Kitchen table planners created event which conjures up the spirit of St Ives
The St Ives September Festival began in a back kitchen in Teetotal Street in September 1977, bringing together the diverging interests of several arts and music professionals.
The first festival, held a year later, was already ambitious in its scope and covered folk music, dance, fine arts, chamber music, poetry, arts and crafts and theatre, and even featured a very young Nigel Kennedy.
It has remained an important part of the town's cultural life in the intervening 35 years (give or take a few short breaks) and still has the same spirit it began with.
The committee of around 16 – all volunteers – put together a diverse and entertaining programme for two weeks in September.
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Last year there were more than 200 events for all ages and interests in a variety of venues around the town.
This year, if you'll pardon the cliche, promises to be bigger and better than ever before with more than 300 different entertainments from September 14 to 28.
Headline music acts include Fairport Convention, Chastity Brown, The Manfreds, Emily Barker and John Cooper Clarke.
Fairport Convention, hailed as the originators of British folk-rock music, have just celebrated their 45th anniversary and remain one of the most entertaining bands on the live music scene. They open the festival on September 14 and it's a testament to their popularity that the Guildhall show is already sold out.
On Tuesday, September 17, Jamie Smith's Mabon, the award-winning, Wales-based band bring their unique twist on Celtic music to St Ives, showcasing music from their acclaimed recent album Windblown, which features the addition of songs to the repertoire for the first time, alongside some of their extensive back catalogue of compelling instrumentals.
One of the typically quirky events is a performance by Karen Tweed's No 1 Ladies Accordion Orchestra playing everything from Moonlight Serenade to You Are My Sunshine and waltzes to tangos.
Karen Tweed is the mercurial, wacky and elegant English accordion queen, known for her inspirational teaching and ground-breaking collaborations. Since deciding to pursue a musical career in the late 1980s, she has risen to become one of the leading lights on the UK and international folk scenes, working with, among others, Kathryn Tickell, The Poozies, Swap and Two Duos Quartet.
The No 1 Ladies Accordion Orchestra is a wonderful band of all-female accordionists, presenting splendidly eclectic instrumental arrangements taking in a whole variety of musical styles.
They are at the Guildhall on Monday, September 14.
Other musical delights in the first week of the festival include hitmakers The Manfreds (5-4-3-2-1, Do Wah Diddy Diddy and Pretty Flamingo) on Wednesday the 18th and, on the 16th, Minnesota-based musician Chastity Brown, whose music is a beautiful mix of gospel, roots and soul, jazz, blues and country.
Other performances include comedy from Johnny Cowling and theatre from Cornwall's own Miracle Theatre Company, with their acclaimed version of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, leading up to the festival's electrifying finale on Saturday, September 28, featuring Livewire AC/DC and The ZZ Tops.
Performances take place in a range of venues ranging from ticket-only entrance at The Guildhall with a capacity of 500 people and The St Ives Theatre which seats 320, through to smaller free music events in pubs and clubs.
The festival also includes art exhibitions, walks and tours of the area and various workshops as well as open studios, where local artists open their workspaces to the public in order to feature their work – you'll find art, ceramics, textiles and glass. There will also be an art exhibition in the famous St Ives School of Painting and ceramic pit firing on Porthmeor Beach.