Festivalitus

May 29, 2016

 The music festival first introduced that heady cocktail of mud, canvas and chemicals to the eager public in the mid 60's. The Monterey Pop Festival, generally accepted as the template for future festivals such as Woodstock, Isle of Wight and Glastonbury, was a three day music festival which took place on June 16-18, 1967. Already setting the trend for mix'n'match, amongst the headliners were The Who, Ravi Shankar and Jimi Hendrix, whose setting his guitar on fire during Wild Thing being one of the defining moments.

All of this has a direct relevance to the very humble Dunblane Fling, a tiny folk driven festival beside the banks of the Allan Water which started the year we moved here - although I can claim no part in its genesis. Let's start on the tenuous links that connect Monterey to our local music festival.

The Who - renowned as much for their off stage antics as for their innovative Rock Operas Tommy and Quadrophenia, with some rock classics in the bag such as My Generation. In 1972, as an impressionable teenager, I had the pleasure of sharing a curry with Keith Moon in Oxford (it's a long story). Inspired by his pyromaniac  tendencies as in this 1967

 clip, a life in the music industry just seemed more interesting than the alternative career options.

Life behind the mixing desk beckoned, and before long there I was, looking after the sound for festivals from Truro up to Shetland - with a few world tours thrown in for good measure. One of my favourite festivals was the first WOMAD, and one of the acts featured on my stage was Ravi Shankar. He and his fellow musicians spent 10 minutes tuning their exotic instruments, and when they had finished the audience erupted in spontaneous applause. From my vantage point at the desk, I was probably one of the few people who spotted the expression of resigned exasperation that crossed his face before they started playing in earnest.

And Jimi? Headlining act this year at the Fling was the Tim Edey trio - if you've not heard of this particular musician I urge you to give him the loan of your ears. Accomplished on guitar, melodian and vocals, Tim and his band entertained an embarrassingly small audience. Due to the support act not being able to appear due to illness, I personally helped reduce audience figures further by getting up on stage and playing whistle and bass with the hastily formed The Riverside Collective, and then Tim called on us to join in for a set or two at the end. Luckily I was mixing Front Of House from an iPad, so found myself playing, mixing and taking one of the world's worst featured low whistle solos on Wild Mountain Thyme - all I can say in my defence is that there are limits to multiplexing. Our after gig chat established that Tim knew Mick Byrne, who's trio I started playing whistle with in Bristol back in the late 70's, and probably was the only other individual in Scotland who appreciated his Emmet Spiceland, launch vehicle of Irish supergroups such as The Bothy Band and The Chieftains - who of course Tim also plays with - thus easily proving the Six Degrees of Separation theory. But I digress, the link with Jimi is that Tim almost set his guitar on fire by heavily overloading his 9V 500mA power supply (which arrived in two halves and was temporarily made whole with ubiquitous Gaffa tape). This was driving Tim's impressive array of effects pedals which I'd guestimate demanded considerable more than 500mA, and caused the recently repaired plastic box to achieve impressive thermal levels just short of spontaneous combustion.

As a life in the music industry must, by most, be supported by alternative career options;  I was able to advise Tim that he needs to invest in a 1A or 2A 9V power supply for future gigs. 

Festivals - love them or loathe them - if it wasn't for the enthusiasm, commitment and bloody hard work that goes into them they wouldn't exist, and our world would be that little less colourful.

 

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