Top names for Chichester's Priory Park Festival

Hugh Cornwell
Hugh Cornwell

Is This the Way to Amarillo? singer Tony Christie is among the performers lined up for this year’s Priory Park Festival, part of the 2017 Festival of Chichester.

Also on the bill will be S Club, Dodgy, Georgie Fame, the Deborah Bonham Band with guest vocalist Chris Farlowe, The Christians, Geno Washington and his Ram Jam Band and The Bog Rolling Stones.

As previously announced, the weekend will also include former Strangler Hugh Cornwell.

Festival director Robin Bextor is promising an eclectic three-day weekend of music, comedy and food and drink on July 7,8 and 9 in Priory Park – and this year, the festival’s second year, there will be a much clearer division between the days, plus the addition of an outdoor stage.

“We are glad to confirm that we have listened to our audience from last year, and some people were saying that they wanted a much more defined programme.”

The result is that Friday will be jazz and blues; Saturday will be rock; and Sunday will put the emphasis on family fun: “For the Friday, we have got a sprinkling of young, unknown artists. Nick Davidson (from the Chichester Music Academy) is providing some of the performers, but this year we have also combined with Club Havana, the jazz club in Chichester. We will also have an open-air stage. Priory Park is so gorgeous. We are wanting to enjoy the park as a backdrop. But we will also be having a big top that people can retreat to if the weather is inclement, and in the tent we will also be able to create certain atmospheres.”

The Friday will offer Soul of Santana and the Deborah Bonham Band with guest vocalists including Chris Farlowe, the man who was sitting in the number-one spot with his version of The Rolling Stones’ Out of Time in the week in which England won the 1966 World Cup. American electric blues harmonica player, singer and songwriter Johnny Mars also plays on the Friday.

“Topping the bill on the night will be Georgie Fame. He brings with him a list of number-one songs but also some brilliant r&b. Older audiences will know him. Younger audiences will have the chance to discover some amazing-quality songs.”

Saturday will offer the West Sussex Youth Orchestra, a comedian (name to be confirmed), Rolling Stones tribute band the Bog Rolling Stones and Dodgy whose hits have included Staying Out for the Summer, If You’re Thinking of Me and Good Enough. Hugh Cornwell also plays on the Saturday.

“In their 30th anniversary year, The Christians are also coming to Priory Park for the Saturday evening. With a back catalogue of hits including Forgotten Town, Hooverville, When the Fingers Point, Ideal World, Born Again and Harvest for the World, The Christians were formed by three brothers with the surname of Christian and a fourth musician, Henry Priestman, whose middle name also happened to be Christian!”

Sunday features the West Sussex Youth Jazz Orchestra, a “big household-name comic” (TBC), Abba tribute band Abba Chique, S Club performing all their greatest hits and then Tony Christie.

“It’s impossible not to smile when you hear Tony Christie,” Robin says. “His voice is still brilliantly strong. He will be doing all his big hits, and he puts on a great show. He is perfect for a family day out, everyone in the sun in Priory Park, marching along to Is This the Way to Amarillo!”

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