Summer festival report

July saw a major and rather sudden reshuffle of the Archetypes line-up – the usual interpersonal band relationship stuff, if I’m honest, probably mostly my fault and I accidentally ended up sacking half the band. Whoops. And we had festival dates lined up for the next two weekends. Double whoops.

Mercury went direct on the 20th and Jim Viz got in touch, enquiring about the possibility of playing at the Green Gathering. Synchronicitously, Nick Harrison had reappeared out of nowhere (well obviously he thought he was somewhere) and offered his services, so I messaged him back to say yeah we needed a drummer, despite the fact that I didn’t know whether I actually had a band at that point. I knew Will Greenwood was going to be at Kozfest – the first date, so I asked him if he would be prepared to sit in on guitar. Suddenly we had a band (in theory) comprised of ex-Invisible Opera members. Interesting. We had never quite all played in the same line-up together and that was at least ten years ago, oh, and there was no time to rehearse. Brilliant. So we picked half a dozen songs that we thought we could all remember and found ourselves on stage together again. Four and in then? said Nick from behind the drums … and so it began.

Kozfest was gorgeous, wall-to-wall space rock and psychedelia, I loved it. I haven’t danced so much at a festival for years. Jim and I made guest appearances with the actual Invisible Opera Company of Tibet, which was suitably wild. Ron Tree‘s Sunday morning set was an experience I’m glad I lived through, for completely different reasons! It’s fascinating to have real-life experiences with people you’ve got to know through online social networks and make new friends in the process, the Kozfest crowd are real gems with exquisite flaws! Shine on! And hopefully see you next year.

We repeated the trick on the Triban stage at the Green Gathering with Laura Iseley joining us on vocals. The Green Gathering is on one of the most beautiful festival sites I’ve seen, lots of mature trees, a slightly creepy ruined house, oh, and a racecourse next door. It is the one festival I put myself out for every year, because I love it and believe in it. We play for minimal expenses and actually made a loss this year but WTF it’s worth it just to get to play with wonderful musicians like Feliks Tabis as Jim and I did on Sunday evening on the Floating Lotus stage.

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Next I did a shamanic retreat for a week. I’m not going to go into details because much of what happened was deeply personal, but I did get to experiment with story-telling around the fire, in fact I told the whole of Math ap Mathonwy from memory, which I don’t think is bad going. I came out of the week with a very clear vision of the role of the bard in public ceremonies and the idea of creating a portable bardic lodge to take to festivals. So that was nice.

1236512_10151877493897755_1846060068_nIn the last week of August I travelled down to Wadebridge for Cornwall Folk, where I did a couple of solo shows in the acoustic tent. I also got to see Wizz Jones, who I’ve been raving about to anyone who will listen ever since. He really attacks the guitar, getting every ounce of musical juice out it and sings like a bird. And he played The King of Rome. Other highlights included Dalla, Mike O’Connor and Barabara GriggsReturn to Lyonesse and Pete Berryman. While I was there I learned some more Cornish dances, found a couple of people to exchange some words of Kernewek with and spent some quality time at Folk Towers. Hurrah!

Then when I thought I couldn’t possibly have any more fun Laura and I went to Rest Fest. It did for me what it said on the tin. Really nice intimate gathering. I love festivals that are small enough that you can actually meet people and have proper conversations. My highlight was another Sunday morning performance by a young band from St Albans called Know Your Hill, they are delightfully odd. I did a laughter yoga workshop and totally ‘got’ it. No really, laughter yoga showed me the way! So I’m adding that to my somewhat irregular workout routine.

The downside: sorry to go on about this, but basically the summer left me personally over 200 quid down, which has really messed up my finances. I understand fully that most of the events we want to support don’t have big budgets, but we are going to have to ask for realistic expenses next year. This is ultimately what has pushed me to start blogging. I really want to be able to do these small intimate gatherings and make my music freely available to all who wish to listen, so I need to work out the cash-flow equation so I can still afford to pay the rent when I get home. Answers on postcard

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