Alfold Rock and Blues Festival opens on Friday 3rd September with a blues and classic rock line-up that includes all those 70’s Status Quo hits with John Coghlan’s Quo, 70’s and 80’s progressive rock from Martin Turner Ex Wishbone Ash and the Canvey Island blues and boogie of Dr Feelgood.
Classic Rock Saturday also includes legends Stray, The Groundhogs and John Verity (ex Argent). Husband and wife duo and UK Blues Award winners When Rivers Meet are hotly tipped on the Friday as well as festival favourites Charley Farley and Grizzly and the Grasshoppers. Festival goers are also encouraged to bring their ukeleles, as Ukejam will be hosting workshops and sing alongs before and after the main stage finishes.
Alfold Rock and Blues is set in the expansive grounds of the Springbok Estate at Alfold – home of the Care Ashore charity for retired merchant seafarers, and is operating at a 50% capacity – meaning plenty of space in the main festival arena. NHS workers can also purchase weekend tickets at half price.
Asked why anybody would start a new festival in a pandemic, festival director Dave Rees said: “I remembered the much-missed Rudgewick Festival that was held at the Springbok Estate, and was delighted to find the owners were more than willing to host my new festival, Alfold Rock & Blues. Plans were made, bands were booked, tickets printed… and then, Covid struck! Two postponements and almost two years later, we are finally ready to proceed! We are really looking forward to finally getting it on, and to see an audience enjoying great live music again.”
Tickets can be purchased in advance at www.alfoldrockblues.com
A Q&A with Dave Rees – Festival Director.
Q: What kind of crazy music fan would start a brand new festival in a pandemic?
My first involvement with festivals, after many years of attending as a punter and a trader, was with Weyfest in Farnham. Five of us joined forces in 2007 to change it from a one day event in pub gardens to a fully fledged festival with camping at The Rural Life Centre. I remained as a partner there until 2014, but decided to leave when the other guys wanted to change the musical genre, in search of a younger audience.
When I left Weyfest I teamed up with another group of friends to launch A New Day Festival in Kent – basically an attempt to carry on with the spirit of the original Weyfest, featuring (mostly) classic, vintage rock and progrock bands, but with a healthy, eclectic mix of blues, folk and noteworthy pop music. That was launched in 2016 and has been a great success. The first A New Day was a real highlight for me, as I was able to book both Jethro Tull and The Stranglers, my two favourite bands.
Encouraged by that success, we tried to resurrect one of our favourite festivals, Blues On The Farm, that had been based in Chichester. We had tried to purchase the festival itself, but sadly it went bust and lost the standing venue during negotiations, so instead we ‘borrowed’ the name and moved it to Kent in 2018. Alas we were beset by countless problems, from a very unhelpful local council to a fundamental lack of enthusiasm from the locals. We lost a huge amount of money in 2018, and although things improved the following year, it was still a financial disaster.
And so, I alone decided to give it one more go, but with a new name and a new, more central venue. I remembered the much-missed Rudgewick Festival that was held at the Springbok Estate, and was delighted to find the owners were more than willing to host my new festival, Alfold Rock & Blues. Plans were made, bands were booked, tickets printed… and then, Covid struck! Two postponements and almost two years later, we are finally ready to proceed!
Q: What was the first music festival you went to?
Fairport Convention’s Cropredy Festival 1987… loved it, and I’ve been to every one since.
Q: And your favourite festival?
For many years, Cropredy. Now, obviously, A New Day Festival. Q: Favourite festival band? Jethro Tull, Stranglers,… and pretty much every band that has played A New Day and our Blues on The Farm and now Alfold – the best part of running my own festival is that I only book bands that I really like.