Ian and I have attended 7 festivals this year. All enjoyable and all very different. Forever British Country would eventually like to put on a festival of our own so visiting all the festivals and taking what is good about them will hopefully help us to bring you something special when we eventually get enough money in the kitty to put one on and pay our artists.
We started the year with 'Country On The Clyde' way back in March. Organised by UK Country Live, It took place on an old converted car ferry that is moored on the river Clyde in Glasgow. This event was put on to give C2C Festival goers something to do in the afternoons and to showcase our British artists. It has grown year on year. I quite liked the quirkiness of the venue. The only thing I didn't like was the fact that the drummers were in a little boxed in area at the back of the stage, that was painted black,and therefore they couldn't really be seen. I nicknamed this area 'the chokey' and if you attend you will see why.
'Country On The Coast' organised by British country artist Lily Garland was a brand new festival this year and I have to say it was one of my favourites. It took place in Gaeity's Bar on Southsea Pier in April. The venue was stunning with a nice stage and sea views. There were fewer artists but longer sets which in my opinion works so much better for all concerned and is exactly how I would do it. With the exception of 'Royal South' who were touring the country at the time, this was an all British line-up and it was well attended.
'Buckle & Boots' organised by the Hancock family and Gary Quinn was our May festival outing. A lot of changes this year and it didn't work as well for me on a personal level. I have arthritis in both hips so we had a dilemma. Do we put the tent up nearer to the toilets and lug all the camping equipment up the hill which would have taken several trips or do we put the tent up near to where the cars access stops. We decided on the latter but this meant that the toilets were for me with my arthritis too far away and I have to say I wasn't the only person who thought this. Toilets of some description were needed at the bottom end of the field. I also didn't use the showers for 2 reasons. Because of the daily problems with the generator and because there was no privacy as the shower cubicles were not big enough to undress and dress in. I thought it was easier to boil a kettle and have a wash in the comfort of my tent. Buckle & Boots has 2 stages and I really hate the fact that I have to choose which artist I am going to go and watch. Mind you if an american artist is playing then the choice is easy as the brits will win every time.
July's 'FSA Country Music Festival' is always like a family reunion and for that very reason it has always been my favourite festival. Organised by 'FSA Presents' this festival has seen some dramatic changes this year too. A main stage and an acoustic stage but luckily they alternate so no artist clashes and having to choose. The downside of FSA is there is not enough of a choice of food outlets. I am not a burger eating person and I always find the hot pork sandwiches a bit tasteless if I'm honest. This year we went and had an all you can eat breakfast at a restaurant down the road. We didn't need food until the next morning then, but it would be much better to have a variety of choices on site.
'Rango's Country Club Festival' was organised by country duo 'Cinder Hill' and was held in the garden behind Rango's restaurant. We managed to attend the August festival which was their second festival of the year. The line-up was excellent but the bbq was not value for money. We have thoroughly enjoyed all of the events held at Rango's this year and sadly the restaurant has now closed.
The first British Country Music Festival in Blackpool in September was organised by 'Fit The Bill'. It was a lot of hard work for us but I so enjoyed the weekend. We didn't have the best of starts on the Friday as we had no room allocated to us for filming so we were moved several times but once that was sorted out on the Saturday it was all plain sailing. I will not make the mistake again of scheduling interviews with all the artists. I will just pick a few as I would actually like to see some performances because a lot of the artists at Blackpool were new to me.
October brought us the Leek Blues & Americana Festival which was a different type of festival entirely as the whole town gets involved and the artists perform in various pubs and restaurants in the town centre. The concept is great. The business the festival would bring to those venues and the town in general is massive but the people who attended on the most part were not there to listen to the music. They were noisy and unappreciative of the talented artists. Some of the venues were packed beyond a comfortable capacity. Would we go again? I think we would if there was someone we particularly wanted to see on the line-up.