THE Acoustic Festival of Britain takes over Uttoxeter for three days this weekend as it continues to settle into its new home at the town’s racecourse.
The bill is one of the best yet with Joan Armatrading, The Move, The Animals, Ian McNabb, Glen Tilbrook and Danny and Ben from Thunder among those making an appearance.
Ahead of the festival reporter JAMES BRINDLE spoke to two of the acts set to be highlights of the event — former lead singer of The Alarm, Mike Peters, and Katrina Leskanich from the legendary Katrina and the Waves.
WELSH musician Mike Peters is probably best known as the lead singer of The Alarm who had hits on both sides of the Atlantic back in the 1980s.
Since they split in 1991 he has gone on to forge a successful solo career and is currently singing with Big Country following the death of their frontman and Peters’ good friend Stuart Adamson in 2001.
Peters and Big Country will be in action at some of the major festivals this summer including Hard Rock Calling in Hyde Park and the Isle of Wight Festival, having played V Festival and T in the Park in 2011.
However, Peters told the Mail he particularly enjoys smaller and more intimate festivals and having performed at The Acoustic Festival of Britain before he can’t wait to get back.
He said: “I’m very much looking forward to it. 2006 was the last time I played and it was a fantastic audience for me to play to.
“I had a fantastic time and there were double encores — people wouldn’t let me off the stage.
“I like small, more intimate festivals. The big ones have become more commercial and about other things.
“Something like the Acoustic Festival of Britain has a great atmosphere to it and has a range of acts from the history of rock’n’roll.
“You get to see people up close and personal and you are not fighting for a space miles away from the stage.
You also get to meet people when you are there and chat to the artists —it’s not as corporate.”
Peters has a sizable array of hits to call upon when he takes to the stage on Saturday, May 26, but he said it will ultimately be up to the audience where the set goes.
He said: “The set list will have a bit of everything. I don’t usually go on with a set list in mind I just see where the audience want to take it.
“I’ve been playing for such a long time I have a vast array of songs I can play — I can do The Alarm stuff and Big Country and all sorts of songs.
“I go with the audience and feel the atmosphere I remember last time playing Pretty Vacant by the Sex Pistols it just went off at a different tangent and it was amazing for it.
“That’s the beauty of playing this sort of festival but people will still hear the songs I’m known for and those recently with Big Country.”
This year, the acoustic festival will be supporting The Love Hope Strength Foundation, a charity cofounded by Peters himself.
Peters has twice fought off cancer —lymph cancer in 1996 and most recently leukaemia in 2005.
The Love Hope Strength Foundation is an international, music-centric cancer charity dedicated to providing support for cancer centres, and inspiration to those affected, throughout the world.
In October 2007, Peters, along with 38 other musicians, cancer survivors and supporters, made a 14-day trek to the Mount Everest base camp to perform the highest concert ever on land to raise awareness and money to fight cancer.
Other musicians included Glen Tilbrook, from Squeeze, who will also be performing at the acoustic festival himself this year.
Peters said the foundation actually started the same weekend he played his last acoustic festival and he revealed there is a lot coming up for the foundation in the coming months.
He said: “The acoustic festival is special for me as it was there where we really started The Love Hope and Strength Foundation as James Chippendale (co-founder of the charity) was over from Texas and I took him to the festival and we set the foundation up that weekend.
“We’ve lots coming up including going to Ben Nevis in August to play the highest gig in Britain and we will be returning to Everest in December for our five-year anniversary.
“Our main focus in the UK is supporting cancer centres and buying equipment and we are about to build two stem cell units at North Wales Hospital.
“A lot of people like me who have been affected by cancer have a second chance at life and want to give back. It is great that the acoustic festival is supporting the cause.”
THE Acoustic Festival of Britain takes place between Friday, May 25 and Sunday, May 27, at Uttoxeter Racecourse and at venues across the town.
As part of the event there is an acoustic guitar festival with concerts and workshops featuring artists such as Gordon Giltrap, Uli John Roth and Aziz.
There is also comedy, poetry and a huge children’s area, as well as music, dance and artists performing at venues across Uttoxeter town centre for the first time.
Tickets can be bought online at www.acousticfestival.co.uk or by calling 0333 9000 919.ACOUSTIC FESTIVAL - Katrina's providing the feelgood factor