Music in England: Music Festivals England

Music in England: Music Festivals England

Posted 6.7.2012 in Articles by Jess

The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Amy Winehouse, Adele – English singers and songwriters have had a huge impact on the American music scene. With the explosion of rock and roll in the 1950's, English music has been gracing American top charts with their music for decades now. When most people travel to England, they plan their trip in terms of visiting places like museums, art galleries, or significant buildings. Why not try something different and embrace music in England? England has a number of music festivals year round for almost every kind of genre. There's hardly any other place where people are more care-free, relaxed, and down to earth than at a music festival. Regardless of the genre of music you like, attend one of the music festivals England has to offer. Sure it'd be a big step for someone who likes classical music to attend a rock and roll concert, but if anything, I'm sure you'd meet some pretty interesting people you would never have met otherwise! 


In the 1950s, British rock and roll drew largely on American influences, specifically jazz, rhythm and blues. A unique form of music called skiffle, which was an anglicized version of American folk music, arose mid-decade. Led by Lonnie Donegan, the skiffle craze forms the basis for what would become a burgeoning rock and roll scene the following decade. Skiffle was the type of music played by The Quarrymen, the band that John Lennon and Paul McCartney played in before forming the Beatles.


Cliff Richard is considered to be the first authentic British rock and roll artist and one of the few to survive the development of beat scene that developed in the major urban centers of London and Birmingham, but particularly in the Manchester-Liverpool area. Along with the Beatles, who almost single handedly changed the face of modern music, other groups to come out of beat movement were Gerry and the Pacemakers, the Searchers, Freddie and the Dreamers, Herman's Hermits and the Hollies.


Beat music also formed the basis for the rock movement known as the British Invasion, which was even more strongly influenced by American rhythm and blues. Groups that emerged during this time, in the mid-1960s, include the Spencer Davis Group, Moody Blues, the Rolling Stones, the Animals, Cream, the Kinks and the Yardbirds. With the exception of the Rolling Stones and the Kinks, most of the musicians carried on their musical legacy with edgier groups playing what would become hard rock, such as the Who and Led Zeppelin.


The latter half of the 1960s saw an explosion of musical styles, with pop artists such as Petula Clark and Dusty Springfield,along with burgeoning psychedelic scene. With complex time signatures and sometimes bizarre lyrics, British psychedelia emerged with artists such as Pink Floyd, Traffic and the Nice. Psychedelia also formed the basis for the genre known as progressive rock that produced arena favorites Yes, Genesis and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. The Beatles, embodied all aspects of British popular music during this time, pushed the musical envelope until the quartet dissolved in 1970.


Today's music in England encompasses a wide variety of styles from the dance inspired sounds of Natasha Bedingfield and Jesse J to the alternative rock music of Stone Roses and Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds. As the birthplace of many different types of rock and pop music, this island nation is also home to many music festivals England.


Isle of Wight was the largest and most famous of the early British musical festivals, originally held from 1968 to 1970 on the island that bears its name, the event was revived in 2002. The 1970 event was the most famous of the early festivals, drawing as many as 600,000 people to see the likes of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, The Who and Miles Davis. Isle of Wight is currently held at Seaclose Park near the town of Newport and annually draws 50,000 to 60,000. The festival, held in late June, features rock and alternative rock acts with performers such as Paul McCartney, Muse, R.E.M., Coldplay and The Foo Fighters playing at the event since its revival.


Out in the West Country of Pilton in Somerset is the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts. Glastonbury features performers for every contemporary musical taste, from rock and folk, to electronic, reggae, hip-hop and world music. Held on the weekend closest to the summer solstice in June, this festival tends to draw a lot of hippies and new age enthusiasts, somewhat because of its proximity to the legendary King Arthur's purported burial ground. Because most concert-goers along with support personnel live in tents and motorhomes during the three-day event, the festival is highly dependent upon good weather. Approximately 150,000 attend Glastonbury annually.


The Download Festival, held in Donington Park, England, has featured hard rock, heavy metal and punk music since is establishment in 2003. Mega music promoter Live Nation runs the three-day event, which has expanded from its original two-stage format to five stages. The festival, which is held in early June has featured performers such as Iron Maiden, Metallica, Rage Against the Machine, System of a Down and Opeth.


High Voltage Festival is the new kid on the block for music in England with its 2010 origins. Established in 2010, High Voltage encompasses some of the best-loved genres of British music with stages devoted to classic rock, metal and progressive music. The inaugural 2010 event featured the 40th anniversary concert of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, along with American rockers, ZZ Top. Other notable performers have included Steve Hackett, UFO, Joe Bonamassa, Marillion, Transatlantic, Jethro Tull, Anathema, Spock's Beard, Judas Priest and Dream Theater. The event is held on the last weekend in July in Victoria Park and has drawn approximately 30,000 people over two days.


A number of other festivals, such as Rewind, which features acts from the 1980s and Radio 1's Big Weekend also draw sizeable crowds. Most have dedicated websites. Always check for exact dates as festivals sometimes skip a year or two before resuming.



Image (CC) laurbarnes 

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