Wizardmarras SOLFEST DIARY 1




Tuesday 14th of August.

10 days and counting…


…Rain the size of peanuts has been falling on West Cumbria today creating mini rivers on the roads and small lakes wherever it could stop and party. Regardless of this in three days we begin to build a festival. A prospect I am finding incredibly daunting, looking back over my Solfest Diary for last year I was shocked to find that this time last year I had been living onsite for nearly a fortnight and things had begun. This year Seven Days to build a festival, dear god is that possible?

Well yes it is clearly, as I remember only too well last year there were days when all I did was stand in an empty field and harangue sheep about their dress sense and table manners.

Didn’t tell you about that did I!

Let’s get this week into perspective first. It began nearly 300 miles away on the Belladrum estate in Inverness shire for the TARTAN HEART FESTIVAL where I had a booking. Not a bad fezzi, in size similar to Solfest (They cater for £10,000) which will be pretty much the total number of folk at Solfest when all the crew and artists appearing are taken into account. It was pricey if you were a punter, seventy odd quids for two days but with names like The Magic Numbers, James, Martha Wainwright as well as newbie rising stars Amy McDonald and Kate Nash (if you like these ladies don’t miss KTB on the Drystone) I suppose it’s fair (Hang on Wiz, fifty nine quids gets you Badly Drawn Boy, Levellers, Chumbawamba, Thea Gilmore, Bens Brother and around one hundred and fifty ish other acts of equally good calibre).

You couldn’t take drink or food into the main festival site so you had to buy it inside at £3 a pint.

Here Wizardmarras anti bullshit and hierocracy meter kicked in reminding him that he was paid handsomely for the gig and to carp about prices is bad form. Now Wiz, get on to SOLFEST. That is what people are waiting to hear about.

OK. We start building on Friday; tonight (actually last night as I write this) was the final meeting at SOLFEST CENTRAL COMMAND before we are all onsite. It started with good news too, that being that Allerdale Borough Council have granted us our license, so there is very little now that can stop us from having a brilliant festival. The only other piece of important paper being that from Health and Safety which is always a little worrying as we don’t get it until about 4:30pm on the Friday of the festival when everybody is there.

I must confess that a lot of the meeting went by and on around me and I can’t actually remember much of what was said on account of me holding my Grand-daughter in my arms for her first meeting. (It is important to get them started on festivals young and if we are to ensure a committee is there to keep Solfest going in the future, they need to know what it’s like now). Dan is usually there for every meeting, though he does sleep through a lot (as did Leah tonight) tonight Dan mainly climbed in and out of a cupboard, only banging his head the once.

In truth there wasn’t much of an exciting nature discussed in the meeting. Meeting are like meetings the world over.

But we begin to build Solfest on Friday, ferrying all the stuff stored at SOLFEST CENTRAL COMMAND down to the site. I am pleased to note just now that according to the Beeb weather site it’s dry and sunny on Friday and Saturday. Saturday the Drystone goes up, as always the Drystone is the first stage to go up, on Monday Eddie and Dave my Wallers will come and build the wall.

We have learnt from previous years though and this year I think we will have such a good compliment of workers to assist us that we very well be spoilt for the future. As well as stalwarts who have been with us from the beginning like the indispensible TOSH (who this year is making something very special for “Sunset Hill” which I am really looking forward to seeing, and the idea for it came from (so I believe) a steward) and Cumber Chris. Brian “The Silver Fox” Gibson and of course JT (now a fully fledged committee member), they’ll all be there putting up the regular things as well as new stuff.

I’ve just realised how tired I am and I need to get my head down for tomorrow I have a meeting quite early with Gary my main man for the Sound and Light on The Drystone.

Those of you who followed my blog and proceedings over last years festival will know that my original Sound Technician Dave Davidson suffered a massive stroke on the Friday morning of last years Solfest as was unable to be there. His shoes were filled by Paul Doherty and Gary Kerr of “Rhythm Of Life” from Carlisle who provided all the gear and the fantastic quality of sound we had last year.

Dave I am happy to say has made a full recovery, albeit with a pacemaker but as he was quite literally at deaths door and unlikely to survive just to have him walking talking and smiling is a full recovery. But unfortunately he cannot resume the job of Sound tech so Gary and his team will be doing the jib this year, but they are BLOODY GOOD AT IT so I’m happy there.

Daves wife Elaine, who was due to sing last year but had to cancel due to a terrible throat problem is back with us this year and accompanied by the aforementioned Paul Doherty. Come and say hello to them and give Dave some of the accolades he missed out on last year. The world would be a less bright place without him.

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.

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