Hello, Joe, so first thing’s first, where are you from & where do you live today? Hi! I’m from Nottingham and speaking from our office in Nottingham. I had a stint at uni down south for a few years but came back after graduating to get out my overdraft and never left (Nottingham or my overdraft)
Can you tell us about the DHP Family? We are a concert and festivals promoter as well as music venue operator. Our venues include Rock City, Rescue Rooms, Bodega, Stealth (Nottingham) Thekla (Bristol) and The Garage, The Grace and Oslo (London) Our festivals include Splendour, Dot To Dot, Bearded Theory and Beat The Streets.
So, you’re involved in organising a festival – how did you get into that? I started at DHP around 10 years ago behind the bar of the Bodega, from there I had a few different jobs in the head office and eventually started booking shows and holding the diaries for Rescue Rooms, Thekla, and Bodega. I had been involved in booking the local acts for a few years and then started booking the larger national acts for this year’s event.
When do you start booking the bands, & how easy is it all? We’re asking the questions for the 2024 headliners now, there’s definitely more competition and exclusivity clauses to navigate than before. Even for the smaller bands on the bill costs of putting a show on has skyrocketed so it’s not made it any easier!
What kind of a relationship do you have with your local council? Very good, the event really benefits the city and offers some great opportunities to local acts so they are full on board.
What kind of line-up have you got for us this year? It’s really exciting, great mix of well know legends Madness, Noel Gallagher, Rudimental, The Kooks, Sugababes, The Vaccines, Jake Shears, The Coral and some newer names that you will be blown away by – Venbee, Confidence Man, DYLAN, Cian Ducrot, Charlotte Plank, Bellah Mae, Lizzie Esau – and LOADS more
Every festival is a step in the great learning curve of life, what improvements have you made on last year’s festival? We want to make the experience the best it can be for people attending, better options of food/drinks, and things to do that will appeal to everyone. For everyone to have an even better time year on year basically. I think coming out of the pandemic was a reset for a lot of festivals and event producers, many people left the industry and haven’t returned so finding an experienced team or crew can be a struggle. Last year we were happy to have the event on without any major issues, so this year we aim to improve everything for festival goers.
Finally, to somebody who has never been to Splendour before, what are they to expect? Loads of fun!
Hello, Emma, so first thing’s first, where are you from & where do you live today? I live in the village of Cawthorne, a beautiful, rural corner of South Yorkshire. I’ve lived in South Yorkshire all my life, have travelled widely and love this place all the more because of that!
You are the Managing Director at Pure Records, how did you get the job? Pure Records is an independent record label and we look after the musical interests of Kate Rusby. I’ve worked for the business for 24 years. Don’t tell anyone but I’m actually Kate’s sister 🙂
Where, when & why did the idea for Underneath the Stars take place? Through 2007 to 2011 we ran a series of successful fundraising concerts in Cawthorne. The idea for the festival sprung from there. Our brother, Joe Rusby, floated the concept and it was developed alongside our technical director, Pete Sharman, who runs Isophase Audio.
The Mumble was there last year, & it’s got such a ‘big family’ vibe, where does that come from? We operate as one big family; organising the event is a family affair, both for the Rusby family and then our extended village community. Our volunteers are amazing, we couldn’t do it without them. They bring the third family dimension. Music and family – they go hand in hand for us and I think it must radiate from there.
When do you start booking the bands, & how easy is it all? We are super lucky in that we work with Eddie Barcan from Splendid Events. He used to run Cambridge Folk Festival and also books a stage at Glastonbury, so has great connections. He’s also in close contact with Joe, who helped found the festival and also has a great ear for good music. He starts in the Autumn usually and fortunately there are always a number of artists who wish to appear, due to our great reputation. However, we are still only quite small festival in size, so the biggest challenge is finding artists who meet our very high standards across a whole range of musical styles, to fit in with our modest balance. It would be easy just fill the stage, but the skill is in finding the right mix, a good gender balance a few big names people know, but quality throughout.
What kind of a relationship do you have with your local council? We have a really good relationship with the team at the Local Council (Barnsley) – we are well supported by them. Prior to the festival I had very little experience of dealing with the council but the team genuinely want to help us jump through all the hoops and contribute to making the event a success.
What kind of line-up have you got for us this year? As ever, Stars is more than just a folk festival. Friday night has the hit pop act Scouting for Girls, currently touring with Olly Murs and we are very excited to have Lottery Winners, who at the time of writing are #1 in the Album Charts – that kind of booking foresight is what we like! We also have The Longest Johns, the sea-shanty band who went viral with “Wellerman”. Saturday has the amazing double bill of The Shires and Newton Faulkner, as well as world dance act Molotov Jukebox and Skerryvore – they are currently #1 in the Scottish music charts!. Sunday is our very own Kate Rusby, The Magic Numbers, plus Beth Nielsen Chapman and the wonderful Elephant Sessions to close. However, there is so much more depth than the more well known names. I am really looking forward to Angeline Morrisson – her album telling the story of the much unreported Black experience in British Folk was one of the most moving of last year. We’ve also got an amazing French-Latin band called Super Panela kicking off the main stage, who are going to be wonderful. In addition we have jazz, Moroccan trance, blues, and a full choir!
Every festival is a step in the great learning curve of life, what improvements have you made on last year’s festival? Crikey – so yes, running a festival is a steep learning curve. Some years are steeper than others! We are nearly 10 years in with Underneath the Stars and just about getting into our groove. We are improving infrastructure all the time; so not often all that visible to the audience. We are always tweaking the site plan! Ooh but this year our new creative group, ’The Space Crafters’, have been busy making all sorts of loveliness for the site. I can’t wait to see it all ✨
To somebody who has never been to Underneath the Stars before, what are they to expect? An eclectic mix of music presented to a really high standard within covered big top venues 🎪. We endeavour to bring something truly special to our corner of Barnsley, South Yorkshire. Building a festival means bringing people together to build a small community for a few special days in the summer. Quality underlines everything we do. We hope you join us to party in the sun and the rain, discover your inner self, energise your mind and body, try new things, meet new people, make new friends, and most of all HAVE FUN.
Hello Duncan – so first thing’s first, where are you from & where do you live today? I live at Blackpit Farm, a 430 acre event site and home to Stowaway Festival each year
Can you tell us a bit about Blackpit Brewery? We started the brewery back in 2016, to brew beer for our events. We installed the brewery kit inside a beautiful old brick stable yard at Blackpit, where we craft the beer and run a small taproom. It’s been an amazing project to be involved with – and the beer’s not bad either!
So, Stowaway Festival – where, when & why did the idea for the festival first take place? We’ve been running a variety of different events at Blackpit for the last 10 years. Having said that, with our wealth of event experience and love of music festivals, the progression was a natural step for us.
Why the name change? The event began as ‘The Festival of Beer’, a traditional beer festival vibe, with live music and street food. As we started to book bigger acts over the years, the event quickly evolved into a music festival. We changed the name as we felt the Festival of Beer didn’t give the event the credit it deserves!
When do you start booking the acts, & how easy is it all? Our wish list of acts usually looks very different to our final line up! A lot depends on timing. Sometimes we can’t believe how lucky we are to have secured a particular artist. Other times, it’s not that easy so you have to be flexible, but not compromise on the quality of the music.
Can you tell us about your site? Blackpit is part of the former Stowe Estate, occupying 430 acres of beautiful parkland, ancient woodland and lakes. The site is a Grade 1 listed Park & Garden. It’s a stunning location to host Stowaway and we feel incredibly lucky to be able to share it with our Stowaways for the weekend!
What kind of a relationship do you have with your local council? We’ve been working with Buckinghamshire County Council on events for nearly 15 years. We couldn’t have asked for better assistance from our local regulators, whether it be from Licencing, Environmental Health, or Policing departments, who have all been nothing but supportive of our events over that time.
What kind of line-up have you got for us this year? Our music line-up is always very diverse. Our incredible daytime live performers this year include Little Dragon, House Gospel Choir, and Roy Ayers, who is now on his farewell tour. By night, revellers can find themselves deep in the woods, soundtracked by some of the UK’s most cutting edge electronic music from the likes of Eats Everything, Jamz Supernova & Dan Shake, as well as rave classics from the legendary Todd Edwards, Nicky Blackmarket and many more!
What else is on offer outwith the music? There is much more to Stowaway than just the music. All of the activities in our Kid’s Kingdom are available to young Stowaways of all ages and included within the ticket price. Our comedy line up is headed up by the incredible Jack Dee, Lou Sanders and Jessica Fostekew. We have fine dining, presented by Chef James Cochran of North London’s 12:51 restaurant and Great British Menu winner. For those wishing to relax after a night of partying we also have a rejuvenating spa, complete with hot tubs, ice baths and more! But, above all of that, our site is a stunning place to enjoy a party; you can swim in the lake or party late into the night down in the woods. There’s something for everyone.
Every festival is a step in the great learning curve of life, what improvements have you made on last year’s festival? We’ll be making tweaks here and there. We’ll be introducing a new late night venue in the woods and have some exciting plans up our sleeves for that. We’re just going to keep doing what we’ve always done, which is welcoming people into our beautiful home for a great party!
To somebody who has never been to your festival before, what are they to expect? An amazing party set in a beautiful location, built by a small team of festival lovers, for festival lovers. Come & see for yourself!
The last time I attended Solfest was 2008 and I had a really Good Time. So I knew this was going to be a really Good Thing. I dinnae think I was prepared for just how good a thing it was to be attending in a production and artist role. It was the first time C Note Soundsytems had taken control of The Lagoon and what a brilliant team we made to create a welcoming venue and a Solfest First. Everything about this festival was perfect.
It is by far a most welcoming part of the world, The softness of the Solway Firth and mountainous landscape. Far removed from the maddening crowd. conducive to peace of soul and mind. We arrived on site at about 7pm. The rain had stopped and wouldnae return, weathermen got this one pleasantly wrong. Wednesday night was a bit parky, once I had found The Lagoon and set up camp, I headed to the open mike at Crew HQ to volunteer a poetry performance, I was ready to deliver and was somewhat on fire after, not to mention totally lost. The night sky was clear, the Plough Guided me back to my tent and cozy sleeping bag and I was oot like a light. ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzz.
I was awake at Dawn watching the Sunrise any rain clouds were long gone and the early morning chill soon burned off.aye I thought today is going to be a warm one, after breakfast at the crew canteen and a catch-up with lots of loverly friendly Northerners who made me feel so welcome, my heart was smiling and my Soul relaxed. After breakfast and a stroll around the site, the main stage were sound-checking to Goldfrapp’s. Oh La La La. This invoked my first festival dance. Boogie Boogie Boogie. ❤ Then back to the Lagoon to help build the stage from which the weekends Drum N Bass, Techno and Dub would be performed.
Also lending a hand to the Creative Geni’s behind the decor of The Lagoon, Alison Marydoll and Samantha Butterfly. Roo Cunnigham, the captain of The Good Ship Lagoon, founder of the CNote Sound System collective who run successful Dub Nights Internationally, Up and down the UK and across Europe and now for the first time at this heavenly music festival. To present a line up of sterling young soundmasters mixing cutting edge, D&B, Dance Hall, Reggae and Techno. with live performances from Sex Cakes, this I was excited for, Sex cakes are a fast rising fusion of Spoken word and original techno, delivering work for their much-anticipated release of Sex Cakes debut album. Live on Saturday Night. I was already wet for this one. So wanted to help create a suitably grand space Grounding the healing love and Angels at every available opportunity. Becci Wallace and Blackout JA accompanied by Roo Cunningham on the decks would also deliver live performance brilliance over the course of the next four days.
By 10pm after a spectacular dinner at the Crew Canteen, I was ready for an early night, I went to sleep that night listening to Seasick Steve on the mainstage from my sleeping bag.
I was up again at the crack of Dawn for Fridays shenanigans, the young DJs were still partying from the night before I had such a giggle before heading for a (Free) shower, courtesy of my Production and Artist accreditation wristband, it was a warm and sunny morning, so clean and shaved I headed for coffee and toast at the crew canteen, it was such a beautifully pleasant place. Everyone was really nice and friendly and the stunning location and views were breathtakingly beautiful. Ahhh I thought. This is how life should be all the time. Solfest is a festival with a massive heart.
On the way back to the Lagoon for some last-minute prep before the opening to dancing punters, I headed to check out Sketchy Beats, Edinburgh’s very own creative artistic musical collective, who also had their own venue offering musical performances and jams over the course of the weekend. Sketchy Beats also had a piano, so I could have my daily tinkle. Divine loves Sketchy Beatz ❤
Once all the decor was up, I was off to find fire extinguishers and flame retardant spray. There had been a few setbacks the first was the original marquee hire people of which the Lagoon was to be housed, increasing their prices before the gig and then pulling complete (Booooooo) Then having a tent delivered and erected with a good portion of wall panel missing. This was a testing gig. However, everyone pulled together and any problems were swiftly resolved. By 5pm The Lagoon was open for what would be a totally class night. It wasn’t till dusk that the lighting genius of Sophia Ann West & Sean Zelle would be introduced to its full potential The whole thing was totally beautiful eye candy The lasers and the projections totally synched in time with the big name DJs of the night, Drum And Bass never sounded or looked so good. Metrognome and Mrs Magoo headlined on Friday night and the Lagoon was bouncing by midnight. Which I enjoyed from the comfort of my sleeping bag. It had been a long day and Divine was Knackered.
I have loved electronic music since I was a nipper, it took me a long time to get Jungle and Drum N Bass as a genre, but once I had got it, I discovered music that brought a different kind of dancer in me, but once locked in that groove the dance was on. Just like Jungle and Drum N Bass a new emerging genre of electronic dance music, Hard Tek, challenges me in the same way that D&B and Jungle did. So with ample opportunity for an early Saturday Morning musical lesson, Roo’s Hard Tek set became that teacher. It was an earth-moving experience that I was determined to understand and as I was camped backstage of the Lagoon this was the perfect opportunity to futher my education into electronic music. Hmm I thought, this one is going to take some time.
Saturday at The Lagoon, was the Live, Techno, Dubstep day and as I wrote earlier, was excited for the arrival of “Sex Cakes” Pedro and Late Night Jazz were also hotly tipped on my to-do list. It was another gorgeous sunny hot day. So after morning meditation, breakfast and make-up session at Crew HQ, I headed to Sketchy Beatz for my morning tinkle. The big headlining acts of Solfest were less of a draw for me I was much more interested in the new emerging talent, of which there were lots and lots to take in.
Sex Cakes took to the stage with a performance that was just absolutely out of this world. . Oh my, how blessed could we be. Fronted by The Duchess, a poignant voice of truth that tells it as it is with no punches barred. This Goddess has something to say and it needs to be heard and indeed it will be. (All-Seeing. All-knowing Thats Divine ❤ ) And that’s just the lyrical prowess.
The Lynch Pin is the Electronic Mastery, Synths, Beats and Guitar by The Ploughman, a superior take on electronica in league with Orbital and Underworld, powered along with the Punk Rock power bass lines of The Baron. A collective of genuine performance art anarchic genius.
Sunday at Solfest was another really warm day, after morning coffee and toast at Crew HQ and audience with The Dutchess who was giving hilarious anecdotes on the comfy couch, I headed for a shower and after a make up session, I was ready for another day of quality entertainment. My three performances were CNote Blackout Ja & Wends, Orbital and Nema Kuta. So on my 4th day in this beautiful festival, I took it easy as I needed enough energy to perform my own DJ Set 2am-4am Monday morning. I fashioned a chez lounge out of straw bales and chilled oot, it really was too warm to do much else and my 55 year old body was feeling it, so self-healing was the nature of the day.
Blackout Ja and Wends with C Note on the decks drew a healthy audience for a performance of Dub brilliance. Everyone was getting down to this fantastic fusion of love, dub and Rasta vibration from Master Blackout Ja, proving that reggae really is the music of love, everyone was having a lovely time as spiritual alchemy was taking place. So many smiles and happy hearts. Good Time it was wonderful.
After the performance,. I headed to get a good vantage point to experience Orbitals arrival on the main stage and to have a good boogie. It was a big presentation, as a mainstage act should be, yes I had a good dance and they played all the fan faves, however, the message that Orbital brought was that we are all fucked and the visuals were very much about the destruction that the rat race has caused. With industrial imagery that really was the very thing that people come to festivals to escape. A complete contrast to the love and peace I had just experienced with Blackout Ja, Wends and C Note. When Orbital presented a remix of The Spice Girls. Do You Wanna Be My Lover???????? They lost me completely. So I headed back to The Lagoon to catch Fema Kuta on the decks who played a brilliant set. Taking us into the early hours of Monday Morning.
So after my closing set at 4am, I collapsed into my tent and my mind started to unwind, slept for a couple of hours and then we were up dismantling the venue and decor, by mid-day I was really knackered but in a good way. A friend invited me back to her van for a lovely cooked brunch, I fell asleep in the field. after giving her a counselling session. By the time I got back to The Lagoon. everyone had gone home. This was the first time that I had felt a little abandoned. However, the lovely remaining crew made me feel at home. Francesca and her lovely family welcomed me into their comfort zone. Any feelings of abandonment were short-lived and Jo Robert’s beauty and smiles warmed my heart.
The Lagoon was a complete success as part of this lovely welcoming healing festival, The Crew were welcoming, Crew catering was delicious and everyone was well looked after. The festival site was Heavenly Healing, of which I am still processing the Healing that took place. I returned to Edinburgh courtesy of Louise Hare who also gave me lift to the venue. I had to wonder why it had taken me 14 years to return to Solfest, Thank you to Roo Cunningham for inviting DJ Divine to perform in the Lagoon and for this wonderful, deeply enjoyable. Solfest Experience.
For yesterday’s Rock N Roll Shennanigans, I was granted a Guestlist from the rather amazing and talented Jamie Keira lead singer of one of Scotland’s fastest rising musical talents, “Black Wolf Trap” Who would play a blinding set of Drum And Bass greatness, but more of that later.
I had forgotten just how much of a beautiful setting Linlithgow Palace is. As the train pulled into the local train station, I thought hmm am going to enjoy this. It was a beautiful warm day perfect conditions for enjoying musical greatness. My first port of call was The Purple Orange Stage to enjoy some of West Lothian’s local talent. As I arrived Nikki McDonald was entertaining beautifully to a relaxed sunbathing audience, with fine voice and a skilled gutarist. A lovely start to musical proceedings. After a wander round the festival site, to see what was on offer, I returned to The Purple Orange stage to catch the work of a musical prodigy called Molly Jane now this was equally as special, Molly’s repertoire invoked the first dance of the day, this young lady was brilliant, her rendition of Jolene by Dolly Parton brought a tear to my eye it was so good. Great things will come from both of these brilliant musicians.
Then I headed down to the main stage to catch Clair Grogan’s Altered Images for a trip down memory lane, Clair really has aged well, she is still gorgeous, All the hits were represented, I Could Be Happy, Happy Birthday and a fine selection of new compositions. It was a hot afternoon. with everyone thoroughly enjoying themselves.
As the afternoon drew into evening I headed for a bite to eat, Haggis Neeps And Tatties, filled my belly, just before Black Wolf Trap Took to stage number 2 to deliver a performance of power-driven Drum And Bass. with frontman Jamie Keira in fine form, bouncing on the speaker stack to pull his audience in. And they came in droves to get down to the Rock N Roll brilliance of this relatively new band and ripped the field apart and everyone was bouncing.
Next on the Divine to-do list was a band called “Party Fears Three” I had heard the name before and was excited to see if this was an Associates tribute, but when they opened with a rendition of Aha’s Take On Me, I realised it was an 80’s Tribute, Brilliantly covering the hits of Depeche Mode, Blancmange, Simple Minds, Erasure et al. We were all dancing, but alas they didnae have time for any of “The Associates” I was expecting “Party Fears Two” I really wanted to see if the singer could do a Billy McKenzie. It was good fun.
I headed back to the main arena to catch Sophie Ellis Baxter’s perfect rendition of Madonna’s “Like A Prayer” Sophie is brilliant isn’t she, everyone was singing along and having a really good time.
The clouds were moving in, big dark and pendulous as the stage was being prepped for the arrival of the Human League a band I have loved since I was a nipper. It was a fantastic sing-along, as the first notes of Sound Of The Crowd arrived, Rumbles of thunder and lightning complimented the experience. It was a greatest hits set and everyone loved it despite the falling rain, By the time the encore was reached, “Together In Electric Dreams” And the closing number “Being Boiled” A full blown electric storm was taking place it was brilliant and a fitting end to the days rock n roll shenanigans.
Whilst on the Linlithgow train station platform awaiting the 11.26pm train back to Aulde Reekie, it was packed with happy party people. A chorus of “Don’t You Want Me” Broke out, everyone was singing. When we finished the song, The people on the opposite platform, heading to Glasgow, gave us all a round of applause. Indeed it was a day that kept on giving.
Thank you to Jamie for giving me the opportunity to attend and have such a “Good Time” It was brilliant.
Review: Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert Photos By Norman Brown, Jamie Keira And Michael Mathieson
Underneath The Stars festival began with its eponymous song, a lovely Folk anthem sung by the equally lovely Kate Rusby – who in the terms of UTS is the ultimate local girl done good, the leading member of the Von Trapps of Cawthorne. I mean, helping to organise an absolutely top notch, ungrimy, not-for-profit music festival on your home turf, for the benefit of your mates, their mates & anybody else who wants to visit the fine village of Cawthorne & the Victorian smoking jacket it dons in its outlying fields in the form of the UTS festival – that’s pretty cool like.
I would be at the festival for just one day on my summer jaunteries– so chose the Friday as two of my favourite music-combos would be playing – the Trials of Cato & Imelda May. O my god, I love ‘Proud & Humble’ by Imelda May, & that song was the chief reason I thought I’d venture from my island retreat in Scotland down to deepest darkest south Yorkshire. That, & the fact my old time buddy Andrew Buggy just happens to live at nearby Millhouse Green – a doubling up of the raison d’etres if I ever lived one!
Organisationwise, UTS was just so slick; a team of willing volunteers, top grade facilities – including hot showers – & a sophisticated line-up, it was all a far cry from my usual festival experience which involves getting hammered in a muddy field with loads of Scots & midgies. Alright, I did a get a bit hammered, but I wanted to enjoy Imelda May as much as possible in her full-on goddess pomp – she was as inspiring as Bjork touring Debut in 1994 – justifying me knocking back a bottle of gin at the campsite & the subsequent stagger home blind drunk & blind in the dark. But this was such a superb, honest festival that my phone, review notes & favourite cap had all been handed in the next morning! Result ! That wouldn’t have happen’d at T In The Park.
UTS is proper chilled, like, perfect for families, the deck-chair crowd & folk with camper vans wanting to get their feet muddy for a few days in a field, followed by a wipe of the butter knife morning by those aforementioned hot showers. There’s a great selection of food & drink & some interesting stalls. At times it’s a bit like a posh Butlins, having comperes go ‘hello stargazers’ when introducing acts was a bit happy campery. I witnessed this just before Trials of Cato came on – two thirds Wrexham, one third bob, whose musical suites seem’d a lot more refined than that wild folk stomps I’d witnessed in the busking streets of Chester which hooked me on the band in the first place. There’s also been a personnel change, with a Kate Bushesque lassie replacing one of the lads. I’m not quite sure I enjoy’d the new incarnation as much, to be fair, it was a bit like having Enya replace Mick Jagger!
It was now time for a wander around the site, checking out the stalls – a real good, holistic selection including Mark Fraser, storyteller, Oddwood & Co tree puzzles, loads of stuff for the kids & some wonderful willow weaving that I had a go at & fell in love with. Next up was the very surreal this is your life thingy for Kate Rusby- the Cindy Lauper of folk -, a couple of thousand people being thrust into an intimate life chit-chat with Kate was a bit like being at Puttipathi ashram with Sai Baba.
Still, it was highly entertaining & reyt funny, but I did get the feeling at UTS you’re more of an acolyte than a punter – Kate was headlining Saturday night for example! But Kate is well down to earth, & epitomised the down-to-earth team behind UTC, including her sister, Emma. They represent the human spirit in its most gentlest & ambitious mode, & I recommend this festival for anybody wanting a cleaner, more cerebral experience from their festival going – & even if you don’t, the lost property is proper honest!
Cardross Estate Lake of Menteith Stirlingshire, Scotland 14-17 July, 2022
After 3 long years of silence over the hills and fields of Cardross Estate the music finally returned to the beautiful and calm festival that is Doune The Rabbit Hole. With many 300 year old Oak Trees surrounding 6 classic stages you felt like Alice in Wonderland discovering new acts and talent that will surely influence your musical journey over the next 4 days. To think that for 3 years this place fell silent during one of the most difficult times that Scotland have endured in decades, but you cant keep the dance down forever. To experience first hand the joy, the relief , the love and the appreciation of all those that had missed the connection that people and music bring to Doune was a sheer pleasure. Colourful happy smiling faces, that saturated the atmosphere like a wet blanket on a hot day filled the Festival. What more could you ask for ? Well, with the line up that Doune the Rabbit Hole had secured it was certain to be memorable festival. With a larger capacity and a new layout there was more ground to cover and more acts to see so bored was not an option. All angles were considered which resulted in so much more creative areas such as: Yoga and Mediation tents, kids storytelling and workshops and not forgetting the majestic Mary Poppins tent. Hidden steam rooms and huggable trees allowed for a moment of relation between the music and theatre that was on offer. Spoiled for choice is an understatement. There was so many incredible acts that the only down part was who we could and who we couldn”t see as one can”t be i two places at once, but we can at least try…..
The Thursday evening seen Patti Smith and Her Band take the main slot and she did not disappoint . With such a huge back catalogue to cover the classic songs just kept giving and giving.. A most delightful experience it was. With 3 full days ahead of rap, dub, rock, punk, disco, funk, dance and Scottish legendary bands to fill our guilty pleasures our legs will be doing all the talking, well dancing is more likely…. Jabbering between stages you would have come across such bands as Gentlemans Dub Club to Black Wolf Trap ( who recently smashed it at the Meadows Fair) who were on fire.. With DJ sets from Huey Morgan, Tim Burgess, Optimo, Mungos Hi Fi and the formidable house of Samedia Shebeen with all their guest DJs and performers which filled the air with tropical and African beats that shook the very ground we stood on. The Tum Tum Tree tent treated us to acts like Sex Cakes, Doss ,Storm The Palace, Yoko Pwnos, The Victor Pope Band ( one of Edinburghs best known punk rock bands) and they with Mark Macghee at the controls this was the secret place to engage in some great up and coming talent… With Amy Macdonald, Belle and Sebastian, Teenage Fanclub headlining on the weekend evenings the Douner”s were covered from all directions of musical diversity . 10 cc , She Drew Her Gun, Tide Lines, Yard Act, Buzzcocks The Rezillos, Girobabies, Los Chichanos , Utah Saints, Snapped Ankle ( weird but amazing), An Dannsa Dub, Peatbog Fairies, Billy Nomates, The Bluebells, 808 State and not forgetting the classic 70s legends Boney M and Baccara. This injection of 70s disco, funk and soul created a sea of pure love and affection for a young and old. The audience were transfixed back to a time that disco fever had given us for many decades. Smile, dance and be free was the feeling flowing through the sea of fans… Over all, after what felt like 10 years, this was a perfect reintroduction to the festival scene we all missed so deeply. Big shout out to all crew and staff at Doune the Rabbit Hole for allowing us to join your party and be free to dance in the hills again…. Until next time, take care all…
The weight of grief was looming as I set off on Sunday the 19th June to catch the overnight bus to Birmingham and then to Bristol from Bristol another bus to Glastonbury I landed at mid day, Bus lagged and knackered with a slight panic about getting to the healings fields. Then I heard some Yorkshire voices and a guy called Bruce, from Bradford offered to give me a lift to the Red Gate which is where I needed to be Health and Safety accredited, my suitcase was well packed but heavy and it was boiling hot. After meeting Bruce outside The Blue Note Cafe I was walking to Glastonbury Abby and I bumped into Helen and her boyfriend Stuart from Dunscore so had some lovely company .my lift was leaving at 6.00pm so we had a siesta, it was a stark contrast to the chilly winds in Edinburgh the morning before. It was gorgeous. Bruce was being very attentive texting to confirm my lift. So I lay back and let it all go and soaked up the Sun Rays. ❤
Luckily I got a lift on a tractor drawn shuttlebus to the Greenfields and I was home. It had been a long 7 years since I was in the field that changed my life forever in 1994 and first called me in 1992. 7 year cycles, 28 Year cycles and 30 year cycles. Glastonbury 2022 was about Healing Grace and healing Divine ❤
I did get Covid at Eden or was it just a cold? Either way, the snotters had waterfallled out on Saturday night and when I got off the bus in Birmingham my chest and throat were feeling sore and raw. I started the healing process with my respiratory organs and was a bit concerned that another wet festival would give me a chest infection, not that rain seemed close, the sky’s were blissfully blue over Avalon and the Sun was propper hot. I pitched my tent in the Water Circle and made friends with all of my healing neighbours, giving Rainbow Lizzzie and her Spirulina Magik a welcome hug. We were to be working together for the duration of the festival.
But first I had to get myself 100% fit. The Tuesday was a write-off energetically the journey down had taken its toll so I concentrated the whole day to the healing of my chest and the cause of respiratory discomfort. not smoking much, nae cannabis, nae alcohol. the weather was subtropical as I let the healing fields heal me. By Wednesday I was feeling 100% and the cough had gone.The weight of grief had also dispersed, I was ready to centre and work my magik.
By this time there were rumours of rain. All the smart phone people were saying that it was going to start raining on Thursday and rain right through till Monday, Rubbish I said, “Spirit had told me Eden was going to be wet and Glastonbury was going to be dry” Even when Thursdays two day cloud cover started rolling in, Spirit still spoke, “Its going to be dry” Didnae stop us from super waterproofing everything just in case. But sure enough, there was no significant rainfall from the heavy cloud cover that hung there like an omnipresent brooding threat, to be fair, the scorching Sun of the last four days, the cloud cover gave everyone’s skin a break and still it didnae rain. There was an occasional light shower, but the site was parched. By Saturday the Sun was back out.
Wednesday nights burning of the Phoenix brought the festival capacity to Kings Meadows. I watched from the comfort of the Water Circle fire. The firework display was next level magnificent. The Healing Fields was the right place to be. Another early night. My Tarot Cards were speaking to me and the power of Healing was all-encompassing and I was out like a light. I was up at 6am on Thursday, had a coffee at Healers Reception and then headed down to the Greenpeace Field for a shower. where I met Christopher from Bath. We had a really good conversation. I hadn’t showered since Sunday Morning so was looking forward to this, it was lovely. All clean and sparkly and ready for a day of Spiritual Healing and Clairvoyance in The Healing Fields. My first client of the day was a Polis Constable Detective there with her Girlfriend. Thay both had a reading and the proceeds got me my first expensive meal of the festival, it made me giggle. I had a steady flow of clientele all-day. Everywhere I pulled my cards and crystal ball out, there was someone wanting a Clairvoyant session. It was a wonderful experience, so had a productive day and finished off Reading in The Earth Circle. The Magik was tangible.
A full day of Clairvoyance and Healing and Tarot Interpretation is exhausting, there was nae way I was ready for the crowds so again I had an early night. Friday is always quiet in the Healing Fields because everyone is bedazelled and excited for the Rock N Roll. So pacing myself after my morning Greenpeace Shower I headed to the Tiny Tea Tent for a cuppa and tinkle on the piano there. It was a lovely way to start the day, The clouds were stormy and brooding and again Spirit said “It is going to be a dry festival” As I played the keys of the lovely piano opened my Angel Wings and grounded the Healing Grace and that was the nature of the day.
I borrowed a tarp just in case, I was taking nae chances after Eden, Lizzie was telling everyone the rain was coming, as i helped her triple waterproof, we both knew all too well what a wet Glastonbury is like. “Lizzie i said, Spirit told me Eden would be wet and Glastonbury would be dry” Its not going to rain. And it didnae rain.
I wandered up to Kings Meadows on Friday for the first time and really took in The Peace Project that was grounding its change of consciousness beautifully. The Vortex was twined with the sacred geometry in the Healing Fields Air Circle. This was a work of metaphysical Genius. things had certainly advanced in a really really good way in my 7 year absence Great Healing was being received by myself and all that visited Kings Meadows and The Healing Fields. Why would I want to be anywhere else, I was receiving the healing that I needed and still Spirit spoke. “Its Going to be a dry festival” So I set up, got my cards and crystal ball out and meditated deeply, knowing, I fully understood why the Healing was so powerful.
I had a tentative plan to see the Chemical Brothers play the Arcadia Spider at 7pm I ventured out of the Greenfields. It was quite a culture shock. 1000s and 1000s of people rushing, Oh my I went with the flow, it was too much though, I stopped to watch Roisin Murphy and 45 mins in I realised that it was saint Vincent, So headed through the gathered masses to search out Arcadia and take in the soundsystem. I had room to dance so let go and got down, for a bit. But nah The Healingfields is where I wanted to be. So headed back home. All the food prices had gone up £14 for just about everything in Babylon and doing a roaring trade.A Vegi Breakfast without coffee was a tenner, I discovered vegi Burgers for a fiver in the Greenfields. That was a yummy godsend. Glastonburys cuisine outlets are very expensive. This is where the beauty of the Healing Fields donation only policy is so fruitful, people can get what they need without worrying about how much it costs and with everything else so expensive The Healing Fields Appeal is more inviting and attractive than ever before. It was a relief to get back to my tent and put a log on the Fire. And still it was a Dry Festival. ❤
The greatest food godsend, was the Hare Krishna Tent which was set up just behind where I was working in The Healing Fields along with Rainbow Lizzies nutritional expertise I was well nurtured and nourished. The Sun broke through the past constant cloud cover by mid day on Saturday. Every reading I gave was for amazing creative people doing really amazing things and being successful. Each reading that I gave on Saturday was a meant to be and a tonic for my soul. So again I worked consistently throughout the course of Saturday, It was a brilliant and deeply healing experience. It always has been, It was my 30 year anniversary, so naturally I wanted to give my best and help as many people as possible. Without the Healing Fields I wouldnae be writing this.
I did make the effort to go see Paul McCartney and my first visit to the Pyramid Stage of the festival (And the last) I couldn’t comprehend just how many people there were in Babylon, it was like London at Christmas, I got to the screen at the back and watched Noel Gallagher And The High Flying Birds for three songs and contemplated trying to get into the main arena for Paul. But I thought no I cannae do this, it certainly wasnae comfortable and the tranquility of the Healing Fields was calling. In fact that was the last time I ventured out of the Greenfields till hometime. I needed its lushness. I had another early night so that I could be showered and fresh for a busy Sunday. ❤
My early Morning Greenpeace shower ritual was set with a coffee and a tinkle on the old Joanna. Sunday morning was wonderful in The Tiny T Tent a guy called Richard came and joined me and we harmonized beautifully. Its one of the reasons that I didnae take a drum, I knew I would find a piano. Sunday was a sunny day with an early morning sprinkle of rain that lasted 10mns, no more than that though, the weather Angels had blessed us and the dark brooding clouds had blown away. Sunday was a beautiful day and perfect for working my Clairvoyant and healing Magik again working steadily and consistently. It looked like my 30th Anniversary of Glastonbury, meant returning home with more money that I went with. I did work hard and gave my best. Monday was write off I was knackered , So let the healing fields heal me I slept and relaxed.
I had an early night on Monday. cozy in my sleeping bag. I woke up at 6am and started thinking about operation Edinburgh, My coach home was leaving Bristol Bus Station at 7pm. I got a lift down into Glastonbury Town with one of the massage Ladies and we went to have some Breakfast together. I checked out the bus times after breakfast and headed up to Saint Johns to meditate with the Holy Thorn. I was shocked to find that the church was all locked up. So meditated outside the locked gates until Margaret came along to change the posters. We had a lovely conversation, Margaret had been stewarding at Glastonbury Festival and because she lived so close to site, she drove home to watch Paul McCartney on her telly, that made me laugh out loud, Quality. I asked why the church was all locked up. She said that she didnae know, but would find out. 10mins later it was all opened up and was able to meditate with the Holy Thorn and was also able to take in Joseph Of Arimatheas Chapel. I had an Ephiny an enlightenment and a blessing. God was hearing my prayers and the peace was profound. I had a Blue Shnitzel Burger and chips with a cappuccino for Lunch and then jumped on the 2pm bus to Bristol. Just in case there was rush hour traffic, I arrived at Bristol Bus Station at 4pm so had three hours before my Bus to Victoria in London where I would get on the 10.30pm bus back to Edinburgh. It was a long haul, I was exhausted and fair chewing on the bit, by the time I disboarded the Bus at 8Am in Saint Andrews Bus Station. But with a feeling of achievement. Niddrie Mill never felt so welcoming. Am still processing a wonderful adventure. ❤.
The festival experience is at the same time both an intimate one & a shared one. Like everybody else, each summerstuff’d reveler is up for the dance, the crack, the goodies & the girls, or the boys of course if that’s what you prefer. As for the intimacy of a festival experience, that would be your own very personal journey into, through & beyond the thrilling nexi of the festival arena.
To fashion a more intimate Eden for myself, last Friday I decided to take the scenic route; a boat from Arran to Ardrossan, from there a bus to Kilmarnock, then another bus to Cumnock – a fine wee town in whose library I printed out my ticket – before my last bus hurtled south thro Kirkonnel & Sanquhar before dropping me off at the Forest of Ae. It was then 11 miles of spiritually cleansing hiking, up & down some gorgeous countryside, before I reached the A701 at Parkgate. 10 minutes later my photographer arrived in his van from Edinburgh, James Wallace. He’s off to Glastonbury in 2 weeks, & saw his first Eden experience as a good chance to get his eye in, so to speak.
We park’d at the top of the hill near the main entrance & immediately got on it. The site was different – more streamlined, more focussed. The old main stage had gone – needing to be rebuilt I was told – with the Mountain Stage taking over top drawer duties. Friday night saw Supergrass whip up a storm of funky Britpop after which as a returner to Eden I was drawn to my favorite spot – the open air Lost Disco & its floor of flashing lights – it was nice to be home !
At some point in this period of beats & boogieing I met a lovely lady who latched onto me & was trying to persuade me to go to her tent. In hindsight maybe I should have gone, but I was having such a good time & never actually took her up on the offer ! She was 29 & everything & well hot ! That’s how good Eden is, I’d rather be buzzing about the garden than snuggle up with a true beauty!
Next day dawned in roving reporter mode – & it just so happened to be my birthday! Yes, I am a June 11 boy, & that’s generally Eden weekend, so I always have a special sentimental symbiosis with this festival in particular.
Skittling downhill into the cozier, less sprawlier site, lush with June vegetation, James & I proceeded to nosy up the stall-holders for a bit, with a first port of call at Motley’s crepes, part of the Edinburgh-based ‘On The Roll’ foodstuff people. I had a birthday bratwurst while James thought his crepe was delicious, but alas lost a good third of it to a gust of wind which flipped his plastic plate like a toss of a coin.
The weather in general was never great, but never terrible, with only a couple of heavy showers creating a smattering of mud. One of these showers propelled us to seek shelter under a tent outside the Melodrome stage where we joined in a common chorus of Queen songs & others, with laminated lyric sheets darting about the crowd while a funky conductor kept us all in order.
Other cool stalls in this area of the site were the Solar Vinyl Lounge, ran by Nick from North Wales who plays whatever the public wants on some reyt retro decks. There was also Stephen Brown from Middlesborough’s stone carving workshop – a lovely guy who comes to several Scottish festivals a year, & perennially inspires the cave artists in us all.
Steve & Nick’s stalls were just two among many intertextualising features of Eden’s central areas. Fairy Emelina entertained the kids in the children’s area, there were chill out areas with gentle acoustic vibes, & at one point I got involved in a drum circle. Nobody had the balls to got to the congas in the middle of the circle, but I did, it was my birthday & I was well buzzing. I didn’t do any shamanic wailing tho, like I usually do when in a drum circle – which is probably a good thing!
So to 5pm & the arrival of Rosie & Elaine, down from Edinburgh on a dayticket & ready for the rave. Lots of fun was soon procured from the gods of dance & karma & away we 4 went, like warriors riding our mighty stallions of groove, beercups held like lances & our enemies the minions of normality which infest our routine lives.
By 9 PM I had persuaded them to find the bicycle powered Boardwalk stage onto which The Mouse Outfit stepped, oozing cool in that quirky hip-hop collaboration of theirs. A real treat & perfect for the Eden vibe. Then it was back to the dance area for more raving, followed by the Basement Jaxx DJ set which was absolutely jumping – I mean totally jumping, proper bouncing like.
After this I can’t really remember very much. I did get a call in the morning from Rosie & Elaine saying my flip-flops were outside their tent. How they got there & indeed how I got back to Camp Mumble I will never know.
It was now Sunday morning & time to do one. James drove me all the way to Easterhouse on the eastern fringes of Glasgow – he’s not a fan of the Biggar road anyway – from where I slowly floated home to Arran on a mental melange of shits & giggles.
Eden, one of Scotland’s best-loved music festivals, is only two weeks away. With over 300 acts appearing this summer, this year’s hotly-anticipated festival is more than welcoming the return of the revellers to get lost within The Garden.
Set within the family-friendly woodlands of Raehill Meadows in Dumfriesshire, this alluring 10 staged festival covers all musical bases from World to Funk, Classical to Jungle, Indie to Acoustic, Dancehall to Folk, and everything in between.
Headliners are SUPERGRASS, with five Top 10 albums (six, if you include a greatest hits), ten Top 20 singles, Brit and Ivor Novello-winning Oxford ‘Alright’, they will be bringing 3 decades of top tunes to SW Scotland, so expect a party!
“We are so excited to welcome everyone back to the Garden for Eden 2022. After two years we are planning on bringing you the best Eden yet! If you want to dance the night away, chill out around the fire or hang about in the best festival tavern ever, we have your back. With a killer line up and an amazing site we have a feeling the garden might eat us all this time!” Hannah Gould, Eden Festival Director.
Right from the start of the debut album ‘Remedy’, Basement Jaxx (Felix Buxton & Simon Ratcliffe) have been bringing beats to venues and festivals all around the world as one of the UK’s most renowned dance acts. With one of their legendary DJ sets, expect the proverbial Meadows roofs to be raised and feet to be grooving.