Press Release, 28 October 2015
The start to the new school year has been nothing but action-packed for Music at the Heart of Teesdale (M@HoT) project’s youth folk band Cream Tees. Over the last 3 months, the group have taken traditional folk music across the country to folk festivals old and new. Kicking off just before the start of term, 11 young musicians from the group travelled over the August Bank Holiday to Oxfordshire, to perform at the 51st Towersey Folk Festival – their very first festival appearance.
After the long drive down from the TCR Hub (who kindly sponsored the group through the use of their minibus for the trip) on Friday 28th August, they were welcomed on site and shown their camping spot – setting up their very own festival village for the weekend. Cream Tees took to the stage 6 times over the weekend, sharing traditional folk songs and music from the North East and elsewhere, as well as songs first recorded in Teesdale itself. The young musicians in Cream Tees showcased music from “Rooted — A Teesdale Suite” too, their own composition produced with the support of their tutors Ian Stephenson and Sophy Ball in 2014.
Attending Towersey Folk Festival was a fantastic new opportunity, provided by M@HoT’s organisers Mike Bettison and Rosie Cross, who have played an integral part in the festival since its inception. The weekend saw Cream Tees included in a festival line up that featured world-renowned musicians and folk luminaries. Rupert Ludlow, who accompanied the group on the trip as musical mentor and tutor, said, “The whole experience has helped place all that the young people have learnt over the last 3 years of the M@HoT project in a wider context of folk heritage. It has really highlighted the importance and value of Cream Tees’ work in learning and performing traditional music from our region.”
And, not only was it fun, but the band got to help out a good cause too. Seeking somewhere dry to shelter and perform at the festival during a particularly persistent shower, M@HoT project co-ordinator Neil Diment approached one stallholder to request that Cream Tees might ‘borrow’ his gazebo!
True to the friendly spirit of the festival, he readily agreed and in return Cream Tees donated the proceeds of their performance from the sale of their CDs and fundraised for the ‘Thame to Thame’ Nepal Earthquake appeal. Wearing a newly acquired distinctive red ‘Thame to Thame’ t-shirt, Neil explained to a curious audience that had gathered in the rain to hear the band play another lively set, “The funds raised will be used to help rebuild the school devastated by the recent earthquakes in the country.” The coins – as well as the rain – poured in!
As further proof of their fantastic performances across the weekend (which were played faster and faster as the weekend progressed!), when we got home again Cream Tees were invited to perform at two further festivals, which both took place over the weekend of Friday 16th – Saturday 17th October. The first was as opening act at the Gainford Folk Festival on the Friday evening, and then early the next day the band travelled to the inaugural Hartlepool Folk Festival, floating their Teesdale tunes a little further down the river.
As part of the Festival’s Fringe, Cream Tees played twice through the day – their early afternoon set on Hartlepool’s Headland Square took place amongst a wide range of folk music and dance groups from across the country, with the chance to see Rapper, Longsword, Clog and Morris sides – all with their own variations and styles, before finishing the day with an hour long set at The Cosmopolitan. This gave the band the chance to play an extended set, meaning extra songs – as well as throwing two of their older players, Rachel and Fiona Todd, into the limelight as they repeated their fiddle duet with which they had regaled audiences in Gainford to great acclaim the night before.
With invitations in the offing to return to Towersey, perform at Sidmouth Folk Week, and with our now regular annual visit to the Hexham Gathering in May, it promises to be a busy summer next year too as Cream Tees go on tour, and take Teesdale’s music to new audiences across the county and beyond!