Tuesday, 19 June 2012
FESTIVAL TEARS, HUGS AND TALENT
Hurricane winds, lashing rain and soggy tents characterised the last ever EcoFest which began some 16 years ago in honour of the start of summer and ended with emotional goodbyes to one of the best community events on the local calendar.
I first went in 2007 when I reported on it for the Grimsby Telegraph. My fee was a free ticket. The paper didn't need freelance cover for the event thereafter but they did send in a photographer to take pictures to go with a few words from a press release or gathered over the phone via a chat with the organiser Susi Mulligan.
This year BBC Radio Lincolnshire visited to capture the atmosphere at this last ever event and interviewed a few people about what the festival meant to them.
My free pass continued after 2007 as I managed to get myself on crew working the gate. During the last five years I've seen some great bands and artists, including Jon Gomm who was there last year and whose sudden fame hasn't taken him away from local venues. He still counts The Jolly Brewer in Lincoln as one of his favourite places to play.
As much as I wanted to go to the stage at EcoFest this year, the downpour was just too awful to crawl from out of the blankets that kept me warm but I thoroughly enjoyed listening to all of the bands from my tent including Lincoln based group The Validators.
It was real foot stomping stuff with an Eastern European flavour and the first time I'd heard the Russian sound mixed with reggae to produce something quite unique which you can hear thanks to the YouTube video I found and posted above.
Another one of my favourite bands is The Bad Apples from Grimsby. The band's guitarist is related to a friend who has worked on crew longer than me, the bass player rocks, and the lead singer has a powerful voice and a great stage presence.
They gave a message to David Cameron with the song Bullet with Your Name On, and the track Granny Takes a trip seemed apt for us older rockers - many brought their own kids to the first festival and had their grandkids with them at the last.
My other half sat and Eurovisioned marks to the bands. Like the European song contest, he awarded on politics and not the merit of the talent of which there was an abundance.
The Bad Apples, for example, didn't score highly for him because they were what rival Lincolnians call Cod Heads due to their Grimsby roots, and sadly the Validators, who would have won purely on the strength that they came from Lincoln, were marked down on my other half's scorecard due to the fact that they were more new Lincolnite and hailed from Derby rather than being an old Lincolnian born and bred in our home city.
The Bad Apples played a song in honour of Grimsby fishermen who lost their lives at sea and I could relate to that as my Italian ancestors were all fishermen facing those same dangers.
Merlin's Keep were another great band that defy you to stay seated and not get up and dance.
Links to other EcoFest performers over the years, including Sambalada, Starvin Sid, and the Rafters can be found HERE
There were lots of tears and hugs as the festival came to an end but for me they started on the first shift when I sat on gate with my friend Lisa and performer Andrea Ferguson who popped in for a chat during a quiet patch.
She spoke the words of a song that she had written in memory of her dad who died last year. Lisa, Andrea and I were filled with tears when she finished and then we all shared our own personal experiences of losing our parents, where we were when we heard the awful news, how we remember them and why such scars never heal if we can find a way to live with them and face them from time to time.
It was an intense, emotionally charged moment and all respect to Andrea for writing such powerful universal words that caused such cathartic and spontaneous grieving. I hear she has some possible gigs lined up in Germany and I wish her well with that.
It took Jon Gomm 20 years to become an overnight success and I wish the same for Andrea. A talent worthy of the same kind of recognition.
For the EcoFest crew sad that this will be their last gathering in June, they have the August festival Small World to look forward to on the same site at Badger's Farm, Asterby, Louth.
Word has it that now that EcoFest is no more, Small World will be bigger and better and in weather that is far more reliable at that time of year with lots of hope that the sun will shine on those who worship at the alter of damn fine music in the Lincolnshire Wolds each summer.