The long live music silence is set to end this month as loosened restrictions see outdoor gigs return to Courier Country.
One of the first events taking place is the new Live and Unlocked Summer Festival, which is set to help plug the void left by Perth’s massively popular Americana extravaganza Southern Fried Festival.
Running from Wednesday July 28 until Monday August 2 at Perth Concert Hall Plaza, the family-friendly shindig will also feature theatre, classical and kids’ shows.
Highlights include the West End and Edinburgh Fringe improvised singing hit Showstopper!, which’ll be familiar to listeners of its Radio 4 namesake, as well as musical theatre offering Julie Madly Deeply — a cheeky look at the life of Dame Julie Andrews.
Plus, broadcaster-cum-singer Jamie MacDougall will perform a mix of show tunes and opera favourites.
In total contrast, singalong Sprog Rock will keep toddlers and slightly older kids amused, while the colourful Unicorn Dance Party should prove a fun jam.
The main attractions
The all-seated festival’s main live music programme is headed up by Grammy award-winning guitarist Martin Taylor coupled with jazz vocalist Alison Burns, while a clutch of Perthshire talents are also stepping out on stage at Mill Street.
They include honky-tonk heartbreakers First Ladies Of Country – songwriter Ali Pibworth and singer Katie Whittaker, with sometimes-Proclaimer Stuart Nisbet.
Ali explains: “Katie and I played at Southern Fried three years ago with the festival’s choir, and we also worked with soul singer Cindi Cain from Nova Scotia, and that was just fabulous.”
She says she hopes the band’s take on favourites from country music’s classic songbook will appeal to Nashville fans disappointed by Southern Fried’s enforced absence since 2018, and describes their planned set as “a real celebration of the ladies on the country scene”.
Something for Nashville fans
“Katie comes from a real country music background and Perth is such a country town,” she explains.
“When you think about Dundee you think about the blues, but with Perth it’s got a real Americana following and that all stems from the bands and the artists that Goldrush Records were bringing over years ago.
“Working with Katie just seemed like a no-brainer, so we’re pulling some Dolly out of the bag, doing some Patsy Cline, Tammy Wynette and all of that sort of stuff. It just seemed like the most natural thing for us to do and they’re all brilliant songs.
“We love singing Tennessee Waltz, it’s such a sad song. When we did it in the Concert Hall my brother cried a little bit. And Katie does a brilliant Jolene.
“There’s also Katie and Stuart’s duet on Islands In The Stream, which is fantastic fun to sing. It’s quite a high-octane set with just fantastic songs that everybody will know.”
The buzz is building
Ali reckons the buzz has been steadily building in Perth since the Summer Festival was first announced late last month.
“People are just itching to get back out,” she declares. “They want live music and Perth has always had such a vibrant live music scene.
Wang Dang Delta are on the bill too.”The creative industries have really taken a kicking in the last year and we need people to get out and get watching music again, supporting local bands and really giving the scene the boost it needs.”
More about the line-up
Despite making an early festival appearance at 3.45pm on Friday July 30, the First Ladies aren’t actually rocking first on the plaza.
That honour goes to soulful rhythm and blues veterans Lights Out By Nine, who’ll be joined by Perth funk maniacs Bohemian Monk Machine from 6.30pm on July 29.
July 31 has blues and boogie favourites Wang Dang Delta plus Cajun folksters Chris Woods and Sandy Stirton — the aforementioned Mad Ferret Band — from 7pm.
The next day, a trio comprising Capercaillie fiddler Charlie McKerron, his Session A9 guitarist colleague Marc Clement and Treacherous Orchestra‘s maverick Perthshire piper Ross Ainslie will be the main attraction at 3pm.
Elsewhere, Scottish Opera will be performing Bizet, Rossini and Mozart, while Spanish guitar exponent Tim Beattie and accordian virtuoso Ryan Corbett also feature.
The festival’s rounded off by an evening of Roaring 20s works by Porter, Carmichael, Berlin and the Gershwins, courtesy of Martin Taylor and Alison Burns, on August 2.
Fore more info and festival tickets, visit horsecross.co.uk