Thursday, August 31, 2006
This man is what Greenbelt is all about - seen here keeping in touch with the community via text.
I seem to have been a bit slower than everyone else when it comes to blogging about Greenbelt, despite coming home onthe Monday. I guess I just have less free time than others for these things.
It was a very enjoyable festival, apart from going down with a heavy cold on the Friday which meant I felt pretty ill all weekend - missed the Sunday service as only managed to get out of bed at mid-day. Just as I was starting to feel better it was time to go home.
As I was not working at the festival it was a time for meeting old friends, some who I had not seen for many years. It was nice to see old faces from Liverpool who were making their first appearances at Greenbelt since becoming parents many years earlier. And my former church colleagues from London who now live around the country.
Biggest surprise was left until the Monday when I bumped into a former work colleague who had decided to bring the family toGreenbelt after about a 20 year gap - I'd tried to persaude him last year late on, but this year he had no excuses!
It was also nice to be back in our usual hotel after a break last year. This meant everyone under one roof and lots of late night, deep, thoughtful conversations. It is always nice to see old familiar faces, as well as new ones joining our late night gathering. It was also nice having a decent hotel room - I'd booked seperately from Greenbelt and got an Executive double room (free chocolates and soft drinks + air con) at the same price as the Greenbelt standard single. I also did the same for Hey Gravity! A tip for hotel bookings is Activehotels.com - I use them quite a bit at work.
Not being used to wander freely round the festival it was quite hard at times deciding what to do. I decided to focus primarily on music and light entertainment as these would not be recorded and downloaded like the seminars. I did manage a few seminars though - Cole Morton who I always enjoy listening to, the Manchester passion, seminar on activists based in New York. Tried to get in to see John Davies but "house full" signs up. Gave the big speakers a miss as I prefer to listen to them on my IPOD.
On the music front saw Randy Stonehill on his first return visit since 1983. I've got some great pictures of him in 1983 and apart from his hair being shorter he doesn't seem to have changed much. Unfortunately his set was VERY short as they were running very late in the venue - Union Dance was on later and they normally require a massive warm-up time - certainly more than the programme allowed them. Caught the Rising shows as always a good way to see a few acts at their best. Nice surprise bumping into Juliet Turner - sad to hear she is taking time out to study - but wish her well in this other career. Also saw Stocki's Redemption Songs which was again a good way to see acts. Other acts I caught up with were Brian Houston, Kevin Max (he we introduced into our late night session at the hotel), Dave Sharpe, Maria McKee (who I somehow ended up acting as chauffeur for), My Morning Jacket, and best of all the Greenbelt children's choir. Somehow failed to see Cathy Burton which was quite hard to do given the amount of slots she had been given over the weekend.
In addition of course I had Hey Gravity! playing Stage 2 on the Saturday night. It was a great performance and the band really enjoyed playing at the festival.
We spent the rest of the evening in the organic beer tent for the hymns and beer night. Amazingly there were a number of people in the beer tent that knew different members of the band and came over to say hello. There were some nice comments from the younger generation who had come from seeing All Stars United and clearly felt Hey Gravity! were miles better. Later back at the hotel Justine got to meet Pip whilst the rest of the band clearly couldn't keep pace with us Christians and crashed out in their rooms.
On the Light Entertainment front I finally caught up with Darren (who books the acts) and Andrea (who was singing with the Greenbelt Orchestra Monday) to see the magic comedy show Sunday evening. John Archer was as good as ever - I'd seen most of his tricks before but still very good. Barrie & Stuart were also excellent. I also saw their late night repeat in uncensored format which may just create a few letters of complaint from the purer members of the public. Last Orders and the magic show in Centaur seemed to be a big success - having put forward the suggestion 2 years ago to deaf ears it was good to see someone else pushing it. I also caught a bit of the stand-up comedy in the Ox Bar each night, including the performance by Greenbelt's own Sarah Dean which I managed to capture most of on my phone video.
Big successes of the festival for me were the return of main stage, the ever growing organic beer tent, and the switch in Centaur to holding acoustic sessions earlier inn the day. The site continues to grow but still remains easy to navigate round. On the downside I thought the Performance Cafe lost some of its charm in the big top as it was just too big with too much noise from people there not interested in the music. Also I saw too many acts destroyed by those damned drums! Still need to have 2 one-way walkways to central section of race course - everyone I was ever with there said the same thing.
Came home with loads of CDs - and also gave out edited copies of Michael McDermott's new album to a number of people at the festival. I guess my one regret (apart from Helen not being able to come to the festival) this year was Michael not being there. Financially it was the right thing to do but I suspect he would have made a big impression. Still next year is less than 365 days to go now and getting even less as I type this!
Photos to follow when I can persuade Blogspot to upload
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Realised I got the time wrong on Hey Gravity posters - on stage at 7.15 not 7.00 but at least it means late arrivals will now be early!
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
I have a ticket for Liverpool's first home game on the Saturday but I've decided to sell it as would mean missing several hours of the festival (no crass jokes please Mr Davies).
Had lunch yesterday with Andrew, Hey Gravity's manager. For once it was him offering me money so signs that things beginning to happen. 7pm Stage 2 on Saturday you can see Hey Gravity! live. If Justine is on form you can guarantee it will be one of the best gigs over the weekend. Look out for their posters on site – there will be 200 on display – the photo is by ace photographer Steve Brown.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Greenbelt is about a year of careful planning, and then a detailed logistics exercise over 4 days when quick and sometimes tough decisions have to be taken to ensure the festival runs unhindered, and safely. As a venue manager the 2 toughest decisions I ever took were: having to sack my brother and shutting the venue as the marquee looked like it was about to blow away. Both decisions were for the good of the festival. I'd spent years trying to persuade my brother to help at Greenbelt. He was an experienced sound engineer, having been the studio engineer for the Jam in his youth, and was now doing similar stuff at the BBC. After years of running venues on a shoe string it was nice to have some expertise. Meanwhile Greenbelt hired in a soundsystem that was run by a family - and for the weekend the children were put in charge of it. The motto of the story is, never work with children. They were out of their depth with no idea how to run a fast moving multi changing venue at a festival. To make matters worse they started telling my brother how to do his job - not advisable. Things deteriorated rapidly to the point where Daddy rang site Ops in the middle of the night to say either my brother and I go, or he takes the sound system away. So at about 3am we held an emergency meeting to discuss what to do. Greenbelt decided it would not be held to ransom and would get a new sound desk brought in. But this would cost and disrupt the festival. So after a discussion with my brother we reached a compromise and he went home - never to return to the festival. One day I'll get him back, but next time it will be as a speaker on reporting back the news from a war zone. Sadly Greenbelt doesn't always learn its lesson and I am aware of a couple of times when the same crew has been hired for the festival - both times there was extremely negative feedback from a well known Greenbelt figure who ran a daily show in the venue. Fortunately the festival now has some money and the crews we employ in the main venues are all professionals.
The second year at Cheltenham some bright person decided to move us out of our nice new indoor venue and put us in what became known as the Little Big Top. It is a great little venue, but has too small a capacity for theatre which is usually very popular on site. We got hit by very strong winds the Friday night and the arena stage almost blew away, as did our venue. After a lot of discussion and concern about the way the guy ropes were being torn out of the ground we took the decision to evacuate the venue. We then moved in a container lorry to act as a wind break and tied the marquee to it. Next day you might have wondered what all the fuss was about.
So as you walk about the festival site, remember that there are a lot of people who will be working rather than enjoying the weekend. And if you go past the Tiny Tea Tent, have sympathy for those who are often gathered there late at night - the Ops Management Crew - they spend the year planning how the festival site will work and then spend the Greenbelt weekend walking around the site dealing with problems as and when they arise. They never seem to sleep and at the end of the festival have to have their radio ear pieces surgically removed.
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Meanwhile I see in the paper that Harrods is opened its Christmas emporium this week. So that will be about just over 4 months before the big day. How their staff will cope with 4 months of Slade's Merry Christmas I do not know.
Last week was fairly busy. As holidays go it was very wet. Thursday I took Eve my goddaughter to Norwich to look round the Sainsbury's Visual Arts Centre at the University of East Anglia. We were going to go on a seal trip off the coast but the weather was too bad. Eve was fascinated by the collection of masks on display whilst I was more interested in the collection of Francis Bacon they have.
Friday Helen & I went to visit Mary (Eve'e mum) - first time we had been to their new house since they moved in. Later on it was a swift drink down the pub to catch up on village gossip. It had to be swift as I had an orde of wood arriving. What Ididn't expect was more like a forest arriving. It took for ever to getthe logs unloaded off the trailer and stacked in the outhouse but at least we now have enough wood to see us through tonext year.
Saturday was a big day for me -I finally got the bike out and went on a lengthy bike ride (for me!). First stop was the local farm real ale shop where they sell beer that is made from the grain grown on the farm. They have over 40 different beers to choose from - some of which are Gold Medal winners so hard choice (although just browsing as beer and bike rides don't mix for me). Then on to Wells to the harbour. It's the first time I have cycled as far as the coast and I think I did about 14 miles altogether. Small compared to what I used to cycle when I was young but not bad for the first exercise in a year.
Sunday was a quiet day spent at our favourite wildflower centre. It's a favourite place for us to visit and we have got to know the owners quite well. They mentioned that they hope to be selling itlater this summer - we just hope it will remain open to the public. I must confess I am tempted to buy it myself but it's a 365 day a year job and only really suitable for a couple to run or somebody with a lot of money who can afford extra staff.
Monday back to work.
Wednesday night I went to the BBQ being held 3 doors down the road. It was in aid of the church organ and was well attended. The hosts have just spent a fortune having an indoor swimming pool installed and major conversion of the barn into an expansive kitchen & living accomodation. It's caused a lot of friction in the village as the builders were around for about 9 months making a lot of noise and filling the green & road with their cars. In a small village this sort of thing doesn't go down well and I don't think residents and shops were warned how bad it would be - basically a PR disaster. When we had the cottage renovated we made sure we kept neighbours well informed and after our plumbers managed to completely flood next door we made a special effort to ensure the builders fixed everything and kept our neighbour supplied with bouquets of flowers.We also employed locals where possible, especially the carpenter who is a neighbour.
I think I was the only direct neighbour who attended the BBQ (we were away in London whilst main works being done so missed the worst of it). Others from the church there as well as several from the other side of the road where we have a number of barn conversions that are used as holiday homes. I had to go just to see what you get for the £0.5m or so they must have spent. It all looked very nice - sort of thing you would see in a magazine article - but perhaps a bit too prim & proper for my tastes. I can remember when the house was originally on the market - not v long before we bought our cottage. It was incredibly cheap for the size of house plus barns and v large gardens. It was a well organised event (they are good here at their cream teas etc) and hopefully raised lots of money - and it was good of them to throw the gardens open. Maybe I'll blog about them one day - he's another Bono but not quite the same as the one most people know.
Need to start thinking about Greenbelt and get posters sorted. With no work to do this year it will all seem a bit strange. The office has sorted me a ticket though and I'm booked into the Thistle for 3 nights, with Hey Gravity staying there on the Saturday night so should be good. Number of things I want to see & hear at the festival. I am especially keen to see how Last Orders works in Centaur. Having venue managed Cabaret and Centaur I have always thought Last Orders would work better in Centaur. The late night acoustic worked well the first year in Centaur with reasonable crowds but last year seemed terrible, not helped by a fairly weak line up. Music planned for Centaur this year more sensible with well known names amongst Greenbelt faithful. They are unlikely to fill the place most of the time but with sensible billing it should be possible to create some of the atmosphere that was missing last year. Site Vibe take note - don't put the large Greenbelt banners up in the grandstand, hang them either side of stage in Centaur - it needs some colour.
Music I would like to see includes Maria McKee, Brian Houston (supported Michael McDermott last year in London) and My Morning Jacket.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Text of Lecture/Perfomance for Stronghold Ministry's
a man found an eagles egg and put it in a nest of a barnyard hen, the eagle hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them.All his life the eagle did what the barnyard chicks did, thinking hewas a barnyard chicken. He scratched the earth for worms and insects.He clucked and cackled. And he would thrash his wings about, and fly afew feet into the air.Years passed and the eagle grew very old. One day he saw a magnificent bird above him in the cloudless sky. It glided in agraceful majesty among the powerful wind currents, with scarcely abeat of its strong golden wings.The old eagle looked up in awe , " Who's that?" he asked." Thats the eagle , the king of the birds, " said his neighbor. " Hebelongs to the sky. We belong to the earth- we're chickens." So the eagle lived and died as a chicken, for that is what he thought hewas....
26th and california, cook county jail...is generally considered the toughest jail in all of chicago and maybe in the country....with the lowest of the low...the worst of the worst..i sat with on a november evening ..i was arrested 2 years ago for possesion of cocaine. class three felony... possible 3-6 year sentence....aftermuch legal wragnling...i was able to not have to go to prison and with having to attend a drug school..i was a free man...
A friend of mine in chicago, a former soldier/ apache helicopterpilot,...told me of a thing called " foxhole prayers" it is used ,when soldiers are in the heat of battle,....bullets whizzing by theirheads...suddenly, even though these soldiers had previously been atheists or agnostics, in the heat of battle, when life and death are on the line,..everybody...suddenly become very religious, with the kind of prayers that go..." lord get me outta this and i promise i'll....Lord get me out of this jam and i swear i'll never...fill in the blank"....
though i did consider myself a man of faith...and one that would pray regularly....that first night in jail...were some of my most fervent prayers.... but in retrospect...i think they were foxhole prayers...it felt like i had found my bottom....it felt like i had dug my hole as far as it could go....its a funny thing to have your freedom taken from you, and as i sat there on the floor of the jail cell...i realized there was only one way to go....at least thats what i thought....
you guys, change is inevitable, growth is not....change of a situation is easy, growth within yourself, is not....i'm proud to be here and i'm blessed that michael asked me to come here to talk and sing some songs with youo,...but he didn't have me come here cuz, i'm fixed, i'm not here cuz i'm healed,i'm here cuz i'm broken,..i'm here cuz i'm wounded....i'm here because i'm trying.....this first song is a song written shortly after i was released from jail,
ONE WAY TO
i actually spent most of the summers of my youth in this very town...over on diamond lake...playing in a band in the summers...nightly i'd pray...lord make me your poet and your singer...lord make me your poet, make me your singer...the rest of the year i spent in chicago....where at the tender age of20 i was signed to a big record deal from warner brothers out in LA, Boy, i thought my ship had come in...or so i'd thought.....
on my first tour....i remember every night there was a bottle of jack daniels in the dressing room and there would be pretty ladies waiting at my door....In high school, i had read william blake, who wrote " the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom'" or arthur rimbaud who wrote "in order to be a seer, you must have a rational disordering of the senses"
those two quotes, in some way were my mantras...i wanted to experience,...all that was life...everything...the good and the bad....i remember telling a friend when i was driving down sunset in LA....on my first trip out there, saying to him,..." Show me the gutter..." i wanted to experience it....years later that same friend said to me ,.. "i wish i never had shown you the gutter.....i never knew you'd take it down this far"
years had gone by and i had been touring around and i had grown men come up to me and tell me that they had been atheist before hearing my music ...and through it found God..." to which i replied..." tell him i said hi, he stopped returning my calls a long time ago"Other people would say...your music got me through the death of my father or loss of my mother or when my wife left me..etc. etc. but in my mind i was thinkin.....so what? i'm still in pain'...that music isn't doin anything for me....can you believe that?? it staggers me to even tell you guys that ....its embarrassing...all i wanted to do, was to sing His songs...for the greater good of my fellow man...and all i could do was bitch about, where's mine.....where's my happiness...where is my peace,...where is my reward.....i guess i thought my reward was things you could inject...things you could go to bed with ...things you could swallow....i thought i'd been duped.
I think of the meistereckhart quote that reads " The eye with which i see God, is the very same eye with which God see's me"
i was pissed...i bet He was too
throughout the years i had continued to feel like i was on a mission of sorts...singing songs...HIS songs...never really feeling good about the other elements of my life....as proverbs 23:7 says " as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he"well i thought i was a piece of shit....each record i put out sold less...each concert i played was atteneded by less and less people and i thought and i'd pray " What do you have me doing this for?...to humiliate me.?." if you don't want me to do this....tell me...i'll do something else, but don't string along like this...this is too important"....i had become a self consumed, delusional, alcoholic..and soon to be drug addict( that seemed the next obvious step)..the arrogance to think that God had enough time to worry about my record sales...and to think he was hanging me out to dry.....i mean, thats how silly i had become...just crazy.....
Buddah had said " the mind is everything, what you think, you become" This is a new song....called
LONG WAY FROM HEAVEN
there is a story i'd like to tell that i was out in new york and i was at a friends house who had these beautiful agentinian polo horses....we took them out into this field and we started riding....my friends father, realizing i wasn't very knowledgable about horses....rode over to me and started giving me some instruction. We were doing starts and stops and turns , the basic movements for playing polo. SOmething i discovered or that was pointed out to me rather, was that if you are walking your horse in a straight line...and if you turn your head slightly, the horse will sense that and start drifting in the direction you were looking....now mind you, the horse is looking forward as well,...but if it merely senses your looking in a different direction, it will go in that direction. i thought of that in terms of life...and our journeys that we take...if your looking sideways, or backwards, left or right or in any other direction than the direction you wish to go, your life will goin that direction...they say horses are stupid animals...Maybe i'm the stupid animal, cuz my horse taught me a lesson that day
Grace of God
you need to see through yourself, then you can see through anyone...i coulnd't see through myself....it had become clouded...hell it stil lis...but you have to learn to listen....there is such a cacophony around us today....with palm pilots, cellphones, ipods...direct tv...how do we ever hear ourselves...how do we ever hear our heartsbreaking....or aching...how do we hear that voice inside us telling us...its ok, or even, its not ok...we cant' cuz we are notlistening....we have be anethesisezed into a state of half- awakeness if you see through yourself, you will see through everyone else...then will love them....don't judge, understand,...don't interrupt, listen,..i was so angry at everyone...my record company, my girlfriend, my manager, my agent,...i wasnt' mad at them....i was mad at me....i had been on mtv, all over the radio,..tv shows...was in books, movies...had changed people....what was i so pissed off about
Socrates.." he who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have"also a great Yiddish saying " ten men cannot hurt a man as much as he hurts himself"
whenver you have a negative feeling toward someone, your living anillusion..your not seeing reality.. "He's to blame, she's to blame" you play that game...the world is alright....the one who should change is you...its so much easier to blame your unhappiness on someone else than yourself....we are in a society where everything is a quick fix...
remember change is inevitable...growth is not...we love to put a new coat of paint on car and say how good it looks....buy a new shirt and hell, you feel like a new man....but thats not growth, thats superficial change...you'll still be the same wounded man in the same old car that won't get you very far
i believe i have had a few run ins with jesus...now i can't say for sure but i think i did...the first time was down in charlston south carolina, i was down there doing something for a radio station...and after that i went over to the auction blocks,..where the slave trading went....i felt such a chill walking in there...it really freaked me out....out of the corner of my eye...i thought i saw something and felt something graze me and i turned suddenly to see what it was and it was gone....i think jesus passed by....
fairly recently i had been out and up for a couple days....i was driving home and i passed the church i went to as a boy.....i pulled over and mass was going on in the church but i went into the chapel,...now having injested two days worth of drug and drink...i went with my wounded soul into the chapel,....and knelt down on my knees...and looking up at the crucifix, i said to my heart, " Say the word and i shall be healed, say the word, and i shall be healed," with that i was....the tears had run like a river to drown my pain and anguish i had carried like a cross for so many years..." he finally answered....maybe he had been listening all along, and maybe he had been answering as well...maybe i was too hungover, to drunk, to high to hear Him...what a fool am i?
I SHALL BE HEALED
i'm so grateful that i had the opportunity to share with you....you helped me tonight....i hope that you understand i came not to tell some story of triumph but rather a story of struggle,...and you guys, it is a struggle,...i struggle everyday with my weakness, with the acceptance that jesus loves me and forgives me...i feel unworthy ofthat...i feel unworthy to stand before you tonight...We are all a workin progress, we all feel alone sometimes, we all feel unworthy sometimes...but you are worthy, you aren't alone...believe in yourselves....He does...in closing i leave you with this...
there is a famous story about the lion who came upon a flock of sheep and to his amazement found a lion among the sheep. It was a lion who had been brought up by the sheep ever since he was a cub. It would bleat like a sheep and run around like a sheep. The lion went straight for him and when the sheep-lion stood in front of the real one, he trembled in every limb. And the lion said to him " WHat are you doing among these sheep?" And the sheep-lion said " I am a sheep ." and the lion said " Oh no your not,...your coming with me." and the lion took the sheep lion to a pool and said, " Look"And the sheep-lion looked at his reflection in the water, he let out a mighty roar, and in that moment he was transformed. He was never the same again...
A WALL I MUST CLIMB
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Summary of last few days:
A mixed weekend. Saturday am spent working on some questions I was given by work shortly before my week's holiday wasabout to start. As a result I was back in the office Monday to finish work, plus Tuesday from home so not good start to the holiday - Helen keeps reminding me I've not had a holiday since Last October so need a break.
Saturday afternoon was spent as usual in abbey grounds in Little Walsingham having late lunch and soaking up the sun. Not sure what the monks of 400 years ago would have made of me in my shorts and deckchair sunbathing in one of the holiest places in Europe at that time. Saturday evening I cooked one of my speciality meals - de-boned and trimmed lamb chump chops in garlic and herbs with courgettes and sweet tomatoes, with roasted butternut squash in garlic. Simple but amazingly tasty.
Sunday afternoon we spent at the White Horse in Brancaster. From the front it looks like a horrible place, but step inside or go round the back and you have one of North Norfolk's best kept secrets. It houses a very good restaurant - the shell fish is kept fresh in the sea at the bottom of the garden - and from the rear terrace where we sat you get amazing views across the marshes. A little later in the year you can sit here, pint or wine glass in hand and watch the geese gather in their thousands.
And then after a bit more/gardening - I'm moving lot of plants around as some ar just too big in current locations - down to the Bull for a aswift couple of pints with friends. Another glorious evening with the sunshining and remaining fairly warm - perfect forsitting olutside.
This week, apart from Monday - will be spent in Walsingham - plan was to be out on the bike most days but the weather here is awful so plans to lose some of the weight I have put on over the last few months(or year's as Helen would probably say) is looking dodgy. I asked Eve if she wants to go out anywhere (Eve's my goddaughter - 11 years going on 15). I think she's at that age now when being out with a 40 something adult is just not trendy - especially if she can earn some money working for her mum. She wants to go to Greenbelt but unfortunately her parents will have to work the bank holiday as they own 2 of the biggest shops in Walsingham.
Monday went to work - had planned a short time there but by the time we had agreed planned answer it was getting late so mad dash across London to Kings Cross - fortunately the train was 20 seconds late leaving otherwise I would have missed it - should add our trains are not normally late!
Tuesday I went to Alby Craft Centre - bit disappointed - to check through papers for work before looking round the place, then back to Holt to my 2 favourite shops - Bakers & Larners of Holt (imagine a department store 50 years ago) and Byfords (the best cafe/coffee shop in the whole world) to check their frozen meals in the deli to see if any new gluten free menus. Afternoon Helen and I went to the Carpenter's Arms in Wighton - just up the road - which has a great reputation for its food - sadly all I had was a packet of crisps.
And today I am sitting in Mary's (mother of Eve) coffee shop having caught up on a week of early starts to London. PM is Holkham Hall craft centre and (very expensive but excellent) wine shop.
I also watched the religious procession this morning into Little Walsingham. This week it is New Dawn here - RC version of Spring Harvest. It's strange having a major youth festival on your doorstep and as I type this the young girls have taken refuge here from the rain, eyeing up Jack behind the counter. Several thousand go to New Dawn - most camp but like Greenelt these days, many opt for local B&Bs and they also use the residential accommodation at Gresham School (where I nearly defected to years ago for the 6th Form but then decided you can't beat a Comprehensive education for a real outlook on life). I seem to spend a lot of time here answering questions about Greenbelt - maybe I should set up a stall to advertise the festival in the future.