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Face the Music

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. 

Calling

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.

Unsung Heroes

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.

1998: Hey Joe

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.

Friday Evening

Portishead

Cornershop (if memory serves me right they also headlined the Other Stage on Saturday night too).

Faithless

Saturday Evening

Roni Size and Reprazent 

The Roots

Amanpondo feat. Juno Reactor

Sunday Evening

D-Influence

Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters

Dr John

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. 

 

Roots Manuva: Jazz Stage 2009

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.

When the Music’s Over

Over five days Worthy Farm is a venue where 170,000 people enjoy music, comedy, theatre, circus, cabaret, and other performing arts, but for the remaining 350 days it is a place of work.  We conveniently forget this when leaving Glastonbury Festival considering the 500,000+ sacks of rubbish and the large assortment of camping gear carelessly abandoned by party goers. I wanted to capture a selection of photographs of when the land is at peace, as well as hunting down any telltale signs of the festival. There is something tranquil, but equally strange when walking around the site at this time. Instead of the loud music, smells of food cooking and the bustling crowds, you only have the noise of nature to interrupt your thoughts. When the music’s over, maybe we should all give a little bit more thought about the remaining 350 days of the year and leave no trace. I hope you enjoy the photographs.

Goldfrapp

Every now and then you press the button and instantly have a good feeling. This was the case when I took this photography of Alison Goldfrapp while performing at Glastonbury Festival, The West Holts Stage 2014.

Derek Dodd: 5 Vinyl Records

Derek Dodd is the Area Coordinator for the West Holts Stage, Glastonbury Festival. I’ve Known Derek for almost 20 years. Over these year’s we have been to many concerts and festivals, so armed with my camera, notebook, a recorder and an electric hammer drill (don’t ask) we sat on his attic floor chatting and I asked him to select five vinyl records from this collection.

The Beatles, White Album (1968) was the second or third album I bought from Lesley Browns, Stockton, which was the place to go as a teenager when you wanted to buy records in the 1960s and 1970s. The shop had personal listening booths where you could listen to the records before you purchased them. I remember my Mam lacerating her hand on the sliding door of the booth when we went to listen to Twist and Shout EP – there was blood everywhere!! Each copy of the White Album is numbered and my copy is No. 0094165. It’s an amazing album because it is just so musically vast and a pivotal point, not only for the 1960s but the 20th century. It has all the influences the first track (Back in the USSR) is an homage to Chuck Berry. Bob Dylan influenced singer/songwriter tracks, The harmonies of the Beach Boys, blues numbers, psychedelia, children’s songs and even Karlheinz Stockhausen is there in the most surreal tracks. The guitar-led songs arguably set the blueprint for the heavy rock phenomena that was to emerge. It’s difficult to see what musical influences it did not draw from and at the same time in its aftermath what musical genres it did not affect. It’ got everything.  I heard the White Album when it came out in 1968; I bought it a year afterwards because I did not have enough pocket money. Sgt. Peppers was the first album I bought and I purchased Abbey Road the day after its release. I remember people taking copies of Abbey Road back to the shop because they thought the hissing on the last track on side 1 was a fault, but it was, of course, static that was supposed to be on the record. It’s always dangerous to listen to music in your youth because it sticks with you for the rest of your life. My first 4 albums were Sgt. Pepper, Abbey Road, The White Album and  Revolver, not a bad start I guess.

Brinsley Schwarz, Silver Pistol (1972) are also pivotal. They were a bit before their time. I suppose they were a neo-punk band. It’s just a beautiful album combining a low-key pub rock sound, mixed with folk, country, psychedelia and pop influences.  Nick Lowe plays bass, guitar and provides vocals on the album. Shortly after the band’s demise in 1974, Brinsley Schwarz briefly joined Ducks Deluxe before forming The Rumour and going on to achieve success with Graham Parker and the Rumour.

Fleetwood Mac, Kiln House (1970) Its the most obscure of Fleetwood Mac albums. It is weird. Officially there is only four of them credited in the band  Jeremy Spencer (guitar, vocals, piano), Danny Kirwan (guitar, vocals), John McVie (bass guitar) and Mick Fleetwood (drums, percussion). Although Christine (Perfect) McVie provided backing vocals and keyboards, is uncredited. Christine Perfect, who was married to bassist John McVie, made her first appearance with the band as Christine McVie at Bristol University in May 1969 just as she was leaving Chicken Shack. She had success with the Etta James classic, “I’d Rather Go Blind.”  Kiln House is an homage to rock n roll but done very softly with tracks like Buddy’s Song, a tribute to Buddy Holly, written in his style. Kirwan and Spencer were left with the task of filling Peter Green’s boots in live shows and recordings. Kirwan’s songs on the album moved the band in the direction of rock, while Spencer’s contributions focused on re-creating the country-tinged “Sun Sound” of the late 1950s. I like it because hardly anybody knows of the album outside of Fleetwood Mac diehards. It was recorded during the period following Peter Green’s departure, but before Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined.

Then there is this thing, which is incredible it’s called King Kong, All African Jazz (1961). I love this album. It’s the original recording from an all black cast touring show, which came over from South Africa to the UK. After being a hit in South Africa in 1959, the musical played at the Prince’s Theatre in the West End of London in 1961. It’s an amazing mix of township jazz and African beats. A brilliant and iconic album.  The liner notes for the London cast recording state: “No theatrical venture in South Africa has had his sensational success of King Kong. This musical, capturing the life, colour, and effervescence as well as the poignancy and sadness of township life, has come as a revelation to many South Africans that art does not recognise racial barriers. King Kong has played to capacity houses in every major city in the Union [of South Africa], and now, the first export of indigenous South African theatre, it will reveal to the rest of the world the peculiar flavour of township life, as well as the hitherto unrecognised talents of its people. The show, as recorded here, opened at the Princes Theatre, London, on February 23, 1961.” The song “Sad Times, Bad Times” was considered a reference at the time to the infamous South African Treason Trial in Pretoria, which had begun in 1956 and lasted for more than four years before it collapsed with all the accused acquitted. Among the defendants were Albert Luthuli (ANC president), secretary Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela. According to John Matshikiza, King Kong′s first night was attended by Mandela, who at the interval congratulated Todd Matshikiza “on weaving a subtle message of Derek Doddsupport for the Treason Trial leaders into the opening anthem” The shows key performers included Miriam Makeba, Nathan Mdledle. There was a cast of 72 that included Hugh Masekela, Abdullah Ibrahim, Kippie Moeketsi and Thandi Klaasen. The London cast also included Patience Gowabe and former Miss South Africa 1955 Hazel Futa, who went on to provide backing vocals for “She’s Fallen In Love With The Monster Man” by Screaming Lord Sutch and the Savages (1964).

Finally, Palm Wine Guitar Music The 60s Sound by S.E. Rouge (1988). S.E Rouge is an amazing guitarist from Sierra Leone. A tailor by trade he became a professional musician in the 60s, singing in four languages. After touring America he moved to England in 1988. I saw him play during the early 90s at an arts centre in Taunton of all places. He had an amazingly warm, happy, very uplifting sound. I spoke to him after the gig, he took my phone number and about 3 months later he rang me up asking if I could promote a gig for him in Bristol, but I was not putting on gigs at the time. Shortly after that call, he died. He had just completed the recording of his last album, Dead Men Don’t Smoke Marijuana. He had undergone heart bypass surgery some months earlier but against medical advice travelled to Russia, where he lost consciousness while performing onstage.

And the band played on

Backstage the band played on...

FKA Twigs, West Holts Stage, Glastonbury Festival 2015

FKATWIGs

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