The Banquets are an alt rock/pop band from Leeds with talent in their souls and ambition in their hearts. They had an explosive arrival to the music scene in 2019 and 2020, making an appearance at the Great British Folk Festival, and supporting the likes of The South (formerly The Beautiful South) and legendary icon Toyah Wilcox.
They captivated audiences up and down the country with their infectious energy, their northern charm, and the formidable voice of their lead singer. They might appear to be an acoustic outfit on the surface, but their sound is surprisingly big.
The Banquets’ music is a simple mix of rock, blues, and pop music, whilst maintaining the great tradition of British rock. The musical influences of the band stretch far and wide, and go right back to the early 20th century blues scene. Their sound is hugely impacted by the music that has flowed out of America over the last century, and like most British music, it reflects back that sound and rubs in some northern British magic.
After spending the past year establishing themselves as a serious force to be reckoned with in the genre of rock/pop, The Banquets have been busy in the studio working on several tracks and exciting music videos. 2021 is set to be another exciting year for The Banquets, with a schedule of festivals and gigs planned, and an array of epic new releases to add to their catalogue.
"Barely like anything I’ve recently heard before!" - Music for the Misfits
"Like a modern day Fleetwood Mac" - The Music Files
"The Banquets are turning heads left, right and centre" - The Other Side Reviews
Meet The Banquets
At the front of the shop is the enigmatic and exceptional singer/ songwriter Gemma Dee. Gem is the driving force and energy in the group, writing most of the band’s lyrics and making sure the boys deliver exactly what she dreams. She comes from a very musical background, with her dad filling their house with rock & roll throughout her childhood, and with many members of her family being involved in the local music scene in Cleethorpes.
Leon Russell-Hills is the band’s guitarist. He taught himself how to play the guitar from an early age, and hasn’t looked back since. He is the creative force behind the band, and provides simple and catchy tunes for Gem to lay melodies and lyrics over, whilst writing some of the lyrics himself. Coming from working class roots and having no musical education or musical inspiration in his family, Leon really does epitomise raw talent.
On percussion is Sir Francis Watson. Fran is a pure music man. Both of his parents were professional musicians, and his sister is a singer in a four-piece acapello group. He has been to Music College both in Birmingham and Leeds, and has been in many bands over the years. Fran is more than just percussion though: he can play a plethora of instruments, and in the band, offers both backing singing, arrangement and fine details to the music.
On bass is the incredibly talented Tom Wallace (aka Tomasz Walesa), who migrated from Poland to the UK to continue his musical journey. Tom got into music as a kiddo, thanks to his older brothers, who first showed him how to play 'Come As You Are' by Nirvana. From then, Tom swiftly fell in love with instruments. For many years, he's been a bass player in rock and metal bands, and has worked with hip hop/rap producers. In the Banquets, he's become an invaluable member, not only responsible for connecting rhythm and melody on the lower end, but bringing something special to the band. Tom is a unique character, a real creative and driving force in The Banquets.