LA band The Velvet Starlings rocked SWNDFEST 2022 at The Bunkhouse, Swansea. Image: MGS SWND Entertainment Group.

With Michael Kennedy & Kaysha Louvain

As festivals all over the world finally emerge from enforced hibernation, MADCAP Global SWND Music’s SWNDFEST took place recently in Wales, bringing a colourful line-up of artists to the music-loving locals of Swansea.

MGS Music was approached by a UK/US record label called Sound X 3 who manage LA Band, The Velvet Starlings, asking if we could organise a gig for the band who were on a UK mini tour, including The Isle Of Wight Festival.

SWNDFEST 2022 was organised by MGS Music teams in both Australia and Wales led by Managing Directors Michael Kennedy & Stephen Morris, with Welsh musician Kaysha Louvain leading the charge on the ground in Swansea.

Kaysha Louvain. Image: MGS SWND Entertainment Group.

Taking place at The Bunkhouse in Swansea, SWNDFEST presented The Velvet Starlings alongside MGS Music’s own Kaysha Louvain, an all-acoustic set from Gareth Lewis & Casey Maunder, The Rivers, Columbia, Zac & The New Men, and The Now.

All of the bands were outstanding, but the crowd favourites were The Velvet Starlings and Zac & The New Men.

Special thanks go to Gareth at Swansea Bay Records who let us use his amazing shop for a meet-and-greet station on the day so that a few of the artists could play an acoustic warm-up set to fans and sign autographs while the real action was taking place a few minutes’ walk away at The Bunkhouse.

BBC Radio Wales A-list stars, Kaysha Louvain and Gareth Roberts, with Casey Maunder started off with an acoustic warm-up to get the fans ready for the bands later in the day.

Casey Maunder. Image: MGS SWND Entertainment Group.

These three held the audience in the palm of their hand; three exceptional songwriters in one place on one stage playing their latest releases was a rare treat. We started to get a feeling about what this festival meant – and what it could grow into.

The Rivers opened up the second half with a blistering set to a full house that paved the way for Columbia who, despite lead singer Grant suffering from a heavy cold, put on a magnificent show featuring tracks from their latest album.

The Velvet Starlings bounded on stage and clearly had the time of their lives playing for, and to, a packed-out house. The LA band made the stage their own and won over a room full of new fans as they played tracks from ‘Technicolour Shake Down’.

Zac & The New Men. Image: MGS SWND Entertainment Group.

When Zac & The New Men jumped on stage the whole place seemed to swell with bodies and noise as they ploughed their way through crowd-pleaser after crowd-pleaser as the (mainly) female audience looked on. As the night came to an end, our headliners The Now swaggered onto the stage and just blew the roof off the place.

The Now. Image: MGS SWND Entertainment Group.

It was a fantastic end to an amazing day. New friends were made, records were sold, sets recorded, bands filmed and photographed, and everyone asked to play again next year.

If we are going to take one thing from the first SWNDFEST, it’s not to be put off doing something if you believe in it because if we did, none of this would have happened. You never know until you try and sometimes it’s just that spark of enthusiasm and support that makes the difference between success and failure – thanks to everyone that played, came along or supported in any way. We’ll be back.

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