Music festivals impact on cultural, socio-political and economic life of Britain

This was emailed to me (not quite sure why!) and it is an interesting read, particularly how the festival season is such a big event in many people’s lives. Not all festivals are successful and in the rock world there have been a few major casualties like Sonisphere, High Voltage and Guilfest in recent years. However a new festival will come along to replace them like the indoors Stone Free festival at the O2 Arena in July. The small to medium sized festivals are thriving in the main and as the report states a good way to break newer bands.

The cultural, socio-political and economic impact of Britain’s festival season reaches far beyond the summer months and event locations, according to a new report from the University of East Anglia (UEA).

From interactive arts festivals to world-renowned headliner acts, the 21st Century has seen a boom in British festivals, according to a UEA report released today. ‘From Glyndebourne to Glastonbury: The Impact of British Music Festivals,’ will be presented at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival by UEA’s Dr Emma Webster and Prof George McKay. It is based on a critical literature review of more than 170 books, papers and reports.

On the surface, London’s Notting Hill Carnival may appear to have little in common with the Shetland Accordion and Fiddle Festival. But whether large or small, new or old, jazz, rock, folk or classical, the British festival phenomenon helps create feelings of belonging between like-minded people while enhancing social cohesion, according to the report.

‘Festivals are often sites of multicultural and multigenerational music consumption, where…fans (including families) can congregate and socialise,’ the report said.

An accurate economic picture of British music festivals is difficult to state, according to Dr Webster, due to the individual assessments used. However, based on music tourism figures from UK Music, music festivals generate major amounts of direct and indirect spending – £1.7 billion – attract high numbers of music tourists – 2.2 million – and sustain more than 13,500 jobs.

Prof McKay said: “When you think about it, it’s extraordinary that the music festival has become such a dominant feature of the seasonal cultural landscape, especially the outdoors pop festival.

“With vagaries of the typical British summer there’s often mud, toilet facilities are usually not the most pleasant, traffic jams in country lanes, crowds on site everywhere, watching bands playing in the distance. And yet, festivals thrive today. Why? Because, while culture and life may be ever more fragmented, festivals speak to our need for community and belonging, they can offer us an intense, special space-time experience, often in a beautiful landscape, surrounded by the music we like.”

The UEA report found:

Creativity: music, musicians, art and design: Performance at particular festivals can enhance musicians’ status and increase the chances of further festival bookings – festivals can act as showcases and platforms for exporting musicians abroad. For some musicians festivals have become an essential income stream. The record industry now launches new albums at the start of the festival season, and ‘breaks’ new acts through key festival appearances. Festivals can also be sites for musical experimentation and hybridity, as well as leaving a rich legacy of art and design through posters and promotional materials.

Politics and power: The frivolity of festivals sometimes masks deeper issues around race, religion, class, sexuality, and gender – line-ups are often white and male-dominated, for instance – although music festivals have been sites for social and political debate, and sometimes action. Notting Hill Carnival as a key cultural means of articulating black British identity in the 1970s, or Glastonbury Festival and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament movement in the 1980s, for example.

Place-making and tourism: Festivals have become ubiquitous within tourism and place-marketing campaigns. They are vehicles for celebrating, constructing and maintaining national or cultural identity, such as the flag waving at the Last Night of the Proms constructing a particular notion of Britain. Music festivals often contribute to a positive image of a locale, both to its residents and to visitors, and hence attract people to live in the place and tourists to visit.

Environmental: local and global: Festivals have environmental impacts – locally via a temporary increase in population and in the production of waste, and globally via the increased carbon footprint of touring international artists. But they’re often also sites for exploring and teaching about alternative ways of living, particularly around energy usage and waste. Glyndebourne, for instance, installed a wind turbine in 2012 that provides 95 per cent of the organisation’s electricity needs.

Mediation: Multiplatform mediation on television, radio, press and online pushes the festival concept into the national consciousness and exports ideas about and images of Britain and Britishness around the world. For instance, most people today experience Glastonbury via BBC coverage rather than at the festival itself.

Health and well-being:Festivals are either associated with well-being and wellness – healing fields and the psychological benefits of being outdoors, or even just fancy dress – or with negative health issues such as over-consumption or injuries.

Further details can be found here


The Dowling Poole competition!

I am giving this band’s May gigs another plug as a) they are a damn fine band and b) you stand the chance of winning something at one of their gigs.

The Dowling Poole, formed by singer-songwriting duo Willie Dowling and Jon Poole, are playing three full electric live shows in May. 12 May – Evesham, Iron Road. 13 May – Bedford, Esquires, Holy Moly’s – downstairs. 14 May – London, Borderline.

“This will be the first time ever we play as a full electric band, outside of doing a live session a couple of years ago for the Marc Riley radio show on BBC6 Music”, says Willie Dowling. “For the three May shows we are joined by Andy Lewis on bass, Givvi Flynn on vocals and acoustic guitar, and Elliot Vaughan on drums, who has stepped in at the last moment to save the day, following a minor crisis trying to find someone to fill the drum chair”.

“We are very excited to play live again”, says Jon Poole. “The set will contain songs from our debut album ‘Bleak Strategies’ and our brand new album ‘One Hyde Park’. We feel that it’s a strong set of songs and we’re very much looking forward to meeting old and new friends of The Dowling Poole”.

Tickets available here.

Exclusive competition

Everyone who comes to the May gigs in Evesham, Bedford and London will get the chance to win one of the two signed masks that Jon and Willie wore during the videos and photographs for ‘Bleak Strategies’. Sign up at the merchandise desk at each gig to have a chance of winning.

Interview with Jon Poole in Get Ready To Rock

Band website:


FROST* new album due end of May

Frost* release their new album ‘Falling Satellites’ via InsideOut Music on 27th May. This is the band’s third studio album and their first album of new material since 2008’s ‘Experiments in Mass Appeal’. They are a very innovative band musically and having heard the new album they have moved into a few new musical directions – including one with a little dance flavour to it.


I found this CD in a local charity shop and vaguely recalled the band’s name from a review I had read in ‘Classic Rock’ I think? It is one of the Wildhearts related bands as it features Chris Catalyst on vocals/guitars/songwriter, who has worked in Ginger’s band (and he is a current member of the Sisters Of Mercy). Plus how can you not help like a band with a band member called Davros?

The album is chock full of power pop/pop punk/pop rock – sod the labels, it is just damn fine music. The song below I guarantee you will be humming/singing after just one listen. The album has even more fine tunes like this including ‘Paranoia’ and ‘Sleep Deprivation’ – dig those harmony vocals folks. Go seek out a copy, highly recommended.

and this cover is superb!

…plus one other fine cover 🙂

DAN REED NETWORK – Fight Another Day

[Released on 3rd June 2016 via Frontiers]


The Dan Reed Network (DRN) are back with their first new studio album since 1991’s ‘The Heat’. The line-up is Dan Reed (Vocals/Guitars/Piano), Brion James (Guitars/Keys/Vocals), Melvin Brannon II (Bass/Vocals), Dan Pred (Drums/Percussion) and new member Rob Daiker (Keyboards/Programming/Vocals), who replaces Blake Sakamoto.

The lead song, ‘Divided’ has already garnered favorable comments online and it is a good, uptempo lead song. Mind you, ‘The Brave’ must be up next as this is a wonderfully catchy tune and loving the keys/synth riff that drives the song along.

Dan Reed has been having a successful solo career in the past few years whilst DRN have been absent, and the heartfelt lyric on ‘Champion’ does sound like his recent solo output.

Love the funky and rocking instrumental ‘Ignition’ which leads nicely into one of the biggest funk rockers on the album ‘Give It Love’. This song really recalls that classic DRN sound.

This album is a ‘must have’, simple as that. Why? The songs are all top notch and the music is a heady mix of rock, funk and features some awesome keys and programming breaks. I am not sure how much influence new boy Rob Daiker has had, but the songs have lots of keys/synths all over them and they complement the funky bass lines/guitar riffs (not too many guitar solos on the album overall, one minor disappointment).

It has been a long time for fans of the DRN waiting for new songs from the band and it has been well worth the wait. An album of the year contender.

The Senton Bombs

New band to these ears  and listening to their new album ‘Mass Vendetta’ you’d be mistaken for thinking they hailed from the US of A via the Sunset Strip, when in fact they hail from Blackpool! The Senton Bombs should certainly appeal to fans of Guns ‘N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver and Buckcherry. Very impressed by the album and review will be up shortly on GRTR!

Empire Circus

Empire Circus I came across via the song ‘High Above This Grey There’s Blue’ and what a roller coaster of a song that is. The other song I’d recommend a listen to is ‘True Believer’, a song with more electro beats in it. Hopefully some more new music later this year from them.