Gillfest lines up guitar greats at close of a fabulous week
GillFest proved a great success with a wonderful mix of events which despite the wet weather remained 100% mud-free under cover at Orchard Park. Loose Connections kicked off the first Friday with a set that got everyone in the right mood for the main band The Unravelling Wilburys whose amazing song catalogue delighted the crowd. The band formed as Sergeant Pepper's Only Dart Board Band performing Beatles songs throughout the UK and Europe, but then began emulating The Travelling Wilburys which comprised Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty and George Harrison. The performers captured the style and sounds perfectly and with their own added sense of humour gave the audience an evening to remember.
Saturday night brought singer-songwriter Beverley Craven to the stage with new songs as well as her 1991 hit single Promise Me. Beverley has a wonderful voice and is a very accomplished piano/keyboard player accompanied by saxophonist Frank Mead whose professional biography mentions more legendary bands and artists than you could imagine.
Band music was represented by first the Gillingham Imperial Silver Band, and then the Terry Hill Big Band . Classical music came with a recital from the Edington Ensemble with their beautiful played chamber music, and then the remarkable pianist Duncan Honeybourne.
The festival included great performances from Tim Laycock, Nicolas Parsons, and Gervase Phinn and culminated with The Blues Band who were at Orchard Park on the second Friday night. The Blues Band, fronted by Paul Jones includes other members of the famous sixties band 'Manfred Mann', and musicians who have played with great blues artists the world over. The festival drew to a close on Sunday evening with three exceptional, world famous guitarists, John Williams, John Etheridge and Gary Ryan who put together a programme with a magical mix of solo work and collaboration. To date, the Royal College of Music has awarded Fellowships to just four guitarists and with Julian Bream in the audience no less than three were at Orchard Park that evening! John Etheridge said: "It was a lovely night and great environment for playing in!"
What more could the organisers hope for? GillFest2016 was sponsored and supported by local businesses and raising funds for local charities Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance, Dorset Blind Association and Msaada.