We can’t wait for the first ever Soul Food & Music Festival in Sunderland on 10th June! 

To find out more about this epic festival we sat down for an exclusive chat with festival organiser and Hairy Bikers star Si King! 

Find out all you need to know about the Soul Food & Music Festival from the man behind it all…


Si King 700 x 700


What inspired you to put this Soul Food & Music Festival together?

It was a bit of a collaboration really. I have a funk and soul band called The King Cush band and I’ve played on a couple of occasions with Groovetrain too. I just thought the festival would be a really good idea and a good thing to do. 

So, me and Michael Lavery from Groovetrain, we approached Wannasee Events and said should we do something like that? Put some great food and music on. And then I happened to be in a meeting with an executive from Sunderland City Council and I messaged them and they said ‘We’d love to do that.” And I was like “really?”. I had some talks with them previously about the developments in the city centre of Sunderland and it kind of rolled on! 


Normally when you talk about soul food and soul music you’re talking about a specific genre of both, but when it comes to the festival the term soul is covering a varied array of things. What does that word soul mean to you when it comes to food and music?

It’s a good question that. Your soul, each individual one of us has some sort of soul. Something that touches us specifically. And that’s what it’s about. It’s about just food and music that touches the soul. In the classic sense, soul food was from the wrong side of the tracks in the south of the United States. So, there is that side of it, you’ve always got to pay homage to that because that’s the heritage of where it came from and the music that most of the bands are playing up there is music from black origin. All of that is very important to us. 

What soul means to me is just something that speaks to you personally. Whether it’s a Led Zeppelin track or a King Curtis track – It doesn’t matter. It’s the things that make you excited, the things that motivates you and takes you to a special place.

That’s what we’ve tried to put together with the bands that are on and the DJs as well. They’re just really good people, doing what they do really well. That’s what it’s about. That’s the soul of it all. I’m a firm believer that if you just get a load of like minded people together that are good at what they do, you inevitably create a level of excellence and you don’t have to do much after that because everything else follows. 

Now, this is the first one for us and we’re pretty nervous about it because we just want it to work so much. You know, primarily just for the audiences that we hope come. It’s a big responsibility but it’s also a fantastic opportunity for us to just go, get in Sunderland! Do you know what I mean? It’s gonna be great. 

It’s in Sunderland, but even more than that it’s a celebration of the North East! Wearside, the Tyne, the Tees and as far north as the Tweed. You’ve got all those rivers, all the communities, all of that industry, all of that history, that innovation, that passion, all of that just enthusiasm for life. Because, yina, up in the North East we’re pretty much left on our Jack Jones just to get on with stuff. So, that’s what we’re doing and we’re bloody good at it. 

It’s just a celebration of life. And food and music. Who lives without food and music? Nobody!


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You’ll be performing on the day as well, as part of your band The King Cush Band – how did the band come together?

I’ve been playing music since I was 13, I got my first drum kit when I was 13 and I’m 55 now – so, whatever that math is! I’ve always been in bands, I love it. You tend to let that go when you’ve got a career, when you’re travelling around the country, you’ve got work, got kids. But, my kids are all musicians as well. I’ve always done it really. 

The guys that I’m playing with now, we’ve done it for over 40 years. It’s just nice to see your best mates playing on stages bigger than they would normally play. Just to see those smiles. But equally, everyone understands that it has to be the best it can be. We rehearse A LOT, and we’re tight. Because we want to deliver great music that you can dance to and have a good crack on with, have a beer to and enjoy the sunshine. And that’s what the band is all about! 


Do you ever imagine a universe where you ended up following the musical career route primarily over the cooking? I can imagine you and Dave like a Geordie Tenacious D! 

That would be hilarious man! I often get asked about food and music, which I’m passionate about most and really they’re indivisible to me. Because I get such a huge amount of joy from both. It’s like being asked, what came first, the food or the motorcycles? Well, they’re indivisible. I can’t separate them out. I’m equally enthused about riding a motorcycle to the shops or riding a motorcycle across the Mexican desert. You know, it doesn’t really matter to me – as long as I’m on a bike I’m happy. As long as I’m creating music and I’ve got that musical understanding, that musical language, then I’m happy. 


Finally, what are you most looking forward to about the Soul Food & Music festival?

Honestly, the bands that are coming to the festival, we open the festival on the Friday night, then we’ve got the amazing Voices of Virtue on Saturday evening, then we’ve got Groovetrain on Saturday too. So, if I can get back on the Saturday, I’ll be playing with them as well. On Sunday night you’ve got the mighty Smooth & Turrell. In between we’ve got lots of DJs, we’ve got fire pits and we’ve got the best of the best food vendors around the stage area. It’s a little bit alternative, it’s got a little bit of a twist and it’s just gonna be a great weekend! 


For more information regarding tickets, activities and available food vendors check soulfoodmusicfestival.co.uk.

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