Sunday 18 June 2023

The Mill Hill Music Festival Diary 2023 - Day 1

 As is the way, during the Mill Hill Music Festival, my normal blogging activities are suspended and I write a festival diary. Last night was Day 1 of the festival, so as is tradition, here is my first diary entry. For those of you interested in what it is like to run a music festival, this is what I got up to during the day and my observations.

Whelligan perform at the Adam and Eve

On Friday night, went to see my mates in The Silencerz up at The Bull Theatre in Barnet, we had a good evening, but I wasn't as fresh as I'd hoped on Saturday Morning. The first job of the day was to check the weather. We had planned a Jazz lunchtime Fathers day gig at Finchley Nurseries, but there were severe weather warnings, so we had to postpone this. Calls with the garden centre and the band ensued.

I then collected the van we've been lent for the week, by local kitchen design company Kitchens with Elegance. The festival works on a not for profit basis. If it wasn't for the kind efforts of people such as Paul and Mary at KWE, we'd have to almost double ticket prices to cover costs. It would also be unfesable to stage gigs such as yesterday's free entry gig at the Adam and Eve. 

At around mid day, I took the van to the studios and loaded up our stage, lights, PA system and backline (drums, amps etc). It is a full van full. I left the van at the studios and went home for lunch and a snooze.

The MHMC crew relax after the set up Fil and Matt 2

Fil prepares the stage

At 5pm, I met my chief engineer, Fil Ross and trainee engineer Matt at the studios, and we drove to the Adam and Eve to assemble it. It was up and ready in under an hour, no drama's. We then did a soundcheck with Whelligan, John Shillibeer and Subverse. Again, no drama's. As I was driving, I only had a couple of shandies. At 8pm, Subverse kicked off. Singer Maddy has a wonderful voice, one of the highlights was her version of Joan Armatrading's love and affection. It gives an idea of her talent that she more than held her own with such a great song. Guitarist Al Pascal is a local guitar teacher and session player. He's a great player and has a good feel to his style. He'd just bought a new guitar pre-amp that sounded amazing, so as a guitar nerd, it was interesting to compare notes.

Next up was John Shillibeer. I've known him since he was a kid. He's the younger brother of Brian, a mate since St Vincents, who I grew up with and has been involved with the band since it started. Brian would turn up to gigs and help us lug gear. Johnny is a few years younger and I used to play football with us and and hang around. I guess that he decided he liked the idea of some rock and roll in his life, as he's become an accomplished solo artist. He moved to New Zealand a decade ago and this was his first London gig for a long time. As ever, he was brilliant.

Last up were Whellighan, a seven piece band featuring a friend, Tom from Hadley on trumpet. Any Hadley regulars will know Tom. He's a wonderful musician and a lovely bloke. I saw Whelligan last year and was determined to have them at the festival. They didn't let us down. Jamie Whelligan is an amazing songwriter. Like many musicians originating from Merseyside (he's from Birkenhead), he has a great melodic feel. Several punters told me they were the best band we've had in all the years of the festival. The band finished at 11pm. I put on my Ska playlist for the last 30 minutes, giving the hard core boogie crowd a chance to dance. At 11.30, we packed down the gear and were out by midnight. I got home, had a glass of wine and watched an episode of Narco's Mexico on Netflix, a job well done.

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