Let’s get ready to dance at this year’s River Fest

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PORK PIE hats and sunglasses will be a must-have accessory at this year’s Stratford River Festival, when the headline act delights crowds with iconic sounds from the 2-Tone scene.

The line-up for this year’s award-winning, free two-day festival – taking place on 6th and 7th July at Stratford Recreation Ground – has been confirmed and ensures there is something for everyone, with acts catering for lovers of soul, ska, jazz, Motown, folk, gospel, rock and more.

Headliners The SKAlectrics, a seven-piece band from North Oxfordshire, will get the crowds bouncing at the festival with their energetic performance, which will feature tracks from much-loved bands including Madness, The Specials and Bad Manners.

The SKAlectrics were founded four years ago by drummer Neil Parker, 52, from Banbury, who wanted to combine the sounds he grew up with of Ska, 2-Tone and Trojan.

Neil said: “We’ve been trying to get into the River Festival for years because it’s such a popular event so we’re really excited to be headlining this year. The bigger the crowd the better we are. We’ll get the crowd jumping at the River Festival, there’s no doubt.”

Fellow bandmate and Sax player Dionne Sambrook said: “As a Stratford resident I’ve attended the River Festival many times and I’m absolutely thrilled to be performing. It’s great that we have such a big festival that continues to support local bands and musicians on the local music scene.”

One of Stratford’s finest musicians, Marion Fleetwood, who booked the bands for the festival, said: “As usual we have focused on local talent to show everyone what amazing musicians we have got in the area.

“The River Festival gives them the opportunity to perform in front of huge crowds and demonstrate their substantial skills.

“This year we’re particularly pleased to have a good balance of female and male artists performing, which we find many festivals lack. It’s wonderful to celebrate creative women.”

Stratforward Marketing and Events Manager Victoria Wilkes said: “We’re so excited with this year’s musical line-up and the activities on offer. The River Festival is one of the most popular events in Stratford and brings the whole community together.

“Each year the festival attracts an influx of people to Stratford, exposing our businesses to potential customers who are likely to return to our fabulous town. The festival is funded by, and thanks to, 420 fantastic town centre businesses.”

The River Festival has won multiple awards, including the Pride of Stratford Tourism Initiative of the Year Award in both 2016 and 2018 and Stratford’s Best Festival by Stratford-upon-Avon Online in 2016 and 2017 – as voted by members of the public.

Local contemporary choir Amicantus will kick off the festivities at 11.45am on Saturday, 6th July with their feel-good pop and show tunes.

Oher bands performing include:

– Scratchy Beard who take their inspiration from the infectious swing and alluring melodies of 1930s gypsy jazz

– The Midnight Sapphires create the scintillating sounds of the sixties

– Payback who deliver an eclectic mix of original music and covers

– KERBB (King Eddie’s Revival Big Band) – talented students from KES.

– Evergreen, a duo who have just won the newcomers spot at the Godiva Festival

– Man Made Moon with their distinctive laid-back indie/rock style

– Merry Hell, firm favourites in the ever-evolving folk tradition.