Photos: Asya Barskaya
The Henley Youth Festival’s Gig Night provided a boost for aspiring teenage musicians on Saturday night, as local bands entertained the crowd at Lovibonds brewery, off Greys Road car park.
The event’s line-up comprised more acts than usual, including six acoustic sets, five bands and a local DJ, all supported by Joe Henwood, a professional sound engineer.
“The energy of the bands led to the audience having a really great time,” said organiser, Kerry Fretwell. “They were well supported by friends singing and dancing along enthusiastically. The regulars at Lovibonds also played their part and were a great support to the musicians.”
Several groups, including the new teenage band Doubt it, performed for the first time at the event. “We are very excited,” said Archie Collins, the band’s singer and guitar player, on Saturday. “This is our first Gig Night!” The band, which was formed at The Pigott School in Twyford, performed tributes to Oasis and The Rolling Stones.
“We need more youngsters to see their potential and get involved in the opportunities that are available to them,” added Alison Burch, mother of the Finlay Burch, the band’s drummer. “Finlay’s band Doubt it experienced their first gig and really enjoyed themselves!”
James Grundy, aged 17, from Shiplake College, also made his debut at Gig Night, having never performed outside of school before. “It was a good atmosphere and I’ll definitely come back again,” said James, who has only been performing since September. He impressed the audience with his own compositions, Ordinary Lives and You Make Me Happy. “It was a great place to start outside of school,” he added.
Lucy Day, aged 15 and a familiar face at Gig Night, performed songs by Joni Mitchell and Elvis with her dad, Graham Day, who also plays in his own band. “These kinds of events make the town,” Lucy said. “It’s a nice thing for young people to get involved with.”
Maya Rees, who performed Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, said, “I like performing – it gives me more confidence when it goes well.”
Other bands on Saturday included Corgis and Cobras, formerly known as Merge, from Gillotts School, Low Rising with lead singer Emily Hawkes from Reading College, as well as Dolly and the Dinosaurs and the Jonny Lavis Band, both from Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School.
The HYF, which is run by more than 60 volunteers and offers about 2,500 children the opportunity to take part in sporting and arts activities, is now one of the largest youth festivals in the UK.