SATURDAY, SUNDAY AND MONDAY TOO!

SOLFEST 2006 – THE EVENT, BACKSTAGE AND ALL THAT

SATURDAY.

Well, the plan was to write Fridays blog live and upload it from the BBC Bus that had established itself at Solfest. It’s plain that that didn’t occur, so what was I doing on Saturday morning. Sleeping that’s what, and when I finally extricated myself from my tent it was only an hour or so before my first storytelling session of the festival. My first stop was the canteen. I cannot be unstinting in my praise for Debbs and her team of WONDERFUL HARD WORKING KITCHEN STAFF. The food that we given over the weekend was so good, and never a word of complaint from any of them about how much they had to do. I could comment on the unconventional chefs apparel worn by Micheal, a sarong not been found in most kitchens. In fact, we can only thank a greater god that Anthony Worrall Thompson has never felt the urge to don one.

It was not an easy task getting there though as it seemed that every step I took brought some performer or other to me with questions; I’ll not say anything about these as they are not very interesting, and were in some cases a major annoyance, and really I would liked to have responded with a “GET ON WITH IT, take some initiative for yourself.”
However, perhaps they have not had the benefit of experience of working at festivals as much as I and it is silly grumbling about it now.

So let’s get on with the good stuff and my first session of the day. If I remember correctly, I did Marragob and Marragump an old Irish tale that I’ve transposed to Cumbria by way of accent changing the names of the main characters from Murraghomore and Murraghobeg. I love this one and it has been one of my stock stories for all my gigs this year, that and THE FISH again this one been with me for ages it seems now, and I really like it because it’s constantly evolving.

CONFESSION TIME!

It’s now several days since I wrote that. It has been hard work getting the writing of this. Why, well first off sheer bloody exhaustion and to be honest. Being completely pig sick and pissed off about Solfest altogether.

“AHH THE HORROR, WIZARDMARRA PISSED OFF ABOUT THE MOST WONDERFUL FESTIVAL IN THE WESTERN WORLD OR THE EASTERN WORLD FOR THAT MATTER.

True, I was just so completely depleted by the event. Now though a month on I can face it with alacrity and put some sketches of the festy down. Sketches are all they are though for with Solfest 2006 as with last year, the event is just that for me a blur of images and incidents. I am when it happens so taken up with the moment as it happens that I’m not lazily savouring it’s magic.

But it is good.

So where was I
Oh yeah
Telling tales down by the Drystone. Starting the Saturday marathon. Time off day circa 12 noon to 1 O’clock. I would not see my bed until after five in the Sunday Morning.
Read on…

…My Good mate David Straightjacket was up next

http://www.straitjacketcircus.co.uk/

http://www.myspace.com/dstraitjacket

He is to my mind the best proponent of the long-standing art of escapology and sword swallowing. These guys have been entertaining and astounding audiences all over the world for just about as long as storytellers. It is a pure art this. Not derivative of another, and like storyteller a descendants of the holy men who would spin enchantments by word and sound and body magic. Fakirs and Shaman both.
David is so very good at what he does and is one of the nicest people I have met in my gigging about the land. You would think that knowing him, knowing he is so thouroughly professional at his job, that his skill is equal to this. That he can perform and come up with the goods and he will get out of the death defying situation he has found himself and he will escape with seconds to spare to huge applause. .
…I will still be biting my nails and filled with concern that my mates going to really hurt himself!
A MASTER OF HIS CRAFT!

Thanks for the comedy mp3s David; they are helping me write this! Love to Nikki too.

CAPOEIRA

I was so glad to see William and his group back at Solfest and one of the stand out visual moments was seeing them around the stone circle doing their stuff watched over by Adams Wizard. I didn’t have my camera with me enough this year. That was one moment I would have liked a picture of. I didn’t get to see the set they did on the Drystone as I’d handed over to the incomparable SARAH LEDGER

http://www.comedycv.co.uk/sarahledger/index.htm

http://www.newsandstar.co.uk/

Sarah has been a regular on the comedy circuit for a while now. I was so pleased to have her come and be another compere at Solfest, and I knew she could handle you lot out there. Though I must say you are one of the most well behaved crowds, I worked with.

However, it gave me the chance of taking BLUESMONKEY out for a spin. This is a complete blur in my head and was as soon as I’d done it. The ultra focus that takes place in my head when I’m doing the monkey is quite scary and if I’m into it for more than half an hour at a time gets my head into weird scary places. I have to concentrate on being this really quite poor puppet so people believe in it, and they do quite amazingly wonderfully and hilariously as the monkey makes people laugh more than I do in my story sessions. How he is as quick witted and how he gets it all together is beyond me.

And the fact that I am referring to a puppet I operate in the second person with a distinct intelligence of his own is worrying in itself.

Back onstage introducing DEAD OVER HEELS, fronted by the daughter of my sound technician Paul DEAD OVER HEELS kicked off Saturday evening with a little arse kicking Goth rock. I had seen them at the benefit gig I’d done for Abbott earlier in the year (links to the full story in blog archive under “Guerrilla Storytelling”) and liked what they did. They warmed the stage well for the nights line up chased quickly on their heels by OWEN SAUNDERS vocal gymnastics, another mate. I do have a definite “It’s a local stage for local people” ethic regarding the Drystone. The way I see it I get a regular (though unpaid) gig there every year so it is only fair that the same offer is there for locals who are I believe particularly talented in there fields. Though of course I still apply the same “quality” control.

I know I sometimes take a risk in someone who is either local or is in some way connected to the festival and it hasn’t quite cut the mustard. I am learning all the time is all I can say.

Next, up someone who has become a mate over the past two years. The incomparable SLEEPY ED HICKS

http://www.fredwoodbear.com/

who deserves far more recognition and I’m sure over the coming years it will be afforded him. His individual style of singing combined with quality picking on the Banjo, an instrument long suffering from the reputation it’s achieved through years of crap players playing crap tunes. Ed is about as far removed from these guys as you can possibly be. His version of “Frankie and Johnny” is an entire movie in three or four minutes and “Californian Girls” complete with additional lyrics is pure class. Hail BANJOMAN.

Another period of several days have passed since I last wrote. Angst ridden I have given myself hell for not getting this done, and I need to get it finished and give myself closure on Solfest 2006. But the above paragraph is some indication of the state of mental confusion I am in over the festival, as anyone who was there knows (and you would think that I should include myself here) Sleepy Ed played the Drystone on the Friday, not Saturday. But what the hell he’s a lovely guy and I will not flagellate my back with a leaden Cat O’Nine Tails for giving him more publicity and kudos. I mean the stage full of kids was testimony to the mans charisma and quality as an entertainer of the highest order…

… I will kick myself though for omitting one of Saturdays acts, the wonderful SMALL CHANGE. Fronted by Neal Reay-Bennet and his good lady Yvonne, whose onstage banter is for me some of the funniest you could hope to hear. Also on Bass guitar Joanne Braniff, Solfests very own treasurer (and this brief slot on the Drystone was about the only time she had away from doing that job all weekend, possibly the most thankless and boring job in the world) She is also Dans (Solfest baby) Mum, Alwyns good lady and sister to no less than two members of DELIVO and THE BEST BASS GUITARIST IN CUMBRIA!!! With Craig Hodgson on Drums with Solfests Dave Camlin and the exemplary fiddler Mark Newport (If anyone remembers my telling of Blind Raftery The Poet at last years Solfest, it was Mark who gave me such magical accompaniment) these four were part of the now (sadly) defunct TRYCKSTER, the band who were at the time Cumbria’s best kept secret. This was a crime in itself for they deserved fame and accolades beyond our borders, composers and performers of some of the greatest and most danceable tunes ever written.
Simon Warner must not be forgotten and apart from being a really nice chap and David Walliams double plays the keyboards for Small Change.

Now that I’ve thoroughly confused myself I think I am somewhat back on track with the cavalcade of unmitigated talent brings me to

JAMBIENCE

http://www.didgemusic.com/Jambience/

I first saw these guys at Wheaton Aston Festival two years ago and wanted them for Solfest 2005, only that year I wasn’t able to pay them so they were a huge priority for me this year now that I had CASH! Anybody who saw the set will know what a fantastic and mind blowingly good set it was too. Music to gather you up in its arms and carry you off into the distant reaches of the universe, and that is without any mind-altering substances to assist you either. If you had had any of those naughty drugs while listening to Jambience on Saturday night…
…Are you back on the planet yet?

Mind you it’s not just the audience than can be affected by the music, Phil Jackson the antipodean didge player told me before going onstage “Give me us a good ten minutes notice before the end of the set as we tend to get carried away in it!”

They were certainly one of my highpoints of the weekend, ABSOBLOODYFANTASTIC!!! I would have loved them to have stuck around and enjoyed the festival more after they had finished, but they had to fly for Phil also presents a show called SOUTH LIVE for BBC Southern Counties Radio on Sundays.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/southerncounties/entertainment/music/south_live/

Check it out on The BBC Radio Player.

That brings me to Nine O’clock on the Saturday and the adorable JENNY McCORMICK.

http://www.jennymccormick.com/

www.myspace.com/jennymccormick

Another returnee from last year. What can I say about Jenny?

1: She is beautiful.
2: She has a sweet, crystal voice that could charm birds from the trees.
3: She is beautiful.
4: She writes songs of quality.
5: She is beautiful.

It would be too easy to just say that Jenny is a singer in the Kate Rusby mould, and I think I’ve made this point earlier in this blog. She is much more than that, her voice is as distinct and different from Kates as is Sandy Dennys. It is her own and special and I for one am glad.
I must mention her band too consisting of her Dad Kevin and Brother Julian (who’s own band LIEF is worth checking out) completing the family is her Mum Anni who is her manager, and there’s a family of four who through Solfest I feel I can now call my friends, which is probably one of the best perks of running the stage.
Did I say Jenny was beautiful too!

In all fairness, I cannot say that of the next act on. However, I am sure JOHNNY DICKINSON would not want me to.

http://www.johnnydickinson.com/

But oh, my god that man can play a guitar.

I got an email from his agent just a little less than a year ago and on checking out his website clicked onto the “video” it’s still up there, the track being “If ever I go” and it was one of those “OOOOOHHHHH!” moments, and I thought “We must have him” on showing the clip to Adam later that week after the first two or three bars he said “Book him” So I did.

It’s something of an injustice that he didn’t win the BBC Radio Two Musician of the Year Award for which he was nominated.
And here’s a thing, my good mate Tom had been offsite to pick up Freq Nasty (Have I spelt that correctly?) who as they drove up the lonning past the Drystone got Tom to stop so he could listen to Johnny, and after checking in came down to see the rest of his set before doing his own in the Dance Tent.

Now anyone who has read any of these blogs or seen my act knows I’m not one to blow my own trumpet (ahem) BUT. BY CRACKY I’D BOOKED SO MUCH QUALITY FOR THAT STAGE ON THE SATURDAY NIGHT.

I pause awhile to bask in the glow of my own pride…

…. It didn’t stop with Johnny Dickinson though because it was then time for my hero. The one and only RORY McLEOD

http://www.rorymcleod.com/

Flip the clock back twenty-three years to 1983; the place was The Strawberry Hotel Barrow-In-Furness. The Occasion Captain Reals Free and Easy. An event (part of a series) organised by Welfare State International as part of the groundwork for the project that was to eventually become “KING REAL & THE HOODLUMS” a film reworking of Shakespears King Lear. I was ultimately to play the part of the Archbishop of Stare and was the first foot upon the road for me that would lead to my becoming The Wizardmarra and being involved with Solfest. Part of the evening entertainment was “Improv” sketches (long before Who’s Line Is It Anyway and the Comedy Store players made it almost a cliché) and what a cast of players we had. Myself being the least of them; for there was the esteemed poet Adrian Mitchell (who authored the film), the sadly now deceased Marcel Steiner (famed for The Smallest Theatre In The World, Tiswas and being a bad guy alongside Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing in Arabian Adventure), and Rory McLeod. Who also did what he does best as well, just as he did at Solfest entertaining people in consummate style with more energy and panache than just about anyone else on the planet.
It was the worst thing in the world to tell him his time was up at Solfest, for he would have played all night I’m sure. I wish I could have let him too, you simply cannot have too much of Rory.
All right, I confess, I would love to have his babies.

It is midnight now (not right now as I’m writing this at 1:59, no 2:00 in the morning) but back at Solfest, it is midnight, The Witching hour and by rights, I should have been telling tales. I know three years into the life of a festival is a bit premature to say anything is a “tradition” but I’ve done a midnight story session at the previous two and I really enjoyed it. So I was looking forward to doing it again. But the timings had gone right up the spout, I might have booked some damn fine acts, but I royally screwed it up on organising the running order not allowing enough time for the changeovers. Most of the acts appearing were fairly flexible and not at all upset at not getting on slap bang on the scheduled time. But the closing act of the night THE MARK SAUL BAND had to go on as planned at one thirty, having to set off early next morning for Shrewsbury Folk Festival.

I was disappointed at not getting to do my gig, but hey what the hell I would have only lowered the tone.

MARK SAUL

http://www.marksaul.tv/

However did no such thing. I had been waiting MONTHS for this moment, ever since I’d got the CD through the door I knew this would be one of the stand out sets of the entire festival. As I said to Simon then, and repeated it all over the place since then they sound like The Peatbog Fairies meet the late great Martyn Bennett, and then some. Mind you check out Marks website and you’ll end up feeling like the worlds worst under achiever, even if you have found a cure for every lurgi going! He is also young and far too good looking than any Australian has a right to be. The band did provide possibly the most accurate proof that they were indeed from Australia by asking almost as soon as they walked through the door of the Pyramid backstage by asking
“Where’s the rider mate?”
Onstage though they gave the set I had expected, and they are now as far as I am concerned the best band in the entire world. I had tried to fix the timing so they would be onstage just as Loonaloop were coming off the mainstage, but mainstage were running late as well so though there was a damn fine crowd in front of the Drystone I would have liked to have seen more, they deserved more. To cap it all the bloody genny kicked out just when everybody was up there with the gods dancing in the clouds. I could have died at that moment, but at least it got fixed and the set was closed with more of their sublime sounds.

Check out what Charlotte, Marks Fiddle player had to say about Solfest in her blog.

http://likethespider.com/?p=301

And that was Saturday done and dusted, I was knackered but not yet finished. For I then had to assume the mantle of Duty Manager. Responsible for the entire festival and every living soul therein.
Though I quickly went back to my tent to change out of my Wizardmarra red jacket and put a thick jumper on and my leather jacket. Ridiculous as it may seem I had actually left my pass at home and was nearly thrown off site by a zealous security guard as I climbed over the artists entrance gate, but it did feel rather good to have about four people tell him who I was and didn’t really need a pass.

It was actually quite relaxing being Duty Manager, and completely different to everything I normally do at Solfest. A change is as good as a rest so they say, well not quite seeing as I had to deal with an ambulance arriving for a young lady who (possibly) had had her drinks spiked and was very poorly indeed and an attempted break in to one of the caravans. But here on both of these incidents I must hold my hands up and declare that these were handled in the most professional and efficient manner by Martin our head of Security, I merely stood around while he did all the work and all respect and thanks to him for that. Praise also to Chris, Robin and Angus who never seemed to be off duty stewarding the festival. All the stewards who came on at four in the morning to pick litter. The Moonlight Wombles of Tarns, the real heroes of Solfest.

It was Five O’clock when Alwyn came to take over from me, and if was knackered before I was completely buggered beyond belief when I finally got back to my tent at around Five thirty.

SUNDAY

It was a decidedly jaded Wizardmarra that was up on Sunday morning to start the proceedings on the Drystone, but what a start. BLUE JAM from Penrith, an impressive mix of age groups in this band. Who fall into that category of “Community Arts” which often belies an outfit where enthusiasm wins over expertise. Not so, with BLUE JAM, the quality of musicianship in all the members of the band was second to none and for me it was exactly what I needed to hear on a lazy festival Sunday lunchtime. Jazz. Good jazz too, and I think it was (in spite of what I have just said about Mark Saul) my ultimate musical moment for this years Solfest as I lay backstage and just let their cool and good vibrations wash over me.

They were followed with a complete change of pace by someone who is as much a part of Solfest as any of us on the committee. I speak of course of Banjo Bill Lloyd, familiar to anyone who frequented the acoustic sessions tent. Bill is a true music aficionado and one who really knows his stuff. It’s not my cup of tea if I’m honest, but running the Drystone is not just about what I like all the time. Bills does what he does well and it is important that it gets an airing on stage. Traditional songs sung by someone whose heart is truly in his craft and he is such a good bloke. Check out his website for the full monty on all his activities, he is keeping real music alive up here in Cumbria and long may he continue.

http://www.georgelloyd.com/

What can I say about the act that followed him? A bit of a sad old fart at the best of times, but I have to say that this was one of the best of times for him. To see such a crowd of people sitting in the Sunday sunshine stretching up to the top of the bank in front of the Drystone was heart-warming for this humble storyteller. People who I’d got to know through name only via the Solfest message board sitting there in the flesh. Dread Pirate Bob, Jam jar Fairy, Eden Dub, Holipop and countless others who I did not know. Loyal fans who have sat and watched me at previous Solfests and other gigs up and down the country and newcomers to Solfest and storytelling.
I love you all.

There is a freedom afforded me at Solfest when tale telling that I don’t have at other festivals (with perhaps the exception of Knockengorroch) and it is so much fun. I have to be honest it never lasts long enough, and I always want to do more. It was particularly frustrating that I had to speed up the end of the set and truncate the end of the Odyssey lest we fell into the same time difficulties of the Saturday, so I had to finish it and let the next act on.

I can’t comment on them though as I handed over comparing duties to Sarah Ledger and found myself enjoying the LUXURY of some time off. Which after feeding myself and a bit of a lie down back in my tent I was able to wander around the festival as a punter and see it as any festivalgoer sees it.

Its rather good innit!

The sight of the WIERDSTRING BAND leading a huge crowd of dancers in the first SOLFEST CEILIDH was magnificent. I’d had my doubts and worries as to whether it would work, but work it did and in that moment I’d made my mind up that it would be a permanent feature in all subsequent Solfests and Wierdstring have a job for life playing for it.

http://www.wierdstring.co.uk/home.html

I was delighted to discover spaces and paths that I never knew were there, places that had grown while I was busy concerning myself with the Drystone Stage. So much happening everywhere, and on every bodies face a smile. It looked so good too, I found myself sitting on my shooting stick (the only thing I have that belonged to my father and possibly the best bit of tackle you could have at a festy) outside the site office looking across from a forest of flags to the distant mainstage, which in turn was given the most wonderful backdrop of Skiddaw and the North Western fells.

My relaxation was not long enough though and before I knew it, I was back in my tent getting back into the red jacket and making my way to mainstage for the final night.

I met Dread Pirate Bob and Jamjar Fairy at some point over the weekend and I don’t want to miss out giving them a name check and reminds me of something I’ve been meaning to say regarding folk that you have got to know through the message boards. It’s like getting to know someone over the phone as you create mental image of that person.

In Bobs case the person fit the picture almost perfectly! He really IS a pirate! I assumed he was wearing “extra pirate” due to it being the fancy dress and all, and made allowances for that. Poor sod! I thought, nobody could that sad! I found out weeks later at Knockengorroch that he really is like that and could probably start his own charity. I must qualify immediately that he his a gentleman of the highest order and I am so glad to have got know him. More on this in a later blog, now read on…

…Dubbers is bit on the wobbly side as well!

SO THE FINAL NIGHT COMMENCES!

I usher off UISCEDWR

http://www.uiscedwr.com/
The when?, exactly of my memories of talking to the audience from mainstage are hazy at the best of times so those I have I can’t place which bit went in between what act. So in recounting the memorable parts I’ll just stick them in wherever and flesh out the account of the night.

I remember getting everybody to hug each other again…

…it would have been nice to have been amongst it!

CARA DILLON
http://www.caradillon.co.uk/

There is one image, one feeling, one sound that supersedes all others as my Solfest moment. In that it encompasses so many individual elements into one whole that is much greater than the sum of its parts.

I was standing backstage of our “new” stage, it felt odd in it’s newness. I had come to know the simple topography of our old handmade stage and the gap in time between year one and two seemed a non existant thing. The only constant, the only reality being on and around that stage. It’s a very strange feeling, you get it with good festivals that you’re just always there and the world and life in between are the dream.
Which may be true.
But on this new thing, and my did it look tatty close up! Built like a battleship with a space the size of the old stage behind the backdrop, gantries and walkways and high above your head an almost geodesic temple of a ceiling of aluminium and tarpaulin. Sam Jelfs the Stage Manager was the only crossover from the previous years the sound and lighting technicians we’ve had elsewhere.

It hadn’t felt the same. It will next year. But 2006 it was new…

But as Cara Dillion sang. That clear, crystal voice from some swirling sidhe filled Irish mist , filled the sky.

The Sound

As she sang the Solway sunset became golden and illuminated the metal spars above the stage and became the metal of that colour, behind the backdrop the stage is open in the direction of Carlisle and the Pennine and the sky was pink. The world then filled with the kind of colours you would only see on a fantasy book cover. That pink sky! A warm coral pink that activated the light; washing over the landscape turning green things bronze, putting a touch of Midas on the ending of the day. From where I stood I could see the sand pit, it’s Dr Who planet surface glowing red like a West Cumbrian Ayres Rock.

The Image

The moment was supernatural, a word which however you read it doesn’t seem adqauate to describe the feeling it evoked in me. A moment where whatever you’re beliefs; if you experienced it, would make you think Richard Dawkins had’nt got it exactly right.
But it was’nt supernatural in the sense you would imagine from that word nor was exactly a sense of super (greater than) natural (normal). Rather more than the sum of its parts this expierience of the ultranatural.
The Feeling

Before It all becomes to mawkish I feel I should make more of the aforementioned Mr Jelfs, who aside from having the most Dickensian surname in modern day life. Is indeed a thourough professional and as stage manager makes me doing what I do a breeze and I verbally abuse him onstage and he does not deserve one jot of it! He is a pleasure to work with and Solfest owes him great deal.
Severial more weeks have passed and I had once more slunk into a gloom but today Tis better than it has been for a while.

LOTS OF GOODNESS TO SANDGRINDER WHO’S EMAIL DID MORE GOOD THAN HE KNEW!

On to the matter in hand, there’s SOO much to be said before I can get up to date, and I need to do that for lots of reasons.

SETH LAKEMAN

http://www.sethlakeman.co.uk/

Are all the Lakeman brothers made by HASBRO? They’ve got the wiggling eyes and everything, though I must confess there was no scar. But does the modern version of ACTION MAN have scar. I also didn’t check that they had a formless and smooth groin, their skin hardened into a belt like shape below a navel-less torso

Backstage there was a lot of whizzing about; I didn’t get a chance to have crack with him, which I would have liked.

Personally, I really like his stuff and enjoyed the set.

However, twas on route my viewing his set from the front that possibly may ultimate Solfest golden moment occurred.
The Proclaimers (of whom more later) had made it very clear they would be available for no autographs post set as they had an urgent recording date the next day and must away fast and perhaps they felt they didn’t real need it and fans bothering them, but they had allowed a group of eight children to come and meet them backstage and sign photos for them. These children had left the backstage area just prior to me going round the front and seeing me the cry went up “It’s Wizardmarra let’s get his autograph!” but the only writing material to hand were the photographs of The Proclaimers. And even though I protested that my name would only devalue them it was insisted I sign, this was only the third time I’d ever been asked for my autograph and the first with a large group.

I have to be honest, IT WAS BRILLIANT! I like my fans and if they want to bother me that’s cool, I’d be shit without them.

CROFT No. 5
http://www.croftnofive.com/

I loved these guys at Solfest number one and felt they were the best act we had that year. So it was with a real mixture sadness and pleasure introducing them again. Solfest was their last ever “international” gig, and their penultimate. One more in Scotland (which will at the time of writing already be history) and that was it. Apparently, they insisted on the Ostrich being onstage! More of that sort of thing I say!

Though I do look forward to following the individual careers of the band. Look out for them at Solfest.

THE PROCLAIMERS

When I say I will not give them a link for there website, you will have some indication of my feelings about these two. Which makes the story above all the sweeter. I must be honest and state that I have never really been a fan and “500 MILES” has always irritated the bejesus out of me.

But I had heard so much about how they were really good live that I’d decided to give them a chance. The song they had in Shreck 2 was OK as well.

But disappointment soon set in when The Reid Twins did’nt turn up riding a tandem clad against the chill Cumbrian air in warm Fairisle sweaters. If it had been a huge FUCKOFFTOURBUS it would have been acceptable. You can respect a little flash in a big name. But two transits!

Fair play to their band who as I said onstage were “crackling” with energy. I really wanted to hear those guys let rip! Then up came Craig and Charlie with an aloofness that I found disappointing too, so much so I’ll not bother to find a simile for “disappointing” why should I waste an attempt at eloquence for these two who gave a (in my opinion) purely by the numbers set. Could these two Caledonians not relate to the fact they were singing on the ancient soil that was once part of the great Kingdom of Strathclyde. Celtic land.
I admit they was joy to be had in the crowd as we all joined in but that was us, not them, I did sing “LET’S GET MARRIED!” Directly into Karens face very loudly and with feeling. But that was me not them.

(NOTE TO SELF: MUST ASK HER AGAIN)

Now my ego didn’t suffer when Sam came up to me and said, “They didn’t want me to introduce their encore. I was a bit miffed, true. But that’s just cause I love being up there and too often at Solfest I can’t let bands have encores. So, I don’t have the fun of getting the MORE shout good and loud, which is one hell of a blast! But Sam said they didn’t really need me to do it, “C’mon they are The Proclaimers” true they surely didn’t.
And thought of signing “Wizardmarra” on the backs of their bespectacled heads earlier.

I’m kicking myself for forgetting three important names. As the Reids were on there were three kids backstage, connected with one of the bar stage bands. They had blagged parents passes backstage in the hope of getting signatures of the two Hibernian Postman Pat clones onstage. Also I knew there was no chance of this, though I did check. They were really quite upset about it. (Even though it seemed they didn’t know who they were) So it was with great delight I sorted it out to let them watch from backstage once the set was underway (and the manager out of sight) that was cool!

Whatever your names are and wherever you are thank you …

…And then they were gone, the twins and so was the audience and when Sonic Tradition came onstage…

SONIC TRADITION

(That link wasn’t working at the time of writing,)

…and didn’t have the audience they deserved. The place seemed to have died. I had finally clocked off work (almost) and the party had gone. But I was quite exhausted. I did meet up in the smaller but excellent crowd with John Fox and Sue Gill (Their son Dan is in the band) two of my oldest and dearest friends. There’s a Solfest story there too but I need to check up as I can’t remember if I haven’t already related it.

Then as it goes with these nocturnal thieves of biblical legends and days of reckoning. SOLFEST WAS OFFICIALLY OVER. Well the mainstage anyway, and I truly had finished and could get on to the getting royally pissed. But I think it was purely me being completely knackered it just didn’t happen for me and even though I did spend a while with my old mate Brampton Paul and few others. I ended up in bed sooner rather than later at Boring O’Clock (on the way nearly tripping over one of those bastard letters that some idiot had put on the darkened Drystone Hill!!!) and dead to the world

MONDAY

What a weird day. All I really wanted to do was go home and sleep.

I ended up spending some hours sitting in the Pyramid talking to a succession of performers and others and enjoying it immensely. Though I still wished I was in bed. I had it easy Karen had been summoned away with Debbs to help attend the tragic accident, which led to the death of Matt Sanderson.

Dealing with in particular, another motorcyclist; a resident of Aspatria who come to Solfest and found his bad preconceptions of people had bee turned upside down. That “Hippies and suchlike” were actually “The Salt of the Earth” and he had had a fantastic time…

…and his final memory of Solfest was watching another festival goer fly from the road to his death as he rode some ten or twenty yards behind him.

He too is “The Salt of the Earth”

Against this, the one or two annoying things to plague me were nothing.

I spent a great hour or so with my fellow MC and friend TREE, he’s the only other one who really knows what it’s up there on mainstage and he’s been there from the start. God I love him. Every year we remark on how we felt in year one and knew that we had fallen on our feet with this one, that we had the best jobs in the world! For life!

I had a really good time with ALHAMBRA too
http://www.poppyrecords.co.uk/alhambra/alhambra1.htm

I had been so worried that because the plans that had been made as to where onsite these guys would be performing had gone like others, a bit askew they may not have had the best festival experience, I’d not had time to deal with them as much as I would have liked due to being too damn busy.

Turns out they’d had a fantastic time.

I’d first met these guys at Wheaton Aston and knew their Music Hall would go down really well at Solfest. So I was pleased as punch to hear how much they had enjoyed it and your response was wonderful. THEY LOVE YOU

So sitting chilled in the Pyramid talking to Pete, John and Andy. Who really have a passion for their art and making surely its place in “The English Tradition” in the fullest sense of the words. Pictures will in (hopefully a short time) grace these words and you will see for me another Solfest moment as Pete and John stood backstage between the named scaffolding of Dan Leno & Grimaldi, Marie Lloyd underneath their feet.

And the wonderfully Ruebensian portrait of Pete.

The pictures of Twent and the others as they picked up the crap of cornucopias end.

True Heroes.

And the picture that goes with this story.

During course of the day, returning from my tent to the Pyramid after putting some warmer clothes on, a car leaving the site stopped…

This is another GOLDEN SOLFEST MOMENT and I think really the very very best and one reason why I have felt real guilt in not finishing this account on the blog.
So now, the tale will be told.

…Out from the car leapt a slim golden haired lady all asmile and loveglow! From the car a beardyface calling
“Look out, she’s coming!”

She hugged me warmly and lovely and introduced herself as Debbs the beardy in the car was Wayne and they too were (it was evident) head over heels in love! They had met at last years Festival and have been together since then and one year in the future it is their wish and intention to be married
AT SOLFEST.

Now that IS a GOLDEN SOLFEST MOMENT.

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.