Brownhills Music Festival 2013 – can you help a great event?

The Brownhills Music Festival will be taking place throughout the day at The Shire Oak pub, Shire Oak crossroads, Brownhills (or Walsall Wood if you please) on Saturday 17th August 2013. This looks to be a great event, and I’ve watched carefully as the organiser of this brave and groundbreaking project, local lad Paul Green, has carefully and expertly built up a profile, fixed up acts and dealt with public enquiries.

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A great pub set to host a great musical event.

There will be something for everyone, and it all takes place around and inside a great local pub with excellent ale and friendly locals. The whole thing is a free affair, and Paul has worked tirelessly to make his vision a reality.

Paul does, however, need help. I know that several local businesses – for instance the wonderful San’s Kitchen in Silver Court – have pitched in with welcome help and support, but Paul needs more local businesses and individuals to step up and help facilitate a project that will bring decent entertainment back to Brownhills.

Paul has written about his mission to bring the music back eloquently, warmly and frankly. I saw some of the armchair critics at work, whom Paul faced down and showed just what can be achieved in the face of negativity and armchair expertise.

Please help if you can. I, for one, am looking forward to a great day of music and entertainment together with fellow Brownhills music fans. May it be the start of something beautiful and fun.

You could do worse than buy a festival shirt. What’s not to love?

For details of the event visit www.brownhillsmusicfestival.co.uk or use Facebook and Twitter.

For details of sponsorship or to support this event in any way you can, please email greenconnections@btinternet.com.

For details of UKFS, see www.ukforcessupport.co.uk

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Burntwood singer-songwriter James Bates will be appearing, with his great blend of folk, blues and modern alternative music.

Paul Green wrote:

During my childhood Brownhills played host to an annual carnival. As a child and even into my teenage years, this yearly procession through the high street was an event we always looked forward to. The arrival of the fairground equipment was always eagerly anticipated and standing to watch the carnival floats parade through Brownhills on the ensuing Saturday still brings back fond memories. Brownhills still hosts a fair but unfortunately the carnival is no more. During its final few years, its popularity was such that on occasion, it didn’t really constitute a “procession” as that entails having an amount of participants.

Like many other towns, Brownhills always had a strong culture of live music. The numerous clubs, many which have now disappeared, regularly hosted some form of live music. The quality of some of the bands/singers left a lot to be desired but regardless of quality, the music played on. During the 1970’s, the Crown (recently refurbished for the umpteenth time as restaurant) was known regionally for its Sunday lunchtime jazz sessions and people came from far and wide to hear quality music. There was always somewhere within the Brownhills area where live music could be found at a weekend. Even the bandstand on the edge of Holland Park occasionally hosted performances from the odd marching band or revue.

As time passed by, so did the live music; bands and singers gave way to the disco. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a well chosen track, but pre-packaged music has its place along-side live music, not in place of. I’m not sure whether the cost of a band, the practicality of having a disco or just the lack of places suitable for live music was responsible for the change. All that I can be sure is that at some point during the eighties and nineties, finding any live music became a near impossibility in Brownhills with any frequency

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David Young is also set to provide a fine modern folk set.

Having visited dozens of festivals and live outdoor concerts over the last thirty years I was conscious, that with the exception of the odd event, there wasn’t an annual music event in Brownhills and to the best of my knowledge and certainly during my lifetime there never had been. Personally I had been involved in the live music scene from quite a young age, working in various bands and cabaret shows throughout the network of clubs in the midlands since the nineteen seventies. Even after taking a hiatus from the mid-eighties to the mid-nineties, I had always maintained a toe in the water of the live music scene by running sound and other technical stuff for a number of stage events. After falling foul to the well-documented decline in the economy during 2008, and its effect on the building industry I decided it was time for a change in direction. After working in both the electrical and mechanical industries (and even a sort time in the motor trade) I traded it all in to become a student and after a period of deliberation, I enrolled on a music technology and production course at Derby University. Working and studying in the music industry on a full-time basis, if nothing else is sure to fuel ideas and, whilst sitting in a lecture on a music business management course in 2011, the idea of staging a music festival in my home-town was born. I would like to say I had an epiphany but it was nothing so grand. I just thought what a great idea it would be to have an outdoor event in our town, staging it with a zero budget as a community event with free entry – the Brownhills Music Festival.

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Young Walsall band The Assist have a great live reputation.

Before the planning of type of event could go ahead, an amount of market research was needed.  It was necessary to test the water as to how my idea of a music festival would be received. In a technological age with the use of social media websites becoming increasingly part of daily life, it was the first logical step was to use Facebook to try and get some kind of feedback on who would want a music festival. I must say that first impressions were that no one was interested, we’ll that’s how it seemed. Unfortunately with mechanisms such as Facebook, obtaining a true gauge of what people really think is dependent upon how many people your comments reach. When you are relatively new to social media websites and don’t have many friends on your page, the transfer of comments is limited and is completely reliant upon people ‘liking’ or ‘sharing’ your posts. For the first twelve months I don’t think I had more than a handful of people even follow the link to the page I had setup for the festival, with even less ‘liking’ the event. Not to be deterred, and believing the lack of interest was due to the small subject group being reached, I decided it was time to take a leap of faith. The festival was born, without a date, without a location and without any bands appearing, or at least as far as Facebook was concerned. The next step was to contact a few of my student buddies who were in bands, and asking them to appear in principle at a festival, with no proposed date or location. It was not easy for them to agree but they did. With bigger Facebook audiences than I had, their promoting the event on their pages started to generate interest. Within days, the festival was receiving traffic on its own Facebook page and people were asking questions. Unfortunately the two main questions being asked were where and when?

The Archamists will be bringing their great rock sound

With the idea of a music festival gaining momentum, it quickly became apparent that the ‘in principle’ approach had run it course, and for this event to happen in 2013, important decisions on location, date and how the logistics of the festival would work needed to be addressed quickly, as people were now asking the same two questions regularly.

The location for an outdoor event is not easy, as gathering more than a handful of people together creates its own difficulties. Amenities, facilities, alcohol, parking etc. greatly influence any planning permissions, rendering common land, parks and similar sites impractical for use without lengthy and potentially expensive procedures; all without any guarantee that permission would ultimately be granted. Siting the event at a pub was one of the few ways these obstacles could be minimized to an achievable level. Considering pubs with enough ground to host a festival of a reasonable size in the Brownhills area is quite simple as there is very little choice. After discussions with the owners, the Shire Oak was chosen as the only viable venue with enough space, infrastructure and prepared to host the event. 

The choice of location produced many critics with comments ranging from ‘how can it be called a festival if its not on grass’ to ‘that’s not a festival, it’s a gig on a car park’. Cynics and armchair critics were plentiful and at times their comments made me doubt the point of continuing with the festival but for every negative remark made there were fifty positive ones. The criticisms had to be put into context and with the odd exception they had to be brushed aside. The overwhelming feeling from the majority was that they were looking forward to having the first outdoor Brownhills Music Festival.

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Brownhills covers band Livewire – very popular brilliant entertainers – will be playing.

With the venue set, the date for the event was chosen as Saturday 17th August. Unfortunately this date was not suitable for the two bands who had agreed previously to be part of the event. They already had other commitments on this date however their provisional inclusion had stirred enough interest.  Bands were now contacting daily, wanting to be included. I was upfront right from the beginning that this was to be a free event, there was no budget to work with and everyone involved would be working for free. One critic posted on Facebook that bands wouldn’t be interested in playing at the festival as they could get paid by doing their stuff elsewhere. Fortunately he couldn’t have been more wrong. The level of interest off bands, single artists, duos, trios etc, generally of a very high standard has been overwhelming. I have had more than a hundred bands approach me since March wanting to take part. They have all submitted material to audition for a slot and to keep band numbers to an acceptable number, the standard of musicality necessary to get on the bill has been set really high. To add another dimension to the event and to accommodate the ever-growing applications to be involved, a series of acoustic, unplugged artists will be performing inside the pub later in the afternoon and into the evening.

The festival as mentioned earlier is on the Shire Oak car park on the 17th August and begins at 1pm. More than a dozen bands will be taking part on the outside stage with a similar amount doing more intimate, acoustic sets indoors. To ovoid unnecessary disruption for the local residents, the outside show will conclude at approximately 9pm, with the indoor music continuing until around 11.30pm. As we expect this event to be really popular, the car park will be cordoned off from the Friday afternoon to accommodate the fairly large crowds expected and the large stage and sound systems. There will be no car parking on-site on the Friday or Saturday so we are asking people, if possible to leave their cars at home. For those who need to drive, we are negotiating off-site parking locally at one of two locations. There will also be a real ale festival running concurrently on the day featuring some of the best beers and ales from around the UK. For those who prefer regular beers/lagers etc. there will be a well stocked bar available. There will also be a good assortment of hot and cold food, ice cream and confectionary available.

This project has only been made possible with the support of several local businesses and individuals supplying their products or services free of charge. As this is a community event and there is no entrance fee, we are reliant on these people to support us by means of sponsorship. To make this event an even greater success, we would like help off any like-minded businesses who would like to be involved in this worthwhile event. Any profits made by the organising team or any monies left over after sponsorship will be donated to charity. For this event we are supporting United Kingdom Forces Support (UKFS) a charity that provides servicepersons and their families both financial and pastoral support when posted overseas 

For details of the event visit www.brownhillsmusicfestival.co.uk or see us on Facebook and Twitter.

For details of sponsorship or to support this event in any way you can, please email greenconnections@btinternet.com.

For details of UKFS, see www.ukforcessupport.co.uk

Paul Green – Organiser

 

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16 Comments

  • David Evans

    Hi Bob
    “Music never leaves you” What a super article . I noticed the banner by the Shire Oak pub yesterday. I am thrilled that such an event will take place here. Paul’s notes say everything and I wish them and the festival every success ..and hope to enjoy some real live music…and a cup of tea… during the festivities. We are all in for a real treat! ..and UKFS is a worthy cause.
    kind regards
    David

     
    Reply
  • Clive

    Great, look forward to the event. i shall be there. I wish you all the best with this adventure.

     
    Reply
  • Carol Styler

    I saw the sign, by the Shire Oak on Friday, so looked it up, what a great Idea, I shall be there.

     
    Reply
  • Really great this is taking place, especially after the Pelsall one has ceased (for the time being hopefully)
    Just a shame about the date. V festival is on just up the road, and a lot of the potential audience will be at that.
    Hope they get a great turnout despite this.

     
    Reply
    • stymaster

      Do you think? V festival is a big pile of shite IMO, and expensive. The phrase “I’d rather fucking die” springs to mind, and I know I’m not the only one who’d prefer a pint of decent beer and some actual music. The top oak has a excellent (and well deserved) reputation for beer, and has some decent bands on at times too.

       
      Reply
      • Neil Harris

        And hopefully the Brownhills festival will attract people like yourself who feel that way.
        Unfortunately about 80,000 people make the short journey to Weston park, including many Brownhills residents who would have probably attended the festival if they weren’t at V.

         
        Reply
  • Hi there and thanks for your comments so far. I’ve been badgered with the “V” festival debate since the 17th August was announced as the date for the Brownhills Music Festival. The way I saw it was that people who always intended to go to the V festival would do so regardless of our little event. We are a free entry day as opposed to about £80 for Weston Park. We have great local talent and the “V” has Beyonce, need I say more – Paul Green (organiser).

     
    Reply
    • Neil Harris

      Hi Paul.

      I am fully behind the event and will be going.
      I’ve shared your event many times on the twitter and farcebook and got many replies saying such a shame I can’t go as I am at V. Including from people in local bands.
      So my only point is with this date you’ve lost a lot of your potential audience before you’ve started.
      I believe it’s a handicap, but hopefully not one that will harm you too much.
      Really trying not to be negative as local events like this are essential.

      All the best

      Neil.

       
      Reply
      • ‘I’m trying not to be negative.’ – You’re failing.
        V and the Brownhills Festival are utterly different.
        Whatever Paul had done, it would have clashed with something.
        It’s damned hard to create and organise stuff. Whatever you do, there are always folk who could do better. It’s utterly demoralising.

        Bob

         
        Reply
  • Hi Neil,

    I do understand where you’re coming from but also believe Bob is correct in saying that they’re two totally different events, targeting two different types of supporter. Having being involved in the music industry for years I have found that an increasing majority of people who I know, who are festival goers, have been steadily becoming more and more disillusioned with “V”, its cost, traffic issues, poor line-ups and general value for money. I don’t think we will have any shortage of people attending our event as popularity is growing steadily. Our major issue is attracting enough sponsorship to do this day justice and fund an event the people of Brownhills, and its supporting areas will be proud of, and want a repeat of, for years to come.

     
    Reply
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