Things to do: authors and music for WAMfest Felixstowe
Literature, art and music are on the menu at the inaugural WAMfest (Women in the Arts and Music) in Felixstowe, September 3-4.
The objective is to highlight the art of women and to “open doors” to them, while welcoming men.
There will be a mix of free and paid events – including lectures by leading authors, a wide range of music and art exhibitions at venues around the city.
Laura Locke, of Felixstowe Radio, got the inspiration for the new festival after initially hoping to have a celebration at the station for International Women’s Day in March.
She said: “This is the first of this type of event to take place in Felixstowe and we hope it opens more doors for women to perform and create.
“As a strong advocate for women in all fields, I was troubled to find that women still struggle to headline festivals, have their art celebrated and have their novels published.
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“We have planned for WAMfest Felixstowe to do a small gesture to restore balance and celebrate the contribution of women to the arts.”
She added: “This project has been a labor of love for me and the WAMfest team. We are a non-profit group and do not take any salaries but pay our artists, and any surplus will be donated to the Lighthouse Women’s. Aid Charity. “
The Friday night launch party, featuring Big Mama Funk and the Ukelele Ladies, is already sold out – but you can still purchase day passes for Saturday or book for individual events.
The day will include a range of free musical performances on The Triangle in downtown Felixstowe, including Felixstowe Harmonies, Essentially Swing and Stellar Acappella, as well as paid events at the Orwell Hotel, including author talks.
Felixstowe’s well-known detective story writers Ruth Dugdall and Jeanette Hewitt will both participate in literary panels, including Q&A and book signings. Both are strong supporters of the Felixstowe Book Festival and are also looking forward to the city’s new festival.
Ruth will participate in a discussion with fellow author Amanda Hodgkinson. Both wrote novels set in Suffolk.
Ruth’s best-selling “Black Maid” My Sister and Other Liars is set in part in the old Bartlett Hospital in Felixstowe, while Amanda’s internationally renowned novel, Spilled Milk, is set in Suffolk between 1913. and the 1970s. Amanda is also the author of 22 Britannia Road, which has an Ipswich setting.
Ruth said: “We’re going to talk about Suffolk and brotherhood, and we’re going to talk about secrets. We’re really going to find out why Suffolk inspires us.”
Jeanette Hewitt, who publishes as JM Hewitt, will participate in the second “author hearing” of the day with her colleagues Cassandra Parkin and Kate Sawyer.
“The whole event is going to be awesome,” Jeanette said. “It’s really nice to go out and do something with other writers.
“I think we’re going to talk about where we’re getting ideas from and how we wrote during the lockdown.”
Author of six published detective novels, Jeanette herself took advantage of forced isolation. “I realized pretty early on that we were going to be in this situation for about a year,” she said.
“I thought I would never have a year of free time again – and I wrote three books during the lockouts.”
She signed a deal earlier this year for the publication of all three books, and the first tense psychological thriller The Life She Wants to be released.
First local author Kate Sawyer, born in Bury St Edmunds, will also participate in the panel, speaking about her first novel, The Stranding, which was published in June.
Cassandra Parkin is from Hull and has many local admirers, after her novel Soldier Boy was picked by the popular Felixstowe Book Club.
During the day there will be performances by musicians including international opera singer Christina Johnston and the Common Ground Band, which includes Pat Whymark, Hattie Bennett and Emily Bennett. The group takes its name from the Common Ground Theater Company, which Pat Whymark directs with Julian Harries, while actress Emily Bennett appears in their productions.
Hattie Bennett, of Music in Felixstowe, said she thought it would be great for people who attended the festival to hear the music live. “They are going to love it. I organize concerts and the people who come have so much fun. The audience is part of the experience.”
The finale will feature Divatown, a fun female trio formed especially for the festival. It is conducted by Superthings famous head diva Jackie Hole Groovydisco alongside guitarist Mark Stuart and Greg Titheridge on drums and percussion.
The pop punk group Pink Lemonade, from Thetford and Attleborough, will also participate in the final. Bassist Maddie said, “We are really excited to be participating in the WAM Festival. It’s very refreshing to see and participate in an event that celebrates and embraces women in the arts and music to help end the gender imbalance at major music festivals.
The art gallery at 142 Hamilton Road will host a women-only week, with Gallery Box on Beach Street, and Colombian artist Catalina Carvajal is creating an iconic mural in front of the Orwell Hotel.
For more details and to book, visit the WAMfest tickets website.