Sunday, 23 June 2013

The Mill Hill Music Festival Diary - Day 8 - A great night and some thoughts and reflections

The Polecats Rock out at the Mill Hill Music Festival at Allianz Park
So it's Sunday morning and the Mill Hill Music Festival is done and dusted for another two years. What many readers of this blog will not realise is that the Mill Hill Music Festival is the reason that this blog exists in the first place For those of you involved in any sort of community activity, I suspect that there is a familar theme to what I have to say. Having been involved in the festival for many years - the festival is in its 20th year. We stage it bi-annually and this was the 10th festival.

The biggest struggle all festivals have is getting out to the wider public details of what is going on. We have an extensive mailing list, nearly 1,000 people on it. We also have a stack of banners, bunting and other PR equipment. In Dan Bleich we have an excellent designer for our website and our posters and flyers. We have been active for three months leafletting and publicising our festival.  The planning actually started last September. The festival started last Saturday, with events every night apart from Monday. Every event has been well attended and all have featured excellent music which has been extremely well received.

The festival is a not for profit organisation. All of the committee give their time and services for nothing. In terms of material support, my company, Mill Hill Music Complex probably gave £2,500 worth of support in terms of supply of PA, Lights, transport and staff for the event. The advantage of owning your own business is that you can support the causes you want to and make things happen in your community.

There are many causes and charities we give some sort of assistance and support to over the course of the year, but as we are a music related business based in Mill Hill, the Festival gets the most. During the course of the week, due to my other working commitments, I start the day at 7am and finish most days at 1am. I am not a martyr, I am a bit of a workaholic. In truth the festival just takes the bandwidth normally spent writing this blog !

At the start of this blog, I mentioned that the festival is directly responsible for the inception of the blog. The whole thing started during the 2007 festival. That year, the local press gave the festival virtually no support at all. I personally see it as a primary role of the local papers to support local charities, events and festivals. If I was the editor of the local paper, I would have a whole two pages of listings every week simply detailing forthcoming events. It is not good enough to have a paragraph two days before the event. There should be coverage for two or three weeks before the event starts, so people have time to plan around the events. The Papers should list the whole event with dates & prices of forthcoming events. If this was in the paper every week, people would get in the habit of checking and that page would soon command an advertising premium.  Back in 2007, we had the ridiculous situation where the local press were giving write ups of international superstars at Wembley Stadium, whilst not mentioning local festivals for local people.

I wrote to the editor and offered to edit the said page for free. I said I'd do all the donkey work and explained the importance. He said he'd think about it. We had lengthy discussions, nearly nine months of them. In the end, he agreed to make me a "community blogger". I didn't even know what a blogger was. My intention was to promote local music. Sadly, the local paper blog never got the chance to promote the festival as a dispute with the editor lead to it being dropped.

So I set this blog up and here we are. In homage to the debt this blog owes the festival, I only write about the festival during festival week (that and the fact I'm too busy!).

Anyway, on to last night. First up we had Loaded Dice, featuring the awesome talents of legendary rockabilly guitarist Mark Harman. The band rocked through the set and got a warm reception and a well earned encore. In the interval, there was a rocking disco with DJ Chopper. Then the main feature.

We had the Polecats and Loaded Dice at Allianz Park. It was the Polecats first gig in their home town since 1979. We had a great turnout of locals. Tim Polecat picked up the vibe with invokation such as "Who's Moat Mount" and "Who's Orange Hill" (two old Mill Hill schools which merged to form Mill Hill County High School in the 1980's). The set included there chart hits such as John I'm only Dancing and Rockin on the Marie Celeste, by the end of the night, everyone was on their feet and the place was rocking,. Three encores ensued.

At the end of the night, we had the usual joy of breaking down the gear. After such an exhilarating set, the audience can go home, but the crew have to pack up. I finally got home at around 1:30pm. This morning I was back at 10am to pick up the gear and that was that for another two years.

In musical terms, I think this has been one of the best festivals ever. There were no bad performances. I saw every show apart from the opening concert at St Pauls (I was setting up at the Adam & Eve). If you went, I am sure you'd agree that it was great and if you didn't you missed out.

Anyway finally a big thanks to my co-organisers. Dan Bliech, Gerry Keene, Clare Tichborne, Lucia Carabine, Leslie Evans, Councillor Joan Scannell, Brian Peerless and Jenni Bond for all of their work over the last year organising the festival. The festival is a real team effort and we've all supported each other through the ups and downs and are all still friends. Also a big thanks to the Mill Hill Music Complex staff, especially Fil Ross, Adam Prosenesko, Darren O'Reilly and Stuart Waterman for their efforts and support. A big thanks to the Balls London Bike club for use of their transportation. A big thanks to Waitrose for their generous financial support, Mill Hill Wines for acting as our ticket office.

A special word of thanks go out to all of the venues, especially Allianz Park, who generously let us use their facilities for three days and their staff who were so accomodating. As I went to collect the gear, the venue was holding the London region Special Olympics. The venue has been transformed and it is great to see new life in the Mill Hill Community. Finally a big thanks to all of the helpers who gave their time and the public who turned out see the shows. We estimate that over 1,000 people attended the 8 shows. If I missed anyone out, I am sorry, I'm a bit cream crackered.

Normal Service will be resumed at the Barnet Eye tomorrow, but tonight I will have a beer and contemplate a job well done.

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