I don't really know where to begin.....
Mearfest last weekend exceeded my expectations massively. Because of all the recent upset everything had been put together somewhat hurriedly, yet somehow things fell into place very nicely.
We received a blessing from the Revd Carl Flynn Edwards which set Angel wings flapping and us on our way. Out of the blue we suddenly received amazing personal cash donations which kept us afloat. Donations from bands such as Troyen, The Clan, Saxon, Diamond Head, Budgie, Linda Edmonson, which was unexpected and very welcome. Donations from close friends with hard earnt cash going directly into the charities online giving pages which has made a huge difference.
With a venue found at the eleventh hour just for the evening, the pub next door The Dukes Head stepped in to offer hospitality and a small playing area for bands.
(Thank you to the pub landlord who gave a cash donation on the day. I think he was happy.)
I had to disappoint many bands who we had promised a slot, some took it personally which was hard to swallow, many were just happy to help in other ways, but I took the decision to keep Culloden on the bill as they had no other gigs to fall back, young excited lads from the North East none of them minded playing in a small pub in front of an unguaranteed audience as they had already got their train tickets, it was an easy decision to make. Add the boy’s incredible personal history and unbelievable struggles they have gone through to get this far it would have been a far harsher man than me to squash their dreams.
We retained the top three bands Trespass, Bandoliers and Satan's Empire for the main concert in the evening this fitted nicely into our tight time slots.
Graham Orion Pax went to work again in recreating our millionth poster.
Out of the blue Thursday I got a call from the legendary Hawkwind front man Dibs Hawkwinder and his charming lady Sam Kirwan whom are our patrons saying they were coming down and join us all. Instead of our planned Friday warm up gig, which had to be cancelled, I created The Friday " Curry on Sundown" which was superb with drinks and shots by Tom at the Herschel Slough prior to beautiful food and Inappropriate sounds (and that was just from Jim Miller)
Saturday dawned and the sun shone at last.
The pub atmosphere was excellent with Farnham Royal locals eating roast dinners whilst the PFJ played alfresco to passing motorists in the street. Horses Heads, male dancers, rubber masks and inflatable guitars set the tone. As always the Splitters had us in stitches. Band members running in every direction. It was great to see the younger members of the crowd laughing and full of excitement. Olivia aged 13 years said " it's like a Pantomime but with guitars!
Later Culludon hit the stage running and boy did they bring the Metal!
An entire family from great grannies to new babies where there at the Duke Head to celebrate a birthday, as soon as they found their table, they swiftly abandoned their meals and fled, with gasps of pure horror. Andrew Halliday threw his head back and wow that Voice! Thunderous bass shook the optics. Karl Moore determined to retain the full metal Jacket at all costs despite the thermonuclear conditions. Ryan Thompson was indeed the pure embodiment of the Axeman whilst Alex Connor is a young Abbadon (Antony Bray in the making) and the baying crowd. Witch pricker!
Screams set off car alarms in Reading town centre. Flocks of birds fell from the skies, the earth trembled and Heathrow diverted all aircraft indefinitely
They came, they conquered, they drank Brown Ale.
Introducing our very new band 'Bawls Out', who on the off, stepped over the mark by erecting their bands logo banner OVER Molly's handprint and was immediately told off by Mrs Mear, mother of Molly. Swiftly forgiven as they played a blinding first ever set, with Tee Rets on vocals and his backing singer darling Gina, they also played out some Jack the ripper chaos, entertaining the audiences. Both The PFJ and Bawls Out brought us a lot of hilarity, we knew we would be off to a great start.
THANK YOU to Dai Herbert and Chris Tinkham who due to tight timings did a couple of acoustic songs at The Duke but unfortunately it was around the crossover times for many people going up to the village hall. So, their sets were cut very short. Thank you anyway for all your efforts and for still managing to play something for us.
Trespass, Bandoliers, The Ray Phillips band and of Course Satan's Empire plus Bilk Gang made the Mearfest main concert one of those days! I met the incredible Ray Phillips which was a joyous moment for me, he is both a legendary mega-star, original drummer with Budgie and an incredible insightful being who is full of peace and love in his heart.
The Farnham Village hall was a 2 second walk away from the heaving pub, it proved to be perfect for our needs thanks to Marie Edwards and her hippie brothers.
John Bell and his meticulous teamwork provided the incredible PA, lighting and with Satan's Empire providing the backline and kit. Stage management Alison Metcalfe took no prisoners and Gary Bowler was top drum tech.
Security not that we ever really need this department, was by Richard Johno Johnson & Ian Warner, who weirdly at the very end of the night when we were all on our knees with tiredness managed to locate my lost keys like a super brained Cumberbatch Sherlock, even Claire who knows where every tiny thing is in our house and life, could not find them. He was worth every penny we didn’t pay him.
Not to forget our lovely Medics Nick and Niki Patterson who were not only armed with dressings and saline but who gave an amazing cash donation.
Merch Linda Campbell, scores on the doors was thanks to Daniel Boon who lassoed every guest with a wristband.
Head Raffle Entrepreneurs were my amazing son Adam Mear & Charlotte had an almost military style raffle selling things going on during the evening do. You were all super duper.
Additional Roadies and go for's by an excited and helpful Culloden.
VIPs Dibs Hawkwinder and Sam Kirwan, thank you for coming all that way to support and encase us in your love.
Thank you to Bill Gang who drove over from France to attend the whole day and play with Satan's Empire right at the end. Patrick for also driving from Belgium and for bringing your scrummy chocolates. And thank you to Erik Prog Tricolor coming from The Netherlands you were great company.
Photography Martyn Turner & Claire Mear (any other photos please send in get a mention).
Backstage Passes by Andy Wallis
POSTERS by Graham Orion Pax who did around fifty versions! THANK YOU
Gen assistance John Dunn and John P Bellinger.
BABYSITTER EXTRAORDINAIRE Angela Holland who was vital in looking after Amélie for the entire time, without her, Claire would have had a complete physical and mental breakdown and that would not have made a good day for any of us!
Last but by no means least I wish to thank with all my heart my incredible wife Claire Mear who is Mearfests overall creative director, organiser of my entire life, chief ironer to all my rubbish rock t-shirt collection, fantastic mother to Amélie our beautiful daughter and to Molly our incredible first born, whom this festival is in memory of.
We have raised around £2500 in total (before costs) with online donations still coming in, there has been a technical error with our text donations which is being looked at by just giving, final amount will be known soon. We expect to be donating around £900 to each of our two charity's.
TO EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU
Brian & Claire Mear pride themselves on putting on a good show. Photography is Claire's passion, only the finest collection of images will be added here by the best photographers.