The Festival Journal of Mr A R Whittaker, "Mr Wizardmarra" Part One. "Harumph!

The Festival Journal of Mr A R Whittaker, “Mr Wizardmarra” Is not The Festival Journal of Solway Festivals Limited and the opinions and statements below are those entirely of Mr Wizardmarra. Who is as sharp as a pincushion and as mad as cheese.


As I write this the Solfest countdown on says 83days 08 hours 01 minute 13 seconds and counting


So it’s time I sat down using my Vice Chairmans Arse (Worzel Gummidge had a selection of heads which enabled him to multi task. I have a Box of Arses.) and say a bit about how we are doing with putting Solfest together.

Perhaps to try and address some of the concerns that some may have and to chew the fat about what we think is actually going to be a bloody fantastic weekend in weather that personally I think will be exceptionally nice.

The festival is intentionally smaller this year as we aim to achieve the feeling of the festival that we have become. Friendly in the way it was back in the day. When the music business was actually about music and creativity, not the corporate and corpulent monster (in the very worst Clive Barker, Stephen King Ramseycampbellhutson James Herbert Sense.) it is now.

Really the compliments about Solfest that I have had comparing us not only to Glastonbury, but more wonderfully early Glastonburies. That we are a festival like they were in the seventies, so Old Skool that it’s actually a term that’s perhaps a little too fashionable for us, and it’s spelled SCHOOL anyway.

But those are the nicest things to hear, and thank you.

The problem arises as nothing comes free. Everything must be paid for in one form or another. So we as a festival selling one thousand tickets less correspondingly has less income. As we don’t want to be a festival that just bleeds it’s customers every year we try and set fair prices for our tickets. We (though this is entirely my personal thought and not that of the Solfest Committee) screwed up last year with the parking fee of 10 quid per car, so we scrapped it. Last year we could have just upped the tickets to ninety quid for everyone and said no more. This year we’ve gone up a fiver, and around 750 tickets are available to the 12 to 16 year old at sixty quid whereas last year this age group would have paid full price. Blah blah blah blah.
But we try and be fair. If you don’t buy tickets we can’t do it. No festival without you guys, it’s your money that does it.

FULL ON REALITY: #1. That this is what pays for everything.

From the Toilets to the Land and the Security, the generators the fencing the session tent dogs in space cleaning out the proclaimers shit on the roadway stewards dinners and the guy that works the lights.


And the paper that wipes their arses.

This year we are down on our budget around eighty to one hundred thousand pounds, so it’s pretty important we sell the tickets this year. But the downshot of this is that we have to cut our cloth accordingly.

FULL ON REALITY: #2. Most things cost more this year than they did last year.

So all the practical nuts and bolts ( in their various forms holding the fence, drystone stage, site art, and bedlam boudoir together and offering too many other solutions when “…and how? do you say, is it fastened?” is the question asked.) the clean up crew and the mainstage structure itself
all the wires


and their roadies and Dave
who’s the bloke that sweeps up Big Trees leaves.

But first off is the hard and fast cost of the physical side of the festival. This always is more costly than previous years. So the cuts have to be made to the show, to the sparkle to the open air circus we give you.

FULL ON REALITY: #3. We have less money to spend on bands that cost more now anyway.

This for Gerard, Alec, Tom and myself is the hardest reality. The heaviest weight falling on the mainstage. No one comes to a festival purely on the line up, but if it’s not right it’s as bloody wrong as it ever could be and you should be ashamed of your mantle of bandmaster.

So we try using our best judgment and (particularly so on mainstage) depending on who is on offer this year and very importantly how much they will cost. One mainstage act can cost more than the Drystone Stages budget. One band last year cost more than has ever been spent on the bar stage since it began.

But we try our best, to try and put on the best show we can with the money we have.

For Solfest it means we cannot afford everybody that everybody wants to come and please everybody at once and all the time.

Sometimes people will think it’s crap.

So we’ll try our best in the full light of truth that sometimes
some people
won’t like
of what we do
but if we did what they wanted if we could afford it anyway then…

…somebody else
wouldn’t like
we’d be bastards for even thinking of it.

But we try our best, if you are disappointed in some parts of the festival. Well, we’ve tried. we can’t do any more.

I think that this is going to be an amazing year, come along if you’d like to. If you don’t fancy it this year we can’t make you come. Lots of people are though and they are up for a damn fine party.

If you’re not keen on the mainstage line up, come down to the Drystone where I’m taking up full residence this year, or check out the bar stage, dance, visit Wal in the session tent. Really do the festival, I’m told it’s the kind of place where you can talk to your neighbour. There’s a lot to be said for just sitting with your family and friends (the family you actually choose) in your camp talking like you never do at home.
Talking to each other.
Completely lost in the craic that you miss the bands you want to see anyway.
Good Craic though, well worth it.

More to follow soon, now I must away and make Karen her tea.

The Wizards Pot

An archive of the life and rantings of The Wizardmarra. 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.