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A performer's eye view of Glastonbury

Anne Lister 29 Jun 09 - 09:37 AM
Will Fly 29 Jun 09 - 09:45 AM
Jack Blandiver 29 Jun 09 - 09:50 AM
Stu 29 Jun 09 - 10:11 AM
Leadfingers 29 Jun 09 - 10:19 AM
Anne Lister 29 Jun 09 - 11:19 AM
GUEST,Simon 29 Jun 09 - 03:50 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 29 Jun 09 - 04:16 PM
Anne Lister 29 Jun 09 - 04:55 PM
McGrath of Harlow 29 Jun 09 - 04:57 PM
The Sandman 29 Jun 09 - 05:11 PM
Leadfingers 29 Jun 09 - 07:45 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 30 Jun 09 - 04:04 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 30 Jun 09 - 04:21 AM
Jack Blandiver 30 Jun 09 - 04:25 AM
Richard Bridge 30 Jun 09 - 04:55 AM
Diva 30 Jun 09 - 07:29 AM
Diva 30 Jun 09 - 07:32 AM
GUEST,Jim Martin 30 Jun 09 - 07:40 AM
GUEST,matt milton 30 Jun 09 - 08:12 AM
Anne Lister 30 Jun 09 - 11:21 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 30 Jun 09 - 11:52 AM
greg stephens 30 Jun 09 - 12:43 PM
GUEST,Ray 30 Jun 09 - 02:03 PM
Suegorgeous 30 Jun 09 - 02:36 PM
Nicholas Waller 30 Jun 09 - 02:43 PM
Nicholas Waller 30 Jun 09 - 02:52 PM
Anne Lister 30 Jun 09 - 04:00 PM
greg stephens 30 Jun 09 - 04:18 PM
The Sandman 30 Jun 09 - 04:42 PM
Jack Blandiver 30 Jun 09 - 06:10 PM
Suegorgeous 30 Jun 09 - 06:55 PM
Nicholas Waller 30 Jun 09 - 07:56 PM
Ref 30 Jun 09 - 08:26 PM
Suegorgeous 30 Jun 09 - 08:33 PM
greg stephens 22 Jul 09 - 12:55 PM
Suegorgeous 22 Jul 09 - 02:29 PM
Anne Lister 22 Jul 09 - 05:55 PM
greg stephens 23 Jul 09 - 01:21 PM
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Subject: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: Anne Lister
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 09:37 AM

I was invited to perform at Glastonbury this year and was very excited to accept. Not much money on offer, just some expenses (not the full whack) but oh, the glory! I was to do an hour's worth of storytelling each afternoon on the Green Futures field.

Now I'm not a happy camper these days, as I'm far happier with an en suite hotel room, but for the sake of Glastonbury I thought I'd give it a go. Bought a tent, located air bed and sleeping bag, various other bits and bobs. Explained to the woman who'd booked me that I'd need to park quite close to drop off my stuff and pick it up again and was issued with a pass to enable me to do that (or so I thought).

I won't detail here the experiences of arriving and leaving (friends on FB can read my notes there, others please pm me if you'd like the blow by blow account) but all I'll say here is that both were total nightmares.   It was made very difficult for me to get close with the car to where I was supposed to camp, which was on the Green Futures field itself and without the assistance of one particular steward I wouldn't have made it at all. I was very close indeed to just driving home again at several points.

The festival itself was mind-boggling. Far too many people for me. All of it on foot. Loos were ten minutes from where my tent was and, frankly, gross. Food was expensive (think at least £6.50 for a main meal, sometimes without anywhere to sit down or decent tools for eating it). No shade for some of the major concerts and, after the first rains, blisteringly hot.

Amplified music on Green Futures went on until 6 am each morning, loud conversations and acoustic noodlings (not even jams) went on after that. So - no sleep, hard to get to a loo, expensive food...so far not good. But all of this pales into insignificance compared to my journey home yesterday.

Again, very hard to get permission to even come close in the car, but I was eventually given just under 2 hours to bring the car to the gate of the field, load up and drive off again. But due to a combination of my own confusion at arrival time and misinformation from various stewards I finished up getting horribly lost trying to locate my car, needed assistance to get to the right car park (which was only forthcoming from the police, who were heroes) and then needed assistance to get to my stuff on the camp site as I had gone past the 2 hour "window", which finally came from a group of men called the A Team. It took a total of 5 hours, for much of which I had been told there was nothing anyone could do to help me.

So if I ever do Glastonbury again it would have to be under different circumstances. No other festival I've worked at has shown so little consideration for a performer and seemed to have so few resources for assisting someone who couldn't physically carry all her own equipment. Even if I'd located my car immediately it would still have been at least an hour's walk to get there. If I hadn't been able to get closer to the field it would have been at least an hour each way carrying the equipment. Yes, that's what the paying public do, I realise, but that's their choice and they know about it from the start.

A steward told me that it was mostly because I was booked by the Green Futures field and that other fields have other arrangements and take more care of their artists. I hope that's true. In the meantime I was so grateful to the stewards and marshals who did their best for me (not all of them, it has to be said), even if they didn't know who could help, to the police, who were understanding and helpful and went beyond what they might have been expected to do and to the A Team, who were fantastic.

Today I'm nursing my sunburnt face (out far too long in the heat yesterday), aching limbs and tiredness.


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: Will Fly
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 09:45 AM

Your experience is one of the reasons I would never, ever go to a festival like Glastonbury - and my tenting days are firmly over.

I went up to Bradfield in the High Peak for the Saturday of their traditional music weekend (staying at a hotel on Saturday night at Bamford). There was a great session in the Royal at Dungworth on the lunchtime, a ceildh with various acts in the evening in Low Bradfield, followed by another late evening session in the Royal. Plenty of space to park, friendly people, glorious scenery and weather - and more concertinas and melodeons than you could shake a stick at (great for a guitarist).

I'm sorry you had such a negative time - perhaps if you'd been Bruce Springsteen it might have been slightly easier...


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 09:50 AM

Sounds about right, Anne; not a word of the performances though - I trust that aspect of it was positive! I did some feral storytelling at Glastonbury in 1984 / 85 which was great fun, and at one point was invited up one stage to play with an electronic band I was told went on to become The Orb... Looking over the festival site on TV at the weekend it looked maybe 20 times the size of what it was back then. As for the loos - see my anecdote Here, but it ain't pretty!


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: Stu
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 10:11 AM

Brilliant story!

I hope the performance was OK too Anne.

I love festivals, although I haven't been to one for a fair while (our working sheepdog doesn't like the noise). Jazz festivals have always been good as they are often quite civilised and we've had some great times and seem some excellent musicians at Brecon and Buxton, and as we slept in the car managed to avoid some of the noise.

As for rock festivals, the loos at Monsters of Rock at Donnington in 1983 were something to behold, being basically 40ftx6ftx3ft metal troughs. I went for a squirt just after we got of the bus in the early afternoon and thought to myself they'll never fill these up . . .". Six hours later and you could have swum lengths in them. It was a hot day too . . . whew!

Also some wag pushed the partitions between the sit-ons over at some point and they had gone down like a row of dominos so anyone taking a dump had to lean at a 45-degree angle between the plywood.

Those were the days!


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: Leadfingers
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 10:19 AM

Even as a Punter I gave up on BIG festivals after trying Cambridge in 1969 and 1972 !
Now I 'do' small festivals apart from Sidmouth , but at Sidmouth I am Serious Fringe , NOT main Fest !
Ann , it sounds like a complete nightmare , and the lack of organisation for a Booked Artist stinks !


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: Anne Lister
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 11:19 AM

Picking up on points - the performances were well organised and went down well, and the woman who had booked me (who was co-ordinating the storytelling events) was as helpful and supportive as possible. She's said that she would like me back next time but you'll all recognise my doubts!
At least part of the problem seems to be that there are different levels of command and they don't necessarily liaise very well, so the chap at one of the gates couldn't use any leverage over the chap at Green Futures who refused to let me back on site, and the stewards and marshals didn't always recognise the passes issued to performers.
Even the superintendent of the Oxfam stewards didn't know what the A Team was or what they do (and I'm guessing neither did the traffic marshals who were flummoxed at my predicament earlier on).
Seems to me, simplistically, that all they really needed was some decent trolleys with all-terrain wheels for the use of anyone who was humping stuff around the site, maybe on a cash deposit system or only allocated to crew and staff - it wouldn't have solved my "lost car park" problem, but at least I could have put my stuff into one container. Either that, or some small trucks available to crew and staff at certain times of the day (I could have done the move earlier or later if necessary).
But oh, how I longed to be at Old Songs, where there would have been such excellent care for the artists - or Bude, or any other of the festivals I've played where I've been so well looked after!


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: GUEST,Simon
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 03:50 PM

I wrote to Glastonbury a few years ago for a speculative gig and received a letter back offering me an unpaid MC slot and making it sound like they were doing me a favour.

I wrote back to say I hadn't offered to do an unpaid slot, especially due to the high prices they were charging people for tickets. Needless to say ever since, they can't afford me.


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 04:16 PM

I was on my computer the other night and the telly was on in the living room. I think that it was a programme about Glastonbury. I heard some moronic pop star shout: "There's a lot of people here!"

Then all the 'lots of people' shouted something back and then the pop star's band made a lot of unpleasant noise. eventually I had to go into the living room to turn the racket off.

I'm not surprised to hear tales of overcrowding, disgusting loos, expensive food and poor organisation. Peer pressure seems to turn people (especially young people) into complete morons who will put up with anything - 'The Emperor's New Clothes' and all that. I suspect that, deep down, all the attendees hated it - an expensive nightmare - but I bet not one would admit it.


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: Anne Lister
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 04:55 PM

In all fairness, Guest Simon, an unpaid slot with a free ticket was probably considered to be a good offer. As it is at some folk festivals, when all's said and done. Not everyone on every list is getting paid. The high ticket prices for Glastonbury begin to be explained when you look at what they're providing overall - twelve stages with nationally and internationally known names in addition to umpteen smaller stages with lesser known people (but individuals such as Steve Knightley turn up at them), a highly organised set of camp sites with fresh, clean water piped to loads of places, a kids' field with all manner of great stuff happening, other rides and fun in other places, good security, medical staff, welfare staff and so on ... and donations are made to Greenpeace, Oxfam, Water Aid, local schools and more.

I recognise that I was very small fry in their terms (might have been a performer but not eligible to enter the Hospitality area, no name in the programme etc) and having seen the set-up from both sides I'm not harbouring a grudge about not being paid or not being allowed to hob nob with the Names. I do think though that I could have been looked after better in simple terms. It'd be interesting for me at least to hear back from anyone reading this who was booked for the Fields of Avalon and could say what treatment they had ... my hunch is that it was better, but at the moment it's only a hunch!


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 04:57 PM

My son borrowed my wheelbarrow to deal with the parking and tent-transport problem. Had a great time too.

I suspect that, deep down, all the attendees hated it - an expensive nightmare - but I bet not one would admit it.

Don't you believe it. Surviving the squalor has always been part of the rock festival experience. And I speak as a survivor of Woodstock 69. Loved it.


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 05:11 PM

sounds like a festival for masochists.


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: Leadfingers
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 07:45 PM

Tht applies to MOST of the Big ones in MY opinion Dick !


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 04:04 AM

I got the impression that Glasto has become for the most part, a post A' Level experience of 'playing at' roughing it, before going off to Uni, by nicely spoken middle class white clones with daddies credit card taking the weight of expenses. A bit like the expected 'year of travelling' to broaden ones cultural experience *after* Uni.

I think there's a formula for turning out nice middle-Englanders, and Glasto is just another box to tick on the production line. A bit like required piano lessons, and horse riding. As such my take on it is that it's not really very rock and roll - unless you're sixteen and called Saffron. And simply LOVE!!! Kate Moss for being skinny and common.


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 04:21 AM

Hi Anne,

Well I sat watching a bit of it on telly and wondering how the heck the artists got around. My only experience of a 'big' festival was the Hendix Isle of Wight in 1844 (only slightly bigger than today's Cropredy) and the length of the perimeter fence in the wide pan of glasto had me in shock. I thought of you in the middle of it all when you mailed from the tent after the show - I'm sorry to hear you had such a terrible time.

Him and Me are (oops, WERE :-( famously, stupidly, over-subscribed with kit. When we did Cambridge they provided a thing called a 'gator' - with turned out to be a four-wheel-drive golf cart. I sat like the Queen of Sheba on a huge pile of instruments and Tom played red-flag-man as we progressed in state through the teeming hoards. Somthing like that sounds ideal for Glasto.

On a more practical note, many will have noticed the large sack trolly strapped to the bike rack on my van, and a few will have seen me struggling along piers and through muddy fields with dulcimers, guitars, stand bags, gator boxes (hey, now there's a co-incidence!) etc clacked on with bungy, and the rest weighing down my aching shoulders.

It only gets used once in a blue, but it sure saves the day on those occasions.

Well done for doing it and I hope it opened lots of door for you. May I recommend a week's RnR on a small island with no crowds or mud or stewards?
T x


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 04:25 AM

We were served by such a girl once, maybe Saffron was her name; though to be fair she was working part-time in a fast-food joint to pay her own way through one of England's more select universities, but I was alarmed (and secretly delighted) that she was still wearing her Glastonbury wrist-band in the December.


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 04:55 AM

I have heard it said that if you can present each year wearing last year's wristband you get in free. I don't know if it's true.


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: Diva
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 07:29 AM

I nearly volunteered for stewarding a couple of years ago, they had a notice about it in the uni coffee bar. Thought it would be great craic for me, the daughter and the hobbit to go down and experience it. Luckily commom ssnse prevailed That and the fact its the week before our own wee festival which needs high levels of stamina and sense. Well all that organising, shepherding, camping and joility and singing til daylight......

My pal Adam went last year to Glasto and a great time with his mates and then came and experienced the delights of folk festivals Newcastleton, Rothbury, Cullerlie and Traquair.


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: Diva
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 07:32 AM

watched The Specials and Tom Jones on the tv..feet up, glass of wine.....but don't tell anyone cos I'm supposed to be a serious singer of trad songs and ballads


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: GUEST,Jim Martin
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 07:40 AM

Didn't see much of the best act of all on TV!:

http://www.kilfenoraceiliband.ie/


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 08:12 AM

I did Glastonbury as a session musician twice, and I must admit my experience was a lot more positive. Probably because I was playing as part of a small band, with road crew. So I only had to do a small amount of carting and lifting. The Glastonbury in-house on-stage road crew meant that in fact I hardly had to lift a finger. Was very nice to be able to go straight from stage to the bar, as opposed to the usual packing up etc etc

But I'm used to slumming it at festivals, so I kind of know what to expect, and anything better is a bonus. I reckon if I was going to a festival on my tod, I'd take the minimum amount of equipment, or pay a friend to help fetch and carry.


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: Anne Lister
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 11:21 AM

My unscientific observation of who were the paying public at the festival - yes, mostly middle class. We were delighted to hear one young woman say "yah", meaning "yes", and I was particularly happy to hear one middle aged man talking into his mobile in an RP accent you could cut with a knife "Jerome? I'm really not pleased. Get yourself out of there AT ONCE or I'm taking you home immediately. We said 3 o'clock in the Green Futures Field and I expect to see you here now!"
Minimal equipment? Oh yes. I had one guitar, one box of CDs, a tent, a sleeping bag, an air bed and pump, a pillow, some clothes, a torch, a cooking pan and a small boxed cooking ring, courtesy of Wilkinson's. Not a lot, pretty much the minimum for me to be reasonably comfortable for three nights and suitably clothed for three performances, but too much for me to carry alone when we're talking distances like the Glastonbury distances. Which are huge, yes, Tom.
My heroes, the A Team, who rescued me, had a set of reasons why they don't use golf buggies - have to admit I can't remember what those reasons were as it was all becoming something of a blur at that stage. (I've been taken around on those at Old Songs - what fun!) I still think the festival should have a central location for sturdy trolleys (or wheelbarrows) or a timetabled service with a pickup truck, if they can't do better for the non-high profile booked performers like me. I also think that there should have been better facilities for me to tidy up and - gasp - wash in, and possibly some discounted food options.
And oh, I wish I could afford that island break right now ... but still got commitments, unfortunately, including an early interview this morning so I couldn't even sleep to a civilised time. Haven't a clue how the interview went, mind you - totally fazed still by the whole experience. Worse than jet lag!


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 11:52 AM

I love camping and roughing it, but on my own terms. Give me a small obscure festival with a bunch of dirty hippies and I'd be much more happy than at a corporate event like Glasto.

My best experience ever was as a kid at a free CND do in some remote bit of Scottish that we had to reach by Midnight ferry - the water was filled with little sparkles.
It was steaming hot, the bands were utter shite, and some awld fella fed us on fish he'd caught that morning... Stoned hairy men, and hairier women running around starkers.

Like a dream now, those old festivals.


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: greg stephens
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 12:43 PM

Well, Glastonbury is a huge place, and people will have widely differing experiences. I had a fabulous time this year, with the Boat Band. There were problems, of course. There always are. I thought, for example, it would be a shrewd move to go in earlyish on the Wednesday, so I drove down on Tuesday to a village just south of Bristol to stay with the brother-in-law. Set off at noon on Wednesday. Unfortunately, everyone else thought it would be good to drive in on Wednesday morning, it took 11 hours to drive the less than 20 miles to Glasto, they had shut the Blue Gate at 10 when we got there, so we had to wait till reopening at 8AM on Thursday to get in. Not a promising start! We could have walked in,(it was the vehicle access gate that was shut) dossed with friends, and walked back in the morning, but I wasn't up for that.SO we slept by the car in the security compound, along with many hundreds of others. It was bit like the Grapes of Wrath, but with people playing djembes. Anyway, that aside, everything else went like clockwork.
Brilliant festival, as ever. Our main gig, in the Croissant Neuf circus tent, went very well, full capacity(not sure how many, 4-500?). Great fun. I have to say a lot of the capacity crowd had come to get a good space to see the act on after us, Paulo Nutini(sp?).I had never heard of him, but he has a good following, and deservedly so( I didn't see the whole act, but heard a bit as we were leaving). The fantastic new young London duo False Hare joined us for three songs which was a great delight, as did half of the Weavils brass section, which souped up the finale no end.
We also did three cafe gigs in and around the Croissant Neuf/Green Field/Alternative Tech area, doing one hour acoustic spots in return for some excellent food and drink. That's always a real treat at Glasto.
Then Bonz of Biggles Wartime Band had the great wheeze that those musicians who were into gospel should get a choir together for Sunday morning, borrow the outdoor bandstand at Crosissant Neuf and do a gospel hour. So we all practised a bit on Saturday, in our gazebo, round the fire, in the illegal shebeen etc, and worked up(but not too slickly) various songs, old time, black, bluegrass etc etc: gospel classics (Up Above My Head, Jesus on the Mainline,Just a Closer Walk with Thee, Down to the River to Pray, Walk in Jerusalem Just Like John and so on). So on Sunday morning we levered ourselves out of bed early (not easy after Saturday night), got on the stand at 10 and did the business, ably MCeed by Father Green( who is not actually a Father, but Mel from Biggles Wartime Band who masquerades in a vicar's costume when performing with them). That was great,it went really well, with representatives from many bands taking part.
Other than that, I sat drinking coffee or beer round fires, talked to visitors in our gazebos and went visiting hither and thither, cooked up food, had fun, pottered down to Babylon to see the Spoecials, Spinal Tap(Pyramid) and the Black-Eyed Peas at the Jazz/Worlds Stage (wow, you don't see them at the Royal Oak in Lewes). Also went to Avalon to see Eliza Carthy's band, and the Edward II reunion. Plus hither and thither wandering, the extraordinary Mal Webb, and other bands too numerous to remember.Including an exceptionally good Zimbabwean choir in a cafe, whose name I didnt get.
We also had the nephew and niece in our camp, 11 and 14, both Glastonbury virgins, and they had a whale of a time, wandering untrammelled round the greatest festival in the country and seeing the famous names they never thought they would actually see, vanishing for hours and coming back with tales of Lady Gaga and Bruce Springsteen).
We found a venue I had never previously heard of, dug into the hillside up near the sacred stones, like a hobbit's house, a sort of Bar at the World's End, semi underground, slab wood tiered seating, old carpets hanging up, little stage with piano, audience capacity maybe 60ish. Very lovely accordion band there when we looked in, woman called Hattie Hatstrap or some such thing, writes her own very wry funny songs, with a band of trumpet and banjo. And possibly stand up bass, my mind is a blur. And, waiting to go on, the wonderful Weirdstring, though we didn't catch their act as we were moving on.
WE also ventured toi Trash City and Arcadia at night to see the mindblowing fire eating monsters, towers festooned with exploding gas-jets and aerial artists and all that kind of stuff.
OK, as you see I had a good, and what I consider a standard, Glastonbury experience. Interesting music, informal singing with friends, and with people I have never met. What could be better? So, I am very sorry Anne Lister had a bad experience, but that is thankfully not typical. Glastonbury is like a big city, in fact it is a big city. Bad things do happen there, as they do in London or Liverpool or whatever. But good things happen too, in fact totally magic things. Go up to the top of the hill by the stones, and look out at dawn over that many people just got together to have fun, and to make art happen.The full officail title is the Glastonbury Festival of Coemporary Performing Arts, I think, and it does exactly what it says on the tin. A genuine and wonderful celebration of what can be donm with a little(or a lot of) effort. Of course, things go wrong sometimes. Things always will. I would urge Anne Lister, and anybody else, to go back and try again. It might be worth it!


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 02:03 PM

Mate of mine from work went last year. Said he had a great time. Free ticket, nice hotel and somewhere convenient to park on site. His brother in law was playing - a band called The Verve or something. Don't think he's actually a musician, he plays drums!


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 02:36 PM

Loved your description Greg!

Anyone see the Fleet Foxes? just got hooked on them and would love to see them live...


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: Nicholas Waller
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 02:43 PM

I went to Glastonbury in 1995, when I felt it was like some kind of post-apocalyptic Mad Max refugee camp-cum-sonic-light-show. This year I restricted myself to watching on the telly and standing on top of Glastonbury Tor at sunset on Sunday to see what it looked like from a distance (I live only a few miles away).

It looked pretty good from up there - here's a picture collage - and a lot bigger than the nearby cathedral city of Wells, also visible from the Tor and rather dim by comparison, which has a population of 10,000 and so about one-eighteenth the population of the Festival (which I read somewhere was comparable with the population of York, and twice what it was in my day).


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: Nicholas Waller
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 02:52 PM

You can see about half an hour of the Fleet Foxes from the Beeb (and a bunch of other of the 400+ acts, though not all the way down the bills) if you go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/glastonbury/2009/lineup/ and click on their name - assuming you live in the UK.


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: Anne Lister
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 04:00 PM

Greg, I think the point I have been making throughout this thread is that my problems were mainly on arrival and departure and they were also mainly because I was a solo performer with no others around to help with stuff - and it was apparently no one's responsibility to check that I was OK.
You were with a band (as was Matt, earlier in the thread)and so could share the load of whatever needed carrying - you also knew the ropes and knew others to hang out with and liaise with, as well as knowing how to get free food. I'm very pleased you had such a good time. At times we must have been very near each other, as I was in the audience for Eliza Carthy and Edward II and spent a fair amount of time around the bandstand at Croissant Neuf. I have said in other posts that there were lots of good things happening and I know that I wasn't able to even skim the surface of all that was going on.
Of course there are lots of different experiences - at such a huge event it would be truly weird if there weren't. That was yours, this was mine.
As a Glastonbury virgin (but with lots of other festival experience) I remain annoyed that the organisers of the Green Futures field were happy to have my time and performance skills but apparently unwilling to do anything to make my life easier. If I go again I will have learnt from what happened this time and will do things differently - but it's been as close to a nightmare as I'd ever wish to go in my forty-odd years of going to and performing at festivals. And with only a small amount of consideration from the organisers it needn't have been this way. I don't suppose for a minute that much will change as a result of my posts here or my feedback to the woman who booked me.
However, as I have never before been in a situation where I was expected to carry all of my equipment for significant distances and hadn't been expecting to find myself in this situation at Glastonbury either, nor have I before found myself in need of some real help from people who had the authority to really help and have it refused - you'll understand my tetchiness and lack of fondness for the organisers concerned, however friendly they are to others.


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: greg stephens
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 04:18 PM

Anne Lister: I do very much understand what you went through, and sympathise. But I wouldn't want people to think that your experience was in any way typical of Glastonbury.I was staying in the Croissant-Neuf area, and there are always trolleys, site vehicles and helpful people around there any time you like. What you are saying may be a serious criticism of problems in the Green Futures area, but I shouldn't attempt to extrapolate from that to the whole festival. I find it in general a very well run place, vastly more efficient than say Stoke-on-Trent, the city where I live. And when you consider that a huge percentage of the population at Glastonbury are drunk, or stoned, or both, it is nothing short of miraculous.
   It is a huge site, of course, if you have to perform in different areas, but as I understand it you were only in Green Futures. I am surprised you couldn't find anyone to help you. Anyway, take your problems up with the people who put you on, I am sure they are reasonable and well-meaning(it is Green Futures after all), and if you have identified some things that are going wrong I am sure they will try to put them right. But I can assure tha vast majority of potential performers, and punters: you will have a fantastic and mind-expanding experience(and I am not referring to the drugs). Giuve it a try. I have played there a dozen times, and never regretted it.


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 04:42 PM

OK, as you see I had a good, and what I consider a standard, Glastonbury experience. Interesting music, informal singing with friends, and with people I have never met. What could be better? So, I am very sorry Anne Lister had a bad experience, but that is thankfully not typical. Glastonbury is like a big city, in fact it is a big city. Bad things do happen there, as they do in London or Liverpool or whatever. But good things happen too, in fact totally magic things. Go up to the top of the hill by the stones, and look out at dawn over that many people just got together to have fun, and to make art happen.The full officail title is the Glastonbury Festival of Coemporary Performing Arts, I think, and it does exactly what it says on the tin. A genuine and wonderful celebration of what can be donm with a little(or a lot of) effort. Of course, things go wrong sometimes. Things always will. I would urge Anne Lister, and anybody else, to go back and try again. It might be worth it! end of quote.
Greg,says totally magic things happen.
Speaking from my own experience,magical things can and do happen anywhere,often in places that are not like commercial musical cities.
I have seen the Boat band,playing in a pub in Ballydehob.
this particular pub used to be a magical experience in itself,we used to have a weekly traditional music session,which was unamplified,the back part of the pub,was the landladies kitchen[this is now where bands such as the Boat band,belt out there amplified music]where our children used to read/ play while we were playing music,although this pub has been tastefully refurbished the atmosphere has changed and not for the better.
The Boat Band are among the best bands that have been booked there,but it doesnt alter the fact that the pub is not the same as it was,and sadly over the last twenty years this has been the case with many Irish pubs,its become impossible to get paid gigs unless you are amplified,and people talk away even louder,get drunk and act the goat
I have had the privilege of having a few magical experiences, in irish pubs when there was respect for the singer and the musician,the music was not treated as wallpaper music[Iwas shocked to see the Boat Band treated like wallpaper music] .
Glastonbury sounds to me like a nightmare,but each to their own.


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 06:10 PM

a free CND do in some remote bit of Scottish that we had to reach by Midnight ferry

Sounds like Scoraig, but I think they might have viewed CND as a little too bourgeois...


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 06:55 PM

Thanks Nicholas! was annoyed that I'd missed the BBC transmission, and forgot to check the website!

And your tor pics are lovely.


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: Nicholas Waller
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 07:56 PM

"And your tor pics are lovely".

Well, thank you Suegorgeous. And I am sure you must be, er, gorgeous too! Talking of which, I've a gallery of Cheddar Gorge pics, as well as some other older Tor pics, though I put them up before monitors got so big and so they're relatively small.


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: Ref
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 08:26 PM

Nicholas, thanks for your Tor (and other lovely) pics. Now I have a reference for Bernard Cornwell's "Winter King."

Anne, we'd love to see you back at Old Songs another time!


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 08:33 PM

Innerly only, I'm afraid. :)

Very nice pics, Nicholas. But I fear the thread hath crept...


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: greg stephens
Date: 22 Jul 09 - 12:55 PM

Creeping back to a performer's eye view of Glastonbury, here I am with a few pals giving it some on the Croissant Neuf stage
playing Bosco Stomp


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 22 Jul 09 - 02:29 PM

Enjoyed that, Greg! thanks


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: Anne Lister
Date: 22 Jul 09 - 05:55 PM

Greg, as we're back here again - I don't think you've actually read my posts. I'll say again - I'm very pleased you have had a good time performing at Glastonbury and I'm also pleased to hear there are trolleys and site vehicles available on some parts of the festival. My tale of woe is (a) MY tale of woe (clearly not yours), (b) mostly about arriving and departing and (c)mostly about the Green Futures Field. Oh, and (d) about being on my own in such a huge festival, which wasn't fun. Performing wasn't a problem, except there was no consideration given to even providing a jug of water for those of us in our performing area.

But there I was, on a field associated with ecology and healing and all sorts of good things, and there was no care or any evident respect for the performers. I've heard that on the Fields of Avalon there were meal tickets available for performers as well as transport on and off the field for equipment. Great. My first experience of performing at Glastonbury and I clearly drew the short straw about where to do that. Still haven't received the very small amount of expenses I'd been promised, either, four weeks later. Yes, I'm still angry.

Compare and contrast my recent experience at the small but beautifully marked West Somerset Folk Festival, run for charity, where I was made extremely welcome and received my expenses on the spot plus a delicious cream tea. And I'm about to perform for the Big Green Gathering, where again it's crystal clear how much they'll give me in expenses and communication has been straightforward. I might not have been so picky about the communication if I hadn't had the Glastonbury nightmare, mind.

As I said before, I've been performing at folk festivals for (and it's a scary thought) around 40 years now. The Green Futures Field at Glastonbury and all that came with it for me was a first, and I won't do that again. From all I've heard, if I could be booked by Fields of Avalon, the Kids Field or Croissant Neuf it would be a different story. It might be a good plan, as it seems some people lose their cars and the car parks every year, if they adopted the method used on car ferries of issuing dockets with the relevant car park details as people leave their vehicles. Given how many stickers were attached to my car as part of the entry process, this shouldn't be difficult.

I have paid tribute in other posts on this thread to the amount of good stuff that was going on and the level of organisation elsewhere. Greg's posts make it clear that the problems I encountered were specific to where I was booked - on the other hand, once I was in the nightmare territory of having walked in entirely the wrong direction and found myself stranded it was very scary indeed to find out how no one knew how to help. It needed the police first of all, and then the mysterious A Team (mysterious enough that the chief steward at Hospitality didn't know who they were or what they could do) to rescue me. When really all I needed was someone in a pick-up truck in the first place, and a bit of goodwill from the Green Futures Field.


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Subject: RE: A performer's eye view of Glastonbury
From: greg stephens
Date: 23 Jul 09 - 01:21 PM

I did indeed read all your posts very carefully, Anne, sorry if I gave the impression I didn't. Yes, all our experiences are specific to ourselves, and a big place like Glastonbury has very litle tight central control. The Croissant Neuf field is good at taking care of people in my experience, but I'll bet that there, just like anywhere else, sometimes people will have a bad year. So yes, try and get a booking somewhere else next year? It might be more fun. But if you basically like little festivals, well there are plenty of them to be enjoyed as well.


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