|The first Summer of Love party was held in 2007 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the original summer of love in 1967. It all started as a conversation between two Deadheads who were reminiscing about an event that used to be held anually called the Spiral Light Party. This was organised by an English Grateful Dead magazine and usually involved a band but was enjoyed mostly for the atmosphere and the chance to meet other Deadheads. In the course of the conversation a plan was struck to organise a party to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love and so SoL was born. |
So plans were laid and bands were contacted. I was asked if I could look after the technical side of things which of course I agreed to do. The party was to be held in Hawkhurst in Kent on the 7th July 2007 and would feature the The Cosmic Charles, a Grateful Dead cover band and David Gans, a singer songwriter and host of the radio show the Grateful Dead Hour.
Unfortunately David had to pull out due to other commitments and we had to find someone else to take his place. Then something unexpected happened - we were offered the chance to have Barry "The Fish" Melton appear with English band the Green Ray. This was great because Barry had been part of the original Summer of Love crowd as a member of Country Joe and the Fish and had appeared at Monterey and of course Woodstock. Things were back on track again!
There were just loigistical issues to be solved now like how to make it work and making sure we broke even! I went down to visit the site and it was beautiful, a small paddock behind an old mill house. When I first saw the site the grass was knee deep 9and soaking wet!) and the field was full of sheep. We worked out where to put the stage and how to get power to it and other details. The ticket sales were going steadily thanks to Chris who was e-mailing everyone he knew who might be interested.
The weather was also becoming a problem, there had been nothing but torrential downpoars for weeks in the run up to the party. I had worked out the most cost effective way of providing a stage, which was to borrow some stage units from work and to attach a gazebo over it to provide cover. I spent hours thinking through the implications of how to keep everything dry in what was becoming a high possibility of a washout.
However as I set off on the Friday morning there were a few spots of rain but that was the last we would have until after the event. It was a beautiful weekend in the middle of a very wet summer prompting me to observe that God loves Hippies! It felt that we had the only dry festival that year as almost every other one, including Glastonbury, had been deluged.
I got there about lunch time on Friday to run in the power cables across the field from the house. After a few difficulties including a duff cable, several tricky trees and a shock from the mains I finally had a working power supply at the stage end. I then went to pick up the equipment and by the time we went to bed on Friday we had a stage, backstage area and lighting – we just hoped the weather would hold for the day itself.
Thankfully it did. I spent the morning setting up more equipment and worrying about the PA not turning up especially when he was about half an hour late. Eventually we had a PA and the first band setting up on stage. Silverwood played a great opening set even though part of the stage fell down on them during the latter part of it. We had to get out ladders and tape it back up again before the Urban Spacemen could set up.
I spent most of the day setting bands up, recording them or watching them but I did get the occasional chance to wander around talk to people and go to the bar! There were about 200 people turned up in a variety of cars vans and even horse boxes and Winnebago’s and were camped around the field. The bank overlooking the stage was strewn with people in tie-dyes but the space in front of the stage was empty. Everyone was just chilling out and enjoying the summer sunshine.
During the second band word came that two friends of the guy who owned the field had arrived and would we let them do a quick set. As the two friends in question were Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook we managed to squeeze them in and they ran through 7 of their hits on acoustic guitars and certainly got the crowd up and clapping.
he Cosmic Charlies were next and as most of the audience were Deadheads and they are a Grateful Dead tribute band they went down really well. Having said that they did play a really great set including my favourite Dead song Dark Star which amazingly was the first time I’d ever seen the song performed live by anyone. It was also great to see one of the partygoers signing music to two deaf people.
The music finished earlier than planned at 11:30 but as it had got quite cold not many people complained. I packed all of my equipment away and helped the PA guy load his van and was just looking forward to getting to bed when it came to light that he hadn’t been paid so I wandered round the site in the dark looking for the man with the money and just as my torch was about to give out I found him – in bed!!! So I made him get up and come down to write a cheque!!It was 2:15 when I eventually did get to bed but I found myself awake again at 6:30 so I got up and started pulling the power cables out. I can’t remember being thanked by so many people as I was this weekend and everyone I spoke to said how much they had enjoyed it.
And so the rest is history! There was some great music played by the bands plus the special guest appearance (set lists here). The food was great as was the beerand we knew before we left the site that we would do it again the following year because we had had such a good time organising it. Click on the links below to see my photgraphs from the event or click here to visit the official site and find out more
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