…to Solfest, not a review, but some thoughts…


Hello Good People who read this blog…

Although I will be writing about Solfest, this is not a review as I have done in the past two years. I spent most of my time at Solfest recovering from the Hawkwind party and evaluating other experiences I had from my crazy summer.

For me the Notting Hill Carnival or in recent years Solfest , mark the end of summer and announce the beginning of a period of reflection and times indoors. Hawkwind reminds me of the past and the power of rebellion. The music reflects the effects of both drugs and the power of large gatherings and in particular the extremes of creativity.Thus opening  the “Doors of Perception” to deeper consciousness where both heaven and hell  live cheek by jowl.

Solfest was an altogether more “grounding” experience and is an example of a “newer type of festival”, exemplifying changes in alternative culture. It bridges the spirit of free festivals, mainly started by travelling creative idealistic people being chased around the country by the police, with the present, to create an event that has learnt lessons from the past and does its own thing while still conforming to rules and regulations, although there is  much turning of a blind eye to activities that are not harming anyone.

At Solfest I found both the most anarchic creative influences present in the entertainment, fancy dress costumes, and various types of  artistic installation and also mainstream culture in some of the aspiring stars performing, still climbing that ladder, even though making obscene amounts of money out of music is mostly a thing of the past.

At Solfest, you can pretty much have the experience you want, whether you have small children,don’t have children, love acoustic music, want to go to various excesses of toxicity, want to be healthy and coherent and attend yoga workshops, want to rock, listen to live world music, chill out all night  in a psychedelic way or want to dance.

This is a clip from the dance tent although many of the older and youngest attendees completely avoid this place.

The Ashan Project in the Dance tent Solfest 2009

The only time I went into the dance tent was on Saturday night waiting for The Orb to come on and this was an experience in itself. Northerners and the Scots know how to get excited and to enjoy themselves with free abandon twenty times more than any uptight Londoner. The atmosphere was crazy. The tent was packed with people of all ages in strange costumes with hash pipes, cans of beer, laughing ,dancing and shouting and throwing themselves about and screaming in anticipation. After thirty minutes of  being pushed about in a friendly way by revellers, I left the dance tent feeling like I was being boring but also avoiding the odd bruise the next day.

I am using youtube in a lazy way today but I think this little clip highlights pretty much what it is like wandering around this festival and why I love it. You have the organised entertainment but the majority of the time you have people just entertaining themselves, everyone participates and creates the atmosphere( watch about 1 minute in for little sound system scene with live singer, random saxophonist and “The Urban Gypsies” dancing along).

If you like your rock music truly raw and raucous (plus beer) then the Bar Stage is often the place to be. I didn’t see this band but I quite like them(you get to see them on stage 30 seconds into this clip).

This is “Vice Squad” originally formed in 1979 as a punk rock band featuring “Beki Bondage” on vocals.

There seems to be less footage of Solfest this year up online than last time.

One of the reasons may have been the mud and the rain. By Sunday,the mud was almost as bad as Glastonbury 1997. My tent is cosy but not very high and you have to crawl into it from outside. Due to last minute packing ,I had only one pair of jeans and no torch, since coming home I have washed my jeans three times on the maximum cycle to get rid of the mud and had to machine wash the tent too, plus my boots have shrunk . You get the picture! Travelling home on public transport one had to adopt a ” I don’t care if people stare at me strangely” attitude.

Also walking around the festival started to get a bit grim by Sunday night. I went to watch Kula Shaker then The Charlatans with my son and his friends. I didn’t much like Kula Shaker, sometimes I felt like I was listening to The Doors, sometimes The Who, sometimes early Deep Purple, or even The Kinks. It was like listening to a puzzle , lots of pieces of different bands copied and assembled into songs but no continuity or individual style. The performance was faultless and excellently executed, but then to me,that’s not creative. I like music that has mistakes, it’s the mistakes and the improvisation that generates something new.

In the break between the two bands my son and I discussed various things, we like talking about music and culture together. We were saying how everyone is a “covers band” these days. The new bands copy the styles of the old bands and the old bands keep touring doing their old stuff, that nothing new has really happened for twenty years in terms of live (non-dance) music. I pointed out that in the 60s and 70s everyone was intent on finding their own unique style and not just trying to fit into a marketable music category that wouldn’t offend anyone.

My son wanted to know a detailed account of the Hawkwind party. Then he told me about a conversation he had heard in the Dogs in Space tent with this bloke who had been a HUGE Hawkwind fan. The ex-Hawkwind fan described how he used to have every single Hawkwind album on vinyl, first pressings only. When asked if he had sold them since,he said in all seriousness(something like) :”No, I gave up drugs and as part of  the process, I had to give away all my Hawkwind albums, it was a big step!”

I know we were cruel, but we laughed about it and imagined a twelve step programme for giving up drugs .

STEP ONE: Get rid of all your Hawkwind memorabilia and never listen to them again!

( end of my brief comment on Solfest, still my favourite festival)

Love and Peace

Born2rant

p.s. I just found out that the “Urban Gypsies” were on “Britain’s Got Talent” 2008 , they have just blown their urban gypsy credibility.


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The Big Green Dispersion and Solfest 2009


Hello Good People who read this blog ,

(to anyone who read my Guilfest post, I have just added a video clip of Alice Armstrong at the end of it)

Just a note to say  that I just got an email from my son telling me that “The Big Green Gathering“, probably the official festival most like the older style alternative free festivals of the eighties , has been cancelled.

The Big Green Gathering really does represent  alternative hippie counterculture in all its creative and political forms, so it’s very sad.

Some footage of the Big Green Gathering one of many clips to be found on youtube but this one is particularly well put together.

Here is the notice from the BGG website:

Welcome to
The Big Green Gathering
The world’s premier and award winning Green Festival
Attitude Is Everything – Bronze Level Award
July 29th – 2nd August 2009
urgent message

Dear Friends,
following threatened injunction proceedings in High Court by Mendip District Council supported by Somerset & Avon Police and having taken extensive advice from a prominent QC and other eminent lawyers, the directors of the Big Green Gathering have been left with no other option than to voluntarily surrender the license for the Big Green Gathering 2009. The event will now not take place and the directors’ advice and request is that no one intending to attend the event should attempt to do so, as the site is now closed and they are likely to be turned away by Somerset Police. It is our intention to avoid any form of confrontation or public disorder in regard to this and it is our earnest hope that all those involved will follow this advice. It is with great sadness that we have been forced into this position and we express our profound apologies to all those concerned. The Directors of The Big Green Gathering

This is a very last minute decision. I don’t fully understand why the festival has been banned by the local council and police.

According to the BBC , the festival is cancelled for safety reasons as well as crime. Is this the whole reason? Or is it to stop political subversives from meeting in large quantities?

see BBC website: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/somerset/8169477.stm

is it really that dangerous that it must be closed down?

It looks like a great way to socialise kids and help them to build for the future when the world will change through our abuse of it.

Here are some more highly dangerous and criminal activities at the BGG.Young people making their own films of the festival. These are fantastic.

**********************************************************************************************************

Meanwhile I should be going to Solfest in Cumbria at the end of August( 28th -30th) ,after going to Hawkwind’s 40th Anniversary gig at Porchester Halls in London the night before.

It’s a long way from London but still my favourite festival, the atmosphere is much friendlier than festivals in the south and people go there not to see any particular band but for the festival experience.Everyone is co-operative and creates a good atmosphere, Saturday is “Fancy Dress” day,which is always spectacular and inventive.

I recommend it for any hippies out there who can no longer go to The Big Green Gathering, but get your tickets early.

It only costs £85 for the weekend  including camping  and car with very limited tickets. You can get there easily from Carlisle by train and minibus.

from the Solfest website:

“Tickets for Solfest 2009 will be available from the following outlets:

  • The Carnegie Theatre, Workington, 01900 602122 (telephone and counter sales, cash and cards accepted)
  • The Cumberland Building Society, Aspatria (over the counter cash sales only)
  • The Cumberland Building Society, Wigton (over the counter cash sales only)
  • The Cumberland Building Society, Silloth (over the counter cash sales only)

For Solfest 2009 there will be a total of 6500 adult tickets available. There will also be a total of 750 children’s tickets and 750 Young people’s tickets. When they are gone, they are gone!”

Although I said that it isn’t the bands that matter, the line-up includes The Charlatans who I saw do a great live gig at Guilfest. Other acts include The Orb, Kula Shaker, Adrian Edmonson and the Bad Shepherds, The Beat ( who I was told did a great set at Guilfest too), The Buzzcocks, the  Blockheads, Nerina Pallot, and many more.

Solfest has all the things lacking at Guilfest in terms of quality of festival-going experience.

A sample from last year’s Solfest , as part of the goings-on in the all night Dogs in Space chill out tent featuring a bit of  Tetchi who are billed to play again there this year (this film makes the tent look a lot darker than in real life, it was actually fairly bright in there).

Any comments on why you think The Big Gathering was cancelled?

Love and Peace

Born2rant

p.s. thanks to the UK Hippie Forum, I have found this update about what to do if you have a ticket.Is there a UK Beatnik Forum? and a UK Crusty Forum? and if not why not?

Next time a radio show I made about the songwriting communities of Open Mic clubs in London.

From BGG website ( note that Gong are playing the Big Chill keep referring to the BGG website for news, the Big Chill is a good place if you want a holiday but it’s nothing like the BGG experience in terms of  green anarchy, still I think  it’s good that they’ve done this, better that than leave people totally stranded)

Several other festivals have already approached us, offering to accept BIg Green Gathering tickets for their events. Some have placed no limit on the number of our ticket holders they will accept. Others have offered us a quota… and have told us that they will announce, on their websites, how many they can accomodate and how many places for BGG ticket holders they still have left. So far, if you have paid for a ticket (whether full price or concession) you will find it is definitely good for full admission to SUNRISE 2010 (late May 2010, Somerset) See website for details of how their BGG swap quota is standing and we are hoping, soon, to announce similar swap options for several festivals. Watch this space please.
ALSO
If you are willing to pay an extra £20, you can swap your Big Green Gathering ticket for a ticket to the BIG CHILL. All you have to do is turn up at the gate of the Big Chill with your BGG ticket and your extra £20. We’ll have a stall there, and some of the same speakers who were on our bill (including Jonathan Cainer) will be in their Words In Motion tent. Also on the Big Chill bill are Max Romeo, Gong, Pharoah Sanders and Music from the Penguin Cafe, plus comedy from Noel Fielding, Tim Minchin, John Hegley, Josie Long and Rob Deering.
Click here for the link. Please note; the Big Chill is not yet a Green event but they do have a long history of supporting honourable causes including Amnesty International… and they are now starting to use more solar and wind power. Solar Aid have a presence there this year.
OR
If you really want to make a gesture of faith and support… you can hold on to your ticket and we will honour it at the next Big Green Gathering, wherever and whenever it will be.
If we can avoid having to give too many straight refunds, it will help us survive. And if you are feeling extra-ordinarily generous, you can simply write to us telling us that you are ‘donating’ your ticket towards our survival fund.



Green Slimy Politicians, clashing tour dates and Psychedelic Cinderella


Hello once again Good People Who Still Read This Blog

Hawkwind -“Space is Deep” a great song and a great little film (apologies for environmentally unfriendly rockets but they are cool)

How are you all? If there is a name for a really terrible blogger who has deserted their dedicated readers like an auntie they have guiltily abandoned since early adulthood even though they still get a yearly fiver tucked into their birthday card… then that must be me.

I am sorry, my life has changed and so has the world but even if my posts are rare I am still here somewhere in the known Universe.

I miss my blog oh yes I do! and I miss also doing my own music…

This morning started well, oh what a laugh! A smug capitalist politician being drenched in green custard, wonderful stuff! Even better was that the eloquent woman who did this actually got on the BBC news. She explained how “Mandy” had done some sleazy deal to get the third runway to Heathrow the go-ahead even though there was so much opposition and let’s face it our planet is slowly dying and if we don’t do as much as we can our children and grandchildren won’t have any food, water, air…very grim.

However the green custard episode really cheered me up. “Mandy” used to live right next to me and he used to throw some loud parties with really good psychedelic music so he has no excuse. If he can listen to sixties psychedelic music he ought to  be a hippie but alas as one can tell by endless prats wearing Led Zeppelin T-shirts  to look cool and trendy in an ironic-retro way, musical taste does not equate actual thinking in the brain as in the days of yore ( or “Yes!”  I wish there was a Roger Dean font then I could write “yes” and my entire blog with it…this one is levitating against my will) .

In case you didn’t catch the clip of the spectacular ” green Event”( n.b. that should read “Green Event” Steve Hillage has nothing to do with this event and is entirely blameless but I have temporarily invented my own “Logo of  70s Rock” font and will no doubt be sued by anyone who manages to find me using the new and wonderful totalitarian fascist terror digital surveillance services)

As I was saying if you didn’t catch it here is the wonderful clip..

BEFORE= “smug”     AFTER =” a bit humiliated and definitely greener”.

Please note my quote of the dayThe only Green thing about Peter Mandelson is the Green slime coursing through his veins” ( and dripping down his face.):

There’s a lot of cool psychedelic events coming up but some of them are clashing!

I hope they don’t mind me using their posters after all I am giving them free publicity.

First of all in March….

The clash of two events I want to go to, I definitely need a helicopter or maybe an old Star Trek style transporter room, or a Tardis with Jon Pertwee navigating would be even better.

On Saturday March 28th (2009 in case you are reading this some light years away from now from another planet that has internet access)

the truly lovely people from”Born To Go” (no relation) in Hitchin  are running their own fantastic psychedelic gig/club night. When I went before they certainly knew how to put on a lavish show, all they need is lots of  people!

Here’s their flyer:

born2go

Here’s some Nukli:( not much audience but festival gigs can be like that)


This is from the Born To Go myspace site :

NUKLI – veterans of the golden age of free festivals with full-on psychedelic grooves, and soaring guitar, they take you on a trip back to the Pyramid Stage, the Tibetan’s and Club Dog all rolled into one cosmic jam.SHOM play psychedelic dub space techno rock. Featuring blistering guitar and deep dub rhythms they never fail to get any audience dancing.PEYOTE GURU are a true jamming band, in fact the ‘band’ consists of 3 core members and whomever is willing to play along on the day. Loose jammed tracks emerge from the underlying synth textures to evoke the sounds of the festival scene of old.Alongside the very best of space, prog, kraut and all thing psychedelic spun by our DJ Kozmik Ken, psychedelic lights, videos, great vibe, happy smiling faces – all the usual you’ve come to expect from Born To Go!”

However I am torn between this and Steve Hillage and Miquette Giraudy doing a chill-out set as Mirror System on the very same night!

mirror-system

When I saw them at Solfest in 2007 , they did a fanstastic chill-out set including their first live performance of “Rainbow Dome Musik ” since its release in 1979.

What a terrible psychedelic dilemma!

If that wasn’t bad enough….

This Summer Solfest 2009

solfestmy definite favourite festival ( helped by the fact that I can be one of the crew backstage and mingle with some great people and have hung out with some of my favourite musicians of all Time and Space and Universe)  is also clashing with Hawkwind’s 40th Anniversary gig

hawkwind-gig

I am a bit puzzled by this because their 30th Anniversary was on the 21st of October 2000. I was extremely p***** off at the time as everyone I knew went but only told me afterwards because I had a gig to do and it was around my birthday too. However I was told by all those who didn’t tell me beforehand what an absolutely amazing gig it was and how even Terry Ollis and Mick Slattery were there and why wasn’t I there etc..etc..

Will there be a Hawkwind and old Hawkwind reunion this August? I hope so.


So  this time I am going to the ball, like some kind of psychedelic cinderella , but I’ll probably be in Morrocan sandals rather than glass slippers. But Solfest is also my key event to the year, it’s like my equivalent to Crufts  to strange people who breed dogs into weird shapes, or Ascot to posh ladies wearing silly hats (  I don’t know why they don’t go to one of the above gigs, I’m sure there will be odd hats there).

What will I do?

Well I guess I’ll take one day at a time… as they say at Narcotics Anonymous..”clean and serene

or “falling over in festival mud and fun” as I prefer to say.

I’ll go see Hawkwind and then see if there’s any way I can easily get to the middle nowhere in beautiful blue mountain and lake surrounded Solfest.

Lastly there is a gig or a series of gigs that is INCREDIBLY EXCITING!!!!!!!!!!!

“GONG” are  WITH SOME OF THE ORIGINAL MEMBERS ..including Hillage yey!!!!! They are touring the UK from the 19th to the 29th of  November 2009..

http://www.artistticket.com/link/?s=gong  )

The Hawkwind 40th Anniversary gig is sold out although there are other dates outside London

I want to leave my home and go on tour and write books about the entire history of all these people, bands and intersections via Ladbroke Grove in the 60s and 70s.

Well I have been interviewing  again  …if I get time and permission I’ll put some clips up here in the meantime here is the Gong Flyer

gong

Here’s them at them in June 2008 with Steve Hillage…another gig  I missed…please email me about these things!

Here’s another with dialogue from audience commenting on HUGE HEADS and the like:


Love and Peace

Born2rant