The Tide is Turning…

Dreams of the High Tide musical festival returning for 2020 were dashed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, leaving music fans throughout the local area incredibly disappointed. 

But with ‘freedom day’ past us and an insane amount of work put in from Eel Pie Records and Discover Twickenham, hopes are high for its return this month. The last few weeks have seen a small comeback of local, live music with weekly events known as ‘High Tide Ripples’ in which local artists such as Florence Joelle and Rosie Trentham have rotated around three different locations around Twickenham High Street, performing to passers-by.

High Tide will once again be funded by local businesses and through crowdfunding. Funds are also being provided through the Welcome Back Fund, an EU initiative set up to promote commercial activity and help with a safe return to the high street. High Tide will have eight stages and will showcase over 60 artists in a triumphant revival of live music. 

It’ll be a welcome return to the live music scene for the area, if not quite at the levels enjoyed by Eel Pie Island in the 60s. Originally designed as a Victorian riverside hotel resort, by the mid-1950s, Eel Pie Island was evolving into one of the most important live music venues in Europe. The Island became home to the jazz beatniks, the genesis of British RnB, the hippies and the notorious psychedelic rock scene. It was here you could get to see some of the icons of American blues: Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Memphis Slim. 

During the 60s, Eel Pie Island was nurturing musicians that would leave their mark on the world of music for many years to come including The Who, Elton John, David Bowie, and Rod Stewart. Stewart at the time was a young, penniless teenager who went from busking at London Tube Stations to selling over 250 million records worldwide and being featured in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Stewart says he was inspired when he visited Eel Pie Island with his girlfriend to see none other than The Rolling Stones in 1963. The band had a residency at the hotel the same summer their first single, Come On, was released, only eight years before the hotel mysteriously burnt down. In June 2018 (55 years later!) the band returned to Twickenham to perform to over 60,000 fans at Twickenham Stadium.

Live music has continued to be an asset to the area, with many opportunities for young and upcoming artists to perform thanks to the help of associations like The Basement Door and a rise in record shops as vinyl sales continue to grow. One of the biggest events was the High Tide Festival of 2019, which saw performances from around 50 local artists, with headliner act Goat Girl, who had performed next to artists such as Kai Tempest at the End Of The Road festival the same summer and have just played Latitude festival this July. The festival was a huge success and described as ‘the best thing that’s happened in Twickenham in decades’.

Artists will be performing throughout Twickenham on September 26th 2021, and with some artists already confirmed, expect to see: The Desmond Dekker Band, Binker Golding, Salad, and many more. Down With The Stereotype are set to perform on the main stage and The Initiative to headline the youth stage. Both bands gave amazing performances at this year’s Battle Of The Bands, a competition set up by The Basement Door, who often work with Eel Pie Records, the organisers of this amazingly successful festival. So, get yourselves ready for a day full of (hopefully) sun, fun, and a load of live performances to celebrate a return to the wonderful world of music.

Words: Leah Ash

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