Indie Through The Looking Glass Presents Green Man 2005 | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, February 27th, 2024  

Green Man 2005

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Joanna Newsom, James Yorkston, The Earlies

Indie Through The Looking Glass Presents Green Man 2005,

Jan 18, 2024 Photography by Spike Hagan Web Exclusive
Bookmark and Share


In 2005 a film was made of the Green Man Festival in Wales. It has been unreleased and unseen for nearly 20 years and features performances by Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and Joanna Newsom among others.

The film was put together by then organisers Jo Bartlett and Danny Hagan, along with producer and director Jason Glenister.

Under the Radar are honoured to be hosting the film in public for the very first time. We caught up with Jo Bartlett earlier this month.

Jo Bartlett
Jo Bartlett

Where did the idea to start your own festival come from?

I had put loads of bands on at The Buzz Club, which I started while still a teenager in 1985. It was a once monthly club run from an arts centre in Aldershot, near where I lived. I ended up putting on The Stone Roses, Blur, Primal Scream, Happy Mondays, Suede and loads more.

Danny and I had signed to RCA as It’s Jo & Danny in 2001. We had moved to Brecon in Wales and had started our family when we got dropped by RCA. We wondered what we could do to earn money.

Danny went off to study for a PGCE – teaching certificate. We talked one night and realised it would be a great idea to start our own festival – lots of the agents I dealt with for the Buzz Club and then also my job as press officer for Ultimate Records in London, were still working.

We knew a wonderful couple who lived in a stately home in Brecon (they let us use their lawn to do a photo shoot for It’s J&D a few months before.) We knew this would make a perfect location, that, coupled with the knowledge we both had, we figured it could work. I was also conscious of the new folk / folktronica scene that was still emerging – the Beta Band were friends of ours in London, plus our own Lank Haired Girl To Bearded Boy album. I knew Domino Records were signing people like James Yorkston and the Fence Collective in Fife were also important factors.

So basically, I stayed at home with our babies who were two and one or so at this point and contacted agents and stalls and all the things we needed while Danny had to go to Bristol to earn his certificate. At night, when the children were sleeping, we would talk and talk and listen to music and get ideas together.

There were a lot less festivals back then. Was it easier or more difficult to organise and book artists?

I had a very definite idea of how I wanted Green Man to look and feel, so it was only bands that fitted into this that I contacted. I emailed Lambchop’s agent, who, although we never actually booked them, said “This is the sort of thing they would love” so we knew the idea was a good one. Yes, I suspect it was easier though because agents were happy to hear from me. These days it is so much more commercial, I don’t know if we could have done it. We had no backing, only the small amount of money Danny was bringing in. It had to work.

Did you ever think Green Man would become the stalwart festival it is today?

People used to ask us that while it was getting bigger and I think the answer is actually “YES!” We had such belief in what we were doing and it was happening as we worked on it, getting more attention every day that passed, that the journey felt logical. It was incredibly hard work. Insomnia has been with me ever since. Now, when I look back I’m amazed but at the time it just felt right.

Why did you stop working on it?

Long story…a painful one too. Maybe one day I’ll go into more detail. Let’s just say we’ve never been back since we stopped.

What were your highlights from those first 3 years?

Gosh. So many. Those first three were so magical. The magic of people getting together and hearing music and joy and laughter in the air. Seeing people smiling and knowing it’s because we have organised this event. After 2004 I remember someone put on the forum: “My friend turned to me and said my face isn’t big enough for my smile” that was great to read. Hearing all those wonderful bands and musicians play their music – everyone always played magnificent sets – magic was always in the air. I used to reply to every single email which nearly killed me! One man came up to me and thanked me for answering personally, somehow that made me cry! In front of him – the poor man probably thought he’d said something wrong! Another time someone said their wife had been very ill but she had come to Green Man and they had had an amazing weekend – cue more tears from me. I am very emotional, but proper stuff like that? It’s what life’s about isn’t it?

If you had the benefit of hindsight is there anything you’d do differently?

No. The adventure is what it was, I wouldn’t change anything.

What was the most challenging aspect of putting on Green Man back then?

It was literally just Danny and myself organising everything, as the festival grew, so did the amount of things that needed looking after. 2005 was absolutely off the scale. We had power cuts on site, during Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy’s headline Saturday night set, children went missing (and were found, safe and happy). Staging 2005 was one of the… no.. THE hardest thing I ‘ve ever had to do. The whole point of a festival is that everyone who is there (the customers) let themselves go, forget about their worries and do crazy things. To look after 2,500 people all doing that, keeping them happy and safe is a tall order. Danny and I both changed after successfully completing the 2005 one. We got extra help in for the following years we were involved.

Would you ever consider putting on a festival again?

We have thought about it, particularly in the immediate years after we left after the 2011 festival. But we did something so incredible, I honestly don’t think anyone else has achieved what we achieved, literally starting a festival from nothing - how can we top that?

Moving onto your music, is there a follow up planned to 2022’s The Cut Up?

Yes! My new album Ghost Tapes 1 – 9 is out in April. I have a new single “Drawing A Line” released on 26 January. I’m am very happy with this album. I can’t wait for people to hear it. I did everything myself – wrote everything, played everything and recorded it myself at home on Logic. I am the Queen of D.I.Y.!

Are there any other musical projects in the pipeline?

I have my band Kodiak Island but I’m doing my solo stuff right now. I did vocals on a track for an album put together by Patch from The Sundays and Jason from Bennet which I think is coming out this year.

Your Indie Through The Looking Glass blog is a fascinating document of some of the most incredible times for music, art and culture. Will there be a book or even a film about it? I think it would make an incredible watch!

Thank you very much – I really love it when people enjoy my blog, it gives me such a feeling of satisfaction. I would love it to be a book – I haven’t yet joined the chapters from being a music mad kid to ending up with my own festival, but I’m getting very close! I have a job, doing marketing for a local theatre, so I get up early in the morning to write and do my ITTLG social media before I start work. I write at the weekends too. It takes a lot of research to make sure I get my dates, facts and memories correct. I know when it’s flowing and I enjoy reading it back that it’s going well. People are always great on my socials when they say it brings back memories for them too.

Re: a film – if no one approaches me – I’ll make one myself! I have lots of footage and it is on my ‘to do’ list when I’ve finished writing it!

Jo Bartlett
Jo Bartlett

Jo has also written about the years she and Danny ran Green Man – her 2005 memories can be found HERE.

Here is the film in all its glory with some additional words from Jo Bartlett and producer/director Jason Glenister below.

Jo Bartlett: “2005 was an incredible year. It was the last year Danny and I did absolutely everything ourselves. We were so busy leading up to and after the festival that we weren’t able to work on a release for the film. Our wonderful friend, Jason (Glenister) had directed and produced it, we saw him and his crew (of two), buzzing around the site with their cameras. Every now and again one of us would call the other and talk about what to do with the film, but then life would take over again and it remained unseen. I watched the film about a month ago and it blew my mind how wonderful and special it is. It is now an historical document, not just of the festival, but also, a music scene. I realised this time, we need to get it out there, for as many people as possible to enjoy. The time feels absolutely right and I am very excited!”

Jason Glenister: “My main memories are of Jo & Danny physically building the main stage, booking artists, having fraught last-minute calls, curating the band times, sorting out portaloos - and all the while herding and corralling their two young children away from festival site hazards. This is all part of the reason why Green Man 2005 is such a beautiful coming together of music, friends, family and celebration. And in turn, I felt the only possible way to capture all this energy was to be as honest, open and un-intrusive as possible in creating a documentary of it all.

I approached the entire idea as a fan of music and an audience member caught up in the middle of that joy. There are no ‘artist or musician interviews’ but instead, simply chats or conversations had in a passing moment, over a beer or between a song. I doggedly stuck to this approach, with all the people involved constantly roaming around with cameras rolling - caught up in an impromptu ceilidh with James Yorkston - or King Creosote campfire sing-along with Adem, families with kids and Joanna Newsom. That is why it’s so special to me and why all involved felt joyous to be part of it.

Folk was the word of the moment - in all its truest sense and meaning. I vividly remember there being a tangible communal buzz of simply being together at a point in time, with great musicians, great people, with no real difference between audience and artist. So the only real approach to capturing this was to be as invisible as possible, in both filming style and then in editing and shaping it afterwards.

To give it a sense of simply opening a door, stepping into a moment in time and watching as it magically unfurls before you. Being carried along on the music and the flow, then once it has flickered through it’s story, to then simply recede until there is only a yellow moon hanging over a Welsh valley in the sultry summertime. A magical music box with all the treasures and joy of celebration held inside, waiting until someone opens the small door and steps inside.”

Artists performing live in order of appearance:

King Creosote

Alasdair Roberts

Daimh

The Fence Collective

Josephine Foster

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy & Matt Sweeney

Malcolm Middleton

His Latest Novel

The Earlies

James Yorkston

Wizz Jones

Joanna Newsom

Adem

For more incredible photos and recollections of Jo & Danny’s time organising Green Man between 2003 and 2011, there’s a whole archive dedicated to it within Indie Through The Looking Glass HERE




Comments

Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published

URL

Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

There are no comments for this entry yet.