I’m writing this post whilst listening to 6Music who this year hosted The Mountain Stage at Green Man Festival – for the first time. This isn’t entirely surprising, as many people I’ve met at Green Man in the past few years have mentioned 6Music as their radio station of choice, and besides, the bands represented at this Festival are almost as diverse as the selection of sounds on 6Music. With the exception of Royal Blood and similar heavy rock musical expressions (have you heard their debut album released this week? Stunning. Really).
So, when I was asked recently “What exactly is this Green Man Festival?”, I thought I’d write an introductory post with some images that hopefully explain what it is to me at least. Set in the Brecon Beacons, with a stunning backdrop of mountains accompanying the music played by the performers assembled, the festival is not just music but (as are many music festivals) also an impromptu town encompassing food stalls, a Welsh ‘Beer Festival’ tent, a spa area, a cinema, a science garden, plus kids’ and teen’s areas. The programme tells us that “over 1,500 artists have travelled here from around the world…across 18 stages in the 10 unique areas”. There’s definitely a folk and new-folk feel to much of the music on The Mountain Stage, but there are stages that have a heavier feel such as The Far Out Tent, and Chai Wallahs which is more dance, reggae and world-music based. Then there’s the lovely Walled Garden Stage which is where we saw Michael Kiwanuka a couple of years ago, and this year Teleman and John Mouse.
As if to confirm my 6Music/Green Man link – the radio just played a John Mouse song as part of their 6MusicIntroducing mix tape on Tom Robinson’s show. More about this band and the others we saw in my next blog posts. John Mouse’s new album ‘The Death of John Mouse’ is one of the albums I bought on iTunes on my return. See also my YouTube link with a slightly wobbly video of his performance of ‘Ilka Moor’: Green Man 2014 John Mouse
There’s always a Green Man sculpture, different interpretations each year. This year’s one had a kind of Maori feel (that’s what I got anyway). There’s a hollow area inside where you can write wishes on labels and attach them inside the wicker frame.
There’s always the annual skydivers launching themselves from the mountain top and attempting to land somewhere inside the festival area. Not sure if this is because they didn’t get tickets before they sold out, or that they just like to arrive in a more exciting style than the rest of us.
Then of course, there’s the burning of the Green Man statue at the end of the festival. A kind of goodbye to the festival and the summer (yes, we were lucky this year – very little rain) and more that a little Wicker Man – but there were no sacrifices caged inside, as far as I know.
Accessibility notes: This year’s Green Man Festival had platforms for disabled viewers again this year. There was a platform at The Mountain Stage, Far Out and The Walled Garden. Still no platform at Chai Wallahs. Why? There could be a small one to the side of the sound desk which wouldn’t get in the way of the able-bodied. What makes Chai Wallahs think it should be inaccessible – there’s some great music there. Prizes go to the brilliantly helpful security and stewards at The Far out Stage who were there 99% of the time and were lovely and super-helpful. No prizes to organisers of The Mountain Stage where stewards and security were either non-existent much of the time (even whilst some of the headliners were playing) or seen chatting on the steps and not getting involved at all with the children running up and down the ramps (not safe – really it isn’t – for the children I mean), or anyone who was not disabled using the one disabled toilet by the stage – unless laziness is a disability – with the premise that it was ‘just a toilet’. They managed to fill it up to the brim in a couple of hours – and this toilet isn’t emptied frequently due to it’s location. The less said about this the better. As long as it is sorted out next year. There is a reason why those with less mobility have a toilet nearby the platforms. Please think! What they need is a dedicated manager for the platforms with knowledge of disabled needs – better still – a DISABLED PERSON!