Category Archives: 2023

An Interview with Joe Patten (Splendour Festival)


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!

An Interview with Emma Holling (Underneath the Stars)


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!

The Lottery Winners will be at this year’s UTS

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.

Cawthorne, Barnsley

An Interview with Duncan Wheeler (Stowaway Festival)


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!

Little Dragon will be at this year’s Stowaway

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.

Irvine Welsh will be at this year’s Stowaway will be at this year’s Stowaway

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!

August 18-20
Stowe, Buckinghamshire