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Next year’s festival …

Hello … it’s been a while! Image

We may have been quiet on this blog and on social networks but it doesn’t mean we’ve had our feet up! We’ve been busy planning next year’s festival which will be on (drum roll) … Fri 26 July – Sat 3 August, with Carnival Sunday on Sunday 28 July. So, put that date in your diary/on your iCalendar, Outlook or Google Calendar, and watch out for more news over the coming months.

You can be among the first to know by subscribing to our e-news at our website http://www.monmouthfestival.co.uk (e-news subscribers tend to get the news first) or by subscribing to this blog, or following us on Facebook or Twitter.

What people said about Monmouth Festival 2012

Mon Fest 2012 crowd shotSo, it all seems a dim and distant memory now but below is a little reminder of what an amazing Festival we had this summer. Thanks to our fantastic audiences and bands who created an amazing atmosphere, and supported the Festival in many ways. Thanks also to everyone who commented, shared, tweeted, retweeted, and generally spread the love.

If you’re interested in getting involved next year, come and have a drink and a chat with us at the Three Horseshoes on Thurs 22 November – pop in anytime from 6pm – 8pm and meet some of the current team, pick up a leaflet (or you can  download the leaflet here) about possible ways you can help, and chat to us about what you might be interested in doing.

In the meantime, here’s what you said …

The Secret Police: “You wonderful people of Monmouth – a big thank you for having us at your festival, it was a pleasure and an honour to be part of it in 2012 – all the very best for years to come and long may it continue. Cheers to you all”

Penny Evans: “What a fabulous festival, we made all 9 nights, look forward to next years”

Wakefield Turner: “Really good, quality of music very high. Well done all.”

Mick Clutton: “Another massive success for Monmouth Festival – it has to be one of the very best around !! Will be there to help 2013 ;-)”

Robert Mark Smith: “A really magnificent effort once again to you people of Monmouth that put so much hard work into what has to be one of the absolute best free festivals in this country.:) …”

Alan ‘Pastiemuncher’ Cox: “We came back for the fest and to see family, you done montown proud, some really good bands, see you next year :)”

Sharon Jones: “See you next year Monmouth your wicked!! x”

Blue Humphries: “AMEN CORNER, a brilliant finish to a great festival”

Paul Saunders: “mts wishbone ash were brill never been to the festival before but i will try it again thanks monmouth”

Philip Ghostwatchersinc Jones: “What a top nite 🙂 well done all for a fantastic festival :)”

Blue Humphries: “I absolutely think this is by far one of the best festivals yet.Well done to all who have worked so hard and all the crews to make this happen.You should all be very,very proud of what you have achieved.Hope you will do it all again for next year.Thank you”

Chris Aylmer, Red River Blues: “Red River Blues had a great time at the Monmouth Festival last night. Thanks to everyone who came – and for being so enthusiastic, makes it all worthwhile! Also thanks to the wonderful Festival Staff and Crew who made us so welcome and were so friendly and efficient throughout the whole evening.”

Mikey Cooling, Red River Blues: “Brilliant to play Monmouth Festival again, last time was in Agincourt square mid 90’s, loved it!!”

Hugh McParland: “We had a great night last night. Thanks for organising such a great event. Pandemick were brilliant, enjoyed Between the Lines and Words of course. But for loud hard charging Rock Pandemick took the night away”

Adam Ward, Pandemick: “On behalf of Pandemick, I’d just like to thank monmouth festival for giving us the chance to play, the boys thoroughly enjoyed the night, the atmosphere and crowd were amazing and the crew were spot on

Graeme Stuart Smith: “Just like to say myself and The Words had a unreal time playing last night. The staff were great, the atmosphere of the crowd was amazing, what a night. Hope everyone enjoyed it :D.. See you again soon :D.”

Tony Mange Eade, Toadstool (POSTED WITH PHOTO): “Toadstool rocking Monmouth Festival on Saturday night, awesome!
Hope you all enjoyed it as much as me and the guys did!”

Leeson O’Keeffe, Neck (POSTED WITH PHOTO): “NECK rocking the bejaysus out of Monmouth on Friday night!
Thanks again – mighty craic was had by all!”

Lounging About: “Really enjoyed playing the Festival’s Carnival Chill Out yesterday. – many thanks to all. Looking forward to the rest of the festival.”

Jackie Martin (POSTED WITH PHOTO): “Bourgeoisie playing in the showcase this afternoon. Apparently, today was the first time they have played together in front of an audience. I would never have known. They were good enough to have had night time set. You never know, maybe next year….”

Jackie Martin: “A great festival so far and thank you to everyone for all the hard work that has gone into making it a success. No-one gets paid; it is literally a labour of love. I hope anyone who has enjoyed themselve digs deep into their pockets to help it continue. Without donations there is no festival.”

Toadstool: “Thank you for inviting us to play we had a ball! 
Really appreciate all the great comments and feedback we have had, awesome! 
Big thanks to all the volunteers and crew fantastic job!”

Leeson O’Keeffe, Neck: “A huge thanks to all of youse that braved the weather & came out on Friday – it was a great night & fair play to yiz: 
we knew you’d get what we do, being fellow Celts, & you didn’t let us down – cheering & dancing & having a rare ould hooley! We had a brilliant time! 
Go raibh mile maith agaibh / Diolch yn fawr iawn!
from those feckers in Neck”

Sally Ann Evans: “Just wanted to say a huge thank you for the gig last night. Brilliant night, fantastic people in the audience and great crew. Happy 30th Festival love from The Good Times. X”

Guido McFister: “Just wanted ta say a big thanx ta everyone involved an all those who danced n sang in tha rain last night….had a blast playin what else can I say? Special thanx ta Angela, Andy an those whose name I can’t remember fer sortin out tha room fer me an Lucy an tha lift there 🙂 Guido aka Guy, Wispy McCracken etc. lol Sláinte”

Helen Richards: “ What a brill nite me and my boy really injoyed it all and the last nite. Fireworks where great. Cant wait for next yr”

Julie Lawrence: “We had a great night watching the Ronaldos, well worth seeing, even in the pouring rain.”

Robert Mark Smith: “cracking set last nioght from TOADSTOOL ..wish I could have stayed for Hells Bells but…ah well !.keep it going Monmouth Festival is awesome !”

Neville Turner:  “had abs brills nite watchin toadstool n hells bells .best nite in ages .thanx guys …….”

Alison Mckenzie: “although it was extremely wet, last night was fabulous!! ;D”

David Ibbitson: “Fantastic show, my first visit, definatlley will be returning next year”

Subject: Sadly, The festival is over for another year

To All Those Involved,

Well, you’ve done it again, what a great festival and thankyou so much. Thanks to all the organisers, volunteers, superb line up of bands, and a very smoothely run event. I really do appreciate the punctuality…..always starting on time etc. Although it was held 3 weeks later this year, (much to my disapointment, as I always work my short breaks away around the festival, but because of the change of date I missed the first 3 nights!!), the weather still did it’s best to interupt the event. But in spite of the fact I got soaked, it was well worth it and the “show went on.”

How you manage to put together such a fantastic line up of talent, I do not know, but I lift my hat to you all. Please accept a pat on the back all of you, and once again thankyou from the bottom of my heart.

See you next year!!, Best wishes from John, Coleford.

@megdavies4: “Lovely night at #MonFest listening to country music + watching random people line dancing…made me think of @JKCorden and @RobBrydon in G+S”

@alysha_moore: “i went to Monmouth festival for one night, i met & spent the night with some amazing people aw”

‎‏@BMX_FIEND: “Monmouth is going to be sooooooo f**ing boring now the festival is over… Well time to stay inside for a year until it comes back”

@landdodger: “Saw the New Amen Corner at 30th Monmouth Festival tonight -forgot the pleasure of yelling to ‘If paradise was twice as nice as you? ‘is it?”

@ChloeBlomfield: “Lush week at monmouth festival, met some amazing people!<3”

@SarahESmith95: “Monmouth festival was amazing”

@BreezyDaHero_3: “Monmouth festival you do me proud 😉 #rockandroll bitches.”
We came last weekend for the carnival which was brilliant and came back yesterday for the last night, oh my goodness what a fantastic evening and the fireworks were amazing, well done everyone , can’t wait for next year, kind regards Karen n john, wolverhampton 🙂

Paul Rimmer (The Clay Cuisine Company): “Please pass on our thanks to all of the team that assisted us this year at the Monmouth Festival this year… Hope the Saturday night night went well !”

Subject: Wishbone Ash Sound

Hello,
just a brief note to congratulate the sound crew for the fabulous sound on Friday night at Wishbone Ash. From the very first note all was spot on: clear vocals on all mikes, all the small drums and cymbals sharp and clear, guitars just right, and absolutely rock solid tuneful bass. Quite an achievement on such an awful night. A really excellent gig. Thank you.
Regards,
Kevin, Welsh Newton.

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 Church – Chris’s blog

A short review of the Friday night concert at St Mary’s Church. Next year we hope to bring you blogs from each night at the Church!

Following three successful events in the classical series this year at Monmouth Festival with record audience sizes, we were treated to a marvellous recital by local opera singer William Mackie on Friday, accompanied by Gareth Llyr Simon on piano. The performance was well received by a large and enthusiastic audience who made their appreciation known by means of a standing ovation.

William Mackie – a professional opera singer who has sung with the Royal Opera and Welsh National Opera – sang a wide-ranging program that included German lieder by Strauss and Schubert, as well as Negro spirituals and a series of English sea songs.  There was also a theatrical excerpt taken from Mozart’s Don Giovanni; an opera that depicts the happenings of a promiscuous nobleman. The entire program was performed with great energy and emotion that filled the beautiful acoustic of St Mary’s Priory Church, the principal venue for classical events at Monmouth Festival.

The quality of the performance was outstanding and we are fortunate not only to have such musical talent performing at Monmouth Festival, but also living in our local community.

A view from the Shoes – Bryn’s blog day 5

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Wow!!!  What can I say about Friday night, our last day of Fringe events at The Three Horseshoes. Hame followed by Rusty Shackle gave us at the Fringe Stage in The Three Horseshoes one heck of a night!!… the busiest night of the second stage in the 30 year history of Monmouth Festival !!

We were as they say absolutely rammed out – people everywhere as you’ll see from the photos. As well as having an incredible night of music, those who came did us proud on the bucket collection. I’d like to say a huge thank you on behalf of Monmouth Festival to everyone that has attended our events and given so generously this year – every penny goes towards the cost of running the festival. We were also very pleased with the two new initiatives to raise funds – T-Shirts & Wrist Bands. If you missed getting yours you can still call into The Three Horseshoes and buy them.

Hame, our local boys, entertained a packed out crowd of singing, dancing Monmothians (and others of course!) – lots of the bands’ contemporaries, and many others, enjoyed a high energy set. It was a real pleasure to support locally grown talent…on their way up we hope.  They delivered some fabulous original material and we on the sound desk were impressed by the numbers of people who knew the words and sure did sing along.

By the time Rusty Shackle came on we’d have to admit – it was rather warm in our venue. It wasn’t sweat dripping off the ceiling, it was condensation honest!!  It was something else it really was – a proper, proper full on jumping gig. Fiddle driven Acoustic Folk Rock enhanced by some great banjo work, acoustic and electric guitars, built on really solid bass and drums: that was the order of the day. They topped it off with all of the band backing up the lead vocals, once again on some really great original songs that have remained in the brain.

Yesterday night really was one of those times that is so difficult to put into words – I hope the few iPhone snaps I have included will give you an idea. I will also be uploading an album of my own snaps from The Three Horseshoes on to the Monmouth Festival Facebook Page (once the dust has settled!)…if you haven’t “liked” it, please do.

So, that’s it from me for another year. Once again our thanks to everyone that’s come to the Second Stage, for your company, generosity and support, we are very grateful. We hope that you have enjoyed eclectic mixed programme from Delta Blues to FuzzRop.  With the tasters we have given you we also hope you will be inspired to continue to support live music during the coming year until we see you again for next year’s Monmouth Festival…and you can be sure we are already working on (seriously!) next year’s line up on The Second Stage at The Three Horseshoes. Talking of which we’d like to thank Sam and the staff at “The Shoes” for all of their hardwork in supporting the festival.

SEE YOU NEXT YEAR !!!!

Photos: Bryn Williams, BWM Promotions.

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 the Shoes – day 4

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A quick blog from a volunteer for this evening’s show, as Bryn didn’t compere last night. Harry Jones was first on first, replacing Sam Eden who was unwell, and we were really pleased to have him back as he’d played at the Green Dragon earlier in the week and went down a storm.  I didn’t see him as I was tweeting and Facebook posting from St Mary’s Church where the Mavron String Quartet were playing, but hear it was a superb performance. Harry is definitely one to watch, with great personality, solid guitar skills and an amazing vocal range.

So, I arrived at 9.30pm just as George Montague was about to take to the stage. Just beforehand, a group of slightly older-than-usual audience members approached me and rather nervously asked me ‘what was going on’. I found it hard to describe George Montague as I’d not seen him before and he’s one of those artists that doesn’t fall into any particular camp. Singer-songwriter – well yes, but so much more: multi-instrumentalist (keyboard, ukelele, electric guitar, acoustic guitar).

As soon as he took to the stage it was obvious that this young musician is so much more than that, and what stood out in addition to his powerhouse musical skills were that he is a hugely talented performer: he commanded the stage, had the audience in the palm of his hands (even getting them to sing IN THE FIRST SONG!).

He chatted, he laughed, he growled, he squealed, he filled the Shoes with a vocal, musical and performer’s maturity far beyond his years (and I bet he HATES it when people say that sort of thing). The songs were captivating, touching, fun, and one, down-right scary.

He’s recording at Rockfield Studios today and was clearly excited when the Rockfield family – including Kingsley and Lisa Ward – turned up to cheer him on. Good luck today George, and we hope we see you in Monmouth again!

Thanks for the photos to: Paul Bond of Purabellezza Photography and Steve Mitchell of Stephen Mitchell 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

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