Monday, 20 June 2016

Surfer Joe Summer Festival 2016 Final Thoughts

My blog postings from Italy over the last week have been part travelogue, part diary, part long list of name-dropping and part review of the Surfer Joe Summer Festival 2016. I'm not really comfortable, these days, passing judgement on other people's music, or performance, so I've just attempted to give a flavour of what it's like to spend a few days by the Mediterranean, in Livorno, meeting some great people, enjoying good (and not so good) weather, eating and drinking far too much, while listening to and watching some of the finest musicians you could ever wish to encounter. Some days, the music isn't even the main thing; it's the whole ambience of the place, the sheer pleasure that it brings to so many people to just be there, together, enjoying all of this.

I'm lucky; I've been able to do this a number of times and, hopefully, I will be back again next year. If you ever have the chance and this sounds like your kind of fun, then you should go too. You won't regret it. You may meet up with old friends and, if you don't, you WILL make new ones. And the setting and the music will be fabulous.

For those not fortunate enough to be able to attend, this year's festival was covered by both North Sea Surf Radio and the live video stream from KFJC; it's to be hoped that similar coverage will continue in future.

I'll leave you with a few questions for myself.

What were your personal highlights?
Los Oxidados
The Twin Tones
The Surf Coasters
The moment when The Razorblades played so hard they stopped the rain.
The "secret" sets from The Kilaueas and Surfer Joe.
The moment when Bang! Mustang became a five-piece.
The diner now serves vegetarian and vegan burgers. They're pretty good.

What did you miss?
Undoubtedly, Unsteady Freddie. The festival's regular co-host had to stay at home in New York, under Doctor's orders. Jeff and Ralf did a fine job supporting Lorenzo in Freddie's absence, don't get me wrong, while Ralf was, at times, absolutely hilarious. However, I did miss the presence of his Unsteady-ness. Most of all, I missed his professionalism. Not only does Freddie introduce the bands, he's always there when they come off stage, making sure that they get a good reaction from the crowd, making sure we know what is coming up next. Most of all, I've not forgotten Freddie's words to me after Los Fantasticos played at Surfer Joe in 2011. Frankly, we didn't play very well and Freddie, recognising my disappointment, was extremely kind. Get well soon Freddie. I hope to see you next year.

Is there anything you would change?
Thursday leads you into the festival gently, with a late-ish start and only a few bands. Friday and Saturday begin earlier and go on late into the night. By Sunday, I am, quite frankly, shattered. The secret sets at around 1:00 pm worked well this year. Why not begin the music in the early afternoon of the Sunday and aim for a finish at around 8:00pm? After that there will be time to sit and chat, to reflect, to eat with friends and share a few drinks. And we all get to bed at a sensible time.

It's Lorenzo's festival, of course, and he may have many good reasons for thinking that this is a terrible idea, but several people I spoke to seemed to agree that it was at least worthy of consideration.


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  2. Thanks for writing that up, it was a very enjoyable read.