A FESTIVAL that is proud to support young, musical talents takes place at Ilfracombe's Landmark Theatre this weekend. The Sunwest Festival has a long history of helping young stars take their first steps in performing.
"We started off with our Bands' Day which has been running now for nearly 10 years," said organiser Charmain Lovett. "It was established in order to give new and upcoming bands a bit of real stage time as, at the time, I think it was much harder for young bands to find gigs.
"While older bands could get into pubs and graft their way up to bigger stages, it used to be that younger musicians were overlooked."
Charmain and her fellow organisers have always tried to make the festival a safe and happy environment for young people to play.
"We may be a beer festival but we have always maintained that we are a family event. Our customers are always so supportive of any musician who has the guts to get up on stage and perform, no matter how old they are."
Charmain feels it's probably easier for younger bands to get gigs, these days. "With social networking being such a predominant force, it is far easier for a venue to see just how talented these youngsters are, despite their age."
Over the years Charmain and her team have been delighted to discover so many young talents who have been confident enough to hold a full slot during the festival.
"When I look back through our old line-ups, it's peppered with local teenage talent and we are immensely proud that we have been part of their development in some form or another.
"One of the earliest examples is Jenna Witts, who started playing with us when she was in her teens. She is by far one of the most successful musicians in the region now."
This year the line-up includes Yazzy, 14, who has already had an amazing year including performing at London's 02 Arena as a finalist at Teenstar where she was commended for playing her own self-penned song, Butterflies. Plus there's young talents iFires made up of Callum Ozelton, 13, on drums, Jude Turner, 13, on bass and Noah Turner, 15, on lead guitar and vocals.
"With the amount of quality open mic nights in the area which are encouraging musicians of all ages to develop their style and confidence, I can only imagine that this influx of teenage talent is going to increase," added Charmain.
"We are delighted that we are here to help and encourage them with their musical careers."
Whatever the weather the Sunwest Festival this weekend promises music with a summer vibe.
"We have The Liquidators AKA playing on the Saturday evening and the place is usually rammed when they play all of the big ska and two-tone classics," said Charmain. "If that isn't your cup of tea, though, we still have plenty of other acts covering all genres from pop and rock through to folk and roots."
Sunwest Festival's line-up on Saturday, August 24 at Ilfracombe's Landmark Theatre runs from 2pm and includes sets by October, Yazzy, Hip Route and The Liquidators AKA.