Well, this is Holipops fault.

She asked on the Solfest message board when my blog was starting again.

I have, like with so many other things left my blog unattended this year. Yet there has been so much that has happened to me that I should have kept it up.

Like my travels around the county with Karen as she’s doing Market Research stuff, in the course of which (while searching for it in toy shops) I discover Knottie in one (not realising that of course if I walk into a fancy dress shop in Kendal It’s pretty much a certainty that she’ll be there)

“Of all the joke joints in all the towns in all the world, he has to walk into mine!

…plate it and then flan!!!

After Solfest, there was Knockengorroch. Meeting Sandgrinder; Knottie, Dubbers, Sloanz, Jam Jar Fairy & Dreadpirate Bob. Drinking the last of the Solfest Wise Apple Cider that Bob had won…

and what a wonderful brew that is and I hate Cider with a passion!

Great craic with Bob too discussing many things; shoes and ships and ceiling wax plans that come to nought or half a page of scribbled1 lines, and whether pigs have things.

What a Knockengorroch it was too, playing the most unbelievable sessions in the Longhouse. Like no other sets I’ve done before and certainly not afterwards.

I missed the Spring Knockengorroch.

I had received a booking for another regular festival at Wheaton Aston, it was only after I’d accepted that I realised it was the same week as Knock, they’d moved Wheaton Aston forward. The thing was I’m trying to make a living and Knocks a tickets deal.

Karen and I are buying a house so what can I say.

But I did miss Knock

There was other stuff too, important stuff that I’ve now forgotten.


That story will be told, sometime before I start the SOLFEST blog proper. Twas an experience to say the least, and like this bit of stream of consciousness twiddling it’ll get me into the habit of writing again.

It’s just like riding a bike, writing. You get out of practise and when you do it again after a break, it’s hard work going up the steep bits and other bits ache the next morning.

Writing a bike is easy; it’s just five letters A – B – I – K –E.

Riding on the computer is not advised.

I do know what I speak of I cycled to a committee meeting at SOLFEST CENTRAL COMMAND. That’s a good sixteen mile journey, the first six or so being a bit of an uphill bugger to Tallentire, but then it’s more or less downhill for the last ten. But my calves ached like hell on Wednesday morning.

Still I’m Fifty Three next week, so I rather pleased I can get on a bike at all let alone ride it anywhere.

It’s also the first time I’d been on it for a decent ride since stopping smoking (a tale to be told when I tell you about the trip to the Yooessoffay!) and boy can I tell the difference. Like I could when Karen and I were dancing to 3 Daft Monkeys at Glasson Festival the other week, it feels wonderful getting your lungs back.

But enough of that for I’ll not preach.

Holipop got me thinking though; as it’ll not be enough (for me) to just repeat what I did last year. That will be there of course, documenting in my own way what happens when a festival goes up.

But I’m doing podcasts now too! On those, as well as a bit of nonsense and the serial podtale “JACK & THE BEAM” I’ll be playing tracks from some Drystone Stage artists. So in the blog I can give a bit more background to them and why I choose them.

Now I think this is a problem (perhaps) but I only really get excited about the nuts and bolts and the running of the festival around about now. Due in part no doubt to the fact that it abso
lutely knackers me and I need to lie down for a long time in a very dark room after its all over. But there is something in the fact that doing it near the time simply is more exciting. The adrenalin kicks in when things have deadlines; when Solfest becomes the imperative, not the hobby.

For that’s what it is in February with the cold wind and rain slashing down outside while I’m sitting by the fire opening jiffy bags with CDs inside.

Then in July when the meetings at SOLFEST CENTRAL COMMAND become weekly and you get to hear how everybody is doing their stuff. All the NEW STUFF that’s happening this year. In particular one thing that I’ve pushed for a bit and I’m so glad it’s off the ground this year.

We just need one tiny bit of official stuff before we can say EXACTLY what it is, though there are rumours.

A clue…


Nuff said.

Gerard is driving the ladies in Workington Post Office to distraction going in daily to post in the region of 5000 tickets, recorded delivery at around 150 per day.

“He’s tekking allt’ styamps Muriel, will be ‘evving a styamp droot afooer lang.”

I mentioned earlier about giving a bit more info on the acts on the podcasts, well the first one is up and running…

…Rob Heron


Rob performed with Blue Jam last year, though he then kept his light under something of a bushel. Or in fairness maybe I didn’t see it for at Solfest I’m busy making sure EVERYBODY sees my light.

However it came to pass while Karen and I were in the States that a letter with a CD came to the house from Carolyne, Karens oldest and bestest friend.

So I played the CD…

..It was very good stuff too, mind you he’s a talented lad is Rob after learning to play the guitar at 11 he started writing songs at 13. He’s 17 now and writing songs that have a maturity and sensitivity that normally doesn’t come until much later in life. What he will be writing in later life will surely be worth listening to.

It was also the fact that somebody else, Karen’s friend believed in him enough to send the letter and CD. Now I think it’s nice if somebody does that, I would like it enormously if someone did that for me, the thing is Rob is good and I believe that he’ll go down a storm on the Drystone

Emma & The Professor


Jonathan Draper


Emma & The Professor need no introduction to Solfest, a return booking from the Drystones first year. Emmas voice still blows me away and Mark is becoming the Clapton of the Bodrahn…

“Move over Jonjo, once you were the master, now I am the master…!”

They are joined this year by Jonathan Draper aka Johnny Cello. I first met Johnny three years ago at Glasson and he is a Maestro, and I don’t mean a speedy roadster. I have been trying to get him to Solfest ever since. Make sure you check out his solo set where he swaps his Cello for a Piano and to paraphrase Nigel Kennedy.

“Does a bit of damage to Gershwin.”

Although damage it he does not, it WILL be a talked about set and one of the highlights of Solfest.

As will his set with Emma and The Professor. The track on the podcast “Rain and Snow.” Gives some indication of the fireworks that will happen when these three play live.

Good God look at the time.

There you are Holipop I hope you are satisfied, keeping me awake until Knobhead O’Clock in the morning writing this…

…I have rather enjoyed it though

“Wear a tall hat like they did in the old days; Wear a tall hat and a tattered gown.”

Marc Bolan

1 A rough modernisation of the old nursery rhyme, “Paddling Up The Creekle” a satire on the reign of King George 111, attributed to Barmkirk Bunyan

“Half a page of scribbly lines

Half a cabbage in treacle

That’s the way the King is deposed

Paddling up the Creekle”

The Wizards Pot

An archive of the life and rantings of The Wizardmarra. www.wizardmarra.com The Best Storyteller In The World.

About Alan Whittaker

A storyteller like no other. Weaving traditional storytelling with madcap posing and stand up comedy riffing. Taking the listener from here to there and back again at break neck speed; with panache and a fine sense of the ridiculous.For more information about Alan, read his biography.

Comments are closed.