The Wonder of Stevie celebrates a legend at Petworth Festival

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
The Wonder of Stevie offers a celebration of the great man for the Petworth Festival in Petworth House Stable Yard on Thursday, July 18 at 7.30pm.

Derek Nash, sax player and MD for the band, is delighted with the way things are going for them all. Last year they did around 80 gigs over the year: “It was fantastic. It was so popular and this year we're looking at fairly similar numbers, and we are playing in all sorts of places which is great.

“It all came about because of a singer called Noel McCalla that I had admired for years. He used to work with a band called Morrissey–Mullen and then he disappeared off the scene for a while but we ended up doing a gig together at a private party. He just sang a Stevie Wonder song in the middle of it, and it was just so fantastic what he did. I phoned him the next day and said how would you fancy doing a whole evening of Stevie Wonder. He was a bit reticent because Stevie is obviously still around but I kept badgering him and we did it and the audience were just amazing. That was seven years ago now and from that one-off encounter things have really taken off.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“There was something about the soulfulness of the way he sang it. It wasn't a carbon copy and we absolutely say we're celebration rather than a tribute. He doesn't wander on in dark glasses. It's all about celebrating Stevie Wonder's music. But also actually Stevie Wonder has a big jazz side to him. There are improvisational elements. Stevie loves his jazz and he has worked with some amazing people in jazz and we try to incorporate that side of it. Every member of the band gets their moment in the spotlight during the show.

Derek Nash in The Wonder of StevieDerek Nash in The Wonder of Stevie
Derek Nash in The Wonder of Stevie

“It is still exactly the same people that we started with seven years ago but we all do other things. Our bass player used to be in Gary Moore's band and our drummer used to be with David Gilmour. We all work with other people but we all love doing the show so much. I think the thing about Stevie Wonder is that he appeals to musicians as well as audiences. And there is always that twist in every song, a little melodic twist or a little harmonic twist. There is always a hook. Stevie has this great magic and he is just an amazing composer.”

And part of the great attraction is that his songs mean so many different things to different people. For Derek You Are The Sunshine Of My Life will always make him think of his father: “With Stevie Wonder every song will always have that nostalgic moment for someone but the problem is there is just so much amazing stuff that we can't cover all of it in two hours and so we end up segue-ing songs. Different eras work for different people but we try to do as much as we can.”

Also at the Petworth Festival on Wednesday, July 24 is ‘Aretha Franklin’ with Vanessa Haynes of Incognito. The festival is promising “one of the finest voices in contemporary British UK soul” at Midhurst Rother College.