Togfest is a local festival in Milton Keynes. It has been going for decades and started out as a celebration for the band Togmor. But I hadn’t heard of it til last summer and then the dates clashed with another gig I was at. But this time around I was not going to miss it. It was very easy to put my name forward. I just rang and left a message. The next thing I knew I was at a meeting to find out more about what was involved and health & safety procedures for the day.I was emailed my shifts and turned up in plenty of time on the day to receive my free crew T-shirt. I was given a hi-vis jacket, a radio and a position with instructions of what that position required.
It was a beautiful day in the sunshine and a pleasure to chat to the people who were coming along to the festival, help them with directions and just keep an eye out for any issues. It hardly felt like work at all! I did three shifts with an hour break in between. I was grateful for the break and the free food in the hospitality tent. I got talking to several of the bands (some had travelled quite a way to be here). I also met other volunteers, many also volunteering for the first time. Lots of lovely people, great music and sunshine. What more can you ask for?Things that impressed me:
1. Okay I know I don’t have anything else to compare it to as it was my first time volunteering in this environment, but it was extremely well organised.
2. The bands were of a very high standard. Very professional and delivered some great performances and it was their own work. Hugely impressed with the level of talent in one place.
3. Free T-shirt. Free food and drink. Free gig. It felt like I was really looked after.
4. Although we had security if we needed them, this had a real family feel to the festival and most of the festival-goers were in good spirits.
5. Real toilets with lots of toilet roll. I am not a fan of portaloos so to have real toilets and proper running water and soap to wash your hands with was a huge bonus.
6. I learnt how to use a radio. It may sound simple but it was something I had never done before.The bands/artists were chosen to give a wide range of music styles. From Reggie, Folk, Funk, pop and even hard rock. The crowd seemed to enjoy all the acts no matter what music genre they fell into.
Here are a few of the bands/artists I was lucky enough to catch:
Reeds: Full of engery and enthuiasim; Reeds really kicked of the show on the main stage.Jacob Szuleki: A beautiful fingerstyle guitarist. Acoustic guitaring at its best!
Jasper in the company of others: With Ukuleles and Fiddle, these guys really had a unique sound to their songs. And yes I did buy the album and EP!The Waletones: Nice looking boys all smartly dressed reminded me of early Beatles. And I would guess that The Beatles was an influence in their style of music too. They even did a few Beatles and rock n roll tracks.
Inlak’esh: Okay it's not the easiest name to remember, but their distinctive acoustic guitar playing will not easily be forgotten. Great unusual sound.Rewired: Very professional band from Scotland that gave us some amazing tunes. Really can see them becoming major players in the music industry. Scotland is well-renowned for a stream of great artists (and no I do not mean The Proclaimers!). Watch this space – Rewired are gonna be huge!
New Device: When a band describes itself as Hard Rock, I get a bit worried. I like a wide range of music but not screechy guitar. But I had no need to be worried. These guys were professionally awesome (I just made that up but it works!) and really rocked the joint. They really had charisma and gave a fantastic performance. People got up and started dancing to them (always a good sign) and their songs had great lyrics and tunes. Not screechy at all!. Hugely impressed. Talking to them after their gig I found out one of them likes Bowie. Another 10 points from me! Fabulous band that will make it huge in the metal world, but don't take my word for it - they supported Bon Jovi on their last tour!The Shadow Cats: I don’t know how to describe them really, they have funk and reggae influences and the lead singer just started rapping freestyle to the crowd which was really impressive. They were definitely a feel-good band and that was reflective in the mood of the crowd.
By this time I was seriously flagging and decided to go home. This did mean I missed the headline band, Togmor, which I am gutted about. But don’t worry – I intend to volunteer again next year!This has been an amazing experience. If you would like to join in the fun and volunteer with me next year, Togfest is always looking for new volunteers. You don’t need any experience – just enthusiasm and an interest in music. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. But don’t wait til next year – if your name is down now you can be sure someone will contact you back in plenty of time for next year. You get a free T-shirt, free food and drink and a free gig. You also have access all areas so you can hang with the bands. Cool eh?
My Togfest 2015 photos are here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jasminestormie/sets/72157655178836255If you are interested in finding out more about the Togfest festival in general, this is their website: http://www.togfest.org/pages/home/index.php