Fish 2009 - Castles in the Air
Dear FishHeads, Freaks, fans and the Company,
Well only 5 days now until I walk on stage in Leamington Spa and I admit to being a wee bit nervous and a lot more excited at unveiling what we have been up to here in the last 3 weeks.
The band have done an amazing job putting the 40 odd songs together and really stepped up to the plate to make these sets work.
We spent two weeks in Haddington Rugby club rehearsing the basics and last week we moved into the studio for run-throughs and "colouring".
I gave everyone this last weekend off as we only need a couple more run-throughs of the sets this week and we will be as ready as we can be.
It timed nicely with Frank's birthday party yesterday and we all headed down to his house hidden away in the borders for a relatively civilized soirée in his garden! :-)
It was strange getting up with the Border Boogie Band for a rendition of "Boston Tea Party" shortly after running through "State of Mind", "Lucky", "Cliche" (of course :-) ), "Kayleigh" and finishing off with "Lavender" with my own band (minus Chris who had a gig in York this weekend). There was something quite symbolic about it all and especially on the occasion in question.
I'd driven down with KT, my great mates Phil and Jan and Gavin the Griffiths in the afternoon, threading our way along the Yarrow valley past my old workplace and stomping ground of Bowhill, to have lunch at the Gordon Arms before heading across to Innerleithen to Frank's hideaway. A fine Sunday overall topped off with an interview on Planet Rock with Nicky Horne when I got back home just after 9.
As I said it was a civilized soirée! :-)
Saturday held my first visit to Easter Road this season as I went in to see my Hibees humbled 1-3 by Preston North End in a pre-season friendly. Disappointing result but there was a lot of potential on the pitch and I am sure the season tickets KT and I bought a few weeks ago will be put to good use this year.
It wasn't the only disappointment over the weekend.
As I had expected for a while, the gig at Crathes Castle was blown out by the promoter, Brian Davies and New Dawn Events.
We had been contacted months ago to perform there with Nazareth as headline act and the gig was part of the overall budgeting for the convention and the other festivals. I hadn't played up North for a while and to be honest it seemed like a no-brainer as the tickets weren't that expensive, the bill was attractive and the venue was known.
When we started to hear about fans finding it difficult to get information and to buy tickets our eyebrows were raised.
There was no real evidence of any promotion and friends of mine in Aberdeen hadn't even heard about it.
Our contract stated that we had to receive the full appearance fee by the 1st August with 50% of it having been due earlier.
Despite our requests for the initial payments being dealt with by the usual excuses we hung on in there to give the guy a chance with the hope that tickets would pick up and we would eventually receive our fee and the gig would go ahead.
After all this wasn't a major event, it was only two bands that both had relatively good followings in the North East of Scotland where festivals were a rarity.
And then I heard about the Shrewsbury "Woodstock Revisited" festival on the same weekend as the convention.
When I had set up the Leamington dates we had checked to see if there was any conflict with other festivals or events.
At the time there was none and imagine my surprise when I discovered from Trevor White at Planet Rock that there is a huge "progressive" edged affair going on the same weekend.
And it was the same promoter as Crathes Castle!
Yatta had held off making any firm arrangements for the Crathes gig as it was becoming very obvious in the last week or so that the Woodstock gig was in trouble and if that went down then the dominos would fall.
Again I was hearing that people still hadn't received tickets for the Shrewsbury weekend (£36 a night and £100 for the weekend)
The bill was changing drastically as bands pulled out because of non payment as per contractual agreements and I was aware of the problems from newspaper articles and other sources.
Neither Yatta nor I were surprised to see the whole pack of cards collapse and the phone call from our agent on Saturday morning, the day after our fees should have hit the bank, confirmed what we had thought for a while.
The New Dawn Events site which had been juggling headliners and bills for a while suddenly closed everything down and walked away with the following statement from the promoter:
"It's with a very heavy and sad heart that due to certain people telling blatant lies these festivals have been cancelled. It is a sad case of affairs when people think of money before love and peace".
There were no lies told by us or to my knowledge by anyone else that I know that was involved in those festivals.
We signed a contract in good faith to appear at Crathes Castle and were 100% committed to appearing.
It wasn't a joint venture; we were hired to perform a show on a specific date at a specific time in a specific venue for a specific fee.
Brian Davies and New Dawn events reneged on that contract.
I was told the reason for the cancellation was "poor ticket sales". As there appeared to be no promotion of any serious substance that I was aware of and I was never contacted to support any promotional activities and had heard nothing from the promoter with regard to helping out, as we were willing to do, it is perhaps no surprise that combined with the fact that fans were finding it hard to get information and to even physically buy tickets that everything fell apart.
For Davies to come out with the above bollocks is insulting and wallows in a pathetic hippy philosophy that has been used as an excuse to rip off so many bands in the past by others.
Every musician that was involved in the events was a professional and I don't think anyone ever considered playing for "love and peace" for an instant. That's not being cynical it's being quite simply realistic.
To hide his own failings behind some naive belief that everyone should support the idea of the event and perform for free I find incredulous in this day and age.
No musician ever wants a gig to fail and the idea that bands undermined the festival to make it not happen is ludicrous.
Although I wasn't involved with the Woodstock fiasco I have been affected by it, not only losing out on the Crathes fee which myself and the band and crew relied on to pay wages, but also I am sad to say it means Glyder will no longer be playing the convention as their ferry over from Ireland was covered by the Woodstock fee.
Pendragon have also been hit as they were depending on the Woodstock gig to make sense of their gigging activities.
I have discussed this with Nick Barrett and have come up with the following.
Any Pendragon fans who weren't planning on coming to Leamington but who were some of the very few who got tickets for Shrewsbury will be able to attend the Saturday night gig and catch the band.
All they have to do is contact the Pendragon web site and let them know you are coming so we have the names on the door and then show their relevant Woodstock ticket at the gig to gain entry.
The only deal is that when they get the refund on their ticket that they send it to Nick and the band to help them out.
As for Brian Davies and New Dawn.
It's all very well exiting the scene proclaiming it's someone else's fault and blaming other people but at the end of the day it was the promoters who signed the contracts with the bands and I don't think for one moment that they were selling tickets for an event in the name of "love and peace".
Read their "about us" section on their own web site and it doesn't say much about "love and peace". It does however suggest a lot about money!
A lot of musicians and crews have been severely let down by the inability of the festival promoters to deliver these events and to live up to their contractual and financial obligations.
To my fans I urge anyone who was actually able to buy tickets for Crathes Castle to get in touch with the promoters immediately to obtain refunds as I am sure there will be a long queue of people wanting to be paid for services already rendered.
(Yatta was e mailed by the Crathes Castle site coordinator/production manager only a couple of days before it was pulled to ask for technical details on our equipment and they had been setting up the event for a while)
I will leave the last words on this subject to the Barclay James Harvest management who were one of the bands taken out by the Shrewsbury fiasco.
The only positive thing I can gather from the cancellation is that I won't have to rush down the road from Banchory for the first game of the season at Easter Road against St Mirren! :-)
lots of love
Email 3rd August 2009