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What to Expect from Summertime Fest at The Hammer & Pincers

Summertime Fest at The Hammer & Pincers
What's on
July 2023
Reading time 4 Minutes

On 19th August, The Dunwells are heading Summertime Fest in Newton Aycliffe

Organiser Ally Mendelsohn shares her inspiration for the festival, and what to expect this year.
Hayley McKay singing on stage Hayley McKay
The Dunwells The Dunwells

Ally has worked as an NHS medical secretary at Darlington Memorial Hospital for 36 years. She has some experience in event organising but no music promotion experience – just a passion for music.

She originally met The Dunwells at a Diana Award ceremony for her eldest son at The Royal College of Music in Leeds and fell in love with their music. ‘At the very start of lockdown they decided to do a daily live show on Facebook,’ she recalls. ‘This was an hour at 6pm every day full of music, humour and chat and it was something I looked forward to during a very stressful period at work – and it got me through the lockdowns. Quite quickly a group of like-minded people were in the comments every day on the shows and we all got to know each other quite well and soon became known as The Army of Friends, and of course a song was written with this title. They did over 200 of these daily live shows. Dave and Joe Dunwell are brothers from Leeds and they are such genuine, warm people and naturally very talented and funny, and I’m proud to now call them my friends.’

At the end of lockdown Ally decided she wanted to give something back and asked Joe and Dave if she could organise a local gig for them. ‘I’d found an ideal venue, The Hammer & Pincers in Newton Aycliffe which had a gorgeous beer garden with teepees and an outdoor bar,’ she says. ‘They also have on-site camping to add to the festival feel. The landlady Rachel agreed and we started to sell tickets. It was still a socially-distanced event but we had around 50 people there and it was just an amazing feeling being able to enjoy live music again with real people. It was also incredible to meet in person some of The Army of Friends who I’d been chatting to on Facebook for months.’

Last year Ally and her army decided to go a bit bigger and run a mini festival. ‘The venue had replaced the teepees with a fantastic cruck tent with proper flooring, sides and doors so if the weather changed we were okay,’ she says. ‘We had six live music acts including local girls Jenami and Hayley McKay, Jenna, Solow Choir, Tricia Longford and The Dunwells headlining. We had around 150 people, great food and drink and an afternoon and evening of incredible music.’

This year things are going up another notch. ‘We appreciate times are hard at the moment with the cost of living crisis so we have kept the ticket costs the same but have added an extra artist, so seven artists in total – Tricia Longford, Benny Bassett from the USA, The Lulas from Stockton, Solow Choir, Lucy May Walker (who has had her songs featured on Love Island), local award-winning singer-songwriter Hayley McKay and of course The Dunwells,’ Ally says. ‘This is all backed up by our fantastic sound engineer Darren Bishop and the incredible team at The Hammer & Pincers. We believe this offers great value for money especially with our family ticket and it’s such an enjoyable day out and something for people to look forward to in these tough times. Unfortunately this could be our last event here as the venue is now up for sale.

‘I feel it is important to be able to help support live music in any way I can. All of the artists who play at this event are extremely talented and deserve to be much bigger than they currently are. It’s good to be able to help them reach a wider audience.’

The event will run on 19th August from 3.30pm to 11.30pm with music starting from around 4pm. Tickets are £20 for individuals or £40 for a family including two adults and up to three under 18s. Tickets are available from or direct from Ally on 07971 577572. There will be an outdoor bar and food served all afternoon/evening. Each of the artists will be selling their own merchandise and be available to chat to after their sets. Camping is also available via The Hammer & Pincers directly.

WIN! To be in with a chance of winning a family ticket for two adults and up to three under 18s, enter our competition here.

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