WOWfest 2012 cancelled


Following consultations and full consideration, it is with heavy hearts and much regret that we have been forced to announce the postponement of WOWfest 2012.

Putting the festival together, in what is proving to be a very challenging year and with damage inflicted by anti-festival lobbyists, was more difficult than we anticipated. We have spent the last year fighting hard to establish and keep WOWfest in the calendar. Unfortunately circumstances have dictated that this is no longer possible to achieve in 2012.

Although great confidence had initially been shown by the Isle of Wight Council to grant a Premises License for 18,000 rising to 22,000 capacity over a three year period and to further grant permission to run an event of that size under the Isle of Wight Act there are many forces trying to prevent the event happening. There is no doubt of the WOWfest team operational capabilities to deliver such an event.

However, the Isle of Wight Act conditions imposed by the council on the 18th May required a lump sum payment of over £140,000 for Council and Emergency Services to be brought forward to the 31st May. The conditions also stipulated the need for a financial bond of an unspecified and potentially unlimited amount to be made to the Isle of Wight Council.

WOW Festivals Ltd informed the Isle of Wight Council and responsible authorities, before the payment deadline for over £140,000 under the Isle of Wight Act fell due, that WOWfest would revert to run a downsized event – under the size (5,000) at which the Isle of Wight Act is invoked. However, the Isle of Wight Council rejected a minor variation application to voluntarily reduce the capacity and hours of operation on our Premises Licence and the Police decided to call for a full licence review, at the start of the Jubilee weekend. Undue and untimely pressure has resulted in one of the organisers suffering a stroke over the Jubilee weekend.

The planned event for 2012 will need to be postponed. Alternatives have been briefly assessed but time is against us and therefore the only sensible decision is to cancel WOWfest 2012 on the Isle of Wight and look to the future in 2013.

Ticket holders for WOWfest 2012 will be refunded.

Whilst we will be in touch with them all separately, in addition to this announcement, we want to openly express our deepest regrets to the artists and to thank all the people, suppliers and contractors who worked so hard with us to try and pull off what has proved to be a monumental task when there have been so many people determined to destablise the event with negative publicity and actions. We also want to send a huge thanks to the partners and people who stuck by us and we are so sorry that we can’t fulfill what we set out to do in 2012.

WOW Festivals Ltd

WOWfest features 2012 winner of Live and Unsigned

Live and Unsigned auditions started in January leading up to the National Finals at the UK’s Largest indoor music festival, Live Fest (14th July, 02 Arena). The competition will be judged by a panel of music industry gurus from National Radio 1, Kerrang, BBC Introducing, Regional Press & record labels including Radio 1’s Annie Knightingale MBE, Kerrang! Radio’s Alex Baker, former Stone Roses guitarist Aziz Ibrahim and many more to be announced!

The overall winner of Live and Unsigned 2012 will receive the exclusive opportunity to play WOWfest’s main stage on Friday 17th August. Sharing the main stage over the weekend are the likes of Norman Jay MBE, The Selecter and Aswad, with more still to be announced. In addition the winner of Live and Unsigned’s acoustic music sub category will play WOWfest’s new and local talent stage, Shaved Fish.

Only in its first year, WOWfest’s features an electric mix of House, Reggae, Ska, Jazz, World, Disco, Dance, Dubstep and Drum and Bass music including House legends Paul Oakenfold and Danny Rampling, Reggae stars UB40, Junior Marvin of Bob Marley's Wailers and Maxi Priest as well as Ska originals The Selecter and The Beat to name a few. On top of a spectacular line up the festival features Ubuntu, WOWfest’s African Village, as well as a vintage fun fair, workshops, theatre performances and afterhours comedy club and swirling burlesque.

The Live and Unsigned 2012 winner will also play Relentless Energy Drink Boardmasters, Sundown, Strawberry Fields Festival, Cloud 9 Festival, Glass Butter Beach, Bingley Music Live, Cockermouth Rock Festival, Brownstock, WOWFest, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Just So Festival, Stockton Weekender, London Summer Jam and Lancaster Music Festival as well as receive a cash prize of £10,000.

To enter Live and Unsigned visit

Live and Unsigned Grand Final 14th July 2012 , The O2 London

The Shaved Fish stage lineup at WOWfest


There is an intentionally eclectic mix of music on offer from the curators of Shaved Fish, which is a result of their high drive to create a unique experience with a real WOW factor that differs from night to night…

On Friday expect to hear an acoustic orientated night with hints of folk and country. Saturday steps up to an Indie rock night with a very exciting new band at the top of the bill, and on Sunday to finish the weekend there is a full on Psychedelia night. It’s a great place to discover something new and enjoy the already excellent WOWfest vibe – created by headline acts such as UB40, Heaven 17 and Madeleine Peyroux, and top DJs including Paul Oakenfold Danny Rampling and Bez from The Happy Mondays.

The team behind Shaved Fish are three island musician amigos Charlie Harris, James Thorpe and Shaun Barker.  The trio have used their time and resources wisely to book some excellent music. 

Charlie is a current university student, studying Music Management and Studio production, alongside juggling a few musical projects and producing artists and bands. Born and raised on the Isle of Wight he entered the music scene at the age of 13, playing in bands and attending local gigs, soaking up what the island has to offer. With a good knowledge of new and fresh music, along with a love for music from previous decades, it is his goal to create an exciting line-up for the Shaved Fish Stage.

James is a self confessed music snob, with a primitive vintage studio set up in the top floor of his Ventnor house and co-running a label under the name Red Squirrel with Shaun and Charlie, he is certainly a man to know if you're in the island scene. James, along with the other two, entered music through playing in a band and live performance, but has followed his interests and ended up in the field of production and recording. His connection to the network of Isle of Wight musicians has proved valuable in the booking of some great music from the island.

Shaun and James come as a pair – it’s rare you'll find them creating music more than 10 feet from each other. As teenagers playing in band together for 8 years and attending the same schools, their interests are naturally fairly mutual. Shaun's involvement in music is, like the others, in production and engineering music and co-running the studio with James, his input into the music made is vital to the Red Squirrel sound.

For these three island lads, this is great personal development in their chosen industry. Not only have they had full control over the musical programming of the Shaved Fish, they also have to organise the whole show. They are doing this with the guidance of the older members of the team but they have met the job full on with energy, enthusiasm and enjoyment. Instead of running competitions like many other festivals, they did email auditions with MP3s and made a selection from thousands of applicants off the island and on the island. The line up is their choice of high quality emerging and current sounds from psychedelia, Indie, jazz to shoegazing and we are pleased to see they chose The Shutes, Pale Seas, JC & Angelina, Raff, Faber, Wos, Kris and Kaf alongside Hugh Verey (founder of Wight Salads now retired).

The Shutes are a widely anticipated 4 piece Alternative Indie Surf band from the Isle of Wight, whose catchy riffs get mass audiences going in their home turf. Recently touring in Europe, The Shutes have released their new EP “Echo of Love” which will be part of their set on the Shaved Fish Stage at WOWfest 2012. The Shutes feature Rob Potter on bass, Chris Jones on drums, Michael Champion on vocals/guitar and David Champion on guitar.

Pale Seas, from Southampton, is a young band tinged with Americana folk jarred with English self-deprication and an intimate nocturnal sound to melt any heart.

Island born brother and sister, JC & Angelina, are well known on the island circuit and to festivals and clubs far afield. Their recordings are original material.

Madeleine Peyroux at WOWfest!

Headlining the Blue Angel stage on Sunday night this American bohemian, once discovered busking on the streets of Paris, has a voice likened to the late great Billy Holiday. With self penned soul searching lyrics delivered in husky tones of a jazz/folk style, the lady who left us with "Careless Love" five years ago, returns with two more albums under her belt and stronger than ever.

Madeleine Peyroux

WOWfest has the greatest reggae line up of this season and how appropriate that there is also a stage, at this brightest new festival, to revive the mood of the British modern Jazz era of 1950s London clubs, around Carnaby Street, growing at the same time as sounds from the Caribbean were integrating into UK musical culture around the same haunts as jazzfather Johnny Dankworth. 

The WOWfest Blue Angel Stage revives the spirit of the great island jazz festivals, but with an extra pinch of WOW. During the day escape into the eclectic world that is jazz – from '40s swing to bebop and modern fusions, plus the most unexpected – to night time burlesque and comedic cabaret with all the ingredients of turn of the century France or pre-war Berlin. In Das Kabaret see one of the most respected and admired performers in the world of burlesque, LouLou D’vil, along with the King of Comedy Magic, Christian Leeand legendary street performer, Chris Lynam, among others to whip up a froth of expectation and laughter.

The Blue Angel stage boasts enigmatic renditions from the UK's hottest vocal harmony group, The Overtones, with songs from their platinum selling album 'Good Ol' Fashioned Love'. Influenced by classics artists like Amy Winehouse, Duffy and the Drifters, their unique doo-wop vocal harmonies will be sure to keep audiences spellbound.

Gregg Kofi Brown makes a first time appearance on the festival isle. Gregg has been a member of the world class African pioneers OSIBISA for over 22 years and has travelled all over the world promoting the music of Ghana. His music is an addictive fusion of funky afro-rhythms, jazz and conscience-laden lyrics.

And anticipated to be making a return to the Isle of Wight is DJ Perry Louis & his JazzCotech Dancers or “Red Box Perry” and “those brilliant dancers” as they became affectionately known at IW Jazz Festivals. They’ll be occupying the Blue Angel during the weekend with their own style of Old Skool Jazz, Street Dance and DJ Perry's enviable collection of over 10,000 vinyls covering all those great genres that have their musical roots in Africa.

Performing on the Blue Angel stage is London born singer, writer and multi-instrumentalist Joe Cang who has toured, recorded and written with Ian Drury, Scritti Politti, K.T. Tunstall, Desmond Dekker, Hall and Oates, Marianne Faithfull, Hugh Masakela, Leona Lewis and Aswad – with whom he wrote the million seller hit “Shine”. Joe's band includes some of the cream of London's musicians and they are currently playing throughout Europe their unique blend of new classic jazz with a strong hint of blues.

From Ronnie Scotts to Milan and finally to the Isle of Wight’s WOWfest, ex Communard Sarah Jane Morris is one artist that really lets you “Leave your preconceptions at home,” as one London critic said of the sensual singer-songwriter. Sarah straddles rock, blues, jazz and soul with a goosebump-raising four octave range that rumbles from the heels of her size eight shoes to the tips of her flame-red mane. Famed for her association with the Communards in the mid-80s, Sarah has always attracted as much attention for her politics as for her soul-driven, seismic voice.

Other artists gracing the Blue Angel are distinctive Dominican jazz guitarist Cameron Pierre, the Shez Raja Collective, the London Gospel Community Choir, award winning Dennis Rollins – the most exciting British trombonist of our times – and Dixie chicksLarkin Poe, the precociously talented young women who recently took America by storm.

UB40 to headline Wowfest and more acts added to lineup

With a string of top ten hits to their name, UB40 head up a quite outstanding reggae line-up of living legends that already includes the likes of Finley Quaye, The Wailers, Aswad, Maxi Priest and Misty in Roots alongside another dozen acts in what promises to be the finest collection of reggae artistes anywhere in the UK this year.


And there was further excitement from the Wow camp with news of the exclusive UK appearance of Madeleine Peyroux, from USA, on Sunday on the Blue Angel Stage, for what is to be a great treat for fans of her jazz/folk bohemian style, once discovered busking in the streets of Paris with her soul shaking songs and haunting voice likened to Billie Holliday. This follows the Saturday headline appearance of The Overtones – 5 Irish/English boys updating the swing and fun of be-bop and dee-wop and bringing some good old style back into the modern UK jazz scene. The Blue Angel Stage features some exquisite Jazz acts including the recognisably Jamaican inspired lilts of jazz party trombonist Dennis Rollins in the Velocity Trio and Dominican Cameron Pierre, Dixie chicks Larkin Poe, plus The London Community Gospel Choir, with some more outstanding live appearances still to be announced, ensuring the most impressive selection of Jazz acts in the UK for 2012

And the global party that is Wowfest continues to gathers pace in the afterhours Club Nights with the addition of Roni Size alongside Smith and Mighty for superlative jungle/dubstep/drum and bass night on Friday, whilst Peter Hook, until recently of New Order fame, joins Marshall Jefferson on the ones and twos in a closing Madchester Hacienda themed after hours party on Sunday.

And with the addition of the Alabama 3, Heaven 17, 808 State, Kitten and the Hip, The Pretty Things, and The Blockheads to the Main and Global Stages, with plenty more support acts as well as headliners still to be announced, Wowfest is already shaping up to be an iconic event, with an eclectic mix of House, Reggae, Ska, Jazz, Global and Dance that is already seeing a few envious eyes cast by established festival organisers – with the emphasis firmly on quality rather than excessive quantity of fillers that can sometimes blight other festival line-ups

Tickets are on sale from the event website for a bargain early bird weekend £99 (including free travel on Southern Vectis buses) for limited period only, and many have already snapped up since the announcement of  Paul Oakenfold, Soul 11 Soul, The Beat, Norman Jay, Danny Rampling, The Selecter, Bad Manners, Neville Staple of the Specials, Bez from the Happy Mondays' acid house night, Manos De Dios, Black Roots, Talisman and host of other top names all appearing at Wowfest over the weekend – and with a lot more to come yet.

Wowfest also sees a very promising stage for newer acts evolving – The Shaved Fish stage highlights global and local up and coming bands ensuring that plenty of young unsigned and Isle of Wight talent gets to share the event with some of the classiest live performers alive today. Local and unsigned acts are invited to contact Wowfest HQ to apply for an opportunity to play – see the event website for more info about opportunities to perform and get involved with Wowfest – including catering and trading concessions, volunteer stewards and other opportunities to join the festival.

And with a strong green ethos, an emphasis on veggie, locally sourced and organic food, and a tantalizing looking selection of workshops and activities for kids and families in the African Village, plus some fabulous comedy, cabaret, theatre, performance, circus and walkabout, there's plenty more going on than just the superb musical line-up to ensure a truly memorable weekend at what promises to be one of the friendliest and enjoyable weekends this summer

WOWfest is also proud to partner the following charities: Oxfam, Solar Aid, Building Schools for Africa, Sustrans, Vegfam and the IW NHS Juba project.

Tickets are available from