An afternoon feast of spoken word and song from poet and musician Martin Newell (pictured above), followed by a rocking night of music from The Firebird Seven band have given Brightlingsea WinterFest a stellar start.
The two events marked the launch of the month-long festival of arts, music, crafts, comedy and wellbeing activities aimed at banishing winter gloom and promoting community spirit.
Martin Newell delighted a full-capacity audience at The Rosebud Pub with his unique brand of entertainment encompassing poetry, anecdotes and music, ranging from razor-sharp wit to poignant romance.
Before taking to the stage Martin, who lives in Wivenhoe, said: “I am really pleased to be back in Brightlingsea for my second time at WinterFest and The Rosebud is a brilliant venue.
“The origins of WinterFest do resonate with me, as it was founded to help people struggling with mental health, after a musician in the town took his own life.
“I was in a similar situation with such thoughts when I was a teenager and, after getting through that experience, I decided I would offer any strengths I had to help organisations dealing with such problems.”
Since it was launched in 2015 WinterFest has expanded its aims to promote wellbeing for all and this year's packed programme has a wealth of entertainment and attractions for all ages.
Martin's performance set a high standard for WinterFest 2020 and an evening at The Railway Tavern, Brightlingsea, with the brilliant Firebird Seven and support act Something Like That, a punk band from Colchester, took the festival launch to new heights.
The Firebird Seven (pictured below) features Brightlingsea's own keyboard wizard and WinterFest volunteer, Jevon Ellis, and guitarist Rob Angelo, formerly of Iron Maiden. At the start of the scorching set Rob said it had been a long-held ambition of his to play in Brightlingsea.
Forthcoming WinterFest events include a Music by Candlelight Concert at St James' Church in Brightlingsea on Saturday, February 8 at 7pm. Top of the bill are home-grown rising stars When Rivers Meet.
• Pictures by Paul Hammond Photography