Friday, 17 May 2013

Festival Season

What is the point of a festival?

To hear great music in a wide range of genres?
To get lots of people together and go absolutely mental for a few days?
To meet new people and get shit-faced with them?
To celebrate the summer solstice and/or changing of the seasons?
To be outside and hope it doesn’t rain too heavily?

All of the above, probably. 

I like festivals, they remind me of my life from 1995-2005, when I took a relaxed approach to career, health and personal hygiene.

Festivals also demonstrate how we could live if we were not so consumed with earning a living.  This is just my experience, but people are more open and more friendly at festivals than in “the real world”, which gradually seeps back in following the end of the celebrations, as we return to our daily grind of employment, unemployment, advertising, TV news, facebook and whatever else. 
Like a holiday, holding out the possibility that every day life could be a bit more enjoyable if we could hold on to the openness and ready smiles of the festival.
If life was like that more of the time, maybe we wouldn’t crave holidays so much: free people do not dream of escape…

I’ve partied at festivals with people I have little in common with, whose opinions and perspectives are opposite to mine, who I couldn’t have met anywhere else – as well as close friends and family.
They’re not perfect – I’ve also had difficult and lonely times at festivals; the first one as a “proper professional” was not easy.  I spent most of it bored and sober and disappointed, but the same festival the following year was entirely sober, and an amazingly uplifting experience.  So, like every other aspect of life, it’s what we make it.

In the last six years I’ve been privileged to play at festivals all over the country (and one in Barcelona – viva la ciudad bonita).  I probably couldn’t afford to go to any as a punter these days.  They’ve got expensive, there’a a huge amount of choice and competition, and the larger, more popular ones are increasingly available only to the well-off. 
At the same time, small, locally-organised festivals pop up all the time – the traditional kind where a community comes together to celebrate something special about itself. 
So, it’s not the corporate-dominated eight-quid-for-a-burger mediocre-chart-bands-followed-by-mediocre-chart-DJs I used to think it was before I went to any….(at least, most aren’t).

This year’s round of festivals began for me with Cheltenham Poetry Festival last month (Big Up to all the CPF crew), and continues with Bearded Theory in Derbyshire, where I’ll be playing tomorrow (Saturday 18th) at The Something Else Tea Tent.
I’ll also be at Dot To Dot (Bristol), Upfest, Golowan Festival, Glastonbury*, Beatherder, Penryn Arts Festival, Bristol Harbour Festival, Boomtown Fair, Shambala (TBC), Bestival* and Brisfest.

So, see you in a field somewhere…..


Clayton Blizzard

*Of course, a couple of these will be with the legendary People’s Front Room, where I have performed as a sort of house MC in the last few years.  If you’ve never been there, seek them out, it’s a small and unique place to chill (daytime) and party (anytime), and it’s run by wonderful people.  It’s a beautiful demonstration of the best elements of a festival: creative, surprising, inclusive, fun, raucous, and bad-ass-funky.

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