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The Lancaster Music Festival hit the city streets and university campus last weekend, bringing together a fantastic array of jazz, blues, funk, soul, reggae, experimentation and many talented one-act shows. The line-ups included local and internationally renowned musicians, including the Toronto based band Andria Simone who (speaking to Brian the saxophone player afterwards), told me they had fallen in love with the city, thinking it was a beautiful place to be and to perform to. Andria Simone blew the crowd away when they played Thursday night at the Borough, where tables and couches were moved in order to make way for the infectious dancing which caught each audience member one by one. The level of the performances was set at such a high standard that there have been calls in The Visitor to also host the festival in Morecambe. And this is not surprising when you look at the warm effect of the festival on Lancaster music lovers.
My personal highlight of the festival was watching Heidi Happy. I had been to Atkinson’s ‘The Hall’ in the past and warmed to its unique design, friendly atmosphere and great coffee (served in something which looks like it belongs in high school chemistry; I was informed later that it is named a Syphon, originating from Germany).
Watching Heidi Happy perform surpassed previous expectations of The Hall and the city itself. I saw how people of the Lancaster community come together to share something special, something different and something, very much, inspiring. Heidi Happy is a Swiss singer and multi-instrumentalist. She builds layers of music using vocals, a xylophone, synth and many things I had never even seen before. The addition of each new layer kept the audience mesmerised as she experimented in front of us and created some beautiful pieces. Her music ranged from old Swiss folk to contemporary French dance music, with melancholic pieces of great song-writing ability in between. Her songs sung in French or German still caught each member of the audience and looking around I could see a shared enjoyment passing through both the students and the locals of Lancaster.