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue – to headline

Saturday 17 June with special guests Level 42, the Original Wailers…

…And now Fleur East!!

Riverside Rocks returns on Friday 16 June

Family Fun Day Sunday 18 June

Ladies! To celebrate the news of Fleur East being added to the lineup on Saturday 17 June at Newark Festival, festival organisers and Eden Hall Day Spa are delighted to announce an exciting partnership for the 2017 Newark Festival, to bring a spot of relaxation and tranquility to the festival grounds, in what will be the sixth year of the town’s biggest summer event. Eden Hall Day Spa will be on hand in the new Premier Ticket Enclosure to offer complimentary treatments as part of the Premier Ticket experience.

This year sees the festival present a brand-new format, site layout, extended hours on Saturday – to allow more artists to perform – and a host of fantastic additions, including a Premier Ticket Enclosure complete with luxury treats and improved bar and rest room facilities. 2017 is on track to be the best festival yet!

Eden Hall Day Spa, situated in rural Elston – just a short drive from Newark – is renowned for superb spa facilities, luxurious treatments, leisure facilities and sumptuous food offerings each housed within a beautiful Grade II listed building. No surprise then that it has become the go-to place in the region for some well-earned me-time!

A broad range of pampering treatments are available, including massages, facials, wraps, exfoliation, pedicures, and much more. The main spa offers a salt-water vitality pool, thermal spa suite with massage jets, rose infused steam room, herbal caldarium, salt inhalation room and saunarium, whilst other facilities include a large conservatory for relaxation, a beautiful slumber lounge, a gymnasium, outdoor tubs and tranquil gardens.

The spa has, for the fifth year running, been awarded Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence and was recently announced Best for a Spa Day in the Good Spa Guide, Reader’s Choice National Awards. They have also found themselves shortlisted for several awards including Day Spa of the Year and Employer of the Year at the Professional Beauty

Awards and Health Club of the Year at the National Fitness Awards.

A variety of packages are packages available, each including a sumptuous three-course lunch. Details are available from: www.edenspa.co.uk

Nerys Chell, Managing Director of Eden Hall Day Spa said “Eden Hall is thrilled to be involved with the ever-popular Newark Festival. This is a wonderful local event which is attracting increasingly new visitors to the area. We look forward to working with the Liz Hobbs Group and being part of this fabulous weekend event.”

Liz Doogan-Hobbs MBE, CEO of Liz Hobbs Group said” To have the team at Eden Hall Day Spa on board is wonderful, and we are delighted to welcome them to the festival experience this year! Eden Hall offers a luxury retreat right here on our doorstep and with the addition of the Premier Enclosure this year – offering a luxury angle to the festival – it makes sense to join forces to create a spot of VIP treatment for festival-goers, with some of the spa’s therapists on hand within the enclosure during the weekend. We are working hard to develop the experiential element of the festival, and with the addition of partners such as Eden Hall, we can provide festival-goers with a wonderful opportunity to immerse themselves into a truly unique festival vibe!”


2017 Newark Festival Line up announced

UB40featuring Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue to headline Saturday with special guests Level 42!

Riverside Rocks returns on Friday

Family Fun Day Sunday
Newark Festival is back for its sixth year, presenting a brand-new format, site layout, extended hours on Saturday to allow more artists to perform and a host of fantastic additions, including a Premier Ticket Enclosure and with improved bar and rest room facilities, it promises to be the best Festival yet!

At the centre of the town’s summer events calendar is Newark Festival and 2017 showcases yet another fantastic line-up. Reggae legends UB40 – featuring Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue will headline festival Saturday on 17th June. Level 42 will join them as special guests with The Original Wailers performing here for the first time. More artists will be announced soon – for a fantastic afternoon and evening of entertainment for everyone! 

Ali Campbell of UB40 said, “We cannot wait to headline Newark Festival 2017 and celebrate the festivals’ sixth year. Our performance will be dedicated to entertaining everyone with our greatest hits and favourite songs, and hopefully there will be plenty of singing and dancing from everyone. It’s going to be a brilliant party atmosphere, and where better to perform than in beautiful grounds in front of an historic castle. We are really excited to perform at a festival we’ve heard so much about!”

UB40 have released hit after hit since they formed in 1978, achieving three UK Number Ones (Red Red Wine, I Got You Babe ft. Chrissie Hynde and I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You) not to mention 17 Top 10 tracks, including One in Ten, I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You, Breakfast In Bed, Kingston Town and Homely Girl, and a constant stream of singles over the decades, each of which continue to delight fans. UB40 – featuring Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue – have released their latest album this week and will be performing at the Newark Festival on Saturday 17 June as part of their Summer 2017 Grandslam Tour, performing their Greatest Hits.

Mark King and Level 42 will be joining UB40 on Saturday as Special Guests. One of the most successful bands in British pop since the 1980’s, Level 42 have to date released 14 studio albums, seven live albums, the Siren’s EP and six compilation albums. They have also had 18 Top 40 singles including Lessons in Love, Something About You, Leaving Me Now, Running in the Family and Hot Water, and have sold in excess of 30 million albums worldwide. Level 42 are a fantastic addition to the 80’s line-up and will no doubt be a popular addition to the night, as they too will be performing a Greatest Hits set.

The Original Wailers will be performing those well-loved Bob Marley and the Wailers definitive songs that have become iconic. Original Wailers members will take to the Newark stage including guitarist Al Anderson. This performance promises to be a highlight of the weekend!

With an extension to the festival opening hours on Saturday more artists will be joining the line-up and will be announced over coming weeks.

Friday 16 June sees the return of Riverside Rocks and if you love Oasis, Kasabian, Snow Patrol and the Stereophonics then we have a real treat in store for you, so don’t miss your chance of a ticket to the best Friday night out in town! Popular bands Oasish, Kazabian, Snow Control and Stereotonics will be bringing the house down with each band’s greatest hits.

Sunday sees the welcome return of the Free Family Day at Riverside Park and across the town, featuring a fabulous array of entertainment, food and drink for all the family, followed by an evening line-up of ‘Swing in the Park’ and of course the unmissable fireworks display.

Liz Doogan-Hobbs MBE, CEO of LHG Live, organisers of the event said “I’m delighted to announce our sixth festival so early for everyone in Newark and surrounding areas. It means people this year will be able to buy tickets as Christmas presents which is what we’ve been asked for more recently and to help further we’ve also brought back the Early Bird discounted ticket price to help people book early. We will not be reducing ticket prices further so I urge people to take advantage of the Early Bird”

“Last year was our busiest festival yet and we have listened to the constructive feedback we have received from festival-goers to ensure that the 2017 festival guarantees to deliver a great experience.

We have re-designed Riverside Park to deliver a brand-new festival feel site layout, offering much more space for people to enjoy the event. There will be more bars and rest room facilities, enhanced visibility of the stage with screens, a dedicated area for those wishing to bring folding chairs, a Food Village with a broader diversity of food concessions, all of which we are certain will make for a wonderful experience. The extended hours on Saturday I’m sure will be welcomed and we will have a fabulous line-up from the early afternoon onwards. 2017 Newark Festival will be a festival!”

“We are also thrilled to be able to offer for the first time a Premier Enclosure Ticket; the designated ticketed area will offer festival-goers several special benefits and gives us the opportunity to work with a prominent local bar and restaurant who will introduce a new element to the festival.”

“We invite everyone to look at our website www.newarkfestival.co.uk Over the coming weeks the site design and full map will be posted there to show the changes and clearly marked areas. Newark Festival has always been about giving something back to our community and we have taken 2016 best bits and developed those as well as growing the festival towards what it will become, something to make us as a town feel proud.”

“Several local businesses, who have seen the benefits to other companies of being involved in the festival have approached us to join the party and I really hope the festival will continue to gain and grow local business support.”

Councillor David Lloyd, Leader of Newark Town Council said “I am delighted that the Newark Festival with LHG Live will be staged for a sixth year. The new improved site layout and extended hours will no doubt be greatly received by the Newark community and present the best festival yet. The Newark Festival, with its fantastic line-up of performers is the ‘anchor’ and highlight of the summer events programme for the town and enables us to attract visitors who, in turn, spend in our shops, bars, restaurants and overnight accommodation. Our town centre is outstanding and we want more and more people to come and discover Newark and contribute to our economy. I’m proud that we can continue to provide a free day of family fun on the Sunday of the Festival. These events are just as much for local people as they are for visitors and it’s especially important that we have family orientated events during the summer. I urge everyone to attend and enjoy the event across the weekend.”

New for 2017 will see the introduction of a Premier Enclosure Ticket, which is available as an upgrade via the Newark Festival website www.newarkfestival.co.uk. Close to the main stage area, the package includes a host of special benefits for the ultimate premier festival experience, including a complimentary glass of Prosecco, freshly prepared canapés, a goody bag, luxury rest rooms, private paid bar and a private paid BBQ. Only a limited number of these tickets are available.

This year a designated seating area will also be available, where festival-goers can bring their own folding chairs. Details on how to register for the seated area are available from the Newark Festival website www.newarkfestival.co.uk A limited number of these tickets are available to ensure full site comfort.

Capacity increase. To facilitate the new areas of the festival the site has increased in size, moving VIP and sponsor areas out of the concert bowl, creating a bigger audience space and an increased capacity.

Newark Festival 2017 will include Riverside Rocks on Friday 16 June, Saturday 17 June includes UB40 – featuring Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue – and Level 42, and the free Family Fun Day on Sunday 18 June. Further artists for Saturday 17 June line-up will be announced shortly.

© Liz Hobbs Group 2017