29 Jun 2022

Rural Fest 2022 Review – by Ben Lee

On a sunny day set in the beautiful Valley Gardens in Harrogate, we had a full day of music programmed for NYMAZ’s 2022 edition of Rural Fest.

The family friendly, inclusive music festival is led by our team of young leaders. They chose theme for this year’s festival to be climate change, linking into the festival’s core themes of nature and the environment.

You can read some of our blog posts about how we have explored how climate change is affecting the music industry here.

The festival follows on from Make Music Day on 21st June, which saw our Rural Fest’s Music Leader Jodie deliver sessions with multiple local primary schools in Yorkshire. The workshops saw Jodie engage students to create compositions.

The aim was to introduce them into the natural environment where they could take field recordings to build into Rural Fest’s green themes, and produce them with music technology. These compositions were then dotted around the Valley Gardens on the day of Rural Fest.

This created a small walk full of soundmaps available for the general public to scan and to listen to the different sounds created by the students throughout the day in the park. Read more about Jodie’s role in the festival here.

Set up in the bandstand, Rural Fest started with the North Yorkshire Music Centres programme of performances, an organisation we partnered with to showcase their young musicians who they have been working with in the community.

Moving into the mid-afternoon, we saw a performance from the Harrogate Youth Jazz Orchestra who ended their set with a superb rendition of the late Roy Hargrove’s ’Strasbourg / St. Denis’ - it brilliantly emphasised how tight and slick they performed together.

Following on from there, we welcomed Warminster School on part of their Yorkshire tour who had four bands perform from their student cohort. The concert orchestra of more than 30 musicians combined for some wonderfully intricate compositions, with Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ a particular favourite amongst the crowd alongside ‘In The Hall of the Mountain King’.

The string quartet’s cover of ‘Bad Guy’ by Billie Eilish was lively and bouncy, and the energy was retained with the jazz band who played classics like ‘Fly Me To The Moon’, ‘The Chicken’ and ‘Take Five’. The rock band performed some classics, with ‘Perfect’ and ‘Thinking Out Loud’ by Ed Sheeran encouraging everyone to clap and sing along who came through.

By the early evening, the programme of artists selected by the NYMAZ team begun and Rotherham/Sheffield singer-songwriter Boon started off superbly.

With his wide repertoire of original songs, Boon blended lots of fuzzy, distorted and swirling guitar riffs. The mix between indie-rock anthems and surf-inspired, ethereal soundscapes was wonderfully captured in the last tune where he utilised his slide to solo on top of his loops.

Hull-based singer and guitarist Tymisha followed, and at just 19 years of age her voice is so mature. Effortlessly breaking her vocals into a wide range of dynamics and styles, ‘Thin White Lines’ was one of her more heartfelt songs before channeling her inner 70’s/Stevie Nicks vibe with ‘Evangeline’. It is evident Tymisha will have a successful path ahead with how at ease she was in commanding the stage.

A pre-recorded livestream from Weaver + Wood came next. The duo use the violin and viola to fuse folk and traditional music into serene, instrumental music that leaves you with goosebumps. Another Hull-based singer-songwriter came on stage afterwards, the talented Jimmy Lutkin.

With influences like The Beatles and Oasis, his stage presence felt similar to that of Jake Bugg and tracks like ‘Forever Blue’ and ‘Left On The Run’ were powerful and emotive. Katerina Elenkova performed next for us, a Leeds-based singer, pianist and guitarist.

Flirting between neo-soul and RnB styled vocals, there was a beautiful tenderness to all of her songs and the cover of Aretha Franklin’s ‘I Say A Little Prayer’ was a favourite amongst the crowd. Her own track ‘Comfort Zone’ was a standout too.

On our next livestream, we were treated to Holly Brown performing some pre-recorded covers. The young guitarist and singer has been ganging experience playing around the north, and her versions of Vance Joy’s ‘Riptide’, John Legend’s ‘All Of Me’ and Holly Humberstone’s ‘Friendly Fire’ were impeccably confident.

Coming towards the end of the day, our final acts produced some wonderful performances as the sun started to set over the Valley Gardens. Leeds-based Rosie Miles has a voice reminiscent of Lianne La Havas, and her blend between indie, folk and jazz melodies were breathtaking.

Tracks ‘I Always Knew’, ‘Breaklights’ and ‘Pieces of Sky’ brought a real calming energy to the evening before we saw our headline act Echoviolet take to the stage.

The York and Leeds-based indie rockers started out quite grungy before mixing it up with some psychedelic arpeggios riffing out in a raucous Arctic Monkeys fashion. Their covers of David Bowie’s ‘As The World Falls Down’ and Chris Isaac’s ‘Wicked Game’ were really beefed up and finished off the night really heavily alongside their new single they played before it comes out next week.

It was a real pleasure to see so many people come through to see the live music and see the talent of all the Yorkshire-based musicians perform. A big thanks must go to the Rural Fest team for all their hard work in helping coordinate the festival - they are:

Louise, Laura, Alex, Ben F, Imogen, Ben L, Jodie, Grace R, Claire, Emyr, Sarah, Abby, Josh and Grace K.

We’re excited to see what will be on the programme for Rural Fest next year!


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