Like lots of folks I should have been at Glastonbury this last weekend. I hope this might be a trip I’ll be making next year though I should stress I’m not missing summer festivals as much as a few folk in music seem to be. It goes back a long way for me. In the seventies and early eighties live outdoor events were pretty sketchy and fans were often poorly treated and performers not much better.
By the time I got round to being involved in serious alfresco gigs towards the end of the eighties I fear my vote had been cast against the ‘festival’ as a great day out. I do realise (like on many other subjects) I’m in a significant minority here. People will wax lyrical about the great shows they’ve seen and artists too have been known to eulogise on the subject.(although I think they sometimes fib a little) The die was cast early having to watch the band I loved (Little Feat) make their joyous sound over the top of drunken, pugnacious locals who were only interested in seeing the Sensational Alex Harvey Band perform on a sunny afternoon at Parkhead. We were all of one voice by the time The Who headlined but a lingering loathing of having to suffer someone else’s audience really gave me a bad start with the whole escapade.
On reading Chris Difford’s autobiography recently I was startled to read that we had played at a festival with Squeeze in the late eighties too. It was only then I realised that this was the day when we’d decided that enduring a hail of piss-filled lager bottles did not a living make and decided the Reading Festival could go on merrily without input from us. It was one of the better decisions I ever made to say ‘thanks and goodnight’ fairly early.
However there was one lovely moment before all of that happened. A man who come a long way decided to put up with the wave of assaults and played on regardless. It was John Hiatt and I still have a warm memory of him singing Have a Little Faith In Me to the percussive effect of stage-bound missiles. I said hello to him afterwards and that, from memory, was the only time we met. I have enjoyed his music hugely over the years and his songs have popped up in lots of great places. So I was delighted when we were introduced to his daughter’s music a couple of years back by our good friend, Bill DeMain.
Lilly Hiatt is now on to her fourth elpee and it’s really sounding great. Like so many artists in this strange year she’s locked down instead of being out on the road promoting the record. I had a great chat with her last week and asked her all about life in East Nashville, her new album and how her Dad, John came to make an appearance on it. You can hear that conversation on Another Country this Tuesday evening. We’ll also play you some great new records by The Chicks (the Dixie has gone), Eric Church, Mo Pitney and Leif Vollebekk.
Finally…and I hope you festival goers got far enough to read this part….I had a Damascus Road experience with festivals. It happened in 2011 at ..Glastonbury…we played…I loved it and I’ve been back since, even taking my young lad camping the last time I was there. I’ve played outdoor shows in Dubai, Ireland, Spain, Jersey, England and Scotland and heck…I think I’m beginning to dig this festival thing at my ripe old age. Get this pandemic over and let’s do this all again soon. In the meantime join me on the wireless this Tuesday evening from 8 on BBC Radio Scotland.