Rain fails to dampen John Peel Day

IPSWICH town centre resounded to the sounds of rock as musicians came together to celebrate the first John Peel Day.Despite the damp weather hundreds of people came to the Cornhill yesterday to watch a selection of local bands pay their own tributes to the legendary DJ.

IPSWICH town centre resounded to the sounds of rock as musicians came together to celebrate the first John Peel Day.

Despite the damp weather hundreds of people came to the Cornhill yesterday to watch a selection of local bands pay their own tributes to the legendary DJ.

The legendary DJ, who lived in Suffolk and whose dedication to promoting new music launched the careers of countless musicians, died on October 25 last year from a heart attack while on holiday in Peru.

At least 300 concerts were organised in venues ranging in size from the backrooms of pubs to large concert halls, many of them featuring the kind of unsigned bands Peel championed. Other events were also being held in Spain, Germany, Italy, the US, Holland, New Zealand and Canada.

Six of the area's best-loved bands took to the stage as celebrations took place up and down the country to mark the anniversary of John Peel's last broadcast.

Stephen Foster, BBC Radio Suffolk's drivetime presenter, was responsible for organising the Ipswich event.

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He said: “It was a fantastic day and lots of people came out to listen.

“At lunchtime there must have been a crowd of several hundred people there.

“It was great that so many people turned out despite the rain.”

The entertainment kicked off at 11am with Fuzzface, who were followed by Songs From the Blue House, the Debs Warren Band, Tuscan Raiders, Camel Foot Raiders and the Blind Poets.

Alan Bloomfield from the band Tuscan Raiders said: “It says a lot about the Ipswich music scene that so many people turned out.

“There is so much great music being made in the town at the moment and it was nice to be able to come here and celebrate that in John's memory.”

Also watching the day's entertainment was Clive Arnold, whose kebab van kept the crowds well-fed.

He said: “I was there all day and it was really nice to be able to listen to the music while I worked - it made a change from an ordinary day in the town centre!”

The downpours eventually forced the crews to call off the concert as the amount of water on the roof of the stage could have posed a danger.

Mr Foster said: “It was a real shame but it just wasn't safe to carry on.

“Fortunately, we had a really good three hours or so and it was definitely a success.”

Mr Foster will be inviting the bands that did not get to play - Rosalita and Caution Horses - to perform live sets on his drive-time show next week.

He was also remembered in the village where he lived.

At Great Finborough's pretty Chestnut Horse Inn, just outside Stowmarket, the landlords had organised a John Peel memorial evening with the local band who played at his 65th birthday last year, Slightly Soiled.

Band member Peter Jordan, whose band performs 60s and country music, said: “He was a very quiet man, friendly, an easy going person and a decent guy. He would have helped anyone, not just in the music world.

“He ran the local youth club and was a great friend of everyone. He had lived in the village for more than 30 years and we were invited to play at his house for his birthday, playing for about 90 minutes. There were lots of people there.''

The day concluded with four more bands playing at the Steamboat Tavern - Charlie Brown, Things Found in Sharks, The Rodeo Clowns and New Mexico.

Did you get involved in the John Peel Day celebrations? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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