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    Buster Bloodvessel
    Buster Bloodvessel at Twinwood

    Buster’s “Special Brew” set to entertain thousands!

    Bad Manners’ ebullient front man Buster Bloodvessel is celebrating an incredible 30 years in the business by organising Badfest, a three day music festival to be held at Twinwood in Bedfordshire this July. Katy Lewis met him.

    Badfest & Bad Manners


    29-31 July 2005

    Twinwood Airfield, Near Clapham, Bedfordshire

    Bands confirmed so far


    The event will also host a funfair, and other activities.

    FREE camping.

    Tickets: £45.00 in advance and £55.00 on the day which includes access for all three days.

    Concessions are available in advance only.

    Ticket hotline: 01234 350413


    A continual high level of performance over the last 30 years has rightly earned Bad Manners their reputation as a magnificent live band.

    From their beginnings as a school group in 1976, throughout their chart success of the 80s (11 top 20 hits) right up to the present day this troupe of ska troubadours have maintained a punishing live schedule and deserve their billing as 'the hardest working band on the planet'.

    Chart hits include:

    Lip up Fatty, Special Brew, The Can Can, Lorraine, My Girl Lollipop, Just a Feeling and Walking in the Sunshine.

    They have been fronted from day one by Buster Bloodvessel, one of the biggest voices in show business with the personality to match!

    When, in the early 80s the first single I ever bought was Bad Manners’ ‘Just a Feeling’ (for 65p!), little did I know that some 25 years later I would meet up with the bands larger than life frontman Buster Bloodvessel in a disused airfield in deepest Bedfordshire!

    So it was with a combination of feeling both excited and rather old (!) that I arrived at Twinwood, just outside Clapham. RAF Twinwood is famous for being the airfield that big band leader, Glenn Miller took off from during World War II, never to be seen again. The site is now a museum dedicated to the legendary icon, and also hosts the annual Glenn Miller Festival every August Bank Holiday.

    But this July it is going to be the venue for another exciting music event, Badfest, a three day extravaganza featuring some of the bigger names from the past 25 years that continue to play live even though shunned by the bigger festivals and music companies. It will be an annual event.

    Good time

    Buster Bloodvessel
    Buster visits the Twinwood Arena

    Buster, who has recently slimmed down from 31 stone to 13 stone has put together a lineup that includes many bands that he has had the pleasure of playing with throughout his long career.

    Those already confirmed include Bad Manners (of course!), The Beat, The Blockheads, Tenpole Tudor, Chas n’ Dave and Musical Youth with many more still to be confirmed. The festival will also feature DJ's Mark Lamarr, of TV's "Never Mind the Buzzcocks" and the Specials former keyboard player Jerry Dammers.

    With Bad Manners, Buster won a place in the nation’s hearts as the bald headed, tongue wagging, Can Can dancing bootboy who spread the band’s philosophy of partying, having a good time and not taking yourself too seriously around the world.

    Despite a lifetime ban from Italy, he continues to entertain live audiences with versions of their extensive catalogue of chart hits such as- Lip up Fatty, Special Brew, The Can Can, Lorraine, My Girl Lollipop, Just a Feeling and Walking in the Sunshine.

    His huge personality and big voice were matched only by his gargantuan proportions but even now, after losing an incredible 18 stone, Buster is still as larger than life as he ever was! And as he has the same boundless enthusiasm, unbounded energy and vigour for this project that is a trademark of his stage performances – I’ve got ‘Just a Feeling’ Badfest is going to be great!

    Q. Buster, what is Badfest?

    Buster: It’s a silly idea I had quite sometime ago. I just wanted to get alternative live bands to play together. I’ve been doing festivals for a long time now and I just think that we needed our own festival so Badfest came about.

    I wanted to put together a festival that would include bands that have been in the industry almost as long as I have, and although now ignored by the big record companies, they are still loyal to their music, fans and their roots.

    Amazingly some of these bands still sell more records and play larger shows than some of the bands we hear everyday on the radio.

    Q. Why did you choose Twinwood as the venue?

    Buster: We were going to have it in Butlins by the sea and there were many other places planned but once we came here, to Twinwood, we sort of fell in love with the place. It’s got lots of connections, with Glenn Miller taking off from here on his last flight, so it’s quite a special place to hold a music festival. The grounds being RAF based actually looked the part for a Badfest – it all goes with the artwork! We’ve got the artwork everywhere and we all want to be a bit more camoflagued up on that weekend. There’ll be lots of tents, lots of camping and lots of shorts!

    Q. So how did you find Twinwood?

    Buster: We were originally booked to play the club that they’ve got here. It was a nice Christmas do and it wasn’t over sold but we saw the potential here to have a brilliant festival. Nobody else has probably ever seen this potential and we want to be the first to really set it alight really because I’m sure in years to come this will be a well-known place – certainly a landmark.

    And if you actually look at its radius – in a 100 mile radius you have captured the whole of great Britain except for the North East and the North West and a bit of the South - but the rest of it you’ve got. It’s also got very good transport links and it’s all very close to Milton Keynes and Bedford. It’s the perfect place and yet it’s not that well known, but I’m looking forward to the uprise of its whereabouts!

    Q. So, what bands are confirmed?

    "Anybody who comes along will just go to themselves – “Wow I can’t wait for next year!"
    Buster Bloodvessel on Badfest

    Buster: Well obviously Bad Manners will have to be confirmed! But so far we’ve got Chas and Dave, The Beat, The Blockheads, the 5,6,7,8s, who are from the Kill Bill film, The Meteors, Musical Youth and Spear of Destiny. We’ve also got Mark Lamarr and Jerry Dammers who are going to be doing the DJ-ing so it’s going to be quite an interesting do!

    It’s going to be a solid three days of bands playing because there’s also a lot of small bands that will be going on. We’ll also have the bar running up at the museum end. The whole thing is going to be growing and in the next five years we hope to make it into a place where people will come along and really enjoy themselves – not just for this event but for other events.

    Q. Will there be other activities going on as well?

    Buster: Yes – there will be. There’s going to be a hog roast, sumo wrestling and all sorts of strange little wonderful things going on. There’ll be some comedians in places to keep people entertained as well and to give that party atmosphere. But I really am relying on the bands that I’ve chosen who are possibly some of the best bands that play live and have done for at least the last 30 years.

    I’m expecting a lot of these bands to actually outplay themselves because there’s never really been a line up quite as good as this and that will encourage each of the bands to perform more.

    Of course I’m the last on so I’m going to be performing bigger than I can possibly be. And of course now I’ve lost so much weight I’m like a ballerina on the stage!

    Q. You look amazing but your size was quite a trademark for you wasn’t it?

    Buster: It was yes and people worry that I’m not the same man that I was but I can assure them I’m probably a better man than I’ve ever been!

    It’s increased my will to live and it’s made my health and fitness so much better. It’s a shame because I was a very happy fatty but now I understand both sides of the fence and I wish I’d done this a long time ago because health is the most important thing.

    I know it’s strange that I should be promoting health as people would think that I’ve lived more of an unhealthy lifestyle than anybody in the world, but I feel so great now. It’s just given me a real zest for life and the desire to want to achieve greatness on stage.

    Q. It’s definitely enhanced your performance then?

    Buster: Oh totally – I perform like I was 18 again. I’ve just got this mad idea that my body seems to be getting better and younger and fitter and as long as I’ve got that in my head and my body’s responding I’m not complaining!

    Q. How much weight did you actually lose?

    Buster: I went down from 31 stone to 18 stone initially and then down to 12 and half stone which was the lowest I got. Now I’ve gone up to 13 stone and the doctors have all said I’ve just been the perfect patient and I’ve never been the perfect at anything!

    Q. Well now you have the chance to be the perfect concert promoter?

    Buster: My side of this is definitely promotions and making it a great event. I’ve networked all around places like the Midlands and the North and the West and London of course. That is a place where we are really going to aim at bringing people out for the weekend which is always a good thing to do – people need to get out of London.

    Q. How many people are you expecting?

    Buster: We’re not sure about figures at all at the moment but we’re hoping for about 5,000 people for our first event and that to us seems like a really realistic figure to aim for.

    Then it’s going to go on each year and I can guarantee it will probably triple and quadruple by the time we’re a blink away. It’s going to be a great event – everyone should be there!

    Q. This festival is kind of a celebration of the amount of time that you’ve been in the business isn’t it?

    Buster: Yes - it’s my 30th year in the business – it sounds like I should have given up a long time ago but I really enjoy doing what I do and I’ve never been able to stop it! The fans have always been that loyal and loved what Bad Manners have done and of course I’ve got to this stage of the game now where what else can I do but be Buster?! It’s what I’m good at!

    Q. Do you have any favourite memories?

    Buster: I think probably the most famous thing I’ve done shocked the whole of Italy! I was doing live Italian TV and Barry White was following me and then Dire Straits and I just don’t like bands going on after me. I’m very competitive when it comes to stage performance! I was on stage and exposed my bottom to the TV cameras which shocked everybody but it was only when I walked off and saw the shock in their faces that they told me that the Pope had been watching! That was in 1983. We got banned but that was another story. It was great though – something to tell your children.

    Q. You are billed as ‘the hardest working band on the planet’– how many gigs do you normally do in a year?

    Buster: For us it’s just like a big holiday and it always has been and that’s how we like to keep it. So I would say that we do roundabout 200-250 gigs a year and have done every year and no other band has ever come near that! We’ve always had such a good time that we just want to do another one as soon as one's finished!

    This has been our worst year for a while [numbers wise] but we’ve deliberately done that because we don’t want to overplay. We will be doing tours just before we do the festival that will be part of the promotion. But we’ve got that tag because we have seriously toured more than anyone else that I know and certainly over the years the distances that we’ve travelled - other bands would have just gone “no we’re not doing that!”

    They [other bands] all have their bouts of doing maybe more gigs than us for two or three years but not 30 years. Not even the Rolling Stones have done that much. And they fly everywhere and it’s all luxurious!

    We have to go in the back of a dirty old van travelling up and down the motorway – bouncing all around the place but it’s the best thing you can do. What else could I do that’s better than that? I make a lot of people very happy around the world and I’m very happy to do that.

    Q. And the fans follow you about?

    Buster: They do yeah – and that’s a great thing. Many scooterists follow us because they just jump on their scooters and can go anywhere they want so they’ve become very loyal to us. But this event is for everyone, it’s not just for scooterists although there will be lots of two wheeled people there. There’ll also be punks and skinheads and mods and rockers and it will be quite exciting to think that people will get quite nervous about that. But there won’t be one ounce of trouble - it will just be a good time ‘do’ that everyone will just want to happen again and again.

    I think now everybody’s got mortgages and settled down with children the idea of fighting and being silly, things that they may have done when they were younger, has just gone out the window. In fact they’re the people who are now looking at the kids doing exactly the same thing and telling them off!

    Q. If all the bands in the Badfest line-up still tour and still attract loads and loads of fans, why are they largely ignored by media and record companies?

    Buster: The whole of the music business is run by record companies who are very self-centred and if you don’t do what they want you to do then you don’t go anywhere. Of course once you get a bit long in the tooth you realise that these people are taking liberties out of you and you don’t want to be part of that. This means you survive any way you can and a lot of bands die at that point or go on the road. If they’re good enough they will survive and if they’re not, they won’t. It’s a dog eat dog world. Everyone’s out to try and earn a shilling and to make themselves as successful as possible.

    Q. What will make Badfest different from other music festivals?

    Buster: Well – just Bad Manners being there will make it a little bit different I can assure you! But it’s the quality of the bands that have been chosen and the fact that I know that when people come and see anything to do with ska it creates a good party atmosphere. It makes people drink and celebrate a bit more than maybe they should but I’m encouraging people to come here and enjoy themselves so that is really what this weekend will become.

    I feel a bit like I’m on a mission like Billy Butlins! I’d like this weekend to have that much appeal so that people would say “yes – you’ve almost achieved Billy Butlins status” which is to encourage people to come here for the weekend and have a blooming good time!

    We will be really out for a good time that weekend. Anybody who comes along will just go to themselves – “Wow I can’t wait for next year!”

    Find out more about the festival and Twinwood using the links on the right-hand side.

    last updated: 14/03/06
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    Really enjoyed last year and got my tickets and counting the days for 06! TAKE CARE EVERYONE XX

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