Now entering its fifth year, the JUST PUSH PLAY: CHARITY EVENT is going from strength to strength, raising essential funds for St Nicholas Hospice Care whilst showcasing stellar lineups comprising some of the UK’s hottest up and coming rock acts. We talk to founder and organiser Lee Graham about how the event first started and what’s made it such a runaway success.
ANTIHERO: When and how did you come up with the idea for the very first Just Push Play: Charity Event? Can you tell us a little bit about its history?
Lee Graham: The event started in 2015, it was the January that year and I was thinking about the year ahead as everyone does. It dawned on me that it would be five years since my Dad had passed away after a short but intense battle with cancer in 2010 (it was merely 13 days from diagnosis to him passing) and I hadn’t done anything for St Nicholas Hospice (the hospice who had cared for him). I was determined to do something that year in tribute to my Dad – he was and always will be my absolute hero in life. I was throwing ideas around in the pub one night. Someone jokingly said, “Lee you should put on Live Aid!” and while it was a stupid jokey comment I thought, “hmm, a gig makes perfect sense!” We jammed together, hung out together and went to a lot of gigs together, so a gig in his memory was ideal.
ANTIHERO: Who will be performing at this year’s event? Do you invite a hand-picked lineup or do bands need to apply in order to be considered?
Lee Graham: This year we have Massive Wagons headlining the show, very special guests The Amorettes and further sets from Hollowstar, Dead Man’s Whiskey, False Hearts, Fallen Mafia and Broken Soul. I am so proud of every band on this lineup and all the bands who have played previous Just Push Play shows. All acts to date are those whose music I love and are all invited personally by myself. This event means a lot to me for very obvious reasons and I take real care over the lineup. Although if there are any bands out there who are interested in playing then do email firstname.lastname@example.org – we would love to speak to you.
ANTIHERO: The event has grown to the point where you’ve had to move to a larger venue at The Apex, how many people are you expecting to attend this year’s festival?
Lee Graham: The first show was friends’ bands in a social club and from then it grew each year as an annual event. Last year we moved to The Apex, which was a huge step up for us and we were fortunate enough to have Wolf Jaw (formally The Bad Flowers) headline last year’s show. We have three months to go until this year’s event and have sold over half the capacity of the venue, so I am confident we will have the biggest crowd to date. The venue can hold up to about 800 people, so grab your tickets and let’s make this show one for the history books!
ANTIHERO: As well as the proceeds from ticket sales being donated to St Nicholas Hospice Care, you also hold an annual charity auction – can you tell us about this year’s prizes?
Lee Graham: The auction is a great way of raising further funds for the amazing cause that is St Nicholas Hospice. We have some great prizes kindly donated once again and I appreciate every donation from the bottom of my heart. Each prize has a grid of 100 squares, each square costs just £5 and you can buy as many squares as you like. A ‘winning square’ will be drawn at random and whoever has purchased that square will get the prize.
Prizes so far include:
It’s A String Thing – Custom bracelet made from Stephen Holl of Massive Wagons’ guitar strings
Mason Hill – CD, signed poster and T-shirt bundle
Massive Wagons – Signed ‘Full Nelson’ CD & Just Push Play setlist
Papa Roach – Who Do You Trust signed CD
SOS Festival – Pair of tickets
Status Quo – Signed Aquostic 2 CD
Stonedeaf Festival – Pair of tickets with camping
Those Damn Crows – Signed lyric sheet
UFO – Signed setlist
ANTIHERO: How much has been raised through your charity auctions so far and do you have a target in mind that you’re hoping to reach this year?
Lee Graham: The auction has already raised hundreds of pounds. Whatever we raise goes straight to the hospice so whatever amount it is, it’s amazing for the hospice.
ANTIHERO: Which item(s) do you expect to attract the most bids?
Lee Graham: The items are all fairly equal with regards to the number of squares that have been bought. There are still plenty of squares to buy though so head over to the website and get the squares for the prizes you want!
ANTIHERO: What are the biggest obstacles you’ve encountered when planning the event and how have you overcome them?
Lee Graham: Ooh, good question! The event has grown dramatically in a relatively short period of time. The biggest challenge I had was growing with the event in terms of being a promoter. Fortunately, I know some good people in the business who have taught me a lot and have supported the event significantly over the last few years, and that knowledge and support have been invaluable. So thank you to all those who have believed in Just Push Play and supported me along the way – you know who you are!
ANTIHERO: Some rock and metal festivals have struggled to get off the ground, to what do you attribute Just Push Play’s success?
Lee Graham: It’s a tough game out there, there are a lot of great festivals about and a lot of choice for people and sadly some fantastic events are no more. This festival is not for personal profit, we have sponsorship from some amazing businesses who have helped cover the cost of the show and every penny from this show, and I mean every single penny, goes straight to St Nicholas Hospice to support the amazing work they do. Sadly cancer is something that affects pretty much all families in one way or another and hospices such as St Nicholas Hospice are vital resources within our own communities. A lot of people are touched by the reason behind this event and I am fortunate to have the support of every person who has bought tickets, donated to the cause, sponsored the event, helped me set up, spread the word, dished out flyers, donated to the auction and a million and one other things. The success is down to every single one of those people. This show may be my idea and I orchestrate it, but without everyone’s support it simply wouldn’t happen. So again from the bottom of my heart I thank each and every one of you.
ANTIHERO: How do you see the event developing in the future?
Lee Graham: Well I am very happy where I am at the moment. The Apex is an amazing venue to put on a rock show like this and the lineup we have this year is incredible. There are already plans for the next event and we will be returning to The Apex in August 2020, so keep your eyes peeled!
ANTIHERO: What advice would you give to anybody looking to set up a charity music festival?
Lee Graham: As I say I am fortunate enough to know people and have a lot of support from them. There are a lot of people out there like myself who have a huge passion for live music and want to see any live music event thrive. It’s no secret that several venues have closed of late but together we can achieve amazing things.
Just Push Play: Let The Music Do The Talking
Date: Saturday 31st August 2019
Venue: The Apex, Charter Square,
Bury St Edmunds IP33 3FD
*Includes £1 booking fee
Tickets are also available to purchase from the venue for £15
Running times (please note these times are subject to change):
3-3.45pm – Broken Soul
4-4.45pm – Fallen Mafia
5-5.45pm – False Hearts
6-6.45pm – Dead Man’s Whiskey
7-7.45pm – Hollowstar
8-9.00pm – The Amorettes
9.30-Finish – Massive Wagons
Just Push Play: Charity Event