Me arriving well-prepared!
'Moor' than just music!
By BBC Blast Reporter Ryan King
I've just got back from the Moor Music Festival up on the hills above Ilkley where I got a little 'moor' than just the music! From burger wars to a man calling himself the Rhythmic Ginger, here's how it went...
I am - simply put - a bit of a festival warrior. I have donned my festival armour of wellington boots, cagoule and waterproofs on many occasions. I have danced in tents, fields and on tables at festivals in England and throughout Europe. From dance music to jazz, I have enjoyed the delights of festivals ever since I could erect a tent. Through all my experiences I have collected many tales, recollections of those funny things that happen at festivals, those fond memories of the event.
Rhythmic Ginger and his ladies
Trying to plan for writing this feature on the Moor Music Festival and recalling lots of my own memories, I realised that the best festivals, the ones I have enjoyed the most, all have one thing in common. It's the one thing that, if it was missing, a Festival wouldn't run; it's the one thing that provides excitement, mystery and delight; it's the glue that sticks the entire weekend together. If you haven't already guessed: it's me and you! It's the people who attend, the people that provide the ups and downs, the people that create the atmosphere, and the people who make or break the weekend.
So with this in mind I decided that rather than just bring you my own opinion, I would instead meet the people who help create the Moor Music Festival. From the stall owner to the security guard right through to superstar DJs and tribal belly dancers, here is the lowdown on the Moor Music Festival 2008 - from the people's perspective.
In need of a cuppa!
It's early on Saturday morning when I rise. I got to the Festival late on Friday and it was already in full swing. After throwing up the tent in a fashion Ray Mears would be proud of, I got stuck straight into the Festival and danced in to the early hours. That's why this morning my head hurts and for some reason I am missing a shoe. After some searching I realise I have lost my trusty left walking boot and in its place I've gained what can only be described as a peculiar looking brown loafer. The rain has been coming down hard throughout the evening so it's pretty bleak outside, but not wanting to let this and the missing shoe dampen my spirits I decide to venture out in search of tea.
The mud is building and everything is wet - including me. I've been in this position before and the only thing to do is plough through the mud, making the most of what grass remains. Massively in need of tea I squelch over to the Chocolate Fountain stall and it's here I meet John Campbell and Gaynor Quinlin - my first people's perspective.
The Chocolate Fountain trailer and burger wars!
They seem like really nice people and more importantly their tea is great. John owns the trailer and Gaynor works with him throughout the year, travelling to festivals up and down the country. When he's finished his circuit in England, John moves on to Thailand where he runs a holiday home.
Willy Wonka would be proud!
It's early and I noticed last night the trailer was open late so I have to ask John if he enjoys the job: "We can spend three days working, sometimes for nothing. I worked 18 hours yesterday...You've got to really want to do it, really enjoy it. If it's just a wage to you then you couldn't stand here for 18 hours".
By now Gaynor has brewed me another cup of tea and I'm debating whether to have some chocolate coated fruit. She starts to tell me about 'burger wars' after I ask if there is much competition between vendors: "By Trading Standards you have to put your name and address on your unit...What happens is that other firms find out where you live and when you're not there they will either trash your unit and steal your jobs or steal the unit and change it into something else - burger wars they call it. People we know will go home going round roundabouts two or three times, because they're paranoid someone will steal their trailer".
I'm really enjoying my chat with John and Gaynor and it's obvious they do this for the love of the job, John telling me he lives on the road in his trailer and that this weekend Gaynor will work for nothing and he is set to lose money. I realise that this is a hard job and my pre-conceptions of the trailer owners 'raking it in' are completely wrong.
John and Gaynor's chocolate fountain
Wanting to hear some festival tales I ask them for their funniest moments, what strange sights they've seen: "It's mainly the funny things people say to you...They come up, read Chocolate Fountain, see the Chocolate Fountain, and ask, 'How much are your chips?'" We share a laugh and one more cup of tea. I feel for them working all weekend for nothing, and then I step back and take a look at them. They have both smiled throughout the morning - a smile that continues as I visit them for tea during the weekend.
Finishing on my favourite question I ask if they could put on their own festival what would it be? As quick as a flash, John replies: "It would be in Thailand and I would be the only caterer".
The brown loafer I acquired last night is leaking heavier than the Titanic so some alterations are needed. I get hold of two plastic bags and cover my feet. This should provide enough water resistance to avoid trench foot. I decide to take in some bands so I wonder over to the Earl Hickey tribute tent. The theme today is world music and as I walk in the sound of an exotic Indian instrument hits my ears.
It's here I meet Trevor Baines, my next perspective on the weekend. Trevor runs and owns a PA system which he sets up at festivals up and down the country. Preferring the smaller festivals like this one to the big commercial events, his career began playing in professional tribute bands. He has worked in music since his twenties.
Trevor on the faders!
We begin to talk about how the Moor Music Festival is a not-for-profit event: "I don't know where the money comes from to do this event but I wouldn't be surprised if the organisers are putting their own money into it...They do it for the love".
Trevor explains how he got involved with the Festival: "I worked for the fundraising events for last year's Festival. Because I did that they gave me a free ticket. The Earl Hickey tent was the one I really enjoyed so I offered to do the sound this year. I've never been a big festival goer. I prefer small festivals because everything seems better value. I went to Glastonbury last year and to get from one stage to another it was taking 45 minutes in the mud. Here you have everything within two minutes".
I ask him if he could put on his own festival, what he would do: "Everything would be organic. People pay more for food at festivals anyway so you should have all organic food...Here you have a pizza oven. Where else would you get a fully working stone oven? And the pizzas are delicious!”
Without Trevor, the Earl Hickey tent wouldn't have the amazing sound it does. With lots of the equipment being provided by Trevor he is an important part of the Festival. He sleeps in the tent, on the stage with his equipment, and it's this dedication that makes him the 'sound' man of the festival!
I really enjoy the Earl Hickey tent and keep popping back throughout the weekend. The act that stood out the most was definitely TrioVD, a three piece jazz metal group playing high energy madness with sax, guitar and drums. The band was tight and truly unique, definitely worth a look.
Tribal belly dancers and a man known only as Rhythmic Ginger
On my travels from music tent to beer tent, then back to beer tent, I keep seeing two girls decorated so brightly they put Joseph's Technicolour dreamcoat to shame. Wherever they go they're dancing away with what can only be described as rave belly dancing. I have to know more. I must get their perspective!
A pizza oven at a festival?
Accompanying the girls, Sabrina and Hazel, is a man who describes himself as Rhythmic Ginger. With him is his trusty drum providing beats for them to dance to. The threesome move throughout the crowd, providing entertainment and lifting the mood wherever they stop.
I have to know what this strange dancing is. Sabrina, Hazel and Rhythmic Ginger explain: "We do tribal belly dancing. It fuses a lot of different styles and it's perfect for a festival. We did this Festival last year and it was very good...This year it has a really good atmosphere. We like smaller festivals, It's nice to see familiar faces throughout the weekend...To say, 'Hi' to people you said, 'Hi' to yesterday is nice...A real family feel. We like this festival...No-one tries to steal your drum - it's friendly with a real happy vibe".
Dancing for no money, they're members of Banat Eshorouk - a belly dancing group based in Leeds. It's the people like this who make the Festival great. They provide colour to the event. I must admit I was looking for some cult-type, Jonestown action, but they were really nice, genuine people.
Their best festival story is how they take a big mirror to festivals so they can put on their costumes: "As Rhythmic Ginger was walking across the camp with this huge mirror someone commented, 'How vain is he?'" I leave them on that high note and go off to find myself a superstar DJ!
Utah Saints...u...u...U...Utah Saints!
I wasn't sure how easy it would be to find and interview Utah Saints, after all they're pretty big players. They have been around long before I was listening to dance music and this year had a massive hit with Something Good. Let's just say I was pretty excited about meeting them.
I headed to the Homespun tent, the place I had spent my first evening. Today the tent was hosted by the Sugar Beat Club, a night run by Utah Saints. The line-up looks amazing and before getting caught up in the music I drag myself away to track down Jez Willis and Tim Utah, from, yes, you've guessed it: Utah Saints.
It was easier than I thought to get hold of the duo. After finding the stage manager it all fell into place. We sat down to chat and while Tim was very apologetic about having to take calls on his phone due to a DJ problem, Jez and I chatted away.
Jez said: "We have done lots of festivals, from Glastonbury downwards, and there is a place for all of them...This Festival is sort of an organic one that has grown over years...We like the festivals that start as a barbecue and just grow and grow...This is everybody pulling together to create a really good weekend...We're lucky. Because of our contacts we can book a good line-up and put on events like this. We don't want it to be a big brand, we want to do quirky little events...Our music policy is a little left of field". This is certainly true as throughout the interview, tunes are pumping through the tent backstage.
I ask Jez what is his best festival story: "That's easy! A few weeks ago we did a festival in the West Country. It's about its third year in. We were about to go on, about nine o'clock at night, and all the lights just went out. The whole festival went completely black. This farmer who was running it was really calm. He just disappeared for about ten minutes and when he came back said, ' Someone has plugged in the freezer in the house'. That had blown the entire generator. I was really impressed how calm he was. He just said, 'Heads will role for that'".
Utah Saints are really down to earth and, like everyone else I have met today, seem to be in it for a love of the music and the vibe created at these events. I decide that as I have four of my five intended perspectives I will stay in the Homespun tent and have a dance.
My Festival pick: Drum Monkeys!
It's while dancing away in my odd shoes with plastic bags on my feet that I hear my big Festival pick of the weekend, a DJ act called Drum Monkeys. Although I only got to see one of the usual duo, that was enough. The set was crisp with dirty basslines, certainly sparking some serious bass face action! After this I decided to take a walk and find myself the biggest security guard at the festival.
Adam Tomlinson is the man who does it all. He is the head of security at the Moor Music Festival and throughout our chat his radio doesn't stop. On top of this, the door of the cabin keeps opening and I realise that I'm with the busiest man at the Festival.
He fronts-up the door, the Festival running, safety and anything else that may fall under the security banner. At the moment there's an irate band trying to exit the Festival. I ask him how he got into the security business: "I was a student and started door supervision then. Now I'm the area manager and the head of security at the Festival".
Adam: Security man
I expect that his stories will be the best so I'm straight to the point and ask Adam for his best festival tale: "Last week at Kendal Calling, one of my big heavy-set doormen, twenty two stoner-style... There was loads of mud and some guy slipped past him. The doorman gave chase, tried to dive and catch him but ended up face down in the mud...That was funny".
I ask him what length people will go to sneak into festivals: "They'll sprint, sneak round, they'll go in groups, charge straight at you. Here we've had a guy jumping over drystone walls...We kicked him out".
Adam keeps these people out of the Festival and allows it to run smoothly. He is the hidden hero of the weekend. His radio is still buzzing as he barks commands. I ask him what he does when he finishes: "Sleep".
He gives me some solid advice on getting away in the morning: "Leave early...Eight o'clock at the latest". He leaves the cabin and I wander back to Festival to enjoy the last evening.
After dancing away in the Homespun tent for most of the evening I finished the night by having a cup of tea with John and Gaynor. They still hadn't made any money and despite threatening to close earlier in the day, they were open for business with smiles!
Up and away for eight, I followed Adam's advice. A little push was needed at the gate but I got away lightly considering the rain. At times during the weekend I felt like Noah without an Ark and I was glad to get away before the mud really started flying.
Sunset over the Moor Music Festival
On the drive home, I thought back to my weekend and what had made it so fun. It was the people I had met, the people who worked and helped at the event, and most importantly the people who attended. Throughout each chat, most people commented on the virtues of small festivals and how they prefer them over the big events on offer. I think this is down to the atmosphere that can be created at a smaller event. The Festival had a homely feel. Bumping into the same people frequently and building a rapport with the characters that make the weekend was nice. You can often be lost in the sheer enormity of big festivals but with the Moor Music Festival you feel part of something, and that matters! Reporting or not, I'll be back for 'Moor' next year!
last updated: 14/08/2008 at 17:20