On first inspection, Laura Murrell’s garden is like most in the area: a lawn, flower beds, potting sheds, a garage and a workshop. It’s only the 18 foot stage that makes it a little different.
Laura started her own music festival 10 years ago in 2007 after becoming frustrated with her local music scene. Laura explains:
“I was in a band myself at the time. We’d spend months writing and practising our songs, only to go and play in a deserted pub corner to nobody. It was really disheartening.”
“I was determined there had to be a better way. I knew there was people out there who really loved music and would relish the opportunity to listen to original bands; it was really just a case of bringing those people and the music together in one event.”
That event became Sunk Fest, a 300 person music festival complete with all-weather covered stage. On Sunk Fest weekend, catering vans park on her driveway, those inconspicuous garden sheds open up to reveal fully installed flushing toilets (the height of festival luxury I’m sure you’ll all agree) and the workshop becomes a sound engineering suite. The festival also features a fully licenced bar and camp site.
Now in it’s tenth year, the Sunk Fest stage has been graced with performances by over 200 different bands over the years. This year will host over 20 different bands over 2 days in a variety of genres: from rock to acoustic to pop to punk and everything in between. This year sees bands coming from as far as Poland, Spain and Scotland.
“Sunk Fest is the place to discover new music and see bands before they get too famous in an intimate setting. We seek out only the best, the cream of the underground crop. Every year we have hundreds of bands apply to play and we also have our ‘Sunk Scouts’ who look out for raw talent throughout the year.”
Described as the festival scene’s ‘best kept secret’, Sunk Fest really is a hidden gem on the events calendar. It’s 300 capacity coupled with the setting of Laura’s own garden at her home makes this feel like some sort of crazy house party: a house party to end all house parties.
Perhaps the most amazing thing is all this is done not for profit: Laura and her team of volunteers organise and run the festival for no financial gain at all.
“We get asked “Why?” a lot! Why do all this organising and put yourselves under this much stress for no profit at all? The simple answer is we love it. We absolutely love music and we love helping our artists and we love discovering new talent. Going through the applications every year and hearing the quality of music on offer is just amazing. Then to see them up there on this stage we built with our bare hands, performing to a crowd who are there because they love music too, with everyone having an amazing time… there is no better feeling in the world.
We feel there has never been a more exciting time for unsigned bands: the sheer variety and quality of applicants we receive every year is vast, and we want to give a home to underground music in our area and further afield. We want to give them a large crowd who appreciates them, and we want to give the crowd music they will fall in love with. But most of all, we want people to have a great time and go away with some fantastic memories. That’s our ethos: passion, not profit.”
In line with the ‘passion not profit’ motto, Laura and her team believe in giving everyone a fair deal. A full weekend camping ticket costs just £25. There is a very inexpensive bar on site selling well known drink brands and local ales, but festival goers are also allowed to bring their own drinks.
Sunk Fest will be held on Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd of July 2017. To buy tickets just head to www.sunkfest.co.uk