Mak: “We’ve managed to get 30,000 people to watch a bunch of unsigned bands, it’s a very powerful platform.”
Thirty-thousand culture-lovin’ festival-goers can’t be wrong – it’s time to get voting, people! Humber Street Sesh is up for some incredible national awards, including Best Medium-sized Festival and Best Metropolitan Festival in this year’s UK Festival Awards.
Springing from weekly grassroots free music night The Sesh, which was set up to cater for a lack of opportunities for unsigned and emerging acts in Hull, Humber Street Sesh celebrates the city’s finest bands and acts, alongside live art installations, street entertainers and more.
Founder and director Mark Page aka Mak couldn’t be more thrilled with the prospect of national recognition.
“I’m delighted, absolutely delighted,” he says. “Hull is a city that’s been neglected for many years and City of Culture is a year of opportunity for everyone and something we all want to grab. We’ve managed to get 30,000 people to watch a bunch of unsigned bands, it’s a very powerful platform.
Perceptions can be changed through creativity. I think now it’s the City of Culture year, it’s a good time to give local bands the recognition they deserve.
The UK Festival Awards is a gamechanger and will give bands a chance to network outside the city and make a name for themselves.
“When we first started the weekly Sesh, I knew there were a lot of kids playing in garages with little opportunity to perform in front of an audience. Apart from The Adelphi, whose owner Paul Jackson is a great hero of mine, local musicians had very little choice.”
Initially, The Sesh night started off with a database of 20 bands who played on rotation – including the likes of Fifty Nine Violets and Turismo. One band who really made a mark for The Sesh were The Paddingtons. “When The Paddingtons sort of blew up and got top 40 success, it excited a lot of musicians in the city and kids started to form more bands, it really helped The Sesh thrive,” says Mak.
For Mak, highlights of The Sesh over the years include Mr Beasley and Endoflevelbaddie: “That band always shook the rafters. There’s also bands such as Laurel Canyons and Purple from Texas – female drummer and vocalist, incredible stuff.”
In 2012, the idea of holding The Sesh as a street party was born.
“I spoke to Dave Mayes at Fruit who’s the proprietor at the Polar Bear and the legendary Welly Club and told him the idea,” says Mak. “He encouraged me from the word go and sold it to the public.”
After launching a crowdfunding site which raised £18,000 in eight weeks, it was evident the public had jumped all over it.
“We estimated a footfall of 1,000 people [at the first Humber Street Sesh festival], but 10-15,000 showed up,” says Mak. “When we entered our second year [in 2013], we wanted to support the UK City of Culture 2017 bid, so decided to stage it again. That one was definitely a gamechanger – it was huge.”
The incredible HSS 2016 which took place on 6 August at Hull Marina – their most successful year to date – saw 30,000 people partying down on Hull Marina to 214 bands and acts across a highly diverse range of stages.
Before The Sesh and Humber Street Sesh, music had always been a massive part of Mak’s life. Hull in particular has given him exposure to an incredible amount of talent and music.
“I came from Torquay and my brother was a huge fan of The Jam, The Specials and The Clash,” he says. “My sister was a big fan of Motown and northern soul. I was mad on music and football, that was my whole life. Really, I’m a west country boy: I like the early days when Massive Attack and Tricky were in their prime. I love the Bristol trip-hop sound and a lot of reggae. Slaves and Sleaford Mods also tickle my fancy.”
“I started DJ-ing, went abroad and ended up in Hull in 1992 – the rest is history, I’ve been DJ-ing 30-odd years now!”.
I want people to come to Hull and realise the beauty of community, and work out that when people work together they can play together. I’m a firm believer that if you want to walk fast then you walk alone, but if you want to walk far, you walk together.
Speaking of walking together, HSS wouldn’t be possible without the army of supporters who cover everything from health and safety, to sound and lighting to programming. Mak says: “From Dan Mawer, who is instrumental to the festival right through to people such as Dave Courtney (aka Uncle Dave) who helps with all the food, it’s a real team effort.”
The Humber Street Sesh have been nominated for Best Metropolitan Festival and Best Medium–Sized Festival at this year‘s UK Festival Awards. Vote for Humber Street Sesh here. Voting closes on Friday 28 October 2016. Clicky, clicky!