I was shocked when the news bulletin revealed that Glasgowbury Festival was ending this summer. I’ve been attending since 2004 and have missed only once. I’ve seen it in makeshift spaces, in a challenging sports field and once when it retracted to the Cellar Bar in Draperstown and was besieged by drunken meatheads.
In all of these situations, Paddy Glasgow has been a dependable feature, mobilising his team, a great propagandist for the rural story and our introduction to the mind-expanding vistas of the Sperrins and Eagle’s Rock. I have frozen on those hillsides and I’ve bonded with dear friends. I had a memorable night in a family camping space that was populated by over-excited young men blowing trumpets and bashing bongo drums, forever. We were there when Amy Winehouse died and I phoned in a disheveled report from a petrol station the following morning. Also, in the days when my radio show was on a Friday, we would often take part in a pre-festival broadcast at the Cellar Bar, involving songs from beautiful people such as Henry McCullough, purely into the music and the occasion.
Now it seems that Paddy wants to set aside the festival and to build on the music hub dimension of his activity. This has been an ongoing success, and there are dozens of graduates from the G Sessions programmes, now feeding into the music sector. Paddy has secured a physical space to contain the efforts and I’m convinced that he’ll deliver much more.
In terms of the festival, we will be bereft of that rare bonhomie of Glasgowbury. Local bands headlined, new faces were nurtured and the city guys had an important education. I had the feeling that Paddy was often frustrated by the local establishment and by the culture, tourism and arts hierarchy. While he could talk up an excellent proposition, the funders sometimes wanted the vision knocked into a shape that they could manage. Sometimes, the dream may not fit so conveniently.
So I’ll be bound for those hills this weekend, confident that a good time will be had, that the camping may be comical and that the music will feed the soul. Once more, with feeling. Sigh.