Green Man 2004
(Danny and I founded the Green Man Festival in 2003 and curated it until our departure in November 2011. Some of the many artists we booked include, Robert Plant, The National, Bon Iver, The Flaming Lips, Mumford and Sons, Laura Marling, James Blake, Four Tet, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Fleet Foxes, Billy Bragg, Jarvis Cocker and so many more.
I’m only going to write about the first three festivals though: 2003 – 2005. From its conception in 2002 up until the insanity of 2005.)
So, buoyed on by the awesome first year of Green Man, we started to plan towards year two….
We had a de-brief at Craig-y-Nos Castle, they were under the impression that the next year would also be taking place there. We knew we had already out grown it though and we were on the look out for a new venue.
Luckily we bumped into Jonny Trunk (of the fabulous Trunk Records) at the Domino Records 10th anniversary party at the ICA on The Mall in London. We had been invited to the party as they were showing a special Domino Records film put together by Richard King and including clips from the first Green Man. There was a little cheer when our clip came on, which made us very chuffed. Anyway, Jonny recommended a place called Baskerville Hall, just outside Hay-on-Wye and fortunately just inside Wales. (The English border runs through the village and half of it is in England!)
We contacted the hall and went to check it out.
It was ideal.
The vibe was perfect. There were bedrooms – crazy rooms, obviously last done up in the ‘70s. One room had a double bed shaped as a racing car with radio speakers on the headboard. The main room had an awesome raised bath in the middle of the bedroom floor with mirrors featuring naked silhouettes.
There were also bunk rooms with 21 beds in. The downstairs venue had a bar which would be spot on for the Folkey Dokeystage and rooms which looked tailor made for the films and literature. The stairs at the entrance way were brilliant.
Outside, there were lovely large gardens where we could have some of the stalls and kids area. There was also a large grassy area down some steps with a big oak tree in the middle, this is where we would have the camp site. (A first for us, people had camped over at the Dan Yr Ogof caves the year before.) We decided to have cars park on site in the big field and have an extra camp site at a pub, called The Holly Bush, about a mile down the road.
We also decided to extend from the year before’s one day festival and go to two days.
I remember having loads of insomnia in those days. I’d often drop the kids at nursery and carry on to Baskerville Hall for meetings with Tim there. No sleep. Luckily it was only about a 20 minute drive.
Meanwhile, the word of the festival was starting to spread. It felt like we were a by-word for cool. We got mentioned in articles not even actually about the festival, including this feature of a James Yorkston gig in London.
We discussed with Ken at Hermana what we thought the ticket prices for 2004 should be. With the extra day to programme we felt we could get our vision across more clearly. We booked Four Tet to headline the Saturday night and Alasdair Roberts to headline the Sunday. We knew this captured the electronic and the folk down to a tee.
Four Tet had recently released ’Rounds’ on Domino. He was fusing electronic and organic sounds exquisitely and was exactly what we wanted for Green Man. ’Rounds’ was named as one of the albums of the year in NME, The Wire, The Observer, Pitchfork,the BBC, The Face, Q and Uncut.
For the Sunday we chose Alasdair Roberts. His album ’Farewell Sorrow’ had just been released by Drag City and was getting 4 star reviews everywhere.
Once the headliners were in place, we could carry on painting the two days to make the canvas perfect.
We placed a couple adverts in Uncut. This one…
…..and as the festival took on more shape, this one.
Danny had got a job at Community Music Wales in Cardiff and was introduced to the designer Jon Clee through Charlotte Little who worked there. Jon totally understood what we were doing and sent us an album called ’Golden Apples of the Sun’ which was curated by the American artist, Devendra Banhart for ’Arthur’ magazine in the U.S.. This introduced us to the fact that there was also a scene like ours going on across the Atlantic.
Jon took over our design work and projected us forward with his fantastic artwork and we booked one of those American artists, the singing harpist, Joanna Newsom.
The story of what Danny and I were doing was really catching on now. Festivals were starting to get hip. When we started the Green Man in 2003 there were very few festivals. Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds, The Big Chill, V Festival and T In The Park were pretty much the choice. Once we got noticed after 2003 though, more sprung up – Bestival, Latitude and others followed us. End of the Road and many, many more as each year passed.
In 2004 festivals were just starting to get written about, including this wonderful feature in The Sunday Times which highlights the Green Man Festival.
This preview in The Guardian and other great bits of press organised by Ken Lower at Hermana ensured that we sold out our 1,000 tickets in advance.
Cardiff’s Buzz Magazine.
Our Welsh flyers.
Adverts in The Wire and Uncut.
And soon enough, the weekend was upon us. When searching for artefacts to scan and post, I came across these diary pages. I can’t find the page for Sunday anywhere which is a shame, but there doesn’t seem to be any point in my writing down Fridaynight and Saturday when I captured it so well back in 2004. So here you go……
The Jane I refer to is Jane Cotter who now manages The Scala in London. She came on board in 2004 and 2005 to help us run the festival over the weekend and was a bloody marvel!
Here’s Adem, the artist who seeminly nearly missed his set!
And the sublime Fionn Regan. This is an early version of ’Abacus’ from the ’Hotel Room’ EP he released in 2004. He later re-recorded this song for his wonderful debut album ’End of History’. It contains the lyric ’…the days have no numbers’ which Bon Iver sampled / sang in 2017 and named his ill fated festival after. But, I’m jumping ahead….back to 2004.
Here are our lovely blue wristbands.
Fionn slept in one of the dorms as I recall, he was one of the last artists we booked. I saw him playing banjo at the book shop and banjo workshop run by the fabulous Whitfield family.
Here’s the main stage tent – thanks to Mary Wycherley for the photos.
and the crowd inside…it’s so funny looking at these pictures now. It’s all so small and intimate. I remember thinking it was a really big tent at the time!
This is the stalls and kids area. The hall in the background is where we had the Radio 1 stage, which was curated by Bethan Elfyn. Beth and Huw Stephens used to host the Welsh Evening Session on Radio 1 together. It was a brilliant show. They were great supporters of It’s Jo and Danny and subsequently, the Green Man.
The amazing selection of literature and films, put together once more by John Williams and Those People.
Here’s Four Tet (AKA Kieron Hebden) playing his awesome headline set.
and us, playing earlier on in the evening.
This is Rich James, formerly of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci on the Radio 1 stage. This was one of his very early solo shows.
During the day, the kids area made a big Green Man which they paraded around the site afterwards. Arts Alive from Crickhowell helped us with the kids’ activities.
We had drummers, as I recall, these were organised by Kaz. Kaz and I met when we had sons born on the same day at the Brecon War Memorial Hospital!
And, inside the hall, we had the Folkey Dokey stage.
We had a merch tent, once again run by Sheila, the retired headmistress from Brecon and her husband Graeme. Jon Cleehad designed us these brilliant FOLK tee shirts.
These gorgeous kids’ tees.
And the programme. Again, photocopied at the place in Brecon and written and put together by Danny.
Saturday’s running order
And the site map!
So what do I remember of the Sunday?
I remember Glasgow’s My Latest Novel. We loved them and asked if we could put a record out by them – I think they actually ended up signing to Bella Union. Fair enough!
I remember enjoying sights like this one. Among the stalls we had some guys from Scotland who sold great fanzines and D.I.Y. poetry publications. My memory is that they were so laid back they weren’t ready to open until the Sunday morning!
So many people came down from Scotland in those early years. Not least loads of artists, including of course King Creosote, James Yorkston and The Fence Collective, all from Fyfe.
The Earlies from Lancashire and America were amazing. They, like a few of these bands and artists were regulars in the early Green Man years. I loved them.
I remember Danny and I had to leave the site (which felt really odd) to go to Hay to buy more red diesel for the generator. Couldn’t wait to drive the 1 mile back to the site.
M Craft from Brighton played the main stage when we got back.
I remember Daimh going on stage. Tom, from the record shop in Hay had introduced us to this band. This was the most folky band of the weekend. Instrumental music. Made up of pipes, guitar, bodhran, fiddle. They were the highlight of 2004 for me and I think quite a few other people. The tent was empty when they went on. We’d taken a gamble putting them on as late as we did, given that they were very unknown at the time. I’ve never seen the power of music more magnificently then I did that evening though. As they played people came to the tent, drawn by the music. By the time they had finished, the tent was heaving. Full of ecstatic, dancing humans. People kept coming up to Danny and myself and thanking us. I wept like a fool throughout. All the stresses and fears flooding out of me. I’ll never forget it.
Alasdair Roberts headlined, looking very dapper in his red trousers, and played a wonderful set. I don’t think we have any photos though. I think I know why…Brave Captain (AKA Martin Carr ex of the Boo Radleys) was headlining over on the Folkey Dokey and our photographer, Mary Wycherley is his partner!
So, here is Martin – Brave Captain, finishing the 2004 Green Man in grand style on the Folkey Dokey stage.
Our main review in 2004 was published in ‘The Independent’
And I’m going to finish off with this. Jon Clee, the wonderful Green Man designer sent me a few little clips of video after the festival. This is in the days before camera phones and so they are, to the best of my knowledge, the only videos from that year. I put them together for this blog – here you go. It features Joanna Newsom, Lone Pigeon, clips of Jon’s highlights of the weekend and then the road trip Jon and his friends made from Cardiff to Hay and back again. The music I put to it is from the 2003 Green Man compilation album, and is by Christine X (AKA me).