The days are getting longer, the rain is getting warmer, and that can only mean one thing – summer is here! And what does summer mean (other than bipolar weather and crushing disappointment) music festivals.
As I write this, Download had just been and gone and it's now the turn if that legendary staple of British music – Glastonbury! Founded by local farmer Michael Eavis as the Pilton Festival in 1970, every year since then (with a few exceptions) the sleepy village of Pilton, Somerset plays host to roughly 175, 000 music fans. Just think about that for a moment. 175, 000 – that's the size of two or three towns. All crammed in to a single location – Worthy Farm.
I actually attended in 2000 and it was a remarkable experience – David Bowie, Travis and the Chemical Brothers (although I think I was elsewhere for them, watching – of all people – Rolf Harris.. wow, it really was a more innocent time). There were some quite remarkable performances by bands I'd never heard of before or since, and remarkable performances by bands I had, but most of all it was just fantastic to be up close to the big boys, watching them set up and adapt under pressures of time, no proper sound checks, just plug in and go – in other words, just like the rest of us have to do!
But although that experience has a special place in my heart, I consider my first Glastonbury to have been in 1995 – eight months after I'd picked up the guitar with the sole ambition of learning the riff to “Teen Spirit”, my eyes and ears were opened to a whole world of music I'd been deaf to. I pretty much spent the entire weekend in my room with guitar, practice amp and TV, jamming and learning and absorbing every little thing I could. As a beginner guitar player, I couldn't have asked for a better learning experience.
Next month – Allan Holdsworth tribute, I promise. It's just taking a bit longer than I thought – he was VERY clever...