We're kicking off our #FestivalSpotlightSeries where we're hearing stories from people on stage and behind the scenes of some of our favourite festivals coming up this year.
Our first spotlight is on Neighbourhood Weekender, the Warrington festival kicking off festival season on the 27th & 28th May Bank Holiday! 2023 is going to special, with headliners PULP, Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott, The Kooks, Self Esteem and so many more acts across the weekend.
We've spoken with Festival promoter Jack Dowling to find out what goes on behind the scenes, and Liverpudlian singer-songwriter Jamie Webster about what we can expect from his set and more! Check out the interviews below...
Q&A with Festival Promoter Jack Dowling
Neighbourhood Weekender is a couple of months away, how’s the preparation going? Are you feeling ready?
It’s all going well, we’re really excited about this year’s event and can’t wait to open the gates in May.
This year’s line-up is incredible, with the likes of Britpop icons PULP, Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott, Self Esteem and so many more incredible artists and bands. How did you guys go about curating your line-up? Are there any particular qualities you look for in an artist or band when booking them for the festival?
We aim to have a mix of household names and upcoming artists so everyone can enjoy it. It’s great to have an iconic band like PULP performing on the same stage as recent breakout stars like Self Esteem.
You always book some incredible emerging talent alongside the headliners, which is of course crucial in helping smaller artists breakthrough. Why is this something that’s so important to you?
All of our headliners were a new act at one point. Festivals are an important place for new bands to grow and find new audiences and that’s really important to us.
While the music is of course the main attraction, what other parts of the festival do you love? Are there any hidden gems or underrated parts we should look out for?
We have ‘The Neighbourhood’, where there’s a pub, a church, a library and other pop up attractions. Throughout the day you’ll find silent discos, pub quizzes and other hidden surprises!
There’s also our VIP section, with exclusive food traders, a special ‘Chill Out’ area and a private viewing platform for the main stage.
What do you enjoy most about working on Neighbourhood Weekender?
When the day arrives and we see all of the previous year’s work come to fruition. There’s nothing better than seeing thousands of people inside Victoria Park, discovering new music, singing along to their favourite songs and just having a great time.
If someone had never been to Neighbourhood Weekender, or they’ve not been in a while, what would you say makes it such a special weekend in the festival calendar?
It’s a great festival located in Warrington, between two massive music metropolises in Manchester and Liverpool. Neighbourhood Weekender sees some of the biggest artists in indie and pop perform as well as upcoming acts and bands. There’s always something going on to keep people of all ages entertained across the weekend.
Q&A with Jamie Webster
Your performance at Neighbourhood Weekender is just a few months away now, what can we expect from your set?
Energy, passion, happiness and boss tunes.
The rest of the line-up this year is looking incredible, is there anyone you’re hoping to catch across the weekend?
Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott. Hands down, unbelievable songwriters & performers. Although I've never met them they seem like really nice people too.
Your latest album ‘Moments’ came out last year, and we love it. It’s an honest project where political and social views stand at the forefront, yet the songs themselves remain vibrant and high energy. What was the writing and recording process like and what inspired you?
It was hard for any artist to practise their craft during Covid & Lockdown, so I had to use the tools I had in the house. Which was a load of bollocks getting spouted by an incompetent government on the news everyday, generations of people sharing their misery and frustrations on social media, thoughts of my own in my head and a guitar on my knee. I just told a story of that time through the eyes of myself & everyone around me. The recording process was brilliant, went to Rockfield and recorded live with my band, both processes were real and hard working and I think that comes out in the album.
So much talent is born out of the North West of England. With you being from Liverpool, how do you think the North West has shaped your music?
Being from the north west shapes your mindset and it shapes you as a person, so your beliefs and morales should always come through in your music, if you write from the heart of course.
How do you find curating the setlist for a festival performance? Is it different from curating a setlist for a tour? Are there any songs of yours which you feel lend to a festival crowd the best?
Give the people what they want; fast energetic hits that they can bounce to, and a couple of euphoric singalongs that they can loose their minds to. Its all about escapism after all isn’t it? Weekend in paradise is the ultimate festival anthem. And that’s me being modest.
What else can we expect from you in 2023?
A lot more than 2022; Bigger better gigs and tunes.
Finally, if you were to curate your own festival, who would be your dream headliners?
Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon & Me. And that’s me being modest.
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