What are you doing this weekend? Whatever it is, try to find time for Above The Beaten Track – unquestionably one of the city’s most enjoyable, and reassuring displays of the sort of inventive, thrilling creativity you only get from the ground up.
Yes, there are other festivals happening over the late summer Bank Holiday. But there’s so much to see squeezed into eight hours in and around the Bluecoat’s courtyard that, frankly, we can’t put up a good reason to cross the great divide of Church Street and head to the dark side…
Celebrating the grass roots, home grown and the free spirited, and this year with an added down home bluegrass tinge courtesy of the Bluecoat’s Honky Tonk exhibition, ATBT is a collaborative conjunction of the city’s musical champions: promoters, performers, supporters and fellow travellers. So you can expect great things from co-producers Mellowtone and Beaten Tracks plus Lazy Genius, Liverpool Acoustic and Culturepool (who we’ll be chatting to later in the week), and a fringe festival of creative scribbling courtesy of Draw The Line and on-the-spot visual magic from TV Lux.
We spoke to the team – Dave McTague, Richie Vegas and Jonnie O’Hare – ahead of this weekend’s festival in a day.
We’re counting the days to this year’s Above The Beaten Track. Looks like it’s a stayer?
D: Yes, it certainly seems that way… 2011 is our 4th annual event already. Originally the festival was planned as a one off, then we did a second year… after the second year so many people were asking us about when it was, could they play… you know, we had to keep it going really.
R: And as we spend so much time promoting and running other people’s events, It’s nice to have something we can call our own.
J: Yeah, and we like to think the support from other people involved – and all the people who come along – help to keep it a stayer.
What are you looking forward to?
D: I’m really looking forward to Sixteen Tonnes, Dead Cities, Mike Badger (main pic), Loose Moose (pic)… too many to name really.
R: Colin Dilnot and Mike Stout for me… their encyclopedic knowledge of obscure music is a real delight …and of course hopefully waking up on the Saturday morning with the sun shining.
J: Live – SJ Downes and Loose Moose… and on the DJ side of things – Bugsy playing between the live music in the courtyard and Gavin Kendrick’s selections in the bar.
What’s your future plans?
D: Keep begging, borrowing… maybe not stealing – I heard they were giving out quite severe punishments for that these days… and hopefully we’ll be back next year. And all year round, Mellowtone will be putting shows on with a similar musical leaning, so look out for those.
Above The Beaten Track, Honky Tonk, 27 August
The Bluecoat, Free entry
Main pic: Mark McNulty