The Fascinating History of Leicester's Music Festivals

The Leicester International Music Festival (LIMF) has been a major part of Leicester's cultural history for over 30 years. Founded in 1989, it has been sponsored by some of the most renowned composers, such as Sir James McMillan (KBE) and Thea Musgrave (CBE), as well as the BBC ceramist, Lars Tharp. Nicholas Daniel, the oboe virtuoso, was appointed artistic director in April 2003 and has been a major influence in the festival's success. Music in Leicester, England, has had a varied history.

The city is home to several music venues and has produced many musical acts over the years. One of the most popular events was the Abbey Park Festival, often referred to as Leicester's “Mini-Glastonbury”. It was held from 1983 to 2002 and was a great showcase for local musicians and bands. At its peak in the mid-90s, up to 32,000 people gathered in August to enjoy a weekend of reggae, soul and funk, punk, rock and roll, indie rock and other performances. No glimpse of Leicester's popular culture in the 1950s and '60s would be complete without The Dallas Boys.

Already considered one of the first boy bands, they were four boys from the East Park Road area of Leicester who went to Moat Boys' School (Joe Smith, Stan Jones, Bob Wragg and Leon Fisk), in addition to Nicky Clarke, born in London. After appearing on the Carroll Levis show, they won a talent contest at a vacation camp and won the national final of the contest. They made their debut on television in 1956, released their first album in 1957 and were well-known faces nationally for years afterwards. The development of the award-winning Summer Sundae music festival, together with the Summer Sundae Fringe Festival (led mainly by the local artistic collective “Pineapster”) focusing on blues and folk music, could well give the city a greater focus on making its local bands known nationally. Before leaving home, I lent my record player to my mother and divided my pop music collection between her and my cousin Stephanie, with the mistaken impression that university students considered that rock and roll music did not belong to them. Whereas before headhunters relied on local attendance to see and discover bands and singers, now they just had to sit in their offices and log in to Facebook (founded in 2000) and Twitter (founded in 2000) to find what they were looking for.

People continued to attend music festivals where they could see the bands they liked so much on the Internet. The new bands had their sights set on certain places and were determined to play in them as they advanced up the local scale of musical success. In Victoria Park, the Summer Sundae Weekender has established itself as an important part of the annual cycle of music festivals. At Leicester College of Art & Technology, Jimmy King formed The Farinas, who, unlike the Incas, had musical success under the stage name Family. Clive Allen was a pianist at the Manchester Working Men's Club (WMC) in 1951 and, together with his musical partner Bobby Joy, he was about to succeed in a big way on local BBC television. At the end of April 1957, the McDevitt Skiffle group participated in what was announced as London's first major skiffle session at the Royal Festival Hall. Mosh opened its doors in 2003 and began to attract students and young people who wanted to hear their type of music played by DJs.

Leicester International Music Festival has been an important part of Leicester's cultural history for over 30 years. It has provided a platform for local musicians to showcase their talents while also bringing together people from all over England for an unforgettable weekend of live music performances. The Abbey Park Festival was also an important event that brought together thousands of people for a weekend full of reggae soul funk punk rock indie rock performances. The Dallas Boys were one of Leicester's first boy bands who achieved national fame after appearing on television shows such as Carroll Levis.

The Summer Sundae Weekender has become an important part of Leicester's annual cycle of music festivals while Mosh opened its doors in 2003 to attract students and young people who wanted to hear their type of music played by DJs. The development of these events has helped make Leicester's local bands known nationally while also providing an opportunity for headhunters to find new talent online. Leicester has a long history when it comes to music festivals that have provided entertainment for locals as well as visitors from all over England. From The Dallas Boys' success on television shows such as Carroll Levis to The Farinas' stage name Family at Leicester College of Art & Technology; from Abbey Park Festival's reggae soul funk punk rock indie rock performances to Summer Sundae Weekender's blues folk music; from McDevitt Skiffle group's session at Royal Festival Hall to Mosh's DJs; these events have all contributed to making Leicester one of England's most vibrant cities when it comes to music.

Jessica Cooper
Jessica Cooper

Friendly pop culture junkie. General music guru. Evil web buff. Certified travel geek. Lifelong tea advocate.

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