As always the Musical Mystery Tour involves a huge number of mostly local artists - as well as a few surprises. In a packed programme involving over 235 performances (and counting) from over 150 acts (so far), there are some special guests, new venues and even more musical genres than ever before.
For instance, operatic contralto Rebecca Starling will be opening the day's proceedings at noon in Parliament Square with a rendition of Puccini's Nessun Dorma, before strolling Pied Piper-like over to Hertford House Hotel's bar to continue her half-hour performance. Later Rebecca will be performing again at McMullens' brewery yard (not just in her operatic guise but as a jazz singer too).
"It's especially important that Rebecca's performing this year. It's only recently dawned on me that we'd met a decade ago when she won our Young Soloists' Competition in 2008!" Kev Saunders comments. "Look her up and you’ll see just how far she’s been since then!"
Another 'alumnus' of the Musical Mystery Tour and Rock at the Castle is Declan McKenna - who got in touch with Kev Saunders a few weeks ago to ask if he could have a 'slot' somewhere. It's only at this late stage it's possible to announce what's going to be a very special event!
Declan McKenna performing at Rock At The Castle in 2014
"It's great that Declan's up for coming back to do a little gig with us - makes all this stuff feel worthwhile!," says Kev Saunders. "After touring the world, being a major label star, playing Glastonbury, Reading & Leeds, Lollapalooza and so on, it's going to seem very small! Last time he played the MMT, in 2014 I think, I was running out of suitable 'slots' and Declan played the Salisbury Arms hotel. This time it's the downstairs lounge at Hertford House Hotel. The venue this time's bigger and a bit more rock 'n' roll; and I suspect the audience will be a lot bigger and a lot more excited! "
"I'm looking forward to coming home for the festival, and the show will be entirely separate from anything else I've done recently, which is really exciting, " says Declan.
We’re pleased to announce that this year for the first time we’ve hooked up with a charity partner for the Musical Mystery Tour - namely our mates at Mudlarks.
L-R: Jo Asker (HMF), Rob Guinn (HMF Co-Chairman/Treasurer), Faye Surtees (Mudlarks), Vicki Hobson (Founder & director of Mudlarks) and Kev Saunders (HMF Co-Chairman)
Founder and Managing Director of Mudlarks, Vicki Hobson said: "We are delighted to have been chosen as the charity partner for the music festival. So many people are involved in the festival that it is an amazing opportunity for us as a Hertford based charity to promote the work that we do to the whole community."
"Our allotment site is now open 5 days a week, with over 160 people enjoying horticultural therapy and training. Our gardening teams are busy with the castle and town council gardens, and helping elderly people to keep their gardens looking beautiful. Our cafe is also busy providing training and employment for people with learning disabilities, as well as serving fabulous cakes and vegetarian food!"
"We are always looking for volunteers and help with fund-raising, so if anyone would like to be involved, please get in touch."
With little more than two weeks to go to the big day, Kev Saunders, Rob Guinn and the rest if the Hertford Music Festival team have thirty-four venues on board and hundreds of artists signed up to play. Of all those thirty-four, just five venues usually schedule and co-ordinate their own line-ups so Kev Saunders is currently embroiled in a mammoth scheduling task.
"Actually it's going pretty well so far - but it always gets tricky once you get down to the last few slots. You have to get a balance between the acts degree of experience, between original artists and covers acts and between different genres," explains Kev.
Trojan Horses will play The White Hart as part of the Musical Mystery Tour
As always, the County Town is punching way above its weight in terms of musical talent. The full programme will be available on the day and all the schedules appear on the website and Facebook page as they are confirmed - and of course each venue will have its own posters and fliers. There’s lots more to be confirmed but for now, among the highlights are headline sponsor Adaptor Clothing’s White Hart stage, which puts a bit of a mod-related slant on things with a line-up that includes Hertford ska outfit The Trojan Horses as well as Homegrown and The Bonnet - two of the areas top notch covers outfits. Over at McMullens’ yard in Old Cross, it’s a much quieter, partially seated outdoor affair with a definite family feel, featuring artists such as the enormous Somewhere 2 Sing community choir. And at all points in between the whole affair is a veritable cornucopia of live music from solo singer-songwriters almost everywhere covering all genres to banging original rock at the Corn Exchange and Hertford House Lounge and even some spoken word poetry and comedy!
Make sure you register online!
The scale of the event, with 600+ individual artists involved (and counting) is such that when scheduling up to 40 venues Kev can no longer do it from memory and notes on fag packets. So even if you’ve played before lots of times please register on the Hertford Music Festival website – that way all your information is on a single database ready for when the scheduling begins in earnest.
Just click on the link below.
An exciting new alfresco venue joins the Musical Mystery Tour.
'Every year we've got new venues, new sponsors and new artists to get excited about,' Hertford Music Festival Co-Chairman Kev Saunders says. 'But this year we've got a very special new venue on board, courtesy of long-standing supporters McMullens.'
L-R: Ron Guinn (Hertford Music Festival Co-Chairman), Maxx Palmer, Tom McMullen (McMullens), George Clark (Moony Blue Events/Passifs), Brad Palmer (FUR), Theo Moseley (Eponine), Kev Saunders (Hertford Music Festival Co-Chairman)
'The Musical Mystery Tour is in essence up to forty separate events all happening simultaneously in and around the town - which makes it a rather hectic day if you're hoping to catch as many acts as possible,' Kev explains.
'With more and more people flooding into Hertford every year, it's been literally "standing room only" at most venues - indoors and outdoors - so we're particularly pleased to welcome McMullen's yard in Old Cross into our happy Hertford band,' adds Co-Chairman Rob Guinn. 'We've been talking over the possibilities with Tom McMullen for some months and between us we've decided to make this one something of a haven from all the hubbub!'
In short that means the brewery's picturesque yard will be a relaxed, family-friendly (not that the rest of the venues aren't), mainly daytime space (1pm - 9pm) with plenty of seating - and Kev's assembling a line-up with that in mind. Topping the bill, for example, are Somewhere 2 Sing. A community choir numbering up to 120 singers with a range of music from Jess Glynn's Hold My Hand to songs from the popular The Greatest Showman soundtrack, Somewhere 2 Sing offer a variety of uplifting material from some wonderfully enthusiastic performers.
Choir director Duncan Rutherford comments, 'After 3 years providing technical support to the Musical Mystery Tour, it's very refreshing to be able to stand on the other side of the sound desk and introduce these lovely people. We're made up of local music lovers, we love singing and are just incredibly excited to perform on stage at this year's festival.'
Both Kev and Rob are keen to express their appreciation of McMullen's stalwart yet understated support. 'Obviously as the local brewery, Macs are as much part of Hertford's DNA as we are - and it's gratifying that they're as keen as we are to keep Hertford's music scene "Alive and Kicking" to quote the strapline for a certain brand of beer!'
'Kev and Rob do an amazing job in making this Hertford-wide festival better every year - community legends!' adds McMullens' Tom McMcMullen. 'We are delighted to help.'