22 11 2013

As we hurtle towards Crimbo, I plan on whacking up a fair bit of stuff in the coming weeks that sums up 2013, deadlines permitting (yep, key word here is “plan” ).

To kick things off, here’s a piece on Northern Ireland’s very own Grand-Daddy of them all-Glasgowbury, that originally ran in Hot Press during the summer.


The Answer, VerseChorusVerse and organiser Paddy Glasgow offer their thoughts on the final Glasgowbury festival. Edwin McFee is the man raising a glass.


On July 20, 2013 the much-loved, mould-breaking Mecca for Irish music that was Glasgowbury festival finished for the final time. It’s safe to say that the Eagle’s Rock, Co. Derry-based bash has had a massive impact over its 13 year existence, offering many musicians-not just from the north-a platform to perform their wares while also inspiring many other entrepreneurs to try something similar across countless counties on the island. With that in mind, we caught up with Tony Wright AKA VerseChorusVerse (a veteran Glasgowbury performer), Cormac Neeson from the Answer (the final band to play the festival) and of course, the event’s founding father Paddy Glasgow, to talk about the last ever trip to the Sperrins, its legacy and what happens next.


VerseChorusVerse: “Our gig on the Friday went from beginning to end in a glorious musical fashion. The band and I had an absolute blast. Jonny Black (guitar) was even happy at how it went, so that’s gotta count for something! We had people dancing-not moshing-but genuine dancing and people were singing along. Everyone that was in that tent left smiling-including myself and the guys


Looking back over the years, I’ve got so many good Glasgowbury memories to choose from. My first year with my old band was fairly special, as was last year as it was my first solo stint. I’ve got mixed emotions about it all ending. I’m going to miss it terribly, but I’m so thankful of the memories and good times. It was a yearly event in July that promoted togetherness and hope for the future for young and old alike, unlike that other event we have in the north in July, if you get what I mean (at least we still have Pride fest though!).


The festival instilled a real sense of worth into all of us musicians here. They treated us with respect and nurtured us all in a way that few of us had the chance to experience before. It also gave us all a sense of professionalism and self confidence that can be hard for a young band to muster at times. Glasgowbury, thank you. Thank you for everything.”


Cormac Neeson (The Answer): “It was a real honour to draw the whole festival to a close. There was a bit of pressure to do it justice but we got an awful lot of love back from the audience. From the word go there was a big mosh pit going on down the front. We got the Streetwise Samba Band to play with us for our encore on ‘Waste Your Tears’ and it was great to hear them beating out these great rhythms to our song. We closed the festival on a high and there was a lot of mutual love in the air.


I got to see some other acts during the day too. Hurdles were really good summer pop and Wyldling were amazing. [Frontwoman] Jilly St John is fantastic and she really sold her band to me. It’s electro pop and not normally my thing, but her enthusiasm and charisma sucked me in. I’ve a lot of time for a front person who gets onstage and gives it everything they’ve got. They’re definitely ones to watch.


We’ve played Glasgowbury three times in the past. We were there when it was just two tents on a football pitch in 2005-ish, whenever we were very much an upcoming band and Paddy took a chance on us. You could tell even then that it was a festival on the up. He had so much enthusiasm for giving young bands a chance and I’m sure he and his team will have plenty more to say over the years to come.”


Paddy Glasgow: “The final Glasgowbury was absolutely brilliant. It was a time mixed with celebration and a certain amount of sadness in our hearts, but for me we went out on a high and the sun gods shone down on us, which made it even more special. When we first started there weren’t any platforms for music [in NI] outside of the two main cities, but now there’s loads and while I wouldn’t call us trail blazers, someone had to ignite that and someone had to start that ‘can do’ attitude and we did it.


When I went to tourism bodies when we first began, they weren’t interested in anything ‘local’ but now it’s all ‘local.’ There’s local music on their TV adverts and local breaks and gigs are all plugged now too, so maybe the ‘wild mountain man’ was right 13 years ago, eh? [Laughs].


It’s the end of Eagle’s Rock but it’s not the end of the ‘Small But Massive’ ethos. The Glasgowbury group has always been about the musician and what happens in the future…? Well, people might just have to wait a bit to find out. I said it onstage on July 20 and I’ll say it now ‘Look out for a Small But Massive stage near you.’”