Tuesday 22 May 2018

The North Finchley Festival 2018 - A weekend of fun in the Sun!

What a weekend that was! It started at around 12.30pm on Saturday with Keith Martin and guitarist Mike Ryan playing in Cafe Buzz and ended with The Silencerz at The Bohemia. 50 different acts at six venues. Six months in the planning and a weekend with virtually no sleep for us crew.

All in all approx 300 people performed across the six venues. We estimate that across the two days, 1,400 people showed up. Considering the Royal Wedding and The FA Cup were also taking place it was an amazing turnout. The festival was set up to give North Finchley a boost and certainly did that. On the Saturday night at The Elephant Inn, I spoke to several people who said they'd not been to North Finchley for live music since the heady days of The Torrington.

We had a team of six sound engineers running around keeping the show going, many thanks to Vince,  Boz, Gavin, Ted, Fil and Gerry who all put in long shifts (special thanks to Boz, who worked on his birthday weekend, to keep the sound going, having just got back from playing in Mexico with Morrissey!). I am lucky to be blessed with such a crew at Mill Hill Music Complex! We were sorry that our regular PA guy Stuart couldn't join us , and must say a special word of thanks to Gerry who dropped everything to assist with the transportation logistics.

The artists and bands all put in great shifts as well. I think we ticked just about every genre of popular music, Rock, Pop, Jazz, Folk, Rap, R&B, Indie, Choirs, Soul, Reggae and Ska (and apologies if I missed a few). As the logisitics co-ordinator, my job was to hop from venue to venue, ensuring all was OK. As this was the second year we ran the festival, it seemed to go far more smoothly than the 2017 festival. At each venue, a quick headcount of bums on seats so we can estimate the attendance, a conversation with the engineers, and running around picking up items such as spare amplifiers, leads and drum keys. Whilst everyone else was enjoying themselves, I had to make do with a couple of sneaky shandies to stave off dehydration.

As for the venues, Senan at the Bohemia is a star. He has supported the festival since its conception and works harder than anyone, whilst still trying to run a pub. Helen at Cafe Buzz is also a Trojan! (I guess that is not the best compliment for her, given the history of the Hellenic wars, but you know what I mean). The teams at the Elephant, M's and Asoo's were also most hospitable. I will definitely be checking out Asoo's Bollywood night on a Saturday which looks brilliant, we only saw the start as we were taking PA systems out. I didn't make it down to Toolan's as they sorted out their own sound system, but the reports were good!

As well as being a festival organiser, I also had the pleasure of playing at The Bohemia with The False Dots. We had a decent audience and they got quite lively during the set. Last year, the gig was held downstairs, this year upstairs. Both had their advantages and disadvantages. We brought in a stage and some lights and with Vince doing the sound, it was a really pleasant gig to play.

We owe much to our sponsors, who's generosity meant it could happen. A big shoutout to Joseph Partners, Barnet Council, Waitrose and Jeremy Leaf & Co who stumped up the cash to pay for  the running expenses. Also thanks to Keith and Pam for the work behind the scenes on Festival finances, and all the back office crew who did the social media and mailing.

On the thanks front, we finish with a shout out to Robert Elms and Jo Good at BBC Radio London for their support plugging the festival on their respective shows. Many of the punters mentioned this and with the cup final and the wedding, it was essential to have the plugs! Thanks!

We put together a little show reel for posterity of some of the finest acts at the venues. We hope you enjoy!

We are all looking forward to doing it all again next year!

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