Suffolk Town’s Lockdown Festival of Art & Music

Replacing this July’s planned live events, Woodbridge Festival of Art and Music has exclusively invited LEEE John, the 1980s British soul-jazz, and electro funk pioneer, to instead headline a very special live lockdown show from multiple Woodbridge venues.

Woodbridge Festival will be broadcasting online on Sunday 3 August with a special programme featuring Leee John of Imagination, Red Snapper (new track recorded in lockdown), DJ Ben Osborne, J.S & The Lockerbillies, Peter Hepworth, Pop Chorus and Bratri live from Prague and more; filmed in venues around Woodbridge, including The Riverside, The Tea Hut, The East Coast Diner and The Table.

Leee John, the pioneering black music legend and founder of 1980s Brit-funk band Imagination, is presenting his new intimate show Acousticleee at the Suffolk festival’s online programme raising much needed funds for #SaveOurVenues. The iconic singer, who’s sold over 30 million albums, is to headline the special live lockdown session from the town’s much loved 100 year old cinema – which re-opens from lockdown on 31 July.

Leee John was amongst the first Black British musicians to achieve international recognition and was the central figure in last week’s critically acclaimed BBC4 documentary on Jazz Funk . His stunning career spans three decades and Imagination had multiple global hit singles, such as Body Talk, Just An illusion, Flashback, Music and Lights and Changes – as well as platinum, gold and silver albums.

The debut of a new intimate show format, which the singer has dubbed ‘Acousticleee’, the session reveals the soul singer’s unparalleled vocal abilities. Hits performed included ‘Music and Lights‘, ‘In the Heat of the Night‘, ‘Body Talk‘ and ‘Sensuality‘. The set also features a powerfully moving rendition of Billy Holiday’s ‘Strange Fruit‘.  The performance is followed by a Q&A with Ben Osborne on British black music. It also highlights the need to protect grass roots venues as the launch pad for the UK’s next generation of artists.

The online festival will also feature performances from festival favourites J.S & The Lockerbillies, whose good rockin’ shows have had people jitter bugging in fields from Glastonbury to Maui-Waui. Suffolk singer songwriter Peter Hepworth will be letting his lockdown locks down to play in the open air by the river, while the festival’s DJ Ben Osborne will take to the stage at The Riverside for a DJ set and a Q&A on British Black Music with Leee John. 

Alongside live sets filmed in venues around Woodbridge there will be a special live show from new Czech techno act Bratri in Prague and Pop Chorus will be submitting a moving track recorded while all members were in isolation. And there will an interview with Mark Davyd, founder of Music Venue Trust, on their work saving grass roots music.

The event will also feature a brand new track from club jazz act Red Snapper, who have composed a song specially for Noise of Art during the lockdown. The track first featured in the programme for Suffolk festival First Light, which this year took place online in Lowestoft in June.

The British soul-jazz and electro-funk pioneer was invited by Woodbridge Festival of Art and Music to perform the show at the Riverside Cinema, Woodbridge, which replaced a planned appearance at the festival cancelled by the pandemic. 

The special lockdown show and Q&A is being recorded under socially distanced conditions, and is raising money for the national Save Our Venues campaign, coordinated by UK music industry organisations such as Music Venues Trust and Musician’s Union. It is also raising funds for The Riverside – one of the UK’s longest running continuously open cinemas – whose future has been threatened by the current pandemic.

The lockdown gig will be broadcast on woodbridgefestival.com, noiseofart.org and from Leee John’s international social media channels this Sunday 2 August from 7pm.

The events are supported with funding from the Arts Council England and will be broadcast on www.noiseofart.org and www.woodbridgefestival.com on Sunday 2nd of August from 7pm. There will be a live launch event at The Table in Woodbridge on Thursday 30 July from 6:30pm. Table’s may be booked for drinks and food.