Sunflowerfest is a Community Interest Company and in 2015 as part of our social responsibility initiatives we launched Sunflowerfest: The Roots.The Roots is a grass roots music program which gives young up and coming musicians and bands a platform to develop and showcase their talents and the opportunity to play at the festival.
Each year we are overwhelmed by the number of music applications we receive and the wealth of talent is astounding. So this was the catalyst which led to us starting this program. The Roots currently has two strands, a Battle of the Bands and a School of Rock but we have ambitious plans to develop what we have and to add more elements.
In both 2016 and 2017 we held a series of Battle of the Bands gigs in various venues throughout NI. We held a weekend of finals in Belfast where the winning act was given the opportunity to open the Main stage at Sunflowerfest. Such was the high standard of entry that we ended up giving a number of runner-up bands slots also! Previous winners are Paper Dogs and Dreaming of Jupiter.
We also run a School of Rock. Just like the Jack Black movie we take a group of young people who have a wish to learn to play an instrument and put them through a week long School of Rock!!! Throughout the week they are split into groups and assigned a role within the newly formed band. Each band member gets daily instruction in their instrument and as a band they learn a number of songs and even write a song of their own. At the end of the week these bands then go and play the songs they have learnt at the opening Sunday slot on the Campfire Stage at Sunflowerfest.
This has proven to be a very popular program and the youths involved were featured on BBC NI news.