Category Archives: Paul’s blog

A view from backstage – Oh What A Night! – Paul’s day 9 blog

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And what a grand ending to the 30th annual Monmouth Festival. I have to say that backstage was a nervous place to be, we had a strict time table for this final show and on top of this I had a huge list of thank you’s and messages that had to be announced from upon the stage, however to let this distract from the main entertainment was something I wasn’t going to do. The last night of the festival is traditionally the busiest and we were prepared for a festival ending like no other.

Kicking off the fun was Poco Latino, a Latin music outfit who had a whole load of kit to plug in and sound check. I was also pleased to see some old friends in the crowd, friends that always turn out for the Latin night. Spanish dancing was on the audience’s to-do list, plus a whole load of swaying and rocking as we all got into the groove of the night.

It was time to make the announcements and Chairman Les took the stage to say his thank you’s. It’s the first time Les has chaired the committee and he’s done a great job, keeping us all in line and leading the way to a smooth running throughout.

By the time our headline act came on, Blestium Street car park was over flowing into the road and there were queues of people lining up at the bar. If you were around in the ’60s you would have relived some great moments as New Amen Corner rocked the stage. If you weren’t around it shouldn’t have made much difference as they played a well known set list of classic hits and rocking numbers that even the youngest of the crowd could sing along to.

But then, as we finished up with a big screen presentation and the awesome fireworks, a hint of sadness came over me, it was over for another year and I was gutted to have to say goodbye to Monmouth once again.

A huge thank you to everyone who donated to our buckets, as I said on the night it costs approximately 40k to put on the festival each year, all the staff work for free and purely for the love of the UK’s best free festival. A massive thank you to Jeff Harris for coming to the stage with me at the end of the night, but mainly a massive thank you to the people of Monmouth for making me feel so welcome, it was like I still lived in town and seeing all my friends ensured that I had my best festival yet. Big up festival goers, we’ll see you next year.

Paul

With thanks for the photos to: Steve Mitchell of Stephen Mitchell Photography

A view from the backstage – Singing In The Rain! – Paul’s day 8 blog

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As I started my cross-town walk towards the Festival main stage on Friday night it was already starting to spit with rain and there was a sense that more was on its way. I had to stop at a few shops to see if I could grab myself an umbrella, of course prices had gone up due to supply and demand. But I managed to find a way to keep dry in case it did get heavier.

I was sitting backstage with the Ronaldos as they were getting ready to follow me on stage, they’ve played here before in 2010 so I knew the guys and we were just discussing how the Festival gets better every year. We got the call that DJ Jeff Harris was on his last song and so we all started getting prepped. Just as the voice of god came on to introduce the start of the night the heavens opened up, big time! Rain like I haven’t seen in ages, we had seconds to go and the stage was flooding, the crew immediately jumped to life and started sweeping the stage of water, moving all the electronics back and generally trying making safe what could have been a slippery place to be. I looked at the Ronaldos as there was seconds to go, we knew what we had to do and we didn’t care for the rain, we were here to play.

I stepped on stage and suddenly the rain just stopped, completely, like the clouds were paying homage to our efforts in this supposedly summer bank holiday weekend. It was a sign that things would be ok. The Ronaldos were excellent, they’re a party band who like to get involved with the crowd and put on a fast paced show. We’ve had them before at Monmouth Festival and might have them again. I certainly wouldn’t complain.

Half time and Blestium Street car park was full. The rain had stayed off apart from a little drizzle occasionally, plus there was lightning over Goodrich so it was all eyes to the sky in case we had to shut down the stage. No-one wants to be stood next to a huge electricity conductor in a lightning storm.

Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash were our headline act; keeping themselves hidden in the green room or running back and forth with their equipment meant that I couldn’t disturb them to talk about the show. But they know what they’re doing so it wasn’t an issue. Wishbone Ash are a bit before my time, so it wasn’t the perfect singalong show for me, but then I am a youngster really, the crowd was filled with a more experienced listener who know the songs like they were re-living the 70s. A superb turnout and a superb show. They played until 11pm and as I took the stage to suggest an encore, I was greeted with an almighty response. Of course we wanted an encore, the night was young and the weekend had started.

Clearly the cloud gods were also enjoying the show because just as I introduced DJ Jeff for his final playout, after the final song from Martin Turner, they opened up once more, reminding us that they had allowed this to happen and that they too were fans of Monmouth Festival, the best free festival in the UK.

As for me, I walked home singing in the rain to the few Wishbone Ash songs that I had been reminded of at the gig. Tonight we rest, for tomorrow we party hard as the Festival comes to an epic end.

Paul.

Photos from festival volunteers.

A view from backstage – Nobody leaves the stage without singing the blues! Paul’s day 7 blog

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I’m a huge fan of the blues. In fact the first music I bought was a cassette titled Boom boom boom by John Lee Hooker, it’s where my love of music started and last night I was reminded of those days trying to strum out walking bass lines in my attic.

Thursday night on the main stage saw two fantastic blues groups rocking our world with tales of sad happenings and throaty vocals. Red River Blues came all the way from neighboring Herefordshire to perform for the somewhat packed Blestium Street car park. What a show, and what great musicians. The band were tight and as I said the vocals had that husky throaty seriousness that we expect from a professional blues outfit.

Towards the end of the set I headed backstage to have a quick chat to the John Amor Blues Group and prepare them for the gig. I have to remark on how well they were dressed, this was a bunch of youthful trendy musicians who were ready to storm the stage. Add to that the slightly more experienced namesake and lead singer of the band Mr John Amor and I was excited to see what these guys could do.

They started really strong, so strong in fact that I bought there CD before they had finished their first song. A good investment especially as a percentage of the funds raised from the sales goes towards the Festival fund. These guys really knew how to work a crowd but their specialty was simply singing the blues, and looking great whilst they did it.

All in all one of my favorite nights of the festival, and nobody should leave the stage without singing the blues, except me of course, because we can’t refund donations 😉

Thanks again to all who helped out by putting coins in our buckets, it means we can return next year and do it all over again for the 31st time.

Paul.

Thanks to Emma Cheshire-Jones of ECJ Photography, Steve Mitchell of Stephen Mitchell Photography, and Paul Bond of Purabelleza Photography.

A view from backstage – Melodic mid-week melancholy – Paul’s day 6 blog

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Thanks to Steve Mitchell for the professional photos and Lottie Dixon Stage Manager for the two side stage shots.

Traditionally Wednesday night of the Festival has been saved for country and western, and the 30th anniversary show was no different. It was a dry and warmish night at Blestium Street and back stage the crew were relaxed as the technical setup was somewhat simpler this year. As I peered through the curtain I could see a steadily growing group of country fans lining up in seated arrangement as if assuming the front of crowd was reserved. This of course was confirmed when I walked on stage and asked if we would see any dancing tonight. I was rewarded by a mighty but deep reply, it was of course yes!. It’s the same each year on country night, the fans make the evening for me.

With front of crowd opened up and an ever more denser audience getting warmed up we invited our first act to the main stage. Chris James is a solo artist with a few guitars and a banjo. Even if country isn’t your thing you can normally expect a family friendly, upbeat and lively show from the Wednesday main stage.

Following Chris was our headline act Two Card Trick. A two piece who were known for many years as two members of The Country Experience. A well known act across the UK. They followed on seamlessly from Chris and ended the night in a fist full of well known lyrics and a car park full of line dancers.

Personally I enjoyed my night, but I think the show could have livened up a bit, normally the country night it a party for everyone, whereas last night was took a more subdued feel and possibly lacked a certain something that for me is what makes country. A few more up beat songs that we could sing along to would have pushed the night to the next level. Even so, I spoke to many after all was quiet and most said they really enjoyed the night. Maybe I was a little tired.

Thursday is now here and blues is on the menu. Get to the mainstage for 8 and be ready for a great show.

A view from backstage – Ruby Tuesday – Paul’s day 5 blog

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This was day 5 of the Festival but we aren’t done yet. As the sun faded and the evening took its hold on Blestium Street we were starting to warm up. If you chanced a glance at the night sky you may have noticed the threatening doom of rain or possibly lightning, something we take very seriously backstage. For if it rains we can hide ourselves beneath umbrellas, but if lightning falls on our fair stage it’s a whole different kettle of fish. Thank God that the weather held out and we could keep dry whilst enjoying the soul sounds of our Tuesday night entertainment.

The Bandits were back stage and really excited about the gig, they have wanted to play the festival for a while and this year their time had come. A mix of soul and rock n roll tunes meant that we could sing along until our heart’s content. I certainly enjoyed my view from the front row whilst slowly sipping my spiced rum and coke. Overall a fun set with a good time feel. They did a grand job.

Of course the Festival simply couldn’t be without the adjoining soul-defining sounds of the Mighty Pledge. Originally formed in 1990 for one reason, to play Monmouth festival, these guys have stuck around and built their own epic following. You may have recognized a few faces on stage and that’s what makes the Pledge. Great tunes, expertly performed, by people we know. A legendary band for a legendary festival. My personal favourite was the newest member of the band Lyndon (a long-standing festival volunteer and committee member too!) on lead guitar who I felt gave the tunes the edge they needed.

Thank you to all who attended, never before have I seen such enthusiasm on a Tuesday night. With the red wine and spiced rum, it turned out to be one hell of a ruby Tuesday.

Paul Roberts

A view from backstage – another manic Monday – Paul’s day 4 blog

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Photos thanks to Paul Bond of Purabellezza Photography. Video of Secret Police (Sunday night) below this blog, thanks to Stephen Mitchell. See the Facebook page for more informal shots of the evening.

Monday Monday, so good to me! After such a huge weekend and having so much fun on Sunday night I was seriously wondering whether I would make it to the stage on Monday, but music prevailed and by the time 7pm came around I could see we were heading towards another great night of music. For this fine Monday evening the theme was simple……..ROCK!

The original line up had 4 bands coming to the stage but with Toadstool playing for us last Saturday, the three remaining bands had a longer set time to fill which was a better solution than cramming another group into the schedule. To kick things off a band from Coleford and beyond, with the youngest musicians I’ve seen on the main stage this year. Young at heart and incredibly talented, we welcomed to the stage Pandemick. Great to see the drummer on lead vocals too, a rarity and certainly a tough job. It’s occasional, but when I do sit down to hit the skins I can’t even think in a straight line, let alone remember words in a sequential order and keep them in key. My hat comes off to the boys from Pandemick. A couple of years and they will be really owning their own sound. They ended their set with the Terminator theme which for me was the highlight of the night.

Second up, Between The Lines. Again a really young band but with a whole different kettle of fish on offering. Rock, folk, Funtime and even some occasional foreign vocals, although I couldn’t get to the front of stage quick enough to work out which language their lead was singing in for that tune. They welcomed a cameo singer who added a nice female touch to the otherwise all male crew and also got the whole audience singing along to their music. There were two words that defined the band for me, stage presence! They had stack loads and although they were young, they didn’t sound it.

Our headline for the night was The Words. A more mature band with some great songs under their belt. These guys knew how to rock the stage and with Monday night ever more pressing on the audiences watches, the band did a fantastic job at keeping the mood going. For not only did many of us normal folk work during the day, but we had to do it again tomorrow. The question is do we care how tired we are? Of course not, It’s just another manic Monday. With tantalising  Tuesday just round the corner.
And another goodie for you – The Secret Police performing on Sunday night:

Paul’s day three blog – Sunday

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Sunday night and Sunday Carnival photos thanks to: Des Pugh, Hannah McGregor and Paul Bond of Pura Bellezza Photography, Emma Cheshire-Jones of ECJ photography and festival volunteers. Video (below this blog) thanks to David Ibbitson of www.goherefordshire.co.uk

Normally Sunday is considered the official day of rest, but not at Monmouth Festival. Following a noisy, colourful and spectacular Carnival day, in the evening Blestium Street car park was alive with jivers from across our fair county all enjoying the sounds of The Jiveoholics, our first band to hit the stage. I’ve known the boys from the band about five years and seen them play a myriad of gigs, but this year with their new line up I was looking forward to see how their sound might have changed. If you missed it then I can confirm that they still know how to party. The crowd were dancing their socks off and those who weren’t enjoyed a gentle sway in place of all out leg shaking. A fun, frollicky and energetic start to Sunday night’s line up.

Then something completely different with the Secret Police, one of the best tribute bands in seen in a long time, excellent covers and smashing vocals. We all enjoyed an hour or crackin’ tunes and because the bands renditions were so close to the original, most of the crowd were spotted singing along to more than one hit.

Overall a superb evening and a perfect ending to the week. Hold onto your hats though because Monday night is coming. And sees us launch into day four of Monmouth’s Festival.

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