New music festival is Streets ahead

BEAT OF DRUMS & Ross Millard at the first session with the new samba band.
BEAT OF DRUMS & Ross Millard at the first session with the new samba band.

MUSICIANS in South Tyneside are being invited to take part in the region’s newest music festival.

The Summer Streets is a family event set to bring together communities from South Tyneside and Wearside via a wide variety of musical genres.

Futureheads guitarist Ross Millard is helping to organise the festival, to be held in Thompson Park, Southwick, Sunderland, on Saturday, July 19, as part of the Cultural Spring, a £2m Arts Council-funded initiative in South Tyneside and Wearside.

Ross, 31, said: “There’s so much already going on in our local communities, and we’ve had a great response from bands, choirs and groups wanting to take part, but Summer Streets is also about creating opportunities, so we’re supporting people who are creating new groups, like Southwick Samba band.

“Summer Streets is going to be a bright, vibrant celebration of local talent and community music and we’re still looking to tap into the talent we have locally. There’s still time for anyone to get involved.”

The Cultural Spring is working in five wards in South Tyneside – Biddick Hall and All Saints, Boldon Colliery, Cleadon and East Boldon, Whitburn and Marsden and Whiteleas – and five in 
Sunderland – Red House, Castletown Southwick, Fulwell and St Peter’s.

The festival will be free, and there will be food and drink stalls.

Ross added: “The schools will just have broken up, so the timing is great, and we’ve already signed up a variety of quality musical talent, from rock groups to folk groups, from brass bands to school bands and from ukele groups to singing groups.

“It’s all about community music and local musicians – the music of the streets and from our streets.

“We’re hoping to stimulate greater interest in music in the wards, so that’s why we’re lining up such a broad range. We’re also putting on workshops leading up to the event, to give people of any age the chance to join in.

There will be workshops for drumming and advice sessions on the day.

Experienced musicians will be on hand to give advice clinics to young musicians.

Ross added: “You don’t have to have a huge music vocabulary to join in. We’re hoping to create that first spark by showing how simple and enjoyable music can be.

“We know that for some people, this will be their first taste of live music, so it’s important we can show folk as many music types as we can.”

The event will start with a street procession at 1.30pm led by the samba band, the colliery band and other groups.

The park will then be busy with performances from 2pm until 6pm.

For more information or to get involved, go to, contact Ross on Twitter via
@rgtmillard or e-mail project co-ordinator David Callaghan at

Twitter: @shieldsgazette