This is not only the case with big festivals, as the music scene is bursting at the seams with small, local festivals that are family friendly, economically friendly, and most importantly for some, ale friendly. It is such events that seem to add an extra dose of the mysterious resilience and heart-warming togetherness into their mud. Two festivals of such ilk are Lunar Festival based in the Umberslade Estate near Tanworth-in-Arden, and Cloudspotting, situated in the beer garden of a pub in the Lancashire countryside. Both aim to accommodate family activities, with Lunar providing huge blow-up balls to mess about with and daily films in a Cinema tent, whilst Cloudspotting had all sorts of craft stalls and a very safe play area.
And we definitely were cloud-spotting, as the rain showers took on a rather menacing look halfway through Saturday afternoon. But the audience simply donned their waterproof skins and children danced like raindrops in blue ponchos. Music scattered out from the rain telling us to stay together, reminding us of more important things than wet feet. Ignore them. This was true of Lunar too, a festival in part dedicated to Nick Drake’s music, whose Riverman Stage lived up to its name by housing a rather impressive stream. Not only was this a neat little metaphor about the country, with acts from all over the world stepping onto that tiny platform, but the island stage brought everyone together more. We were determined to stay now that we were being flooded out. Men lifted children over the river, women helped those without wellies.
The organisers at both festivals wandered round looking happy, and on finding out that they are genuinely happy just to break even makes you feel you’re part of something good natured, unique. They also respect the musicians, exposing new acts whilst giving decent wages to performers such as Scott Matthews, Fionn Regan and living legend Michael Chapman. Let’s not get into the bike-power and solar panels.
There is a British sensibility of supporting even more when the situation is dire. Perhaps a bit of war spirit kicks in, or it might be something in the local ale. These little gems of festivals, with their lights hung up like jewelled sweets and locally crafted logs by fires, feel familiar, cultural and safe. Most importantly, they are about community, as the music tethers us to our most basic of instincts.