ONWARDS Festival explores Huddersfield’s grassroots music scene

ONWARDS offers a kaleidoscope of musical brilliance, championing local talent, premiering new works, and unveiling visual art and sound installations.
6 September 2023

The ONWARDS Festival, a multi-venue music extravaganza, is set to captivate audiences in the heart of Huddersfield’s vibrant grassroots music scene on Saturday, September 23rd, and Sunday, September 24th, 2023.

The story of ONWARDS Festival began back in 2016 when event organizers Sam Hodgson and Noah Burton envisioned a live music experience that would evoke the spirit of a ‘pub crawl.’ Little did they know that their concept would strike such a chord with music enthusiasts, leading to the festival’s rapid expansion year after year.

After a forced hiatus in 2020 and 2021, the festival’s return in 2023 carries even greater significance, as it aims to unite the town’s creative sector and community. Thanks to the support of Arts Council England and Kirklees Council Year Of Music 2023 Gainshare, ONWARDS Festival is back, bigger and better than ever!

This year, ONWARDS Festival will unfold over the weekend of September 23rd and 24th, gracing six independent venues with performances from 16 diverse musical acts. It’s a transcendent journey through an electrifying tapestry of genres that awaits you. Let the vibrant pulse of funk, afrobeat, and blues bands move your body in joyful abandon. Feel the heartfelt melodies and sultry tones of celebrated vocalists weaving tales of love, loss, and resilience through the power of jazz, world music, and soul. Unearth the timeless beauty and intimate sounds of folk and acoustic performances that bridge the past and the present. ONWARDS offers a kaleidoscope of musical brilliance, championing local talent, premiering new works, and unveiling visual art and sound installations.

On Saturday, music lovers will follow the ONWARDS compere, progressing through the town’s streets, ultimately arriving at the grand finale featuring Klonk, an 8-piece party band that crafts stone-cold killer cuts blending klezmer, balkan, funk, jazz, metal, and hip-hop. Expect full tilt horns and wild strings engaging in a spirited dance with a powerhouse rhythm section. But that’s not all; the day also boasts spectacular performances at the Victorian Byram Arcade by Jazz vocalist Ruby Wood and Amaya, a captivating duo featuring Carnatic singer Supriya Nagarajan and Duncan Chapman on flugelhorn and electronics, inspired by new ideas, forms, and aesthetics from across the world. Earlier in the day, audiences will groove to the Afrobeat rhythms of Plantfood and the powerhouse blues stylings of Wadcutter Blues. Day tickets are available, granting access to all Saturday events for just £15.

Sunday’s lineup shifts gears, offering a soothing acoustic soundscape throughout the afternoon. This tranquil setting is juxtaposed by a newly commissioned collaboration between the illustrious ‘bare-knuckle soul’ singer Thabo and The Huddersfield Ukrainian Singing Troupe. Adding to the sensory experience is sound artist Chris Ruffoni‘s sculptural sound installation, which responds in real time to the environment, hanging in the trees of New Street, creating an immersive, contemplative, and organically shifting texture of sounds. Sunday’s headline act is none other than Mr. Wilson’s Second Liners, who blend the brass of New Orleans with 90’s club classics, promising a uniformed and spirited performance that channels the spirit of the 24-hour party people and gets audiences dancing into a joyful frenzy.

Visit the onwardsfestival.com for more information.

TICKETS – buytickets.at/onwardsfestival

In the words of the festival organizers, “Let the music guide you ONWARDS through the heart of Huddersfield!”