FEATURE: Richmond Live 2015 | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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This year’s Richmond Live Festival, taking place at The Batts on Friday 31st July and Saturday 1st August, has one of the biggest line ups in the event’s long history. With a headline slot from Funeral From A Friend, and performances from The Sherlocks, Hello Operator, Ceiling Demons, The Voluntears, Los Capitanes and many more, the two-day music extravaganza is one of Northumberland’s must-see festivals this year.

In advance of this year’s event, we asked Jon Naylor to write a few words about the festival. Here, he talks about how through a lot of hard work, the volunteers and organisers make the festival special. Words: Jon Naylor.

When a handful of musicians and music loving locals stood up in a council meeting some eighteen years ago to ask why there wasn’t much in the way of live music events in the Richmond calendar, they couldn’t have guessed what the next couple of decades would bring!

Since receiving permission from Richmond Council to use the Batts for a small local music festival, the event has grown beyond recognition in both size and popularity. The Batts is a beautiful grassy spot along the edge of the river Swale in Richmond, Yorkshire. A natural auditorium, the area is flanked on the other three sides by steep banks and overlooked by the majestic Norman castle keep, amongst the best preserved of its kind in the world. Alan Rufus, a pal of William the Conqueror, who built Richmond Castle in 1071, couldn’t have imagined what would have been going on below his battlements almost a thousand years later!

Just a few hundred interested onlookers turned up at the first, hastily pulled together, slightly drizzly event in September 1998. Now held on the first weekend of August and regularly pulling weekend attendances of close to ten thousand when the weather is kind, the Richmond Live music festival has a loyal following of hardcore fans, some of whom travel from as far as London every year, without fail, whatever the weather!

At this point, one could roll off the fairly impressive list of acts that have graced the events three stages and there have been a few, but that’s not what this piece is about. This time we are going to applaud the unsung heroes behind this professionally run and well established event. Because although professionally run, it’s not run by professionals! Not a single member of the committee or crew are professionally trained in events management nor working in that field.

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“the Richmond Live music festival has a loyal following of hardcore fans, some of whom travel from as far as London every year, without fail, whatever the weather!”

These people put in hundreds of hours every year planning, building and running the event, for no financial reward whatsoever. They do it for the love of live music, for the love of Richmond town and just for the fun of it! Many use a week and a day of their hard earned holidays every year and turn up to build the show, camp back stage and work like Trojans. Granted, there are perks like rubbing shoulders with the stars, being well fed and watered back stage and of course after the hard work is done there are a few cold ones and the amazing comradery in the back stage inner sanctum of the volunteer’s village.

Ah, the volunteers’ village! Even the stars aren’t allowed back there! It’s where we camp, eat, sleep and yes party rather too hard at times too but that’s Rock and Roll! Ask any volunteer why they do it and the answer will always be “because it’s just loads of fun!” Ask them the same question half way through the Sunday clean up and you’ll get a very different answer probably along the lines of “I’ve been asking myself the same question and I hurt in places I didn’t know I had places” because the Sunday is a killer! All the adrenaline is gone, everyone has had far too little sleep, they are all show worn and ready to go home but the clean-up is imperative as we need to leave this beautiful part of our town as we found it.

This is the whole reason we take a week and a day because you need at least one day after to recover. Many of us say “never again” for a week or two after the event but soon the pain wears off and we are beavering away, planning the next one.

So come along to our great event and enjoy the show whilst sparing a quick though for those music loving volunteers behind the scenes. If you happen to bump into one of us just let us know you’re enjoying the show and that will be payment enough!

Richmond Live takes place on Friday 31st July and Saturday 1st August.

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