INTERVIEW: SUMMER STREETS | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Sunderland’s celebration of music, Summer Streets, returns to Cliffe Park on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th July. Organiser Ross Millard explains the ethos of the free event: “We like to try and present a line-up that’s a mix of upcoming local artists alongside more well known names, leaving space for local community groups and performers as well.” Keeping the line-up eclectic and diverse is key. “There’s no bigger buzz than seeing a little gang of five-year olds dancing down the front to some improv jazz, or seeing a group of 20 ukulele players getting the chance to be on a proper stage, with a proper PA playing in front of a crowd that isn’t just family and friends.”

Well-known artists like Field Music, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Jamilah, Tom A Smith and Lake Poets rub shoulders with workshops and craft activities, and an easy-going atmosphere adds to the occasion. “I really felt that the audience appetite for the sense of community and fun that Summer Streets represents was even bigger than before.” Ross says of the event’s evolution. “The fact we’ve gone to two days now means we can programme more and present more diverse voices from around the region.”

Here, Ross offers up some top tips on who to check out at this year’s event.


“I think there are lots of highlights on this year’s bill – Field Music haven’t played a proper full-band show for two years and I’m delighted they’ve chosen Summer Streets as a comeback moment. Tom A Smith headlining the Sunday will feel like a real homecoming moment for him too – his first festival headline slot. He’s toured so much and played so many shows in the last 12 months, it feels like this will be a chance to celebrate all of that graft in his home town. 

“Having Royal Northern Sinfonia come back to the festival for the first time since the pandemic is great – I always love seeing how young kids respond to their playing and the respect and reverence they inspire. Martha haven’t played many local shows over the last year either, so I’m really excited to have them on the bill too.

In terms of ones to watch, I’d say Lovely Assistant are such an incredible, tasteful band, and Frankie Archer has been causing quite a stir lately with her electronic take on traditional Northumbrian folk songs – she’s already been on Jools Holland and has supported The Last Dinner Party at several big gigs. Dead Wet Things are a proper Sunderland punk band, and I’m looking forward to them shaking things up a bit on our Second Stage.

Dilutey Juice were a major highlight of Summer Streets last year so we just had to bring them back again for 2024. They’re a perfect festival band – great musicians, amazing energy – and you don’t see enough sousaphone players if you ask me. 

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