Festival Q&A:
Rab Noakes

The festival veteran recalls his first festival in 1965. He plays Northern Roots Festival in Inverness (23-24 June)

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Who else are you excited to see?
Justin Currie, Be Charlotte, Lau, Rachel Sermani, Pronto Mama.

What’s your best festival memory?
It happened at one of my first festivals. In 1965 some pals and I hitchhiked to Aberdeen for the folk festival there. Security was a much more relaxed thing in those days than it has become. Without tickets we slipped into the main concert at the Music Hall. The bill was a fascinating mixture of the interesting – Matt McGinn – the sublime – the great Jeannie Robertson – and the ridiculous – Pete Seeger chopping at a tree trunk whilst he sang a lumberjack song. All unforgettable.

What are your festival essentials?
More a wish list than essentials really. Festival layouts and access differ so it’s necessary to be pragmatic. But good vehicular access to get equipment as close as possible to the stage is desirable. Somewhere to tune and change. Catering – tea, water and a tasty bite to eat.

How does playing a festival differ from playing your own gig?

One important thing I think is that at your own gig it’s OK to expect the venue to cater for your needs. At festivals you really have to play your part and be prepared to accommodate the festival’s needs.

What’s your favourite part of playing a festival?
Interacting with other performers and taking the chance, if it’s offered, to take part in collaborative things. Also, conducting workshops.

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Rab Noakes

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