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City Sounds event in Chichester hailed a success

The second City Sounds festival in Chichester city centre has been hailed a huge success by organisers.

City Sounds - November 2023 - Tash Hills and band in Havana (Courtesy of Joeseth Carter)

The festival, supported by Chichester District Council, was organised by Chichester musician Chris Simmons and featured more than 50 acts playing across eight city centre venues.

The event was funded by a UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) grant sought by Chichester District Council.

The idea of the festival is to provide a platform for original, local musicians while also bringing breaking acts from around the UK to the city. There is also a hunger to give young musicians in particular a platform for their work.

New for this edition of the festival was a stage hosted by the restaurant Franco Manca, which was the location for a 'Young Persons Showcase'. It featured talent from a range of the region's music schools and colleges including BIMM based in Brighton; Northbrook College; Foot in the Door; Jam and Ovation.

In addition, Smithereen Music Group held a free music industry panel event at The University of Chichester on the Friday for acts that had applied to play at the festival, as well as any other local musicians or people in the music industry wishing to network. The evening was an opportunity to hear first hand from music industry representatives about how to develop their talent and get noticed in the business, whether as an independent or through a label.

"The festival was a massive success - huge, smiling crowds and elated bands and all venues were completely full," says Chris, who also runs the Smithereen Music Group. "It was magical to see our city so busy and the atmosphere in all of the venues was just fantastic.

"We worked hard to make sure that people would enjoy the music whichever City Sounds venue they were in, and it was no surprise to see how well all the acts were received - a huge round of applause to all the musicians who took part. The whole vibe of the city was amazing, and I'd like to thank everyone who's supported us in getting this event off the ground - we're already thinking about next year!"

Performer Aimee Moody, who played at The Escapist said: "I think that City Sounds has proved that Chichester needs more of these cultural experiences for those young people who crave live music and these connective energetic experiences where they can dance and sing along.

"Attending the panel event was so valuable and informative and I think that The Smithereen Music Group is really helping to give artists a leg-up in the industry, and a chance to get seen, be heard, and network with experienced professionals.

"In terms of my own performance, The Escapist was at maximum capacity and there was such a strong community feeling of 'we've all come here to support each other' - it was really beautiful and heart-warming."

Participating venues included The Fountain in South Street; The Hole in the Wall in St Martin's Street; La Havana Bar in Little London; Little Monster Tap in The Hornet; The Escapist in Crane Street; The George and Dragon Inn in North Street; and, Trents in South Street.

Mike Pailthorpe, a lecturer in BA Music at Northbrook College, had 19 of his students playing across six acts at the 'Young Persons Showcase.' These included The Clubheads and Unorthadox, two high-energy Punk bands, Hip Hop artists Young Theodore and Shoeless Joe and also Ibzdagoat who was fresh from a BBC Introducing's Live Lounge performance on Radio Sussex and Hampshire.

Mike said the event was really important for up-and-coming musicians:

"Music needs to be played live with an audience, and every chance we get, our students are out gigging, meeting new people, learning how to impress the people in a venue, and leave them excited and wanting more music.  For our students, it's a chance to get tighter, build more of an audience and get more real-life experience. We play gigs in our own theatre, which is great, but visiting new venues and moving out of their hometown is priceless.

"Our students would love to play out more often. With the ongoing problems venues have had since well before the pandemic, every chance to get young talent in front of live people is to be encouraged. The music industry was worth £4 billion to the UK in 2021, and if we want to keep building, then young talent needs a chance to develop, and City Sounds is an excellent way to do this in Chichester."

"We're really pleased that City Sounds was such a success and my congratulations goes out to all the organisers and musicians who were involved, there really was a buzz in the city about the event," says Councillor Jess Brown-Fuller, Cabinet Member for Culture and Events at Chichester District Council. "It's crucial that we support our young musicians and give our local talent opportunities to connect and play in front of others.

"As a council, we are really proud to be supporting the festival, using money allocated through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. We believe the event will continue to go from strength to strength and further enhance Chichester's reputation as a creative and musical city.

"This is part of our commitment to provide more events in the district to encourage people to visit, in addition to supporting Chichester's evening and night-time economy. It is also in direct response to what residents have told us that they want to see and enjoy."

People can find out more about the festival and see various local reviews of the performances by visiting the City Sounds website (opens new window) and going to the City Sounds social channels on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.


Date of release: 29 November 2023

Reference: 4294

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