Ever wondered what it's like to organise a music festival. We are now in the middle of the Mill Hill Music Festival. Saturday saw the opening night at the Adam and Eve pub in Mill Hill. I always share my studio diary with my friends who read the blog. I find it useful to record the events, so that when we organise the next one, I have a reference and a checklist. We've spent a year planning the festival. The first meeting was about a year ago. The first meeting is a fairly informal "Shall we do it and what would we like to put on". We then have another meeting in September to firm up our ideas, work out when, which venues we want and which artists we want to use. This is firmed up. As we moved into 2022, the meetings move from strategic to logistic. It seems strange to think that we were planning the festival with the spectre of the pandemic hanging over us. It really was touch and go as to whether we proceeded, especially when news of the Omicron wave hit. Our logic was along the lines that if we didn't do it this year, we may never. At Easter, we published the line up and printed the brochures. Almost immediately disaster struck. We had booked Joe Angel for the opening night. Joe is an amazing Reggae artist and is loved by the festival fans. Sadly he had to withdraw. I am lucky that being in the music industry, I have a stack of mates who can step up and do me a favour and we were lucky to get Alan Warner of the Foundations to take the slot. Alan is an old mate and it was a pleasure. Alan suggested that I got my band, The False Dots to support them, which I hadn't thought of, but we share lots of mutual friends so it worked very well.
Saturday started with me picking up a van that was kindly lent to us by Mill Hill's most amazing Kitchen Design Company, Kitchens with Elegance. The festival only manages to run because wonderful folk like Paul and Mary from KWE kindly do this, meaning our costs are minimal. I had an early start at the studios as we had Rockschool Exams. This is an important part of our business, so I have to be around when they are setting up. Once they were in, we visited our storage garage and retrieved swinging signs that we use to advertise the festival. Once these were in place, I went home, walked the dogs, had lunch and got a haircut (need to look my best for a show!). I then tried to have an hour's downtime, but the phone went. At 5pm, I drove to the studios and collected the stage, the PA system, the lights and the backline. It was a quick schlepp up the hill to The Adam and Eve and then build the stage, set up the PA, lights and backline and wait for the bands.
We had a bit of a hiccup. My band were meant to help me set up, but our bassplayer Fil had a recording and Graham had issues at his flat to sort out. They both arrived at 8pm, we were meant to start at 8.30pm.
Bang on the dot, we kicked off. We had wondered how many people would turn up, but by the time we started playing, the pub was pretty busy and the crowd enjoyed our set. We played for 40 minutes and then cleared the stage for the Alan Warner Band. It was a first for me. I've never been the lead singer in the band before, always doing guitar and backing vocals. I quite enjoyed it!
I was doing the sound for them. By the end of their first set, the whole pub was boogie'ing. There were probably 150-200 people there which was an excellent crowd for the first night. We were lucky that it was a beautiful day and the garden was packed as well.
At then end, there was a real community effort to help us get the gear out ASAP. As well as Dan, Stephen and Gerry from the Festival, a special thanks to Lizzie, Brian, Paul L, Ian McGreevy and Umary, who helped us load. Thanks also to the staff at the Adam and Eve who were wonderful and ensured we had everything we needed.
It was a marvellouys first night. I got home, had a sandwich, walked the dogs and was tucked up in bed by 1pm. I was absolutely shattered yesterday though. I'm really out of practice doing this!
Here is a song from my band. A rather bluesy number, I hope you like it.