If Wednesday is hump day, then Monday 17th February has been that midpoint when discussions and concepts start to turn into deliverables. The critical shift from having to plan something to now making it happen. A brief conversation with the team and its full-throttle. Now onto the build schedule.
There are crew members at the West Holts Stage who have crew t-shirts going back much further, but this is the earliest one I have in my collection. It’s from 1998, a bit special simply because it was the first time I had a full role at the stage. What is surprising is the lack of information about 1998 (even the official website) on the web. While having very little memory of this year myself I’ve gone through the programmes and below are the top 3 headliners for The Jazz Stage (now The West Holts Stage) over the festival. A little bit special by any measure.
Cornershop (if memory serves me right they also headlined the Other Stage on Saturday night too).
Roni Size and Reprazent
Amanpondo feat. Juno Reactor
Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters
Over the weekend Tortoise and Terry Callier also featured on the Jazz Stage line up. My two abiding memories of that year were not actually Jazz Stage related, but watching Sonic Youth rip it up on Pyramid after the Tony Bennett legend’s slot. And watching Joe Strummer perform for the last time. In fact, that is me (right) with an old friend with the Mescaleros feat. Joe Strummer in the background.
This time of the year I finally get round to cleaning up hard drives and files in preparation for the forthcoming festival. in doing so, I’ve come across a stash of old photographs. This photograph of Roots Manuva goes back 11 years. At the time, we were still in our Jazz Stage incarnation. As well as Roots that year we also had Q-Tip, Playing for Change, Lamb, The Streets, The Black Eyed Peas, Baaba Maal, Lamb, Steel Pulse, amongst others performing.
Michael Jackson passed away during the festival prompting all manner of hastily arranged set changes to allow a tribute cover, while Rolf Harris made his final appearance around Saturday lunchtime on the Jazz Stage before his infamous fall from grace.
Often in terrestrial rain, the site crew in 2019 built the stage. This was the very moment when the weather started to turn. Standing in the field, me and the site manager (Martin) were taking 5 minutes over a brew to discuss progress and looking like Vietcong extras in a Rambo film.
What I recall at that moment was the instant cheer echoing across the whole site as if the sun king had returned from a long lost vacation. The rest, as they say, is history. Within a matter of hours, the forecast had changed from Thunderstorms to full-blown heat and sun. Great news for everybody, but for the team a whole new set of challenges. They so often go unmentioned, but the site crew are the unsung heroes of the festival.
With only the sound of children echoing from the efforts of play from the ship, the site was empty today. On this overcast damp day, it’s difficult to image the heat of summer, but if you close your eyes and soak in the silence you can beckon the sounds of the festival. My first steps towards 2020 have been taken today.