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.



Guilfest 2009 delayed review of a mishmash festival


Hello Good People who read this blog…

I’ve been away some more and then was ill and then was in hospital with pipes up my nose and much more horrible places, but I am making it all sound far more dramatic and less conventional than it is…

However it provides a bloody good excuse for not having promptly written a review of Guilfest 2009 .

Why write a review of Guilfest anyway? After all it’s not a hippie festival! I hear you cry ( in my imagination that imagines that someone out there in cyberspace apart from MI5 and MI6 reads this).

Well two reasons:

1. I was there ( see previous entry for reason I was there)

2. I talked to Alice Armstrong ( see end of this entry for some footage in “The Laundry”..not a club but really in laundry) to ask her for her name for  a review. Both her and her guitarist were very enthusiastic and wanted the address of my blog , so now for them,because I like to keep to my word, rather than to gratify Lemmy or anyone else, I will write a review of my impressions of the festival and intersperse it with some of the music.

On the first evening, I missed Eat Static as I couldn’t find the dance tent hidden away in a corner of the festival, but I heard The Stranglers from my tent. I was resting preparing myself for Motorhead .I had a headache followed by a cough. There was a bloke at the gate,selling T-shirts saying “ I’ve got swine flu” with a big pink pig on it. I thought of buying one but didn’t.

By then I had realised that the festival was basically a gig in a field complete with modern Britain’s  fascist rules and regulations . To go into the main site, you had to endure young people randomly grabbing and tugging  at your wristband without warning , followed by the “customs” inspection, having everything in your bag, opened, sniffed, even tasted. I’m surprised they stopped short of a cavity search.But the British public, like apathetic sheep, just seemed to succumb to this kind of treatment without fuss. I don’t think ID cards will be hard to bring in, that’s nothing!

The reason for this behaviour was to stop people bringing in alcohol, drugs, and re-selling tickets and wristbands. However within sight and earshot of this procedure about ten ticket touts were relentlessly buying and selling tickets and wristbands. In the camping field several hundred under 16s and their “flu friends” were drinking hundreds of cans of beer , bottles of spirits and taking nitrous oxide, in full view of the same stewards so anxious to check everything in your bag. What a farce!

Entering into the main festival site was always a bit like going into a  strange concentration camp with no human rights or freedoms but with lots of good music and where  you could still smoke at a live gig.


Friday night :Motorhead as viewed from the position of adoring fans “Ace of Spades” Guilfest 2009

some Motorhead  choreography

Motorhead did a blinding gig, sometimes their energy waned for a minute or two but then they were back on form. Lemmy threatened to stop at one point because so many things ( mainly frisbees) were being thrown on stage . There was even a spectacular stage invasion. There was some excellent lead guitar playing, though I can never hear Lemmy’s lyrics and I got bored during the drum solo ( time to get a beer). Lemmy’s son, Paul ,came and played guitar on some songs with Lemmy on harmonica ,they did some acoustic blues. All in all a great gig with lots of energy and variety.

Motorhead with Fire-eaters on stage Guilfest

After Motorhead my second favourite gig came as a surprise to me . It was these guys , The Charlatans, far more psychedelic than I expected, also very dynamic and energetic.I liked all of their songs and they were “in the zone” performance-wise.
Saturday night:The Charlatans at Guilfest

The Only One I know

The Charlatans again (includes vibrant keyboard part):

They were followed by Brian Wilson who I missed due to monsoon type rain, poor guy playing sunny music in the dark with everyone running for cover. Good Vibrations ( note pools of water on the front of the stage)

Another one of my gripes about this festival was that there was nowhere you could sit indoors and have a cup of coffee, the cafes were grim and not run by hippies . Since it rained a lot, sitting indoors was important, a lot of people brought their own chairs and giant umbrellas, gazebos etc… but being ecologically minded ( and without enough dosh to run a car) I bring the bare minimum to  festivals. At other festivals I go to there are hippie run cafes under big tarpaulins where there are old sofas, carpets, or at least bales of hay to sit on while you drink and eat out of the rain.

Also the programmes which cost £5 , a lot of money when you have none, was the only way of finding out who was on stage when.

At the information point when I asked who was on stage, they deliberately hid the programme from me as they gave out information, like I was some kind of free-loading thief, explaining to me that I had to buy a programme if I wanted to know anything more. I paid £120 including postage for a bloody ticket, I don’t want to have to be  robbed of another fiver to know who is performing. Pah! I say in disgust!

Plus the real ale I bought there was the worst pint I have ever drunk in my life and their measures of vodka seemed to be very mean. There were no showers on site, these were some distance off the site at a swimming pool. No one I talked to could be bothered to walk there.

Anyway at least there was some good music.

During the daytime around the festival I spotted Fezheads in a tent not just dancing but playing some excellent surf music with their band. Highly entertaining although a couple of young blokes pulled up behind me and watched them  saying that they were crap as they were making mistakes with their dance steps. I think they missed the point.

Surrey University was one of the sponsors. The head of Popular Music there used to be my lecturer years ago and created some very interesting courses , he didn’t mind my writing essays on the Ozric Tentacles and Stonehenge. (I have a sneaky feeling that the Prof. in question could be the person with long red hair lurking at the back of the stage on the Motorhead and Charlatan clips but I may be totally mistaken).

However the Uni produced a brochure with some truly horrific pictures of Jimmy Page and George Martin.I had to throw the brochure away as I was so freaked out by a photo of Jimmy Page grinning with extra-whitened teeth,wearing full graduate garb including silly hat ,looking like King Henry the VIII’s skinny cousin.
Whatever happened to your tight satin snake trousers Jimmy???

I saw quite a bit of music on Sunday, having sussed out my camping situation and accepting that there would be no sleep till Notting Hill ( i. e. in my own bed) due to the loud tent/bar next to me running all Saturday night, Sunday morning and well into the afternoon when they left . This large tent run by some of the younger attendees, was stacked with big amps, lights, and a big bar. At four a.m. I heard about a hundred people sing “woo-hoo” along to Blur , and shortly afterwards they all shouted repeatedly ” Naked Bar!” and could hear them stripping .Their music was often louder than the main stage, most people moved their tents away after the first night but I have ear-plugs and have camped next to 24 dance music stages.
On Sunday morning I got up and saw The Rock Choir, the less I say about them the better.There were so many of them, that they were performing on both main stages simultaneously, another strange decision made probably by either by a crazy fan or a committee. Committees should NEVER run a festival ( I speak from experience) leave it to a couple of driven individuals who know what they are doing.( arrogant opinionated ranting from me but that’s what I’m here for! )
Motorhead and Will Young headlining at the same festival?????What were they thinking? ( Ker-ching  ££££££ let’s maximise our audience possibly).

I watched the Rock Choir, on both stages but had to leave urgently, as two terribly nice young white boys backed by about two hundred white suburban housewives sang a rap song to Jesus in a very earnest fashion. ( just as well Lemmy wasn’t around).

Later, fortunately I caught The Hamsters, who initially seemed a bit jaded, but warmed up nicely and soon attracted a large crowd when playing Hendrix and AC/DC covers and their usual antics of swapping instruments went down well.

The Hamsters are one of my favourite live bands, who I go to see once or twice a year.So even though I can’t find Guilfest footage of them I have to put up a clip of them anyway.The Hamsters play Purple Haze ( but not at Guilfest!) Rock Against Ageism!

Later that evening,The Happy Mondays were pretty boring after a couple of songs although they had a fab female vocalist with twenty times the singing ability of Shaun Ryder ( bet there are some interesting ego clashes backstage!).

Bez ,clearly no longer on the wagon, addressed the audience like some demented mute traffic cop. He threw a maraca to a member of the audience close to me and then gesticulated madly that the wrong person had caught it, then indicated he wanted it back, then once it was thrown back to him on stage, he delivered it to the person who was meant to receive it ( or at least this is what I understood at the time  but who knows what motivates him?)
Here he is when he still had both maracas.( but possibly not all of his marbles).

Earlier in the day I’d seen “Goldie Looking Chain” and realised that  I was going to see two ex-Big Brother contestants in one day ( Bez and Maggot, whatever happened to “street cred”?).
“Goldie Looking Chain” are a great  bawdy leaping hip-hop act, very entertaining but so inapropriate to bill them on a Sunday afternoon full of families with young children, many of them waiting to see Will Young in the evening.

There were lots of little girls looking quite puzzled and disturbed when GLC explained in great detail the basis for their song ” Can I F*** your sister?“,  thereby making some lads laugh but traumatising parents and daughters alike.

Apart from Motorhead, the band I saw most beloved by the crowds, including families and people of all ages and backgrounds, were “The Wailers“. The dancing  audience knew all the words and the vibe was fantastic.
Amazingly I can’t find any Guilfest footage of The Wailers even though they were hugely popular, so here’s a clip of them in Saint-Petersburg earlier in the year, imagine the same scenario but in blazing sunshine with a couple of thousand people dancing and singing along .

But the reason why I wrote this entry was after talking to one young woman from Guilford and her guitarist friend in the acoustic lounge. She has a stunning big powerful blues/soul voice. Her name is Alice Armstrong and she was accompanied by American guitarist Jack Kristiansen. They did a couple of interesting jointly-written songs including “Roll-Up” ( i.e. “Skin-Up”) on Sunday. Her stage presence and that big and mature-sounding voice of hers is begging for a big band behind her. I asked for her name, and the name of their act which is simply “Alice Armstrong” . They were definitely the best act on compared to the other stages at that point. I was dismayed to find no trace of her music on the net.

In the late sixties or early seventies, Alice’s voice would have been ideal for a loud raunchy rock or blues band but musical fashions change,  she has a great voice  and I  hope she finds her niche.
It’s a big shame that I cannot find her singing  online but here are some pictures of her from her myspace profile and hopefully, she may be persuaded to record herself or film herself ,so it can go online. But Alice, my advice is to develop your own style, don’t copy anyone else, trust your instincts!

I will email her to check she doesn’t mind me using these photos . ( note the troll behind the window)

Alice Armstrong from Guildfordalice amrstrong 1

alice armstrong2

Anyway got to go now…my next project awaits my attention…

UPDATE! 27/07/09 Alice has uploaded a couple of home vids on youtube, however I’m not sure they do her or her voice justice, she still could do with a band and an attentive audience, however you can hear the essence of her voice on the youtube clips at the following address:http://www.youtube.com/alicearmstrong

( I quite like the one in the laundry with beer) …so I’ll put it up here.

Alice Armstrong with Jack Kristiansen “Roll-up”

Will do another unusual blog entry soon.

Love and Peace

Born2rant

p.s. 19/7/09 A lot of  Will Young fans are coming to read this review. Sorry there is no Will Young here, you need to write your own review and ranting  from  a Will Young fan point of view!