Upstart Crow is a festival dedicated to the art of song. Organised and curated by a collective of singer-songwriters, UCF aims to capture the transformative magic of a song well sung and bring it to a wider audience. Now in its fourth year, the UCF stage under the canopy in Spitalfields will once again host an incredible cast of extraordinary songwriters and performers from various backgrounds and genres, during eight hours of original music. The festival is free and runs from Midday to 8PM on October 1st offering everything the festival goer has come to expect – a stellar lineup, great sound system, artisan food stalls, beer tents, merchandising stalls.
Headlining this year is Daniel Romano – the Canadian Juno-nominated musician, poet and visual artist – who will be playing a one-off solo acoustic show for the festival ahead of November full-band dates. Daniel’s work pushes at the boundaries of conventional songwriting and constantly surprises, infuriates and delights his global audience. His latest album, Modern Pressure, has received glowing reviews including praise from likes of Mojo, Uncut, Shindig and The Line Of Best Fit.
Also appearing at this year’s festival is the cream of the UK’s songwriting talent including Robert Chaney, Trevor Moss And Hannah Lou, Benedict Benjamin, Pete Greenwood, Bad Parents, Felix Holt And The Radicals, Joe Wilkes, Emily C. Smith, Hank Dogs, Lorraine Wood and Emma Harwood.
Here’s a Spotify playlist features this year’s artists (and past performers).
The Festival is the brainchild of James Burton, a London based singer-songwriter. His vision was to create a London festival dedicated to the art of songwriters and establish a space for a growing audience of people who crave originally and an authenticity in their music – free from corporate sponsorship and the insidious choke of commercial competition. He found a partner in Spitalfields E1 who bought into the vision and who provide the space and support that helps create this perfectly formed festival.
A solid team who sustain the heart and soul of the event – all songwriters themselves. Their experience, dedication and exacting eye for detail ensure the very best acts from the local and international music scene. The Upstart Crow ethos is straightforward – hard work, exacting musicianship, compelling songwriting and a vigour to put on a really great show.
In addition to the Festival, Upstart Crow is interested in how music can bring about positive change in society. To this end, the festival director, James Burton and project partner Andrew Harwood, run music and songwriting workshops in London prison drug rehabilitation wings. The aim of the project is to support prisoners who experiencing the trauma of drug withdrawal and help them through the rehabilitation process.
Writing, playing and performing music in prison can provide a positive learning experience for prisoners. It can act as a catalyst in the process of rehabilitation, help to unravel complex and sometimes frightening emotions and express those feelings in a non-confrontational way.
This year’s festival will be raising funds for this work through the charity Miracles.