Stage at Woo Fest 2020

The award-winning county music festival Woo Fest has been a huge success since its first year in 2015, taking place annually to raise money for the Worcestershire hospice St. Richards. But this year posed a dilemma for the Woo Fest team with large events such as festivals and gigs unable to take place and uncertainty facing this year’s festival, Woo Fest took a leap into the unknown by hosting the festival virtually for the first time. 24 spectacular bands and musicians came together to show their support and raise an incredible £13.5K for the hospice, which provides end of life care, as well as a huge range of other services for patients with a terminal or chronic illness and their families.

Woo Fest started after Festival founders and organizers Luke and Ria Simons’s father was treated at the hospice. His love of music and the family wanting to give back to the hospice which had provided John wich such wonderful care was the inspiration behind starting the festival five years ago which has since gone on to win the title of Best Small UK Festival. Speaking about Woo Fest 2020, Luke Simons said “We’ve been blown away by everyone’s response to a virtual festival here in Worcester.” adding “Selfies and messages were flying in from homes and gardens across Worcestershire. We had people watching across Europe, America, Africa, and Australia! It was fantastic to see everyone having a great time while digging deep for this amazing local charity too”

This year’s festival certainly started out with a bang, with a set from local musicians Come Together who provided us with a mix of high energy covers with everything from Africa by Toto to Common People by Britpop supergroup Pulp to get everyone up dancing, with more upbeat sets from the likes of Nick Parker and the False Alarms who shared part of their January 2020 Marrs Bar show with a beautifully catchy rendition of their original song ‘Terry & June/Home for a Rest’ raising over £6,000 within the first hour and a half of broadcasting!

Sprinklings of acoustic acts and other covers from the likes of Chewie, Erica Jean, Tasha Leaper as Madona and Woo Town Hillbillies kept the atmosphere at an all-time high, and bands like Junction 7, who turned their front garden into their very own socially distanced festival for people to enjoy the sun and a glass of prosecco, with donations going to St. Richards.

In total 92 individual musicians played across the 24 acts with other sets including  Nigel Clark, Andy Bennett,  Arcadia Roots, Immy and the Boatman, Kringo Blue, Loose Lips, Come Together, Killerstream, the Secret Cabaret and the fantastic Vincent Flatts Final drive who absolutely smashed their set in the studio – a memorable set from a band who clearly just needed to be playing live music again after so much time off! There were also pre-recorded contributions from Grant Nicholas from Feeder, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Toyah Wilcox to support the event.

But of course, this incredible online event wouldn’t have been possible without the talents of Worcestershire Creative Communication Agency DRPG, with festival organiser Luke Simons and Tricia Cavell, Fundraising Director for St. Richards both commenting on the incredible production value and hard work from everyone at the DRPG Studios.
For anyone who missed out on watching Woo Fest 2020, you can watch the stream in its entirety at https://virtualwoofest.drpg.events/broadcast and you can donate online at http://strichards.org.uk/virtualwoo or by texting CARE to 70140 to donate £10

By: Lottie Bugess

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