New Emsworth mini-festival could be first of many

Dana GillespieDana Gillespie
Dana Gillespie
A new partnership between WemsFest and Harbour Records (Emsworth) could see a series of mini-festivals being staged in the Hampshire town. Kicking it all off will be a blues festival on Friday and Saturday, January 13 and 14.

WemsFest artistic director Mark Ringwood explained "Early in the New Year may seem a strange time to be promoting live music but we can take heart from Glasgow's Celtic Connections Festival which has been taking place in January for almost 30 years with year-on-year success. Working with Ken and Rob at Harbour Records we wanted to give people a reason to visit Emsworth at what is traditionally a quiet time of the year. We're starting small with two ticketed events and an afternoon of free music in The Coal Exchange and The Crown Inn. Both pubs have bought into the idea and we hope that more will become involved as time progresses. The ticketed gigs are in St James Parish Hall and feature Dana Gillespie, Dino Baptiste, and The London Blues Band on Friday, January 13 and the following night The Bonham-Bullick Band play the same venue. On Saturday, January 14 JC & Angelina Grimshaw travel from the Isle of Wight to play two free sets in the pubs as will The Desperate Dan Duo from Worthing and Portsmouth's Sons of the Delta between 2pm and 5pm.”

Mark added: “The new partnership hopes to stage more mini-festivals involving country, folk, and jazz musicians during 2023.” Tickets available from Bookends and Harbour Records in Emsworth and wegottickets.com. Further details from wemsfest.com, and Harbour Records.

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Dana Gillespie’s 2021 memoir, Weren’t Born A Man (Hawksmoor Publishing), lifted the lid on one of entertainment’s wildest and most creative lives. Dana was born in 1949. Mid-childhood, she moved from the country to central London just as a full-scale blues revival was under way. By 16, she was recording singles for Pye. In 1968, she was signed by Decca, leading to two LPs, the second of which, Box Of Surprises, was written entirely by her. Dana was in the original London cast of two prominent musicals – Catch My Soul and Jesus Christ Superstar.