Saturday, 18 October 2008

Greenbelt Quickie (7)

Praying should not be like ordering a pizza on the telephone.

Return to Blogging

It's been a wild few days; time spent in Norfolk, a few days in London seeing Queen and Paul Rodgers and then James Blunt on consecutive nights at the O2 Arena with my lovely Girlfriend. then having a 2 day migraine as a reminder of the rich food and drink enjoyed during that time. I have to say I found the O2 to be a mixed bag experience- very, very corporate with prices to match, but the actual arena to be a great place to see bands, if you can let go of the whole feel of being inside a huge financial punter-reaping machine. Both bands were great, quite different in production and presentation, highlights including Roger Taylor doing a drum solo whilst his drum kit was built around him, and Mr Blunt suddenly jumping off stage and running to the middle of the arena where a piano arose from the crowd on a small stage.
We stayed in Docklands and had a mooch around there, looking at the Excel centre (there was a hairdressing conference happening whilst we were enjoying breakfast there), and then some time in Canary Wharf. Had my first rides on the Docklands Light Railway, and generally had  a great time.

Greenbelt: Nominated for an award 2

Greenbelt has been nominated for the 'Best Family Festival' and Best Festival Toilets' in the Virtual Festival Awards. Well it would wouldn't it?!! Ahem! They can be clean, filthy, comical and the focus of many Greenbelt anecdotes over the years, so I suppose it's only right and proper that they are recognised in some small way. Lets hope GB wins.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

A Word Cloud: Northern Lights, Barnabas

Have stumbled on these, a current hot potato in the advertising world. The word cloud checks the frequency of words in a text, increases the size and then creates a cloud of words, usually with links to other sites. This one was crated by Wordle. Ideal for the short attention span of the internet world. heres mine, based on the Lyrics to 'Northern Lights' by Barnabas.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Pedestrianism: An accidental Cult. Update

An eighteenth/nineteenth century pursuit of walking fast, with the most celebrated exponents walking 100 miles in 100 hours, some even to keeping to doing that distance by doing a quarter of a mile in a quarter of an hour! For 100 miles! It was the forerunner of the frankly ridiculous looking sport of speed walking that canbe seen in various athleic events these days.

Also Pedestrianism is a mysterious group win the states who's website is more to sell T shirts and paraphenalia and to state that 'Pedestrians' dont follow anyone, walking their own path, but look out for other pedestrians; presumably those who've bought the merchandise and wear it, in all walks of life. A kind of Freemasonry lite, except even more pointless.

Does give me ideas for my new cult of pedestrianism though....

Friday, 3 October 2008

Lawson Dodds Wood: Numbers. First thoughts

An Exciting new release today, one that I've been waiting for ever since seeing the trio at Greenbelt this year. Greenbelt fave Steve Lawson has teamed up with a couple of excellent chums in Drummer Roy Dodds And keys/guitarist Patrick Wood to form an Improv jazz 'power trio', Lawson Dodds Wood. All the music is totally improvised including a few overdubs of sax, clarinet and voice on a few tracks, and then edited into a more concise release. All titles are given numbers, hence the title. As an added bonus for early orders, there is a download file of four of the raw unedited tracks, including one, 'Number 3' not included on the actual release proper.

It starts with the piece entitled 'Number 5' with chopped wah wah rhythms under a pentatonic gamelan motif. It evolves as Jazz is wont to do into more standard fare perhaps, but impeccably executed. Nice ebb and flow as 'Coltrane lite' sax and some clarinet winds around the themes, ending n a nice bubbly synth sound. At 14 minutes, the longest track.

 'Number 1' has a wonderful ghostly underwater organ sound and is more moody, 'Number 7 part two' begins with a nice pulsing bass and promises much, but fades out just as the groove is imposing itself on your conscious.

'Number 6' begins with some guitar harmonics and voice and a wonderful simple but effective bass line, before more mellow sax takes a melody, and then acoustic guitar tabla-esque percussion and the voice create a not quite jazz/world music melange. Very tasteful.

with 'Number 2' beginning with bass loops and discordant key sounds and Fender Rhodes, there is the merest hint of a skeletal song, phrases stating a construct, with the spaces emphasizing the tone which tenor sax then lightly skips between. Nice drum work on this. Nice slow ly dwindling ending that evolves into a slightly discordant coda.

'Number 4' Drum entrance that reminds me of the live version of Genesis 'I know What I like'  jazzy guitar, shimmering bass. definitely picking up a vague Genesis vibe, even some Lamb lies down-esque keyboard sounds. Gently ebbing and flowing, pulsing even. It morphs into acoustic guitar taking the lead in a more traditional jazz way.

'Number 7 part 1' - staccato discord leading to tentative keys that slowly revolve into melodic resolution., though that threat of harmonic clashes always remains. Nice use of distortion. Its these shorter tracks that almost justify the release as an album, and shows thought has been expended on programming something pleasurable. This piece end son a slightly tentative note, enticing the listener that there is hopefully more to come, the tension has been set up, the release to be granted with more music to come. Lets hope, at any rate!

On this first listen I have to admit to not taking in too much of the percussion, which for me, being a drummer, means it is played impeccably and precisely, not becoming too obtrusive. At  the  Greenbelt gig, I was entranced by Dodds as he flew from controlled power to absolute perfection of deftness of touch. On this release it errs on the side of that deftness of touch, perfectly fitting the context of the Album (can we call them that these days?).

A fantastic album! Jazz? Possibly, though the music certainly 'slants', it never stays on one genre long enough to pigeonhole it completely. There is much depth to it, great for quiet contemplation, and will certainly get many, many repeated plays. If they ever play in your neck of the woods, don't miss them, its time for a tour now lads!

No Pussyfooting with Oblique Strategies

A new version of this 1973 classic has just been released, and raises some interesting points. It is considered one of the first ambient albums, though Tangerine Dream and Popol Vuh got there first. There was an element of surprise that Robert Fripp, he of King Crimson, and Being married to Toyah Wilcox fame, seemed to change tack quite so radically. Just two long tracks full of Eno's Enossifications of Fripps highly compressed laser guitar lines, with the First track, 'Heavenly Music Corporation' Being absolutely beautiful, and still on another listen, surprisingly proggy in places. The Second Track, 'Swastika Girls' is slightly less successful, not wuite having the same flow or impact, but it remains an album that is perfect for the right chilled moment. Wallpaper music it aint.

The interesting bit about the release is that is has expanded to two discs, with the extra tracks being reversed versions of the two tracks, prompted by the fact that celebrated DJ, the late John Peel famously played the whole album backwards by mistake (when playing it from a reel to reel tape player in case you're wondering how!) and only Brain Eno noticed. Apparently when he rang up the BBC to point this out, he was met with the reply 'Yes we get a lot of comments like that about this stuff' or something very similar! Also included is a half speed version of 'Heavenly Music Corporation' , which runs to 40 minutes, prompted perhaps by Sid Smith (as stated in the liner notes) who used to play it at the old 16 2/3 speed that some record players had.
It is an interesting exercise, and I'm not entirely sure that it undermines and makes redundant the artistry in creating music like this, which lets face it, has more than its fair share of detractors. well, it's either that, or it displays the absolute brilliant genius of the music in that it can be played backwards, forwards or slowed down (why did no one speed it up too?) and still stand up as impressive. Or would no-one notice, as did Mr Peel, Fripp, BBC et al?
Perhaps it could have been instigated by a forerunner of Eno's and The late Peter Schmidt's 'Oblique Strategies' a set of 100 cards first published in 1975, that give guidance to the perplexed, ponderous and procrastinating. In this time of people needing something to guide them ever more as the wend their way through life, surely a pack of cards is as good as anything? It certainly seems to work for artists, but I wonder if a politicians speech, a ministers sermon, or a workplace meeting would appreciate such an exercise?

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Greenbelt nominated for an award

Just had the latest Greenbelt Dispatches, and there's some interesting news. Greenbelt has been nominated for an ward in the 2008 festival awards. Its good news for raising the profile of the festival, and would be great if all Greenbelters could vote for it to increase public awareness of the festival.

here is the email in full :

Vote for Greenbelt now in the UK Annual Festival Awards! We've been nominated in the 'Best Small Festival', 'Best Lineup', 'Best Family Festival', 'Best Grass Roots Festival' and even the 'Best Toilets' categories! Each voter is entered into a draw to win tickets to ALL the winning festivals next year!

We are delighted to confirm that Greenbelt has been nominated in this year’s UK Festival Awards in the following categories:

- Best Lineup
- Family Festival Award
- Grass Roots Festival Award
- Best Toilets

The winners will be determined by public vote at here over the next few weeks (voting closes on 20th October). 

Everyone who votes is eligible for the prize draw to win a pair of tickets to every winning festival.

On 13th October, a final shortlist will be drawn up comprising the top 10 nominees in each category. All other nominees will be removed from the voting process at this stage.

The winner will be announced on-stage at the UK Festival Awards Ceremony on Thursday 30th October at the IndigO2,
London, and not a moment before.

Tickets to the event (which also include entry to the first ever UK Festival Conference during the day) are selling very fast (tables are almost sold out), available now from

I do wonder about this having awards for everything though. who are these self appointed bodies that set up these events? obviously there must be a case of attracting money in some form or other, but mainly I think its because everyone likes a jolly and dressing up , and there's nothing wrong with that every now and then!


Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Greenbelt Legends (4): Petra

Bit of a controversial choice this one, I suppose. Petra only played Greenbelt once, at Knebworth in 1983 at the GB 10 year special. I had heard of them somehow before going to my first GB in 1983, and this was the band I was looking forward to seeing the most. The two albums seen left, 'More Power To Ya' and 'Not of this World'  to me are absolute early 80's AOR classics. At the time I loved the very uplifting Christian lyrics and insanely catchy tunes. I played each album many times in a row at each listening. I cant remember much about that live set at Greenbelt now, I think the excitement must have put paid to remembering too much though I do remember enjoying their set immensely. They released another album, 'Beat the System' which carried on in a similar vain, but a lot more eighties in style, and after that, their vocalist Greg X Volz left, and they never seemed the same to me. They finally called it a day in 2006, and thus passed one of the more important and earliest Christian rock groups into history.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Bands I have been in 1: The Amber Raptors

I used to be in this band, except it used to be called 'The Passage', a name which I hated!
We played in a classic rock stylee, a mixture of covers well known and obscure and some rather spiffing original material. I notice on their website that they still play some of the songs for which i wrote lyrics to and had a hand in arranging. I played drums and sang lead and backing vocals. During my tenure in the band, there was a prediliction bordering on the obsessive for Judas Priest and Man, though my country and western/prog leanings didnt always go down so well. Nice memories of writing the chorus to 'Does the Memory Fade' in Wales and the serendipitous chugging ending to the same song when it was recorded in the studio. Also walking down a street in an obscure Forest of Dean Town and seeing a poster for one of our gigs in a shop window.

I left about 5 years ago, due to circumstances too awkward to go into here.
If they ever play in your vicinity, do go and give them a listen, they put on a good show and have a nice selection of crowd pleasers and natty new tunes.

A New accidental Cult: Pedestrianism

Manged to somehow name a new cult this morning. After responding to a caroon on The ASBO Jesus site, re predestination. It got me thinking about cults, and not just the band fronted by Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy, but how cults start, become successful, or go down in a hail of controversy, fraud and bullets (great album title that).

Certainly it could be said that both Christianity and Islam both began as what we would call cults today. Its just the a combination of message context and need nourished the growth of these into what we now see today. Obviously there is a lot more polarisation both between these religions (when does a cult become a religion?), and also internally in both religions themselves. Is it the media that inflames this ever more extreme taking of sides? Perhaps, although it is too easy to blame them for everything. Perhaps the contemporary social and intellectual attitudes changes and deviations from the past reflect a need for a firm belief in 'something'.

In the coming days, weeks, months, i'll work on the cult of pedestrianism, and publish its core values tenets and beliefs, dogmas and doctrines.

Remember, its FUN!

Sunday, 21 September 2008


Following on a bit from the 'facilities' post, I have just been reviewing my summer and discovered that I have never exposed my body so much in public before. This has been due mostly to losing lots of weight and losing the embarrassment and shame of being really quite overweight. Firstly the facilities at the V festival in Chelmsford.;my gorgeous girlfriend and I were very pleased  to discover that there were free hot showers there. So first morning we get there early only to discover that they are communal, very open showers. We feel we cant just walk out, and bite the bullet and get in and get showered. the pull of being clean and dust/mud free for a while is too great. We even repeat the feat the next day. Its nice to be clean!

Secondly, we go to the beach at Sea Palling, in a very sunny and warm Norfolk, have a great time, and I have my first swim in the sea for years

Thirdly, we just have spent some time in the Thermae Bath Spa, which despite the controversy over the huge delays and overspends, must surely be worth it. We spent time in the baths, the steam rooms, and a very romantic time watching the sunset over the Bath skyline from the lovely rooftop pool.
I feel very liberated and positively normal!

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Greenbelt Legends (3) Griff Pilchard

An absolute legend form the 80's! You couldn't miss Griff in those times, mohican, 'alternative' style clothes, guitar always in hand. he seemed to play everywhere, but always seemed to be at the Fringe (bring it back, now!). You could by his tapes from the back of a dodgy looking Ford Cortina in the car park (OK I made that bit up), and many people did. He had a song about a hammer he had, and he 'hit nails in with it' The hammer, not the song, but thinking about it...). It became the soundtrack to a couple of festivals for me and the youth group at the time.
He now has a band called 'the Net',  and still makes music as, er, idiosyncratic as ever. well worth watching if you stumble on him, but especially if you were there in his heyday of the 80's.

Greenbelt: the, er, facilities

Prompted by reading discussion on other festival sites, specifically the V Festival forum (after attending for the first time, another story ) where there is a lot of dissatisfaction re the facilities, and also looking through my old GB pics from the 80's where I discover that I took a photo of a toilet block, probably because of the disbelief!

There is a nice blog entry in Betty's Blog here about the GB loos. Rather than do a history of them myself, (you know that they take up a large part of your thinking when you're there, especially when you wake up in the morning, or worse still at 4 am i the morning, and its raining, and you just have to go...), I thought I'd just post this, link, as it tells a nice story about returning to GB after 30 years to the most wonderfully sunny civilized GB!

There is also this from Dave Walker's cartoon blog

Friday, 12 September 2008

Greenbelt: Scotland

This second post about a scottish Greenbelt is prompted by a comment made here by Jealous Monk. Of Course Jealous Monk is absolutely right absolutely right, that this is only at the very earliest stages of discussion. I would hope that the organisers would take into account the difficulties that having another event tagged 'Greenbelt' or 'Greenbelt something' in any way. I mentioned the attempted split in the late 90's as an example of how things can go wrong, and also perhaps as an example that Greenbelter's embrace new ideas, they don't like change particularly much when it comes to the festival itself! Whilst I've always joked that it would be great to have more Greenbelt, I wouldn't want the spirit of GB to be endangered in any way by an associated event that isn't clear in its  function place and ethos within the 'GB world'
It still does leave the difficulty for our Northern Brethren re the lack of a bank holiday making GB difficult to attend in full. The discussion perhaps needs to take place, as the subject has already been mooted, but as hoped by Jealous Monk, that any discussion will not get out of hand and remain mature, sensible, a little impassioned maybe (after all, we all love Greenbelt!), but ultimately be for the good of the Festival and its world.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Greenbelt: a Scottish Greenbelt Festival?

Heard through Tractorgirl's site and via Holyfamoley that Greenbelt are discussing a new festival for Scotland the North and Ireland to compliment the Augsut Bank Holiday GB. I think this is good news, but am giving it a guarded welcome. There was an informal feedback session near the end of GB where the initial plans for this were discussed.

Apparently it wont be on the August bank holiday weekend, as there is no such equivalent holiday in Scotland or Ireland, and Potential Greenbelters from those areas are quite rightly loathe to take there kids out of school on the Monday and Tuesday of the Festival.

So we could be looking at a another Greenbelt in the summer (July? August?) to meet the growing need for this. I haev always said that I would love for there to be a Greenbelt in every summer month and now it appears there might be two at least. (whats the betting for an English, Scottish Irish and Welsh separate Greenbelts?!) I say that i guardedly welcome this.; I am reminded of the attempt to split the festival into two in the late 90's with the Freestate debacle. I would hope that the essence and ethos of the festival would not be diluted by this radical idea, though Greenbelt is a hub for radical Christian ideas!

Thinking positively, I would hope that the one festival is just a continuation of the other , and that there will be differences, but much that is the same, and the Greenbelt experience is just extended to another summer weekend. I wonder how speakers.performers and bands etc will be booked, and if they will be contracted to play both festivals, for example.

I would imagine that there will be a number of festival goers who will go to both festivals, I for one certainly would consider it. It wont be happening in 2009 apparently, as has been stated on the Greenbelt email. Might be a good time to become a Greenbelt Angel and be in on the news directly.

Might also make Kathy Gallowaywho led a talk at this years festival happy, in raising the profile of Scottish identity among Greenbelters!

Monday, 8 September 2008

The Wightlight Festival 1987

A case perhaps of over reaching yourself, but my, what a glorious failure, if failure it was.

An attempt by a cross ecumenical group pf visionaries on the Isle of Wight in the Mid 1980’s very much inspired by Greenbelt, this festival came to fruition in 1987. The purpose was to provide another nexus of Christian doctrine, lifestyle, rock music and give it a rock and roll edginess, in homage to the mighty Greenbelt.

I remember at the time hearing some rustlings of the organisation, the seed of the Idea perhaps belonging to an American man called Sam, surname long forgotten, for which I apologise. Certainly the good and the important from Castlehold Baptist church and St Johns Church in Newport were involved, and consultation with various youth groups occurred which I of course immediately said yes, do it!

It was June or July of 1987 that the festival took place in a field on a road near Shanklin. Unfortunately, and I think this did affect festival attendee numbers, no camping licence was granted. Still at least 3000 hardy souls attended seeing the likes of Sheila Walsh, and some others, quite famous Christian artists whose names completely escape me now.

The run up to the event saw the formation of ‘The Wightlight Band’ to promote the festival amongst the churches and bizarrely Nightclubs on the Island, drumming up Support. I of course was the eager, young drummer, with freshly minted new drum kit. Others in the band were Dave White guitar and vocal, Amanda White backing vox, Roger Wells (Spock) guitar and vox, Mark Tamcken Bass guitar and vox, Karen (surname unknown) keys, Dave lee sax (who went onto form Greenbelt faves Azimuth Brainstorm), and a trumpeter who may also have been called Dave.

I think talks happened here and there like at GB, but it was a festival I spent a lot of time backstage in, using my elevated status as a ‘performer’! The crowd seemed to enjoy the event, and I heard years later from someone I worked with in a Bath hospital that she had been present for the festival! The Wighlight band played twice, once in a performance tent, which I remember Sheila Walsh coming to see us briefly and seeming to enjoy it, and more scarily, on the main stage on the Sunday playing music for the Worship.

I remember the weather being hot and the atmosphere great. It was a brave attempt at providing another festival to complement GB, but ultimately was hampered by the non camping problem and needing perhaps a bit more publicity.


If anyone attended the festival, and or had photos, please contact me, I’d love to hear your memories and stories around it!

(thanks to Pyro 1963 flickr photostream for the pic)

Greenbelt: 1983 Festival

 picture thanks to

Ah, my first Greenbelt! I was just 17 years Old

It was the ten year special- Cliff would be there as would Petra, who I absolutely loved at the Time (that’s the American Gospel rock band, not the Blue Peter dog..). And it was a festival, camping, sunshine, revelling in the glory of all Gods people (well 20 odd thousand) and lots of music!

After seeing a video of the 1982 festival (or was it the 1979 special they did, ah my memory!) our youth group at Castlehold Baptist Church on the Isle of Wight was asked if we would like to go. Of course we said yes! I think this was early in 1983, and our well-attended and vibrant youth group were set to go to one of the biggest Christian celebrations in the country.

Plans were made and everyone made checklists as to what they would take. Ultimately I remember about 10 of us went with two group leaders. We were going to Knebworth, home of all those fantastic festivals in the 70’s, Led Zeppelin, Genesis, Pink Floyd, wow! My first memory was sitting in sweltering heat in the minibus in a slow traffic jam on the Friday Morning waiting to gain entry to the site. We’d all put our plastic wristbands on early due to the excitement!

Once we got into the site, I just remember my jaw dropping at the sea of tents and people. It was certainly a new and almost overwhelming experience. We found a spot, traditionally as would become, miles from the festival village site, and then tried to put our tents up. It was my first time doing this, and found that in very hot weather, with very hard ground contrived to make it a long process. We even poured water onto the ground to soften it where we wanted to put tent pegs.

I remember sharing with two other lads, Stuart was definitely one, there was also Heidi, Vanessa, Sue and Jo I think and others who unforgivably I cant remember!

Eventually we ventured the long walk into the festival village, where we were immediately assaulted with the sights sounds and smells of the arena. Music was already happening, we probably bought some food of some description and started looking around. We found the place to buy a programme and studied that for a while. Me being record mad found all the record tents and made notes of possible purchases for later. I don’t remember much more of the festival, no not because I had a secret stash of alcopops, but I think because the immediate impression of GB was so strong. I remember being wowed by Petra, 100% proof and also seeing Cliff and Sheila Walsh, who’s cover of Graham Kendrick’s ‘God put a Fighter In Me’ was the highlight.

I remember lots of silly time in the tent, and not being able to sleep that first night. I cannot forget the toilets, obviously.

We went home on the Monday evening, and it was only at the next years festival at Castle Ashby that I realised there was a Monday night programme!
We were definitely going back next year, and encourage the rest of the youth group to attend as well! It was the start of a long and involved story.

 I don't remember going to any talks, though we did go in the Rolling magazine tent with Pip Wilson compering. It was just a time of unrestrained Joy at being in such a great atmosphere and a time of belief and faith, riding the wave of optimism and regeneration that the Christina community was experiencing. We also discovered that Christianity could be challenging and edgy, and perhaps a little bit scary....
I have realise in recent years that my memory has merged a lot of the early GB’s I attended into one, certainly the ones at Castle Ashby, which I still see as a bit of a Golden age, but then I also see 2003 til now as a Golden age too.

Greenbelt: Tractorgirl's blog

Tractor girl has a great thought-provoking blog here , called a 'Journey through the field of Life' ,which many of you might already read. It goes into lots of depth about Greenbelt, its history aims and socialiogical significance as well as real life everyday spiritual concerns.

How a Church sells itself

Love this cartoon from Dave Walker's Cartoon church blog site.
It was prompted by the discussion of the the latest cartoon on the AsboJesus site. Says a lot of pertinent things about how the institutional church is viewed by both the secular and Christian world.
interestingly, AsboJesus had a caption competition asking for notices to put up on a church advertising board. . Its well worth seeking out!

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Greenbelt Quickie (5)

Love this photo story of the Weather at this years festival, very succinct!

There was some lovely sunshine this year, and not too much rain, pretty much usual GB weather!

Greenbelt: The Jesus Arms (Greenbelt Legends 2)

Who'd have thought it, a pub at Greenbelt? one with alcohol and barmaids and things?
Inaugurated at the 2004 festival as a privately run beer tent, this has become a very popular haunt for social gatherings, a (less frequently recently) quiet pint, and loud, raucous but reverential worship following its transformation into the Jesus Arms at the 2006 grenbelt
This years festival saw up to 3,000 Greenbelters present during Beer and Hymns, closely followed by the Carols and cider event on the Sunday night. the events were streamed over the net, becoming the first ever live web broadcast of any Greenbelt venue event, cementing the venue as one of the GB places to visit during the festival.

I must admit to being a little surprised at finding it there in 2004, but it has become a place to meet people both known and unknown, and could be said to be the hub of certain festival goers GB. I prefer it for a pint in the afternoon when it is less busy, conversation, which after all is an essential part of any drink, is easier, though I do admit to thinking that belting out hymns and carols with a pint in hand ranks among the finer pastimes in life....

I almost started on my testimony to a some nice ladies Who sat at Jer's  and My table, about why I was no longer a believer and all that sort of thing. The JA is that sort of place!
And where else can you ask for a pint of confession, then absolution, followed by the very best pint of redemption?

Greenbelt: Music 2004

So, after personal events that occurred in 2003 which meant I didn't attend the festival that year, I decided to give GB one more go, encouraged a lot by Jer. After knowing how different the environment of the festival had become, I think this allowed to me to look deeper into how the modern festival was and compare with its and My heyday of the Eighties. 

I was still disappointed that music was the main event of GB as evidenced by the fact the main stage was still in the 'cowshed'. It just didn't seem right to me, or conducive to a full on, inspiring musical experience. I know that GB was worried about noise pollution and that this limited where a stage could be. Ah well, i'd suck it and see.

It was the year that I realised GB was an event for exploration of the new, as there weren't many names that I recognised. I spent a lot of time in the performance cafe, the underground seemed a bit too 'young' though I ventured in there occasionally. 2002 was the year I discovered Steve Lawson and Lies Damned Lies (LDL who had managed to pass me by in earlier festivals), so they were something to look out for, and I did! 2004 was also the first year that GB could use the newly completed Centaur, and I have to say it is probably my favourite venue there, despite the usual horrendously long queues!

It was the year of Pure Reason Revolution for me too. Having picked up their early singles after reading a review in the Times, it was the must see band for me that year, and they didn't disappoint. Looking through the programme for that year, I see I missed Julie Lee, whose sets I enjoyed immensely this year.

Jer dragged me along to see Bryn Haworth, a name I did recognise on the Arena stage. t was just him, no band unfortunately, and a long way from the ubiquitous  'We're All One' that soundtracked GB in the eighties. Managed to see Martyn Joseph, who I'd supported at a concert on the Isle of Wight with the Wightlight Band in the |Eighties.

there were lots of other bands I dipped into there, but the 2004 greenbelt Festival was really a time of transition for me, recognising the new shape of the festival and what it would mean personally for me. It was the first real awakening that nostalgia is fine, but there is equal joy in the new, and was the beginning of a journey that finds me where I am today, confident, capable and finally allowing myself to like me! Good ol' Greenbelt!

And 2004 was the year I saw that little notice asking for help in the Monster Music stall.........

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Breakfast club

Just had a great breakfast in Bath with our Monthly breakfast club. Pleasurable time spent in the company of Jer, Dave Wiles CEO of the Frontier Youth Trust, Chris, a purveyor of signed books and memorabilia, Ken and  a guest speaker, Simon,  that Dave had picked up for the Street pastor training at Hay Hill church today.
The usual high jinks- Chris trying to get the number one joke ever, and so nearly doing it with the Speedo joke, closely followed by the one about when someone smokes, discussion about Greenbelt, music festivals in General, and just general catch up time.

Oh and Birchy was told about the breakfast (he does appear once in a blue moon!)but amazingly was still in Bed!

Friday, 5 September 2008

Greenbelt: the h2g2 and wikipedia guides

Quite like this one as it gives lots of info for the festival.
read it in conjunction with the wikipedia entry which adds more on who played and when.

I am still trying to find out attendance figures for all the festivals.
I know that in 1974 they started off with 2000, then went up to 20-25,ooo in the mid eighties, then back to about 3000 in 1999 and now once again yo-yoing to 20,000 paying punters plus 5000 contributers/volunteers.
anyone with any idea?

Greenbelt- Monster Music

As requested!

Monster Music came into being in the 93 or 94 festival, owned by The Paddicks, Ian and Diane. I believe they took the stall to other festivals, but eventually these fell by the wayside, and they concentrated purely on the Greenbelt Festival due to its fantastic atmosphere, ethos and well principled festival goers. Hence the legend printed on the back of the MM staff shirt 'Only at greenbelt...' documented in a photo in a previous post. It became the place to find that elusive GB gem from previous festivals and yesteryear, and complimented perfectly the G Music tent which sold music from artists appearing at the festival in the current year.

Monster music specialised in Christian music, and you could always find an obscure LP or CD that no one else seemed to have. Ian certainly had (still has!) a predilection for Bruce Cockburn, and even started a petition to bring him back to GB following his last visit in 1999 when GB number were at their lowest since the first festival. GB responded by saying that BC would have used up most of their music budget for the festival at the time! I don't think that would be strictly true now, looking at the high profile and calibre of some of the artists who have appeared in recent years. But we wait in hope...

As The Paddicks family grew, so running a busy stall at GB became increasingly problematic. Ian simultaneously put signs up in  the stall looking for volunteers to help in the stall, and also that MM was for sale. It was to the first sign that Phil, Jer and Myself responded to in 2004. therefore for the last 4 festivals we all became MM 'staff' and had a wide range of musical knowledge, both secular and Christian to wow MM punters with!

Eventually this year, the stall was put on ebay, and a most exciting though ultimately anti- climactic sale happened, with the new owner taking the reigns at 9pm on the Monday night of the festival. Hopefully the stall will be back, but we wait and see. It is very unlikely that the new owner will want the old MM crew working for him as the sale of CDs etc is his main business. It gives the rest of us a chance to fully enjoy the festival though!

Ian was given a send off in the Jesus Arms, a bit of an emotional experience, being chanted out as he made his way home, and also the first time that all four of us had been together in any part of the festival other than MM.

Its the end of an era....

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Greenbelt Legends (1)

A Beautiful Human Person...

This man once dropped an egg on me, in the rolling magazine tent, which then cooked itself as I was so hot (the egg, not the Rolling Mag tent. Or maybe it was my girlfriend at the time. (Who dropped the egg, not Pip dropping her on me).
At least I think I knew who I was camping with at the time.

Scary man at Greenbelt

You may have been sold a CD or LP by this man at Greenbelt in the Monster Music stall. You may have heard his, er, unique sales patter. You may have even discussed Bob Dylan with him (oh why, oh why?!), and why he (Phil) looked like Bruce Cockburn on the cover of one of his albums (Bruce, not Phil).
Please approach with caution as he may talk to you!
Cheers Phil!

Greenbelt T shirts

Recent years have seen me design a couple of special shirts for GB. This one, wonderfully modelled by Phil, is the Monster Music staff T, with the classic legend 'only at Greenbelt..'
Previously, a shirt inspired by another GB-er and spotted by Jer, who REALLY wanted one,  had me getting help to use scans of all the GB programme covers to form a collage for front and back designs showing all the years of GB.
It would be great if GB themselves did this (i'd be only too glad to help!) I'm sure it would be a best seller. Im sure also that there would be lots of horrible copyright issues too!

Anyway. look out for the new improved shirt next year....

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Greenbelt 1974 blog

Just found this blog re the first GB in 1974. Didnt know there were blogs in '74!

By a member of Living Stones


Hang drums

Have just stumbled across these drums, created initially in 2000.

As a drummer myself, and often the butt of 'musicians' jokes it is great to find something rhythmic as well as carrying some sort of melody. I dont know if they have appeared in any form at Greenbelt yet, but would make a perfect insturment for meditation, or as part of an ambient chamber ensemble.

Getting hold of one may be a bit problematic though- check here

check them out at Hang Blog

Greenbelt: Music (part 1)

This has turned into a bit of a personal history of GB.

Music at Greenbelt has always been an important part of the festival for me personally. My first GB in 1983 was a real eye opener and the first real exposure to the Christian Musical Sub-culture, which was probably at its height in the Mid-Eighties. In those days we used to spend all the time in the festival village, which I seem to remember surrounding the main stage area and the mainstage itself. I nearly wet myself when I saw Petra at that first festival. Cliff as there too, whilst not musically he most challenging at least he performed, and a lot of it lying down, for which we mocked him unmercifully fro being old!
Music could be found in all sorts of places, in small marquees and the big top. There were seemingly lots of record shop tents all over, unlike the present set up in which you have (had?) Monster music, and the G Music store (ICC in another guise), which pays to have a monopoly on all music sold by artists appearing at the festival, which I think is just WRONG, and counter to the ethos of the festival. It is another story in itself, the politics that went on between MM and the G music manager, but not one that I’ll recount as publicly as this.
As the festival changed, so did I, I didn’t go for 10 years, (got married, fell out with the cosy social club that church had become, I could do social gatherings so much better than the church anyway). In 2002 I met Jer who inspired me to go to GB again, a music mad gooner like myself. I have to say I was quite under whelmed with that festival the fact it wasn’t a Greenfield site, had only about 9or 10 thousand punters and what was the main music venue doing in that shed?!!

I didn’t go in 2003, but tried again in 2004. I think I had been remembering the festival with very rose tinted spectacles form the eighties, and decided to give it one last try.

Greenbelt Quickie (4)

How did everyone find the Communion Service at its new time 3pm? Should it return to its normal time in the morning? How many people dont go to it?

I must admit I normally use the time to have a lie in, reflect on events of the previous days, have a good breakfast and read the paper!

Like the red and the balloons though.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Greenbelt - Binky's

Binky's had its origin at last years Greenbelt when Jer and myself took a big gazebo for sitting in during rain etc. It also doubled up very nicely as a sort of after hours social club, to which everyone, especially Birchy cottoned on to quite quickly. all the usual shenanigans went on and plans were made to make it bigger and better for next year, especially by Tony Cook

2008- we arrive and Tony has been true to his word and brought a big marquee type tent which can be used for such a purpose. Birchy had been despatched to provide the signage warning prospective campers near us, that it wouldn't be the place to be if you valued your beauty sleep. Thus was Binky's born into full fruition.

A place of low culture and high Dudgeon, or the other way round, it became slightly infamous at this years GB.

It came to a bit of a windy end on the Saturday Night - a huge localised tornado, centred on Binky's, probably prayed for by the Price's caravanning in a part of the campsite far, far away literally lifted Binky's off the ground and over.
I managed to hold on to it to prevent it cannoning into nearby tents. I will always treasure the picture of Birchy, big bag of chocolate on his lap, glass of JD in his hand suddenly looking up and being very confused as to why he was now outside. Eventually Jer looked round as well, and I politely asked for some help as my arm was being ripped off by the attempted escape across the field by Binky's.
The next day, the remnants were turned into a washing line, proof perhaps of reincarnation in some small way, for those of you that believe in such matters.

I believe that Binky's will return next year in a bigger (!) more tied down guise. Watch this space.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Greenbelt quickie (3)

Heard from a customer when serving in the Monster Music stall- an original meaning of calling someone a 'Natural' meant implying they are simple. 
So be careful with your superlatives.

Greenbelt- bands that inspired me this year

Julie Lee - Will There Really Be a Morning?
Beth Rowley - Little Dreamer
Virgin Passages - Distance
Foreign Slippers - Oh Death
Steve Lawson - Lawson/Dodds/Wood trio album TBR October
Karen Grace - Find Me
Julie Mckee - What A  Woman Shouldnt Do
Miriam Jones - Sign and Semblance
Olivier Messiaen - Quartet for the End of Time
Andensum - Lucky Witness
Kashee Opeiah - Panic in Solitude
Nikko Fir - Walking Free
Esther Alexander - Last of The Hopeless Romantics
Ultravox - Vienna
Steve Lawson and Lobelia - Live EP

Lots of folky and female vocalists, balanced a bit by the Heavy metal (is that a term still used?) bands- lots of Metallica Maiden Opeth and Meshuggah in there. Oh and Ultravox was the CD to play at midnight on the Sunday. 
The Messiaen recital was a revelation, and also pointed to where the King Crimsons get some of their influence from.

Actually, this GB was a bit of a stormer for music and exploring new bands and artists, alongside the usual GB faves like Steve Lawson.

Greenbelt quickie (2)

So last years GB was the 'trying to grasp the wet bar of soap' GB
this years must be the 'Glitter accessories' GB

Monster Music RIP (as we knew it)

Featuring Jer and Ian.
will it be back next year as the place to get musical GB goodies past and present?

NP 'Distance'  Virgin Passages 
they appeared on a Mojo front cover CD- nice musical landscapes, a bit like A Silver Mount Zion and Tra La La Band, bits of Polyphonic Spree.

Greenbelt quickie (1)

Picked up the new phrase/acronym which i quite like, as it refers to me , as well.


Not a Christian as far as I know.

NP 'Will There Really Be a Morning'  Julie Lee  (absolutely beautiful haunting folk/country- get it now!)

Camping at Greenbelt

Its always the same, arrive on the Thursday, which myself and Jer have been allowed to do since we started working for Monster Music (more of which in an entry all of its own, later), and find the Sanctuary lot from Bath, or tell them where we are. Normally thats campsite 9, on the hill at the end of the Loooong road from the festival village.
We've seen a succession of tents, from a two person  to an ancient huge frame tent to the prototype Binky's stylee modern one that we have had for the last two years. It can actually fit in 22 people, as we found out almost by accident on the Saturday night. One of the joys of Greenbelt is meeting new people and socialising or, if you will, fellowship. This led to the creation of Binky's this year, a more fully realized version of the events held in Jer's gazebo last year. Binky's also will get its own entry.

Anyway, the tent gets put up, for which the wind picks up solely at this time and for when we take the tent down. Air beds are blown up, tables placed, seats and cooking equipment all ready for use. then its helping with others tents, or generally supervising a la Jon Birch (check out his work with Asbo jesus and Proost).

Sleep is almost optional at GB as there is always NOISE (especially in Binky's) and the fact that there is so much to do and see means that less and less time is spent in the tent, and other peoples tents in the manic round of socialising that GB can be.

Once the tent is up then GB begins- 5 days of general loveliness, seeing all sorts of planned and unplanned things. A great description of Greenbelt can be found here  on the very talented Steve Lawson's site.

To come;
Music at GB
Monster Music

and more!

NP   'Oh Death'  - Foreign Slippers

Tuesday, 26 August 2008


Just got back from this marvelous festival. This is  the first in a few reports about this years bash

The Final year of the Monster Music stand, i helped out this year on a very ad hoc basis. it was emotional saying goodbye to Ian after he handed the stall over to the new owner. I have my doubts whether MM will return now. Time will tell. I think Ian appreciated the chant of 'Ian, Ian' as he  left the beer tent.

Lots of lovely people seen, catching up with the Sanctuary and St Philips lot and camping with 'Binky's ' in our midst, but more of all this later.

NP         'Find Me'   - Karen Grace

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Mid season report

Always a bitter-sweet point in the season, now more games have been played than are left. It has been a good season, so far it could even be called a classic season. The tour was probably the best, certainly the best I have been on. Was it the fact that it was 'overseas'? yes probably, the Isle of Wight did provide a wonderful backdrop for the tour shenanigans.

The tour was classic for the mix of the squad who went, and the 'activities' that were got up to. room redecoration will always be a classic, the minibus rugby tackle, Kissifur being 'bottled' by Basha on the bus, Gez dumbfounded that the Friday night opposition knew his names and some of his misdemeanours, until he saw the wanted posters, the ambulance, the quality of the banter.

Since the tour, we have now lost 6 games in a row, and are wondering if we ever will win again. It doesn't really matter as usually the banter makes up for it, though games like the one last Thursday against MWT aren't the best- black clouds over a few players heads at probably the worst stella performance ever, even for us!

The forum has now settled down to the usual business; two or three new Stella members, charting actual stella connected events, an appearance by Gladys, and the usual background murmurings about Hampset and their relation with the Stella's. Team selection however goes on, more social events are in planning, and we are going to the dogs again!