Cotswold Music Festivals
PUBLISHED: 11:05 22 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:24 20 February 2013
The Cotswolds... Rolling hills. Verdant, lush valleys. Home of Gustav Holst and Laurie <br/>Lee. And, these days, Music Festival Central. From pop and rock to early and classical music, Candia McKormack goes in search of the best summer music festivals
Rock and roll ain't noise pollution
I know its only rocknroll but, well, I like it. Times were that youd be limited on your summertime music fix. Apart from the odd comfortingly amateur production in a stuffy village hall, or something worthy from the hard pews of your parish church, youd be hard pressed to find something to soothe your soul throughout the summer months.
Well, things are looking decidedly rosier these days.
Live music is most definitely alive and flourishing in the Cotswolds. A glance at this years festivals round-up will show that a brilliantly eclectic mix of musical events are about to storm their way into our sonic consciousness over the next few months. From the wonderfully quirky Ukulele Festival of Great Britain (June 19-20) to the beautifully professional and pastoral Three Choirs Festival (August 7-15), via the community-minded folk at Towersey Village Festival (August 26-30), there really is, at the risk of sounding clichd, something for everyone.
And, the wonderful thing is (for those of, ahem, a certain age) it doesnt have to mean roughing it anymore. Ive done my share of festival toilets, and believe Ive served my time sleeping beneath the stars a few feet away from a two-man tent thats buckled under intense festival conditions. So it comes as a relief that many events now have the option of luxury tipis, complete with futon bed and sheepskin throws; massage tents that promise to de-stress and revive with aromatherapy oils; hospitality tents that offer anything but the festival favourite two-day-old hot dog; and (oh, the bliss!) hot showers.
Were a discerning lot these days, so music promoters have had to up their game a few notches by staging more and more varied and adventurous line-ups. No longer will the local covers band suffice. Oh no, we want world-class music, and we want it on our doorstep. Now. The wonderful thing is theres a growing and passionate band of music lovers who are giving us just that.
Chris Gordon, chair and one of the organisers of Nibley Music Festival in the Gloucestershire village of North Nibley, is an inspirational and aspirational man who is keen to bring quality original music to the village. With established acts such as Eddie and the Hot Rods, and newcomers-to-look-out-for like Charly Coombes and the New Breed and Junkstar, Nibleys sticking its neck out to bring great original music to the Wolds.
We really want to carve out a niche for ourselves. Its tempting to go out and book covers bands, but its not really where we want to be. We want to encourage original music, and try to be fairly eclectic, though this can be quite difficult when youre trying to please a crowd of a few thousand people, he says, speaking from his home a stones-throw away from the festival site.
Billed as very much a family festival, it must be incredibly challenging trying to please such a diverse audience.
What we try to do is book acts that can work a stage and entertain crowds. In principle, theres no type of music that cant be accommodated; its more down to the acts themselves. You dont want somebody whos aloof on stage; the perfect combination is an act that is tight musically, sounds fantastic and engages with the crowd, but in many ways Id prefer something that was maybe a little less polished, but entertained the audience.
Although Chris is keen to stress that its very much a team effort, it must be a lot of hard work for all concerned, finding the right kinds of musical acts, and encouraging them to be part of what is essentially a lesser-known festival.
The lovely thing this year is that we havent had to go out and seek bands; theyve contacted us. Were beginning to get a bit of a reputation as a festival now. The feedback weve had from bands from previous years is that, for a comparatively small event, they were blown-away by the professionalism. Its the little details that matter, such as making sure everyones needs are met, making them feel welcome, and ensuring everything runs on time.
North Nibley is blessed with a very close-knit community, where most of the villagers are very socially-minded. Chris is convinced that the real strength of the festival is the energy and passion that the individuals on the committee bring to it. Everybody has come with a past life and past experiences. The guy who does the website has a pretty high-powered job with Amazon, but he works from home and is willing to put the time in, so he does a great job which doesnt cost us anything. Another member is an events organiser for large corporates and has oodles of experience, so everyone comes with some sort of offering.
Were all kindred-spirits; we all have a love of music and theyre great people to work with, really good eggs. Its a great thing to be part of, though we probably all put in more hours than youd care to imagine if you totted it up at the end of the year!
With all the costs involved in putting on an event of this size, its a credit to the organisation that they have always managed to stay in the black.
We are able to generate money for the village. Weve applied to the Charity Commission to become a fully registered charity; were a non-profit organisation and will remain as such. Any money made gets returned either to the coffers to make next years show bigger and better, or we plough it into good causes. So far, I think weve given away around 10,000 to charities.
And they even manage to keep ticket prices at a reassuringly family-friendly level. These days, when its possible to spend as much money on a family day out as you would on a new sofa, its refreshing to know that Nibley Music Festival has its heart in the right place.
Keeping it affordable is important to us. We want to be able to put on a really good show and not break the family bank. Also, we make sure we put on a really good show for kids. In fact, the budget we put aside for bands is on a par with the amount we allocate for childrens entertainment.
So, what does the future hold for Nibley Music Festival?
We want to carve out a genuine niche for ourselves on the festivals circuit and would like to be defined as the go-to small family festival. So, if you were in London or wherever, and you fancy a really nice day out in a gorgeous location, with great music, at affordable prices, this is the place to be!
All I can say is: sold to the lady who loves good music in a beautiful location where children are safe and happy too.
The way I see it, next to Glastonbury, Cornbury and Reading, Nibley will be the name on any serious festival-goers lips in the future.
Nibley Music Festival is on Saturday, July 3, 1.30-11pm, at North Nibley, Gloucestershire, GL11 6DL. Ticket prices: adults 10 in advance/14 on the day; children 4-18 years old 4 in advance/5 on the gate; children under four free. Camping is available at 5 per tent/camper. Tickets can be purchased online or from North Nibley Village Shop. For more information email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0870 224 7750. www.nibleyfestival.co.uk