By Rachael Grealish
Concerts and tours may be cancelled but for Cumbrians ‘The Ultimate Shania Twain Experience’ is ready to hit their screens as ‘Cumbria’s Virtual Festival’ returns.
After raising over £5,600 for Hospice at Home West Cumbria with the first festival the organisers, Liam Moorhouse, James Cowan and Stuart Fleming, are bringing back the event for May Bank Holiday, Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 May.
The two-day event boasts to feature a wide range of local talent and kicking things off will be the 25-year-old teaching assistant, Amy Morton, from Whitehaven.
While the UK has been in lockdown Amy has been stopping at nothing to do her bit and is even releasing a charity single to raise funds for the NHS, she said: “I am honoured to be a part of Cumbria’s Virtual Festival and I am so amazed at how everyone is pulling together at this difficult time.”
Newcomers to the virtual festival – but definitely not unknown to the local music scene – include Luke Matear who will be entertaining viewers with a wide range of acoustic songs to suit all tastes and Rue, from one of Cumbria’s favourite entertainers from Rue and the rockets.
Nicky Wild is also appearing, who will be belting out some classics tunes to dance the day away.
Whitehaven’s Megan Smith will be gracing the virtual stage with her amazing vocal talents that you won’t want to miss.
The Saturday wouldn’t be complete without the return of some of the favourite acts from the first festival. Miss Pearl, Big D, Robert Wright and Logan Paul Murphy and Miss Dee will all be making a return appearance after wowing viewers during the last festival.
Closing the Saturday event is one of the UK’s favourite Shania Twain tribute acts, ‘The Ultimate Shania Twain Experience’, who is a regular visitor to Cumbria.
One of the organisers, James, said: “We worked with Samantha last year when we organised a fundraiser for Macmillan Cancer Care. Tickets sold out within a couple of weeks, and then after her performance, we were inundated with messages asking if we were going to have Samantha back.
“We organise a lot of charity events, so we were planning on having her back this year, but due to the current situation with Covid-19, it hasn’t been possible to arrange any events.
“However, when I messaged Samantha to ask if she would perform at Cumbria’s Virtual Festival, she said she would love to be a part of the festival, as she always has such a great time performing in Cumbria and loves the reaction from the people that go to see her shows.”
Sunday’s virtual stage line-up also promises not to disappoint as viewers will see the return of Heartline, as well as Steve Byrne, who raised over £1,000 for the last festival by singing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ during his set.
Returning is popular local entertainer Jenia who also raised extra funding for Hospice at Home West Cumbria by shaving off her eyebrows before her performance.
Organiser, Liam Moorhouse who will be returning to viewers screens to perform, said: “So many of the Cumbrian entertainment scene are great friends. We work together in different venues, and support each other through difficult times such as now.
“We can’t play the venues at the moment, so if we can deliver entertainment to your homes live from our living rooms whilst raising funds for an excellent charity once again, then bring it on.”
Liam, who’s been in the entertainment industry for over 15 years, has faithfully promised if the group get an extra £500 in charity donations before May 22, he’ll even shave his hair off.
Special performances will be given by two frontline workers, Nicky B and Alana.
Nicky was actually unable to perform in the first virtual festival as while in the line of duty she contracted COVID-19. Since then she’s fought it off and will be performing.
Alana works as a nurse with Hospice at Home West Cumbria and is coming back for a one off performance.
A weekend of Cumbrian music wouldn’t be complete without ‘Stella the Fella’ rounding off the event.
Stuart Fleming, aka Stella the Fella, will be donning the drag once bedtime hits for the kids and the family-friendly festival kicks up a gear.
Stuart said: “People see my act as adult orientated, so I was left to close the Sunday night after the watershed. I believe we have put together a wide range of acts that everyone can enjoy over the weekend, and hopefully raise even more money for Hospice at Home West Cumbria.
“It has been a pleasure being involved in these events, and like all the other entertainers, I am looking forward to getting back out there and performing in front of a live audience.”