Hard to know where to start.
May Day Festival Of Solidarity absolutely blew my mind. WHAT a day!
We knew the Grace Petrie factor had shifted tickets, but we didn’t expect to be rammed full from 2pm! It was a fantastic gesture of solidarity from our festival family to be cheering Tom Jackson onstage at that hour of the day, with almost as much gusto as they cheered Grace at 9.45pm, but then we have come to understand that the spirit there is unique.
Tony Wright and myself have lovingly put this festival together since 2016, and this was our fourth, and best. Largely down to such great support from the audience, artists and venue, a combination that delivers something very special once in the hands of the amazing Marcus Ward behind the sound desk, who is the glue that holds the whole thing together on the day. That and Simon Ibbotson aka Barnsley Sime on the decks, spinning the finest platters of Punk, Ska and Northern Soul between acts, keeping the mood just right.
So big shout-outs to Tom Jackson, Eagle Spits & Rachel Joy, The Hurriers, Johnny Campbell, The Swindells, Commoners Choir, Paddy Nash and Diane Greer, Rory McLeod, Smiley and the Underclass, and of course Grace Petrie for cooking up an absolute STORM and raising the roof so many times we lost count. And thanks too to John Dunn and Ian Hodson speaking on behalf of Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign and the BFAWU respectively, for their poignant and inspirational speeches.
Special mentions too for Lindsay Rutland, who ran the merch stall all day knitting hats for Wool Shall Overcome to raise money for #WSO2019; and to Chip and Nadia of Poetry On The Picket Line, up from London for the day and donating all their merch money to the We Shall Overcome cause too. Fantastic gestures by both.
From a personal point of view, the 10 minutes I got to spend on stage singing with Commoners Choir were my favourite moments in 32 years of singing live. Just incredible. To hear that wall of sound from behind me, and to see a packed house of raised fists singing in front of me, was a genuinely spiritual moment and one I will never forget.
So a massive thank you to everyone who supported the event and made it such a brilliant day. Tony and meself know how much it means to us, but to hear you all saying how much the day means to you inspires us to ever greater heights.
So will we be back in 2020?
Damn right we will. It is already being plotted.
Tony Wright brought this idea to me in the wake of the first We Shall Overcome and we decided to give it a go. Thanks to his energy and determination we now have one of the best political events on the calendar, bringing music fans and activists together from all over the country to compare notes, build bridges, punch the air, and put the wind back in each other’s sails for the struggles ahead.
That’s what we’re here for. And we plan to be here for many more years to come.
Big thanks for all the photos, especially to Paul Rutland, Pete Yen, Jenny Fuller, Paul Dickinson and anyone else my shattered head has missed out. Top work folks!