IT was more rhythm and blues than January blues at Bradford on Avon this weekend.

There’s no danger that the festival, featuring only musicians with a connection to the 18,000 population town, would be becoming stale in its third year. Bradford Roots is clearly going from strength to strength.

The indoor celebration of musical ideas allowed generations to come together to appreciate an eclectic mix of performances, giving a showcase to youngsters as well as established artists like saxophonist Paul ‘Shilts’ Weimar.

The music centre’s space was used to good effect to allow four stages without sound clash, all busy while still having space to move around.

Festivalgoer Nigel Paine, 60, of Dilton Marsh, near Westbury, said: “I’ve been coming since it started - the first one was a revelation, there’s such an amazing talent and everyone has some kind of connection to Bradford. I wonder how many towns of an equivalent size can boast that?

“It really is inspirational. I suppose it is the St Laurence School influence.”

Wasuremono keyboardist Madelaine Ryan, 28, said: “It’s weird coming in here with a pint where we normally had our assemblies.”

And as frontman Will Southward picked up a Gibson RD, he told the audience he had not played it since sixth form at St Laurence.

This is definitely a local festival for local people. There is plenty to enjoy wherever you hail from, but part of what makes it special is that many of those attending are bound to know at least somebody on the bill.

Organiser Chris Samuel’s son Harry, 23, said: “You need something this time of year and this is a beautiful thing; all the artists that play the different venues in town get to come together and share ideas.”

The event closed on Sunday with a message of peace and love from Bradford’s longest standing community choir, Akabella.

Proceeds go to the Wiltshire Music Centre Charitable Trust, Zone Club and the Wiltshire Young Carers .


Wild and Woolley stage, Saturday

The Bespoke are a teenage alternative indie rock band from Bradford on Avon. Their set consisted of original pieces that were well rehearsed and thought through and their chemistry and understanding with each other was phenomenal.

They are a five-man band with singer Loren Harris, lead guitarist Tom Hughes, rhythm guitarist Angus Watts, bass player Henry Buckley and drummer Dan Smith. Loren Harris gave a strong performance, some excellent singing with a wide range of vocals helping his band to put in a very strong set. Lead guitarist Tom Hughes was equally strong with some incredible solos.

Their original You won’t miss me was my favourite, combining some incredible vocals with a great bass line provided by Henry Buckley and rhythms from drummer Dan Smith and Angus Watts on guitar. They are due to launch an EP in the near future after recording their first album and I look forward to seeing them again then.

Baby Swim are an indie rock band from Bradford on Avon. This four-man band has singer/ guitarist Jim Wicks, guitarist Sol Vowell, bassist Jack Smith and drummer Reuben Robinson. Their set was very strong with some great playing in particular from Reubenm and Jack.

Solo artist Tom Vigar, the driving force behind the youth section of the Festival on Saturday afternoon, writes love songs and a bit of folk. He is a great singer and guitarist who writes much of his own material: the whole set was thoroughly professionally rehearsed and performed.

The festival overall was an amazing experience, delving into Bradford’s rich music culture. It had a very welcoming atmosphere,everyone was enjoying themselves listening to some fantastic artists performing. Everything to do with the event had come from Bradford and its surroundings, from the Fat Fowl providing the tea and cakes to Bath Ales providing the beer.

David Phillips

Main stage, Saturday/Sunday

Will Southward thought the music he made in his bedroom would be ‘lost and forgotten’, hence band name Wasuremono, but he needn’t have worried since 6 Music’s Tom Robinson had picked up on it before he even had a band.

As the headline act, Southward’s versatile voice has a deep rich tone reminiscent of Ian Curtis. Juxtapose this with haunting female backing vocals, a moog, Nord and accomplished drumming from Isaac Phillips, with the rhythm section completed by his sister Phoebe, and you get a rousing wall of sound hinting at Dutch Uncles or Arcade Fire.

It would be nice to see them embrace their prog side and allow the crescendo of their often Sigur Ros-inspired endings to continue a while.

Earlier, Stroud’s folk rock outfit Hot Feet gave the chance to hear the best voice of the festival, from Marianne Parrish.

The simplicity at times of their well crafted songs make the most of the beauty of Parrish’s voice by allowing it to shine over a backdrop of only bass or drums.

They sound like they were written in a wood cabin in Sweden, and indeed some of them were. The highlight for me was Wood House, in which the vocals, like Stevie Nicks, fly fluidly between registers with no loss of power and give the promising feeling of setting out on a long awaited adventure.

Natalie Holmes, from Keynsham, played a deservedly well received set making use of both guitar and piano and said it was lovely to be back on the stage where she sang in a choir as a teenager. Her stand-out track was Snowdrop, made deliciously dark by its movement between major and minor keys.

Julie Armstrong