Thursday, 5 September 2013

the day that Summer Sundae ended...

It started in 2001 ....a ten hour festival in the grounds of De Montfort Hall....a beautiful concert hall in Leicester with the most amazing acoustics . The hall has celebrated its one hundredth anniversary this summer, but unfortunately there 'll no more celebrations for Summer Sundae. It has been cancelled

By 2012, the festival had grown into a much larger three day event attracting thousands of people each year.

Top of the bill back in 2001 were lambchop and Morcheeba....but according to organisers the festival has been permanently cancelled because of financial pressures.

The festival was the brainchild of Richard Haswell, the then manager of De Montfort Hall...he saw that the opening was right for a city festival...and by 2003 had attracted the likes of Steve Earle, Emmy Lou Harris and Beth Orton to headline.

Over the years, Summer Sundae has offered something for everyone from folk to reggae, indie to country alt, electro pop to punk...there's been a an eclectic mix of artists which appealed to a wide ranging audience.

That was the beauty of the festival...people of all ages interested in music....from young teenagers excited by the delights of their first festival, to young families and veteran gig goers. Plus, there was always such a laid back vibe, with lots to keep little ones entertained.

Summer Sundae also developed a reputation for putting on artists who were on the cusps of their careers..just about to really grab the Amy Winehouse and local lads Kasabian in 2004, like Mumford and Sons in 2010 and so many more.

It also acted as a showcase for local bands...many attracting a wider audience, and interest from record labels and A and R men.

So what will I remember most about Summer Sundae? So many things.....going back stage to interview the bands and artists....everyone from Ocean Colour Scene...

Magic Numbers,

Elbow, Jose Gonsalez, Mylo, the Mystery Jets, Kathryn Williams, Mr Hudson, Teenage Fan Club, Ben Harpur, Idlewild and so many more. Chatting to them about their music and what they were getting upto was such a was being with Mumford and Sons for nearly two hours recording their Mercury one hour documentary for BBC6Music.

So what performances stand out for me? Macy Gray delivered the punchiest performance back in 2008 and brought the audience alive....lying on the grass in the early evening watching the clouds scud across the sky and listening to Bon Iver....., Mumford and Sons in 2010 getting thousands dancing and singing....Mylo electrifying the Indoor Stage  and everyone jumping to the music, and becoming emotional hearing the pitch perfect , pure tones of Kathryn Williams .

What else do I remember? Being with my daughter, enjoying the music together .The friendships forged at Summer Sundae....the laughter...meeting for mojitos at the end of the day....sitting on the grass with a huge group of friends from different parts of my life, seeing so many people really enjoying themselves, and then on Sunday nights, as everyone left the festival to go home, I would race back to the BBC studios, to work until the early hours of the morning getting features and news clips ready for the Monday breakfast show.

I do have one regret though....I missed the very first festival in 2001. But I was there for the next eleven festivals which became an essential part of summer life in our city.

Summer Sundae wasn't held this year...but was expected to return next year, even though the festival had to be subsidised in 2012 to the tune of £80,000 by Leicester City Council. Organiser Rob Challice said today though that " a  festival with such an array of entertainment and professional production standards is just not possible in the current economic climate."

 Summer were a sad day for everyone who enjoyed three days of fun and great music in Leicester in August for over a decade.


 Here's my review of Summer Sundae 2010..and links to some of the interviews.

Today's track is a very different sounding Amy Winehouse recorded at Summer Sundae in 2004. She was on stage in the afternoon.....I sat down and watched her while having a 15 minute break - she really captured my interest.


  1. Oh what a shame - Leicester is poorer for the loss of this festival.

  2. Yes it is.. a fringe festival in the centre of Leicester also grew up around it...raising thousands of pounds for charity too.