Today would have been my parent’s 64th wedding anniversary and once a year around this time, I share a photograph, which I have taken, not in sadness but celebration.
Just short footnote in the annuals of life where a child can recognise the luck they have had in life. I’m acutely aware that not all children have had the foundations of good parents. My heart truly goes out to them, but as important as it to recognise the failings in our world. We should also acknowledge and honour when things just simply go right. It is now 4 years since my Mum and 3 years since my Dad passed away.
Yes, I miss my parents every single day. Still, I don’t allow this to overcast what lovely people they were individually and collectively as parents. Things were often never perfect, and I did not get the opportunity to carry out those plans in later life for them, as I’d planned in my head. Time, you see it is a bugger. Its the one resource we often take for granted and is in short supply for everybody.
If life is a film.
Don’t pause it.
Don’t try to rewind it.
Embrace every frame as if it is the last before the credits.
And remember you don’t get the opportunity to write those credits.
After all, what is a festival or concert without its audience, but an empty field or room? The communal celebration as a gathering of people engrossed in the celebration of music has no equal. Attempts at explanation fall short, words expressing themselves as self-indulgent jibberish, yet we know that sense of connection is real. A short period when I become us. The moment of realisation that a single purchase sitting amongst a collection, the downloaded file occupying your hard-drive, or a streaming code reassembling itself on your mobile is connected to a community. It’s the discovery of a new sound, the uncertainty and doubtful expressions shared with a stranger. The connection and consciousness that we share much more in common than what divides us.
A collection of West Holts audience photographs taken during the 2017 festival.
By 1963 Duane Eddy had sold over 12 million records. One of the beauties of the West Holts Stage is our ability to celebrate a great performer whose presence may have skipped a generation and is equally as special is when a younger performer comes wants to come along and give respect to those who have given an influence to their careers. Sunday, 26th June 2011 and Richard Hawley came along and joined Duane Eddy at West Holts.
The heat of June and the crowds start to gather for the West Holts ritual of a cider, catch up with old friends and find some food. This set of photographs are from Thursday 2010. The stage is 99% ready for the opening band tomorrow and the vibe of anticipation is building, although a mellowing chill is evident as people acclimatise from their day-to-day lives. There is this magical moment, which the crew love. It is called the Sound Propagation Test, which normally takes place early evening on Thursday after the PA rig has been installed and we test the system with some recorded music for a short time. The crowd react with a cheer and to others, it acts like a medieval horn beckoning them to come and join the gathering.
The transition from Jazz World to the West Holts Stage took place in 2010. Exploring the old hard drives for this year confirms my memory that it was a hot one with a number of photographs demonstrating the many creative skills our loyal audience deployed to find or create shade. We’ll come to those shots later, but for now, why don’t we start here? A number of ‘behind the scene’ technical improvements were introduced this year to accommodate our growing audience, along with new stage dressing, but as yet no side screens had arrived.
A small ritual we do either in teams or individually. You’ve put the work in and the night before you wander on stage, take a moment, lookout, absorb the peace. The site teams are truly the unsung heroes behind the scene. Total respect.
The last time we spoke, it was under a black moon. The chill and sound of pebbles beneath our feet as we made our way towards the water’s edge where we stood. Night had engulfed us given the journey we had both navigated to be here. Our distractions were merely our breath, small waves colliding on the shore, the rhythmic rattles of boat riggings that seemed to dance with the flow of the waters. It was the pause in our thoughts, which caught us out. “These moments don’t last forever and nor should they,” you said and with that our final words were shared.
I don’t recollect much from that day, although it must have been around summer 1971 given I was roughly ten years old. Scarborough was one of those cheap and accessible holiday destinations for working-class families from the North-East. The battleships of Peasmole Park, getting drenched at high tide or my refusal to entertain the infamous cable car ride it was a destination of so many happy childhood memories. I do recall my dad calling me over and giving me a quick demonstration on home to use his small Kodak Camera. ‘I want to to take a photo of me and your mum, son. When I say not just press the button, but make sure you can see both of us.”
I stood ready and awaited the signal. My parents assembled, my dad leaning against the wall and mum stood next to him. They looked like tin rabbits waiting to be shot in one of those penny arcades we often visited during the evening. “not yet, son” came my dad’s instruction. He took my mum by the hand and guided her in front of him, she fell back, and he then wrapped his arms around her. “Now,” my dad said.