Bury St Edmunds: Rolling Stone Bill Wyman guest at Abbeyfest

FOLK, soul, funk, rhythm and blues and rock ‘n roll, plus a surprise visit by Bill Wyman – it was all part of the mix of a musical extravaganza in Bury St Edmunds over the weekend.

And organisers of Abbeyfest, held in the town’s Abbey Gardens, are hailing the event a huge success which was attended by up to 5,000 people, including the former Rolling Stone. He turned up backstage last night to see the sets by Paul Carrack and Jack Bruce and said he was back in Suffolk for a week to stay at his home at Gedding, near Bury.

Promoter John Hessenthaler was delighted by both the feedback of the three-day festival, which featured artists from Britain and America, and the weather. “You know it was sometimes meant to be,” he said. “We’ve had this fantastic diversity of music and the weather as well. I couldn’t have been more delighted.”

Friday was headlined by Bellowhead and the evening’s wet weather failed to dampen the folk enthusiasts’ spirits.

Saturday featured Funky Voices, Natasha Staffieri, Odyssey, Heatwave and an exclusive 20-minute set by Gwen Dickey, the former lead singer of Rose Royce, who had to be helped on stage from her wheelchair after suffering a recent fall from a ladder.


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And the night ended with a stunning performance by the 12-piece Ultimate Earth Wind and Fire who performed well-known hits that had the 2,500 audience in raptures. Many said their renditions of the band’s songs during their hour-long set was close to matching anything by EWF.

Last night was the turn of the Wattisham Military Wives, who performed the Gary Barlow Jubilee hit Sing, Steve Hackett, former Squeeze and Mike and the Mechanics singer Carrack and ex-Cream bass player Bruce. The latter rounded off the evening with the Cream classic Sunshine of Your Love.

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