Still small but massive

Published Tuesday, 30 July 2013
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When Mid Ulster festival organiser Paddy Glasgow offers the advice "the maddest idea might just work" - he is speaking from experience.

Paddy Glasgow

When it began in 2000, Glasgowbury was small affair, held in local bars in Draperstown, but ended up on a massive scale, attracting thousands of music lovers to the mountainside site and doubling the population of the local town.

And speaking as a local, it was exciting to have a major event that was owned, organised and hosted in the countryside, where nothing on the same scale usually happens.

Memorable performances have included the likes of Red Organ Serpent Sound, Duke Special, The Undertones and Henry McCullough as well as emerging new talent including acts like the now established And So I Watch You From Afar, Fighting With Wire, The Answer, Axis Of, General Fiasco and The Wonder Villains.

It may have surprised some that after 13 years and countless performances from the best in homegrown musical talent, Glasgowbury festival bid farewell to its annual home at Eagle's Rock almost a fortnight ago.

The festival expanded to a two-day event for the first and last time this year, with headliners And So I Watch You From Afar, The Japanese Popstars and The Answer helping to wrap up the annual showcase.

People always used to think international was the way to go. Now look at the advertisements for the Tourist Board, the mad boy with the mad hair from the country was f***ing right.

Paddy Glasgow

"We may be small but we believe we made a massive difference in our own area. For musicians, by musicians, that is the one thing that is at the heart of it," Paddy explained.

"It wasn't about where you're from, what's your background, what language you speak. It was about the music. It was about the cultural gathering of people, like-minded individuals that wanted to put on something.

"When we started off, it wasn't just about the music, it was about everything, it was about access for the people who wanted to be stage managers, people who wanted to do lighting, corporate box office, teching, infrastructure."

In the aftermath of the last ever festival, he hasn't even paused to reflect, as he has far too many other plans.

Rural key workshop.

His new focus is establishing an expanded creative hub in the community and he has started work in Draperstown's Cornstore.

If Glasgowbury festival's legacy was about homegrown music then the next stage is about inspiring the next generation.

Paddy tells me it will be a place where the continued promotion of local talent and expansion of new educational and creative enterprises will thrive.

"This is a pure grassroots up thing, this the community getting behind what we're doing, it's a workspace," he explains.

"Lots of young people come to me, and they want to do their own films, they want to start photography, they want to do documentaries, or crafts."

In the background he has always been running similar schemes, with the Rural Key workshops involving the likes of Shauna Tohill from Silhouette.

"Who would have thought that you would have a local girl from Magherafelt, having a song on a NI TV ad, " he comments.

We're hoping it will be a place where people can come in and ignite that self-employment, and won't be scared and have that rural attitude of 'I don't know, I couldn't do that'.

Paddy Glasgow

In concluding the festival chapter, he credits volunteers and support from local people in particular as the key to the running of the event for more than a decade.

"There's people there who have really good jobs, taking a week off work to help.

"Whenever I would say, 'What are you doing? You could be lying in the sun' - they would say, 'I am so proud that people are coming into our area."

"One of the things that hit me were the words of And So I Watch You From Afar, said after their set on Friday night. It was humbling.

"They said "Glasgowbury gave us the belief on a main stage, a massive stage, that we could take on other stages internationally'."

"I don't think it's hit me yet, " he finally admits.

"I think it will hit me when we have our party at the end, whenever I gather together all the people that set it up every year.

"I think the whole emotional connection, maybe I won't do that, because it's not over. As far as I'm concerned, Glasgowbury's ended, the festival has ended but small but massive and all the organising that went into Glasgowbury - it's only just begun."

Eagle's Rock festival site.

© UTV News
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Louise Convery
Louise Convery

Louise Convery is an online journalist at UTV.

Previously a freelance newspaper journalist, she trained at the University of Ulster, Coleraine after attending Queen's University, Belfast.

She spends her day writing about Northern Ireland politics and current affairs, but is also an amateur culture vulture with a penchant for live music, comedy and arts events.

In her spare time she tries to be sporty with Belfast Roller Derby.

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