It’s been the shortest of turn-arounds but just nine months after the last one, Chichester’s Blues on the Farm is back next week in its usual June slot – a great relief to organiser Julian Moores after a difficult time last year.
In June last year, the festival was washed out – and subsequently postponed to the September.
“Après le déluge, September was fantastic,” Julian says. “But it was pretty devastating at the time. We were building to a peak in 2012 when the rains came down. We were so flooded that we had to make the decision whether we cancelled. We had not even cut the grass. The decision was whether we just scrub it for 2012 or try to choose a date when the weather might have improved and the tide had gone out! We plumped for a weekend in September, and it turned out to be one of the nicest weekends in the whole of the year. The problem was that a lot of people that had booked for June had also arranged their holidays around the event. They were intending to spend a bit more time in Chichester, and they could not come in September. They had used up their holidays, and so we had quite a lot of refunds. But we decided to keep faith with the faithful. We had a couple of American bands that could not come back, but were fully contracted so we had to pay out.”
But in the event, the September festival was 25-30 per cent down on attending numbers: “We certainly made a loss – in the region of £45,000-£50,000. You can’t be a festival director unless you have a bit of a cushion, and we were able to withstand it, put it that way. But it wasn’t a pleasant situation, and obviously we are looking to catch up now. It is going to be nice to get back into full swing again.”
Julian is delighted with the festival which has come together:
Friday, June 21: Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings, Giles Robson And The Dirty Aces, Hat Fitz and Cara, Never The Bride, Revolutionaires and Freddy V All Stars.
Saturday, June 22: Mud Morganfield, Rodney Branigan, Fowokan, Matthew Lee, Babajack, Zoe Schwarz and Blue Commotion.
Sunday, June 23: Chris Farlowe with the Norman Beaker Band, Rufus Stone, Woody Mann, Jo Harman, Bushman Brothers and Goldie Reed.
Julian is pleased to have former Rolling Stone Wyman back, 11 years after his last visit to Blues on the Farm: “It’s the professionalism that he brings – and also the musicians that he brings.”
Performing with Bill will be Georgie Fame and Andy Fairweather Low. Julian is also particularly pleased to welcome Freddy V All Stars and Sussex-based Jo Harman: “For a young singer of her calibre, I love the great way that she interprets the standards and is also a song-writer. That combination gives her a special edge.”
Also worth watching out for is Mud Morganfield, son of blues legend Muddy Waters. Tickets on www.bluesonthefarm.co.uk.