The Florrie Fest: Review, gallery and what we learned from The Florrie’s 130 year celebrations

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Florrie Fest 2019

Celebrating its 130th anniversary The Florrie provided a day full of love, music and family fun, Getintothis’ Kevin Barrett was there to take it in. 

Should you follow current mainstream and national news it’d be hard to pinpoint a time in recent history that’s had more divisions in society than the present.

Whilst there’s wedges being driven through factions of the population, whether it be blindly based on the likes of religion, gender, race or political preference, it’s heart warning to find that there’s pockets within the community where love, integrity and honesty are still in abundance and growing.

Built in 1889 The Florence Institute was a beacon of the Liverpool 8 community, serving as a centre for the youth in one of the most cash poor areas of the region, yet still flourishing through its programmes and projects such as its boxing club who managed to produce champions in Alan Rudkin and Larry Paul, whose historic photos and memorabilia are now adorned throughout the walls.

Skipping through a couple of generations to the present era, where in 2013 this magnificent building reopened its doors once again as the community hub it was always intended to be.

As we drive up Mill Street the flags, bunting and general good feel grabs us straight away for this, the 130th birthday celebrations of the great building. The place is packed.

Market stalls selling food, arts and crafts from all corners of the world, ‘God Save The Florrie’ t-shirts aplenty. Step through the mosaic tiled and hall of fame decorated hallway to the garden area where another large crowd made up of families, friends, people of all ages and ethnicities await the music on offer.

First up in the glorious sunshine is the Florrie Guitar Group. We last caught them in similar surrounds of Constellations garden for Sound City. This group of budding musicians are a joy to watch. Led and coached by Tea Street Band, and Florrie stalwart Timo Tierney, they’ve combined from varying abilities and experience to form a fantastic band who can really play.

Up next we have a Florrie based volunteer run collective of ukele players brilliantly named Florence and the Ukes who bring a wonderful array of Beatles, Johnny Cash and Elvis covers. Who knew the little old ukele was so popular in The Dingle.

Ben Burke is the first of the solo acts. Theres been a little buzz about Burke in parts of the city, he didn’t dispel this notion on todays evidence. A full set of original work ensued from Burke. The local singer-songwriter has plenty of confidence in front of this bustling crowd, great vocals and stage presence. Definitely one to watch.

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Regular airplay of new singles Dreamers & Modern Voodoo has seen Ali Horn’s reputation soar lately. Since calling it a day with Strange Collective his fanbase is increasingly growing, including big name followers like BBC6 Music’s Liz Kershaw’s who recently invited him to hold court on her radio show.

Here playing amongst others his two latest releases he provides a charmingly chilled set full of whirling guitars and looping synths with Barney Goodhall backing him up.

It’s a first for us today in seeing Maddie Stenberg play. Fresh from releasing her single just last month, Ghosts And Girls, she brought some beautifully laid back soulful harmonies to this glorious day.

Next was a stripped back acoustic session from one of Liverpool’s finest exports, Clean Cut Kid, albeit with just the pairing of Mike and Evelyn Halls. Still riding the crest of their latest album Painwave the couple receive a great reception as they work through hits like Emily, Vitamin C and Evelyn.

A slimmed down version of Tea Street Band made up of just Timo and Nico had the honour of getting the first dancers up from the audience. Bringing out the likes of Disco Lights, Only Love before finishing on Feel It, they never disappoint no matter what the setting or occasion.The passion in the playing between this pair is completely infectious for all loving this vibe.

Sadly we had to call it a day ourselves shortly after Tea Street Band’s set but sure the party and celebrations would have carried in similar fantastic vein to the daytime proceedings with Pete Wylie set to headline later on. 

Today was a case where the music was a delightful accompaniment to the spirit and love of a community that’s swelled at The Florrie.

This was a beautiful coming together of community built from an immensely diverse cultural demographic, in a building that has seen the best and worst of times through abandonment and staring at dereliction but remained defiant throughout to rise again.

Hopefully there will be many more times like this in Liverpool 8’s centrepiece.

If God doesn’t save The Florrie then this community certainly will.

Images by Getintothis’ Kevin Barrett

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