Tony Gilding, Newrybar
Congratulations to Peter Noble and the Bluesfest team for another magnificent event.
The music was spectacular and facilities get better each year.
Last night, however, I witnessed the most bizarre piece of customer alienation I’ve seen in my 10 years at the festival. I’m sure it was an oversight and not authorised by Mr Noble, who I know does respect his customers, especially his long-term ones.
We had enjoyed an absolute knockout set by Roger Hodgson in a very cramped Crossroads tent with the chairsitters at the back behind the soundstage and the stand-up crowd at the front. Cramped but it worked.
We then hung around for what was my most anticipated act of the festival route: Rufus Wainright. I was astonished when a rather pushy lady tcame to the stage a few minutes before Rufus appeared and announced that chairs were no longer allowed in the Crossroads tent. What is more incredible was that she asked all us people with chairs to leave the tent immediately? The ludicrousness of the situation seemed to escape her. It was raining outside; the chances of her direction being complied with were zero. What is more, by the time of her announcement the tent had thinned considerably and there was no pressure at all on space.
To add insult to injury an officious security man then started circulating the tent asking people to pack up and leave.
The conversation among my chair seated mates, mostly rusted on Bluesfest fans, ranged from those timid ones that left probably never to return, the ones that sat there uncomfortably wondering how this could happen and then, thankfully, the vast majority who demonstrated the famous north coast activism of civil disobedience and stayed seated.
When Rufus came on the stage he joked about the incident in a very diplomatic way but he seemed as bemused as us all.
I would appreciate a clarification from Bluesfest. Are chairs allowed in teh Crossroads tent and, if so, it okay to change the rules with a few minutes’ notice and deny us the chance to hear an act? Is the Bluesfest a no chair event now?