Introducing Rhodri Jones, the events manager behind the return of Forest Live concerts to Dalby Forest after five years

Bryan Adams: Going down to the woods tonight

NOT since Paul Weller and Jess Glynne in June 2019 has Forestry England hosted Forest Live concerts at Dalby Forest, near Pickering.

The hiatus that followed the Covid-enforced cancellation of Leeds band Kaiser Chiefs and the double bill of Will Young and James Morrison in 2020 comes to an end this week.

Glory be, the weather forecast looks favourable for Canadian rocker Bryan Adams, back in a forest tonight after the Julien Temple-directed video for 1991’s 16-week chart topper (Everything I Do) I Do It For You from Robin Hood – Prince Of Thieves.

More sunshine over the weekend too when Nile Rodgers & Chic and support act Sophie Ellis-Bextor turn the woodland into a dancefloor on Saturday night and Richard Ashcroft, the two-time Ivor Novello Award-winning Wigan singer, songwriter and frontman of The Verve, completes the line-up on Sunday.

Ashcroft’s set list will draw on his five solo albums, along with The Verve’s anthems Bittersweet Symphony, The Drugs Don’t Work, Lucky Man and Sonnet that night, when Leeds band Apollo Junction will be supporting. 

Overseeing the Forest Live programme at not only Dalby Forest, but at Cannock Chase Forest, Delamere Forest, High Lodge, Thetford Forest, Sherwood Pines and Westonbirt Arboretum too, will be Rhodri Jones, Forestry England’s national events programme manager.

Nile Rodgers: Disco delights with CHIC on Saturday night

“After scaling back our operation, for the reintroduction of Forest Live we wanted to make sure we came back in a way that was sustainable after Covid, rather than all guns blazing everywhere, so we returned in a gradual, controlled way,” says Rhodri, who took up his post in 2023 after a decade at Southbank Centre, London,  where he became senior producer for all music events and festivals, including Meltdown.

“We’re really glad that Forest Live is back at Dalby Forest this year. We think we have a really good programme, in a really beautiful setting, and with three concerts this time, it gives us the chance to appeal to different people, providing something for everybody.”

This summer’s return to Dalby Forest marks the start of a partnership with Cuffe & Taylor, promoters of the highly successful summer series at Scarborough Open Theatre, where the likes of Tom Jones, Johnny Marr & The Charlatans, Paul Weller, Rick Astley, Fatboy Slim, James, Madness and comedian Bill Bailey will be coast-bound this season.

“It’s brand-new partnership for this year and will be ongoing,” says Rhodri. “We were looking for a partner for a number of reasons. Firstly, Cuffe & Taylor have an amazing track record of attracting artists of the status we want.

“Secondly, we are very proud of Forest Live, and its contribution to making a difference by raising funds for woodland conservation, and by partnering with such big guns as Cuffe & Taylor, who do concerts 365 days a year and, like us,  are advocates of sustainability with the Green Nation charter, we can strengthen that.

“It’s essentially an initiative to look at all elements of putting on the events to make them as sustainable as possible, so one of the things we were determined to introduce this year was a shuttle bus service to Dalby Forest, with coaches from Malton, Pickering, Scarborough and York.”

Richard Ashcroft: Sunday’s headline act at Forest Live at Dalby Forest. Picture: Dean Chalkley

He is delighted by the link-up with Cuffe & Taylor. “It’s a 50-50 partnership, and one of the great things is how aligned we are in how we want it to work. They can call on our expertise in staging concerts in beautiful surroundings and we can benefit from their knowledge, such as putting on the shuttle buses.

“Our sites are more remote and often that can be overlooked, with the last thing being thought about being the experience of getting to and from the forest, but we are aware that if it takes ages to get out, it might be the last time someone comes, so we’re addressing that.”

Rhodri highlights a further benefit of the return of Forest Live to Dalby Forest. “The fundamental aim of these concerts is that it’s beautiful to have these amazing musicians there, but it’s also our aim to get people into the forest for the first time and maybe next week they’ll come back to walk their dog or go mountain biking.

“The funds we raise go towards the work we do, whether tree planting or researching the health of trees and the impact of climate change. One of the big things we’re doing is looking at how trees will be sustainable in 50-100 years’ time. We’re always planning something ahead; it could be the next Forest Live or the rest of the team working on the future of the forests.”

Forestry England presents Forest Live at Dalby Forest, near Pickering: tonight, Bryan Adams (9pm to 10.30pm), supported by Cassyette (7.30pm to 8.15pm) and Rocketsmith (6.30pm to 7pm); Saturday, Nile Rodgers & Chic (9pm to 10.30pm), supported by Sophie Ellis-Bextor (7.30pm to 8.15pm), Deco (6.30pm to 7pm) and DJ Sam Flanagan (Demented Disco, 5.45pm to 6.15pm); Sunday, Richard Ashcroft (9pm to 10.30pm), supported by Apollo Junction (7.30pm to 8.15pm) and Tom A Smith (6.30pm to 7pm). Box office:

Rhodri Jones: National events programme manager at Forestry England

Rhodri Jones: the back story

NATIONAL events programme manager at Forestry England, leading on the national portfolio of forest events including the open-air concert series Forest Live.

Joined Forestry England in 2023 from Southbank Centre, London,  where he worked for a decade, becoming the senior producer for all music events and festivals, including Meltdown festival.

Prior to that, he worked for Hay Festivals worldwide, on the flagship event in Wales, along with festivals in Bangladesh, India, Columbia, the Maldives, Spain, and Kenya.