Monday, September 22, 2014

Woolley Festival

Our last festival of the summer, this was the 16th Woolley Festival, held on Merkins Farm near Bradford on Avon. This has grown over the years from being a street party held out the front of the (late lamented) George pub, to a much more ambitious event the last time we played it a couple of years ago in a neighbouring field, to this year's huge site featuring several stages, a eclectic line-up of nationally well-known bands and plenty of local acts as well.
Quite a line-up, and that's just Friday and Saturday.

We were extremely chuffed to be asked to open the main stage on the Friday night, before Chas 'n' Dave, and well impressed as we rolled onto site and saw the stage - probably one of the largest set-ups we've ever played on, it wouldn't have looked out of place at Glastonbury!

That's a Proper Stage, that is...
Great to have some room for once, and we took full advantage of the opportunity - excellent onstage sound, a great crew, and got to meet Dave and Joe Brown too, both of whom were thoroughly good eggs. Nice to see Joe has fully recovered, as he was originally supposed to be on the bill for the Village Pump earlier in the year but had to cancel due to medical problems.

We seemed to go down pretty darned well, too, which made it an all-round success for us, after which we relaxed into the cider and ales and watched Chas & Dave (who are much more than a sort of Cockney Wurzels, a terrific pair of musicians with a fine band behind them - a great set, too) and lastly Joe Brown, whose ukelele version of 'Ace of Spades' I particularly enjoyed...

We had another gig on the Saturday, playing at the relaunch of the Rattlebone Inn, Sherston, after their roof caught fire earlier in the year, so sadly I wasn't able to make it back onto site for the rest of the weekend - a shame, as I'd dearly love to have seen the Aristocrats play on a big stage - I saw them at the Fleece a few months ago and they were astonishingly good. Dreadzone by all accounts were superb, and Jesus Jones headlined the Sunday to much acclaim.

Unfortunately by the Saturday night it was becoming apparent that the numbers needed for the festival to break even just hadn't materialised, and organiser Darren was forced to contact several acts including Ginger Baker, Martin Simpson and Courtney Pine to explain that there wasn't going to be enough money to pay them... they cancelled, and a lot of people were of course very disappointed.
I still can't for the life of me work out why more people didn't show up... the line-up was excellent, the weather forecast great and the facilities top-notch. Doubtless this will be the subject of much debate and agonising over the next few months, but whatever the fallout, Darren deserves a huge thank-you from all the local acts like ours he's supported over the years. I know full-well what goes into organising a large Festival, and the list of things that can go wrong is truly terrifying.
Hopefully some lessons will be learned from this year and the festival will return next year... it will be a real shame and a great loss to the area if it doesn't.

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