Tuesday, June 18, 2013

“Blimey – at Glastonbury we just get an orange and a cup of tea!”

Regular correspondents will be well aware of my foray into stage management at last year’s Maverick Festival during which I successfully got a keyboard on and off stage without dropping it, asked if Alejandro Escovedo’s bass player could be turned down a bit, prevented Jason Ringenberg from being crushed by a tree  and introduced Amelia Curran as “…probably the best Canadian singer-songwriter in this room right now!” after I had fallen very slightly for her, a flame I maintain to this day despite the fact that she never writes, she never calls, she never phones.   
Due to my less than exacting schedule, ‘tween stage time wasn’t terribly trying, to be honest. I wandered around the festival site vaguely offering help to anyone who looked particularly stressed, and as a result at one point spent thirty minutes queuing for a latte for That Nice David Booth, who probably knows what a lighting truss is and why you shouldn’t plug the input/output parametric EQ through the reverse foldback loop while the PFL’s being deployed - mine was very much the Sergeant Wilson role in all of this which is why I was in the coffee tent and he was standing next to a man with a black t-shirt and a maglite. Nevertheless I have been invited back, in much the same way as I was invited back for the Orwell High School First XV when I was thirteen and a half, which is to say although not necessarily of any great use aside from making up the numbers, I am willing, available and have my own transport.
This year, having not broken anything or been photographed in a compromising position over by the Tipis by the gutter press I have been promoted to The Barn, which to all intents and purposes is the main stage for much of the weekend and from where I shall have dominion over such folk as Hallelulah Trails (I’ve met them, they’re lovely, and they do a great version of ‘Jackson’), Feral Mouth (Norfolk newgrass and not, as one might suspect, Grindcore) and one Leeroy Stagger, who I’m assuming wouldn’t be taking such an ambivalent approach to receiving an introduction along the lines of Amelia’s should I improvise in such fashion again.
Having been on the receiving end of some pretty injurious stage management myself over the years, I’m quietly confident of being able to respond politely but firmly to most of the ad hoc requests that are likely to come my way, all the while employing a Pirsigian approach to The Talent but being aware that however much the band in possession would like to maintain their presence on stage (musicians tend to be one of the few sub-group of employees to regard knocking off early with a disdainful curl of the lip and/or eyebrow) any over-runs necessarily impact on the next domino in the chain, and with eleven turns and ten minute changeovers being the norm then time becomes a valuable commodity, virtually to the point of being currency. I once watched Neil Innes tune up a twelve string guitar for fifteen minutes before going on at a festival (to be fair these were pre-electronic tuner days and Keith Allen was on stage at the time) and to tell you the truth I’m not looking forward to having to pull him off halfway through “I’m The Urban Spaceman”.
The Maverick Festival is at Easton Farm Park from the 5th – 7th July 2013. http://www.maverickfestival.co.uk/   


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