I know, I know, there was a decided absence of wittering last Sunday. Please accept my apologies. The past few weeks have been hectic – for “hectic” read “bonkers” – beyond belief and last Sunday was the last day of the Looe Music Festival and the only day on which I was free to please myself as to what I did.
Sara & Wednesday ready to party on the beach.
It has to be said that when I had my shop, The March Hare in East Looe, I loathed the Festival Weekend as it invariably had a negative impact on my trade. The town is full of people intent on watching top class bands and shoppers give it a wide berth. Frankly, nobody who is attending a music festival for the purpose of making merry, is going to go into a little boutique and order a bespoke frock on the spur of the moment; it’s just not happening. I know of other Looe businesses who also find Festival Weekend very difficult from a financial point of view, mainly shops with more expensive offerings than the usual “pasties and tat” and cafes and restaurants, who find their afternoon and evening takings down by about 10%, as people party on the beach and then wander back to their base camps via the pubs and the imported food stands along the fish quay. But – and it’s a big but – having now seen the Festival from the other side, it does bring more business into the town than it scares away, hopefully gives the town a higher profile and may well entice the Festival goers back at other times of the year to hopefully patronise the shops and restaurants they didn’t have the time or inclination to visit during the festivities. The organisers are intent on bringing top class music and extending the season of the town and that is exactly what they do, although they can’t please everyone given the demographic and the actual layout of the town. What I also noticed was the thousands and thousands of very happy faces, the friendly atmosphere and the complete lack of trouble. And that’s priceless.
“But what on earth was Miss Wednesday doing at a “music festival?” I hear you ask. It doesn’t really sit with her public image, does it? The wellies, the mud, the – gasp – general public. Surely Miss W’s idea of hell on earth. And yes, you’d be right in thinking that. Absolutely bang on. Will she be attending Glastonbury next year? Unlikely. But Looe doesn’t have mud. And she wasn’t camping but staying with her good friend and partner in crime, Miss Sara.
In the words of the, er, immortal Jethro, “What ‘appened was…” Miss Wednesday’s alter ego (ie, me!) was persuaded by a customer to revive her musical career. When I made some frocks and a skirt for the organiser of the Looe Music Festival, the rather incredible Tanya Brittain, I had no idea what it was she did. We were introduced by Miss Sara as she knew Tanya wanted some frocks for performing with her newly formed folk collective, The Changing Room. That I could help with. What I hadn’t expected was the little question posed by Tanya on her way out, being, “The harpist we used on the EP isn’t available for the opening gig of the LMF, do you fancy doing it?” What?! Are you kidding? I haven’t played in 18 months! I’m retired! But she sent me MP3s of the music and I was hooked and found myself imported into a group of incredibly talented, very professional and really, really nice musicians. It has been an utterly surreal experience to all of a sudden be playing music with other people who really love the music and are very, very good at it but who also have a complete lack of ego and Just Get On With It.
The Changing Room on the Groundworks stage at the Looe Music Festival. Photo by Jim Peters Photography.
We hadn’t actually played together until a couple of hours before the opening gig and rehearsal wasn’t going particularly brilliantly when we were requested to go down to the quay for a photocall.
Festival organiser, Tanya Brittain, being interviewed by ITV wearing a WM ‘Verity’. Photo by Elina Kansikas.
Tanya was interviewed for the tellybox and then we were all asked if we’d mind getting on to the Erin, a beautiful old Cornish Lugger (fishing boat) for some pictures and for ITV to record. That was the most nerveracking part of the entire weekend, as I had to get on and off a boat in the harbour, whilst wearing high heels and a frock and petticoat and carrying a harp. I entrusted the harp (my little Salvi Eire) to the lovely Lisa from Excess Energy Communications and took my life in my hands. It all worked out and the ensuing “performance” was one of the best experiences of my entire life. The world faded away and there was just the four of us, Tanya, Sam Kelly, Jamie Francis and the random harpist they found in a hedge (me!) playing together. I still get goosebumps thinking about it. Everything else paled into insignificance. The pictures were quite nice, too, as my face is hidden! Tanya and I were both wearing WM frocks for the performances, which kept the demanding Miss Wednesday happy and my father is delighted that the viciously expensive stringy things that have been gathering dust under my staircase for 18 months are now being used again.
The Changing Room folk collective playing on board the Erin. Photo by Dom Moore Photography.
Obviously, not all the members of The Changing Room are clad in Wednesday March garments. Miss Wednesday is working on this but so far neither Sam or Jamie seem particularly keen on frocking up. Funny, that…
Meanwhile, I have a lot of music to arrange for harp in preparation for recording the remainder of The Changing Room’s album next month. Which isn’t very far away. But don’t worry, the frocks will keep coming. A whole load of fabrics have just been purchased for your delight and delectation and the tailoring course has started. It’s all go!
Oh, and the Petticoat Club are meeting up this week. At least twice. That could be messy…