Monday, 24 June 2019

The Mill Hill Music Festival - End of Festival report

On Saturday, we had the final night of the 13th Mill Hill Music Festival. Last night, after 9 days of frantic activity, I had an early night and slept like a log! So how did it all go?

Well here is the summary. 

Friday the 14th June
Hartley Hall - The Hendon Band of The Salvation Army

I couldn't attend this event, as I was at the Adam and Eve. Clare attended, the Hall was full and the band played an excellent programme of music. The band are one of the regular features of the festival and traditionally open the festival

The Adam and Eve  - The Ron Lewis Partnership with The False Dots

This was an amazing night. My band played a short acoustic set, to kick things off and then the mighty Ron Lewis Partnership got the whole place up and boogieing

Saturday 15th 
The BBC Elstree Concert Band

This was the first concert to sell out and the audience were not disappointed. The BBC Elstree band are festival regulars and the audience loved their program of music from The Oscars.

Sunday 16th 
The Adam and Eve - The Ron Russell Partnership

Our traditional Jazz lunch was well attended and was a blast. It's not often you see a Jazz lunch end with the double bass player dancing with members of the audience!
This was me during the soundcheck!

Monday 17th
Mill Hill Synagogue - Stewart Curtis with K-Groove

This is a beautiful venue and there was some excellent music played. Stewart Curtis is a highly accomplished musician and the crowd were given an absolute treat.

Tuesday 18th 
Hartley Hall - The Charles Court Opera performing HMS Pinafore

This was a tumultuous night. Once again Hartley Hall was packed and the show was excellent. Charles Court Opera are highly professional and put on a show that is both uplifting and great fun.

Wednesday 19th 
St Pauls Church - Organ and Harp Recital

This show featured some absolutely amazing music, from such great composers as JS Bach. The acoustics of the church are incredible and this was the best attended classical concert the Festival has staged at St Pauls.
Mill Hill Golf Club - Jimmy Cannon and Elizabeth Tillotson

Sadly I could only pop in for a quick shandy after the recital. I caught a number by Elizabeth Tillotson, which was an excellent jazz blues number. Every table was busy, so I rather hope a few new people have discovered the delights of the Mill Hill Jazz Club.
Thursday 20th
Hartley Hall - The Alan Barnes Octet

Alan Barnes is a true giant in the Jazz world. This was a special gig for the committee. It was the last concert organised by Brian Peerless, our Jazz expert, before his sad and sudden passing last November. His great friend and fellow committee member Luciana read a heartfelt tribute to Brian. The band also dedicated several numbers to Brian and Alan shared some great stories.

Friday 21st 
Mill Hill Golf Club - The Foundations with Recollection

The Foundations were amazing. Hits such as Build Me Up Buttercup and Baby, no that I found you, were interspersed with soul classics. The Foundations were the first UK multi racial band to have a no 1 hit. I think the audience saw why! Recollection as support were excellent.

Saturday 22nd 
The Adam and Eve - Joe Angel and the Pamodzi band + Charlotte

And we finished with a  real blast, Joe Angel at The Adam and Eve. This was an amazing night, the busiest ever according to the pub. I didn't count (how could you), but I wouldn't be surprised if over 300 people were there. There was literally no room at all when the band were playing. The support from Charlotte, a young artist from Mill Hill County High was also brilliant. I suspect that she will be a star of the future, not too many people can carry off an Amy Winehouse number, with just a single guitar, excellently performed by Ollie. 

So that's what happened. How did it happen? Well in the early summer last year, the festival organising committee held a meeting to decide whether to proceed or not. The committee were Dan Bleich, Sarah Bourn, Lucia Carabine, Gerry Keane,  Brian Peerless, Joan Scannell MBE, Clare Tichborne and Roger Tichborne (me). The first job was to agree to proceed. With this in the bag, we then set about securing the venues. One of the great by products of the festival is that we can put some cash in the coffers of the local venues, which helps support our local community. We soon agreed to proceed and secured Hartley Hall, St Pauls Church, The Adam and Eve, Mill Hill Golf Club and The Synagogue. With the venues secured, we all started recruiting artists for the program. I was tasked with organising the popular music slate. This meant The Ron Lewis Partnership, The Foundations and Joe Angel. Joan organised the Salvation Army, Sarah organised the Recital, Dan organised the Opera, Clare organised the BBC Elstree Band and Brian the Jazz program. I also booked the Klezmer, Val at The Mill Hill Jazz club organised her act. In October, we had meeting to pencil the names in. The next meeting was scheduled for early December. Before this occurred, a bomb was dropped. Brian unexpectedly passed away. This was a massive shock to us all. The first question was "should we proceed", but all agreed that Brian would be horrified if we didn't. There was also concern that the Jazz bands were doing Brian a favour and may not be so interested. This proved to be completely unfounded, as they were desperate to pay tribute.

By Jaunary, we had the programme ready. There was much proof reading etc. By March, 12,000 leaflets were ordered and we then had a three month publicity blitz, with a huge leaflet drop and social media posts. We also had numerous logistic planning meetings. In the past, Lesley, our bar co-Ordinator had dealt with that, but she was unavailable. Clare took on the co-ordination and a team of volunteers was put together, with Joan and Clare sorting the details.
 In April, whilst leafletting, we had a volunteer to replace Brian. Rob Sykes got hold of a leaflet and offered his help. It was agreed that he'd attend meetings etc and see if he enjoyed the experience. I think he did!

As it was the 13th Festival, being superstitious, I was worried. The sad passing of Brian was not exactly a great start. I am pleased to report that apart from an accident at St Pauls, requiring a precautionary ambulance and Dan being savaged by a sausage dog on the final night, it went rather smoothly.

I must, at this point,  say thanks to the people who have helped, especially Fr Stephen and Gillian and Pete at Hartley Hall, Paulo and the team at The Adam and Eve, Rabbi Schochet, Gerry and Marshall and their team at Mill Hill Synagogue, Rev Jo, Rev Jan, Bob, Jenny and Jill at St Pauls, Val and Gordon at The Mill Hill Jazz Club, Pete and the team at Mill Hill Golf Club, and our amazing helpers Mary, Sue, Yumery, Joan, Val, Elaine, Gordon, Stephen, Fil, Matthew, Paul and all of those that my brain is too fried to recall right now. Thanks to Marina Hobson OBE, our patron for her continued support.  Without all of these people, we couldn't stage the festival. For Clare and Dan who do most of the paperwork etc, the festival is a year long activity, I handle the logistics with Gerry so for us it is a hectic two weeks. For the rest of the committee, there are specific tasks in the run up and then some very busy and late nights. I usually put a stone on during the festival and my cholesterol goes through the roof, as all I eat is burgers and chicken from Red Rooster at midnight! If we did it all the time, I'd probably be dead long ago. 

The numbers were good. Around 150 musicians participated. A finger in the air calculation is that over 2,000 people attended. We run the festival on a not for profit basis. The aim is to pay the performers and to keep prices down. Every venue met or exceeded its numbers, so we have a small profit to carry forward to 2021. Unlike most festivals, there is no grant, no subsidy and no major corporate sponsors. Mill Hill Wines, support us, by acting as box office at no cost, which is amazing. They also help out with loan of glasses etc. Please buy a bottle of wine there if you enjoyed the Festival, or even better attend a tasting!  You won't be disappointed.

My company, Mill Hill Music Complex sponsors the PA and sound equipment. This is probably worth £2,000 and makes the popular music content deliverable. It is one of the benefits of running your own business, you can do such things. From a hard nosed commercial perspective, it is good business, as it puts the words "Mill Hill Music" in the public psyche, and we have had great support from BBC Radio London etc, in the promotion.

Yesterday all of the PA systems, lights and staging went home! There will be repairs and testing this week, but all in all, it's been a very successful week. 

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