Craig Charles and The Wailers for Willowman Festival

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By Gig Scene Editor Graham Chalmers

North Yorkshire’s live music festival Willowman will be five this year and it’s celebrating the occasion with even more funk and soul and reggae than ever.

Held at Hillside Rural Activities Park at Knayton near Thirsk from June 19-22, the bill will be headlined by Bob Marley’s legendary The Wailers.

The band, led by original bassist Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett, were with Marley from the start, as much responsible for his phenomenal international success as his songs were.

Selling more than 250 million albums in the process, The Wailers’ presence is a real coup for Willowman Festival director Steve Williams.

The band’s current lineup also includes: Koolant Brown on lead vocals, Keith Sterling on keyboards, Drummie Zeb on drums, Audley Chisholm on rhythm guitar and Cegee Victory on background vocals.

This is not The Wailers first connection with Yorkshire as the band performed with Bob Marley at Leeds University Student Union in 1976 on the Rastaman Vibration Tour and also at the same venue in 1973, where the band made a classic live recording.

Steve said: “Reggae music is the beat that makes everybody dance. We are delighted to announce to have secured the appearance of Bob Marley’s one and only Wailers and once again we have kept tickets prices rock bottom for a four-day festival.”

Also at this year’s festival will be Ian McNabb of The Icicle Works, Ruts DC, Hope and Social and a man who is famous in two guises.

On the one hand, he’s a laconic character actor in Coronation Street and the long-time star of hit comedy Red Dwarf.

On the other, Craig Charles is a top DJ in the world of funk and soul, thanks partly to his popular BBC Radio 2 show.

Less well known acts set to feature at Willowman help create a real variety with 60s psychedelic-style rock band New Electric Ride, Alabama 3 offshoot Mountain of Love, dance roots reggae funsters Pyley Beatz, electro popsters Head of Light Entertainment and more yet to be announced.

For more information and tickets, visit