Since its early days as a boutique festival in the heart of the Cranborne Chase, Larmer Tree Festival has long been a supporter of new music and emerging talent. With great local and regional connections to the music hubs of Bournemouth, Salisbury, Bristol and beyond, new talent has always been highlighted on the festival programme.
2016 is no different with the launch of a new festival stage The Chase showcasing the best musical discoveries that deserve to be on your radar, the return of the unique Larmer Tree Festival Breakthrough Music Awards offering the coveted opportunity to play at the festival to two emerging, unsigned acts, and a closer working relationship with BBC Introducing in the West, the BBC initiative widely recognised as providing an incredible platform for new music.
Breakthrough Music Awards
This year’s Breakthrough Music Awards celebrated a fantastic live final at 60 Million Postcards in Bournemouth on Saturday 16th April. From hundreds of applicants for the competition this year, whittled down to a shortlist of ten by a public vote, the six successful finalists each performed a fifteen minute set in front of a panel of four industry expert judges: James Shepard, Festival founder and Director, Simon Emmerson, Producer, DJ and founding member of Afro Celt Sound System, Kristian Davis-Downs, Label Manager at Naim Records and Laura Lewis-Paul, Founder and Director of Saffron Records and recently tipped as one of Bristol’s top five women in music by Rife Magazine.
To a packed audience and huge excitement, it was announced that Bournemouth locals Coosbay and seven-piece funk pop Bare Jams with members from across Dorset, were the 2016 recipients of the Breakthrough Music Awards, and would be joining the line up with much-coveted slots to perform live at the festival.
The six finalists represented a range of genres and styles; Salisbury’s The Neighbourhood Strange were first up, describing their sound as ‘edgy, punk-tinged, psychedelic garage-rock’. They were followed by solo artist and singer-songwriter Jazz Morley, whose beautiful lilting songs drew cheers from the home crowd who had come out to support her. Third to the stage were Bare Jams, a joyful seven-piece band combining brass instruments with funky tunes and ‘a sneaky bit of reggae and ska’.
Elixir, a Southampton based four-piece were next to the stage, with classic rock sounds inspired by Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix. London-based Bella Fitzella’s swinging jazz and soul took centre stage as the fifth act of the live finals. With vocal references from Ella Fitzgerald to contemporary artists Alicia Keys and Caro Emerald, Bella’s music is a unique blend of swing and pop. The final act of the evening were Bournemouth locals Coosbay, a three-piece who take inspiration from the lush landscapes of Dorset and transform it into soul-searching blissed-out psychedelic sounds.
The judges praised the extremely high quality of music this year, and thanked all the artists for applying and for their fantastic sets at the live finals. James Shepard, Director said: “The standard of all the acts was incredible, but I can’t wait to see winners Coosbay performing again at the festival in our new venue The Chase. And winners Bare Jams were great – they had everyone up on their feet. They’re a perfect festival band and I know they’ll be a huge hit at Larmer Tree in July.”
New for 2016 is music venue The Chase, a stage championing the finest emerging talent. Curated by Todd Wills and Matt Aitken, the music programmers of Bristol’s most popular music venue Colston Hall and newest additions to the Larmer Tree team, The Chase promises to be the place to see the next big thing in music.
Todd Wills, The Chase programmer said: “It’s great to be part of the Larmer Tree Festival team this year! The challenge was to bring something a bit different to the festival and identify some of those incredible emerging artists that we’ll see on bigger stages in years to come, giving Larmer Tree Festival-goers an exclusive chance to see acts in an intimate setting before they hit the big time. Hopefully everyone will all enjoy watching the eclectic programme of artists at The Chase as much as we enjoyed putting it together.”
With a number of acts already announced, including the venue’s headliners Quantic, Sidestepper, Melt Yourself Down and Slow Club, the final additions just announced for The Chase are Kanda Bonga Man, Snack Family, Flight Brigade, Pete Josef and Jalen N’Gonda. These five artists cover every genre imaginable, from Pete Josef’s rich and warm soundscapes to Flight Brigade’s rocky tracks reminiscent of early Arcade Fire, through to Snack Family, who NME Magazine called a ‘creeping Rock n Roll monster’.
Guest DJs will be taking the final space in the venue timetable, with more details to follow.
Quantic | Sidestepper | Melt Yourself Down | Slow Club
Hot 8 Brass Band | This Is The Kit | Jane Weaver
The Hillbenders | Kanda Bongo Man | Lanterns On The Lake
Gwenno | The Wave Pictures | The Pictish Trail | Rozi Plain
Cristobal and the Sea | Gill Landry | Snack Family | Flight Brigade
Cosmo Sheldrake | The Drink | Pete Josef | Jalen N’Gonda
BBC introducing in the west
The festival has always worked closely with BBC Introducing, championing acts such as James Bay and Meadowlark on the Main Stage. This year the festival are forging a closer working relationship with the team at BBC Introducing in the West. Fans of new music can expect live broadcasts and entertainment form the festival site, and we’ll be offering exclusive access to a range of artists for backstage interviews.