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)


Holy Famoley said...

Have you heard there is talk of the possibility of a Scottish Greenbelt type event?

Stumpy said...

HI Yes, thank you. Picked up on this yesterday through Tractor Girls site. Thanks for letting me know though, thoughts will appear here!
I alwasy said there should be a greenbelt e3vry month in the summer!