As many of you know , I am good friends with local Pipe Rock band ‘The Dangleberries’ , and as they are such amazing ambassadors for the whole of D&G I try to do what I can to help promote them!
Well as a wee thank you for the work I have done for them, they suggested a few months ago, that if I liked I could have the once in a lifetime experience of going on tour with them to the Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival in Inverness. It was the festivals 10th birthday, plus the Band were going to be launching there delayed new album ‘plugged in’ at the festival. But there was a catch! I had to earn my back stage pass, by being a Roadie for the weekend!
Well I thought to myself, it would be an amazing opportunity and fantastic experience, and also a great chance to join the band in promoting our south westerly point of Scotland up in the north eastern corner!
So last Wednesday evening it all began, Firstly I had to go to Dumfries with Andy, the Bands lead singer, to pick up the hire van from ‘Glen Rental ‘at Dumfries Train station. Then we had to take this to Dangle HQ to load it up , with everything from several different drums and Bagpipes to speakers , sound boards, power feeds , guitars , Amps ,tool boxes, microphones and stands , Annie’s tambourine and loads more, everything it takes for the 10 band members and 3 roadies top set up !
As it turned out , my main job as a roadie was to drive this van full of gear from Castle Douglas to Belladrum, on the Thursday , then drive it on the to the 2 gigs that the Dangleberries did on Saturday then bring it home again on Sunday ! All sounded very simple indeed!
Thursday morning at 6.00am we set off, Andy was in the lead with his camper van which is known as ‘Barbie’ , I followed and we both had 2 passengers each in the form of the band ‘Cloud 9’ who had decided to come along for the skite!
Well the journey up was no bother at all, a great journey through the lowlands , saying farewell to my beloved D&G and past Stirling and up into the Highlands. It was no time at all until we had met up with the rest of the band outside Inverness and headed to the caravan site at the festival and set up camp! And believe me, boy oh boy do those Dangleberries know how to camp in style, 10 caravans/camper vans and my hire van drove in convoy into the festival, parked in a perfect line, it was like a D&G street in the middle of a field!
Thursday evening was generally spent trying out the local refreshments, it seems to be tradition that when you’re a roadie you must partake of a few beers, and as I didn’t want to break tradition I willingly joined in the fun! Although on Friday morning when I awoke in my tent, I was feeling slightly delicate! But after a large fry up cooked by Andy (aka ‘Smug’ I can Camp better than anyone ‘smith’) and then a solar shower, (rather cold but very much needed) I was ready for the Friday party to start. Friday was spent doing the roadie tradition of drinking beer again, but also watching some amazing bands including The straits (used to be dire straits) ,The 1975 , Dougie Mclean, and Peatbog faeries,Twin Atlantic and many more ! Much fun was had, much food eaten and all in all it was a great day. I spoke to lots of people, and talked about the band ,about D&G about the Wickerman festival that was held in D&G the weekend earlier. I handed out loads of DGWGO business cards, and tried my best to encourage as many folk as possible to come to Dumfries and Galloway for a visit!
So before I knew it it was Saturday , the big day , the Dangleberries were on the main stage at 2.50 pm to do a 45 minute set then they were also doing a special guerrilla gig , up by the main bar at 6.00pm . My duty was to get the gear to the main stage on time, help unload and reload then to get it across the festival site and up to the guerrilla gig before six! All in all it went quite smoothly, and I really enjoyed the experience. A few wee stressful moments with overzealous security, but we got there in the end, got set up. And the main stage set blew me and the 8000 strong crowd away!
Those Dangleberries are Super stars up in the north, folk love them up there, the crowd was chanting their name, and you could feel the excitement coming off them! I was given the chance to photograph the whole thing, and took over 1000 pictures of band and crowd! I have known most of the band for many years. But it’s so funny seeing your friends being worshipped and asked for autographs, I seen some of the band signing body parts as well as t shirts, cd’s bits of paper and goodness knows what else ! If the Bella drum Crowd didn’t know where Galloway was before that set, they all do now! What amazing PR the Galloway Pipe rockers do for our Region, I was very proud to be a part of it! As for the guerrilla gig they did up by the main bar, well it was a way for the crowd to really feel as though they were part of the whole Dangleberrie experience, Annie was dancing with the crowd And the crowd of thousands again could just come right up to the band as there was no fence, but it was all so happy and well-mannered and relaxed! It was a great atmosphere, and really good to see so many happy faces enjoying the Music and the banter!
Later in the evening we had a meal in the Artists area, sitting in amongst the likes of ‘Tim Booth’ the lead singer of ‘James’ who were the Saturday night headliners , (and no he didn’t sit down sit down, sit down next to me lol)
The Party was over all too soon, it was Sunday morning, and time to pack up camp , although it did take 2 hours to get off site , and it was a long slow journey home, it was fantastic to see the sun shining over D&G as we approached ! To sum up my weekend as a Roadie, all I can say is in the words of Fenzo, lead guitarist with the Dangleberries ‘ROCK AND ROLL BABY’. What a fantastic weekend with a fab group of friends, I was very proud indeed to be part of such an amazing experience. Although it has taken me 3 days to catch up on my sleep! Thank you to all of the Band and regular Crew for putting up with a novice roadie and teaching me so much about life on the road!