Pocklington’s Platform Festival in July is cancelled in ‘heart-breaking decision’

No Saving Grace: Robert Plant: was to have headlined Platform Festival this summer

POCKLINGTON’S 2020 Platform Festival, headlined by Robert Plant’s new band in July, is off.

Run by Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC) at The Old Station, the annual festival has “very sadly has been cancelled for Covid-19 health and safety reasons”.

The organisers, PAC director Janet Farmer and venue manager James Duffy, are working on transferring all the 2020 programme to July 21 to 27 2021 and will keep festival-goers updated over the coming weeks.

“We will weather this storm and return in 2021 stronger and more vibrant than ever,” they vow.

Omid Djalili: Booked to open Platform Festival on July 8

The 2020 line-up would have opened with comedian Omid Djalili on July 8, followed by Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant’s Saving Grace with Suzi Dian on July 10, and a Saturday bill on three stages, featuring Shed Seven Acoustic: Rick Witter & Paul Banks, Red Hot Chilli Pipers, Ward Thomas, Lucy Spraggan and York country singer Twinnie on July 11.

The BBC Big Band on July 14 and folk-rock stalwart Richard Thompson on July 15 would have completed the festival line-up.

In a joint statement, heartbroken Janet and James say: “Following the continuing developments in the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken the difficult decision to cancel this year’s Platform Festival.

“The safety of our audience members, artists, staff, volunteers and wider community has to come first and we did not want to put additional pressure on the health and emergency services at this time.”

Shed Seven’s Paul Banks and Rick Witter: Topping Platform Festival’s Saturday bill with an acoustic set

Janet and James continue: “Platform is a labour of love, for PAC staff, and being unable to share it with you all in the venue’s 20th anniversary year is heart-breaking. It is, of course, the choice we had hoped we wouldn’t have to make.

“We looked at the possibility of staging the event at a later date in 2020 but the most important thing for us, other than your obvious safety, is to give our customers certainty and so we have made the decision to move this year’s festival to July 2021.”

Praising Platform’s regular festival-goers, they say: “Platform is nothing without our audience, you make it the great festival that it is. We want to thank you for your patience, support and understanding with us, while we have been working to reschedule the festival for you. We will weather this storm and return in 2021 stronger and more vibrant than ever.”

Dealing with housekeeping matters, they confirm: “If you have already booked your tickets, rest assured these are secured. You will be offered the choice of a refund or the chance to hold on to your tickets for the 2021 edition.

Richard Thompson: July 15 gig would have climaxed the 2020 Platform Festival

“We plan to carry as much of the programme as possible forward and, so far, almost all artists have agreed to work with us on this, which is amazing. We will, of course, keep you updated and we hope to have this all finalised in the coming weeks.

“Please be patient and wait to hear from us. Our box office – and external ticket agencies – is extremely busy and we will contact you in due course.”

Janet and James conclude: “Platform 2021 will take place on July 22 to 27 and we would love to see you all there for our biggest party yet. Stay home, stay safe and look after each other. For urgent enquiries, please email info@pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

“If you are in a position to support Pocklington Arts Centre and Platform Festival, we have set up a crowdfunding page via https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/pac.”

Mary Coughlan: Pocklington concert moved to September 23

Meanwhile, Pocklington Arts Centre has released an updated list of rescheduled shows for 2020/21, with the prospect of more being added in the coming weeks and months.

The Wandering Hearts, winners of the 2018 Bob Harris Emerging Artist Award at the UK Americana Awards, move their sold-out In Harmony, An Intimate Tour show from April 14 to August 27 2020.

Mary Coughlan, “Ireland’s Billie Holiday”, switches her April 21 gig to September 23; inquisitive folk truth seeker John Smith, from May 21 to November 3, and American singer-songwriter Jesse Malin, June 27 to February 2 2021.

Andy Parsons: Comedian re-booked for April 24 2021

BBC Radio 2 and Channel 5 presenter Jeremy Vine now asks “What the hell is going on?” on February 26 2021, rather than May 1 2020.

Billy Bremner & Me, comedian Phil Differ’s comedy-drama recounting his dream of eclipsing the fiery Leeds United and Scotland captain’s footballing deeds, moves from June 5 to March 11 2021; Herman’s Hermits re-emerge on April 22 next spring, and Mock The Week comedian Andy Parsons’ sold-out April 28 gig is re-booked for April 24 2021.

Led as ever by vocalist Maddy Prior, folk favourites Steeleye Span’s 50th anniversary celebrations of debut album Hark The Village Wait will have to wait until its 51st anniversary, their show now moved from May 3 2020 to May 7 2021.

James Felice, left, Will Lawrence, Jesske Hume and Ian Felice of The Felice Brothers, now to play Pocklington on June 22 next summer

BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winners Catrin Finch, from Wales, and Seckou Keita, from Senegal, will be joined by Canadian multi-instrumental trio Vishten on June 10 next summer, rather than June 13 2020 as first planned.

The Felice Brothers, from the Catskill Mountains, New York State, will be playing almost a year to the day later than their original booking. Ian and James Felice, joined by drummer Will Lawrence and bass Jesske Hume, are in the PAC diary for June 22 2021, replacing June 23 this summer.

The spotlight would have been on their 2019 album Undress, as well as their back catalogue from 2006 onwards, but now there should be new material too.

Courtney Marie Andrews: Watch this space for an upcoming new date announcement

A new date for American country singer Courtney Marie Andrews’ now postponed June 17 concert with her full band should be confirmed in the next week. Her new album Old Flowers will be released on Loose/Fat Possum Records on June 5.

All existing tickets holders for the rescheduled shows are being contacted by the PAC box office for ticket transfers or refunds.

Led Zep’s Robert Plant to headline Pock’s best Platform Festival with Saving Grace

Robert Plant and Suzi Dian, fronting Saving Grace, the Platform Festival’s prize capture

ROBERT Plant will headline this summer’s Platform Festival as the crescendo of Pocklington Arts Centre’s 20th anniversary celebrations.

The former Led Zeppelin frontman and lyricist, now 71, will lead Saving Grace, his folk-blues collaboration with fellow vocalist Suzi Dian, at Pocklington’s Old Station on July 10.

Tea time…then Omid Djalili plays the Platform Festival

“Hopefully we’ve pulled something rather special out of the bag for our 20th anniversary!” says delighted director Janet Farmer. “Bringing Robert Plant to Pocklington is a major coup for us.”

Shed Seven’s Rick Witter and Paul Banks, folk-rock icon Richard Thompson, comedian Omid Djalili, The BBC Big Band and country-pop twin sisters Ward Thomas are among the other acts signed up for the fifth Platform Festival, running from July 9 to 15.

Richard Thompson: closing show at Platform Festival on July 15

“The Platform Festival programme reflects this very special year for us,” says Janet. “Robert Plant is a legendary name in the music scene and it’s so exciting that he and the other highly accomplished musicians in Saving Grace will be joining us for such a significant event.

“There’s no doubt Robert and Saving Grace are the biggest band we’ve ever booked for Platform. Curating a line-up of artists that we personally love every year is always a source of much pride for our team and we strongly believe this year’s line-up is both the best and most star-studded music bill we’ve ever put together.”

“There’s no doubt Robert Plant and Saving Grace are the biggest band we’ve ever booked for Platform,” says festival director Janet Farmer

Plant and Dian are joined in his blues and folk-inspired acoustic co-operative by Oli Jefferson on percussion, Tony Kelsey on mandolin, baritone and acoustic guitars, and Matt Worley on banjo, acoustic and baritone guitars and cuatro. Their support act will be delta blues singer, songwriter and bottleneck slide guitarist Catfish Keith.

The 2020 Platform Festival comprises four stand-alone shows plus a day-long event on three stages. First up, British-Iranian comedian Omid Djalili will perform on July 9, followed by Saving Grace’s July 10 concert. The 18-piece BBC Big Band will play on July 14, conducted by Barry Forgie, with Jeff Hooper on vocals; guitarist, singer, songwriter and Fairport Convention founding member Richard Thompson will close the festival on July 15.

Saturday headliners: Shed Seven’s Paul Banks and Rick Witter

The festival’s Saturday bill, on July 11, will be headlined by Rick Witter and Paul Banks’s Shed Seven Acoustic show, wherein the York Britpop alumni’s frontman and lead guitarist will perform such Sheds anthems as Going For Gold, Chasing Rainbows, She Left Me On Friday and Getting Better, complemented by cherry-pickings from 2017’s Instant Pleasures, their first studio album in 16 years.

Shed Seven launched Instant Pleasures with a special show at Pocklington Arts Centre in November that year, by the way.

Country-pop twin sisters Ward Thomas: Platform Festival return

Joining the Sheds in the July 11 line-up will be bagpipe band TheRed Hot Chilli Pipers, with their ground-breaking fusion of traditional Scottish music and rock and pop anthems. “Think men in kilts, bagpipes with attitude, drums with a Scottish accent and a show that carries its own health warning,” says Janet.

Ward Thomas will follow up their April 30 gig at Leeds City Varieties and arena tour supporting James Blunt with a return to the Platform Festival, where Hampshire twins Catherine and Lizzy Ward Thomas previously appeared in 2017.

Big show: The BBC Big Band

Acoustic folk singer Lucy Spraggan, once of The X Factor, will make her Platform debut a year later than first planned; festival favourites The Grand Old Uke Of York will be back with their upbeat rock, pop, ska and anything in-between ukulele covers, and New York Brass Band will play the Platform Saturday for the first time, fresh from pumping up the party atmosphere with their smokin’ New Orleans Mardi Gras jazz at Pocklington Arts Centre’s 20th anniversary party night on March 6.

Festival newcomer Twinnie, alias York-born Twinnie-Lee Moore, 32-year-old star of West End musicals, The Voice contestant, model, film actress and Hollyoaks soap queen, is now a Nashville-hearted singer-songwriter. After wowing the C2C country gathering at London’s O2, Platform will be her Yorkshire homecoming.

Twinnie: country roads lead York-born singer-songwriter to Pocklington on July 11

Heading Pockwards too that Saturday will be husband-and-wife duo Truckstop Honeymoon, hollering their blasts of bluegrass, punk rock and soul to a five-string banjo and doghouse bass, and Buffalo Skinners, returning to the festival for the first time in four years with their Sixties’ folk and modern-day Americana.

York blues singer-songwriter Jess Gardham and Plumhall are on the bill too, and as ever the third Saturday stage will be spotlighting the region’s emerging talent, curated by the tireless, peerless Charlie Daykin and Access Creative College.

Tickets are on sale at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk, platformfestival.com and seetickets.com or on 01759 301547.