‘Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…

…it’s about learning to dance in the rain’

What more can I say about Shambala apart from what I’ve already said? Well imagine my surprise this morning when I followed a link to their latest video and I was in it ! Admittedly it was only a 2 second clip amongst a cast of thousands but none-the-less it was enough to fill me with joy. Here is the video followed by what I posted on the Facebook group

‘this link goes out to all friends of Tip of the Pops! There is a bloomin marvellous little festival in the heart of England that will make you feel proud to be alive. If you have not been there before or even heard of Shambala do not worry as you will be made to feel welcome none the less – like we was ! SO check this out for a taste and flavour of the spirit of Shambala land :)’

Shambala Story the shabby chic improvised wheelbarrow disco

From the outset Tip of the Pops and Shambala seemed like a perfect match, shabby chic improvised disco meets colourful creative community festival with green credentials. Before I got a chance to book the time off work Shambala were chasing me to confirm and promised to mention Tip of the Pops in their mailing list … ‘Move Over Carl Cox’ was the tag line and it went out with lil’ ol’ me appearing alongside the likes of mercury music prize nominated Ghost Poet. This all seemed to be in sync with my ‘antidote to ipod‘ message and well on course for some serious fun.

To add to the excitement the location and line-up is kept secret, all I knew was the date and roughly the whereabouts ‘somewhere near my sisters’ 150 miles away. On arrival everyone gets the same greeting – just like one of the family ! An online eticket system does away with wasteful and expensive paperwork and within minutes we were issued with our passes and back-stage to unhitch the trailer and check-in with the production office. Within an hour or two we had set up camp un-packed and were ready to explore Shambala land.

With one baby and one 6 year old it was important for us to keep them occupied whilst also doing the necessary reconnaissance to scope out potential places for gigs. My mission was to pop-up and perform around the festival site giving impromptu gigs so we were on the look out for nice quiet places with space to dance and get a party started of which there were plenty. There was tons of activities for children and families, awe inspiring installations and art in a beautiful country setting and near perfect level play ground to get around. BIG shout-out to Jurassic Clay, the Baby Bath house, the Baby Space PLUS Coalescence-Collective Scrapmetal-artworks!

Inflatable Air Guitar rocks
video clip further below

Friday rain stopped play as it was impossible to get out and about with Tip of the Pops so time to further explore with the family, get a shiatsu massage, enjoy the children’s area, chill out with Electric Pedals phone charging disco and learn some circus skills. The weather certainly did not stop the atmosphere on site building with lots of fancy dress offerings and mud underfoot going hand in hand. A highlight for me was seeing two people dressed up as big red hearts going around loving everything and everyone, blowing kisses and giving hugs in full make up whilst wearing wellies.

Saturday morning the clouds parted and we had plenty of time to get out and about and perform for an hour in the main arena before the main stage started. This was well received playing mostly 80s music using steadfast tunes that will almost all ways be in my suitcase where ever I go! Loads of people stopped and danced, took photos and we have some video that will be edited and available soon from this and other gigs at Shambala. It was just amazing to see so many up for it party people at midday some in fancy dress and others obviously warming up for the rest of the festival.

Saturday evening Tip of the Pops popped up again near the burlesque Hurly Burly theatre cafe bashed out another storming set of cheesy disco and 80s poptastic hits to a crowd of about 50. I can honestly say I have never seen such a random bunch of characters at a party including MC Hammer, Elvis, a Leprechaun, Gangsters, Flappers, Colonel Gadaffi and a Pink haired girl in blue boa choreographing dance moves. On the way back to the trailer we met one crew member from Pirate Technics who design & build some of the incredible combustible site art – BIG shout out to Jamie and the disco dancers!

Sunday morning I spent an hour sorting through tunes and ended up selecting some heavy metal and rock music as I had not heard any all weekend. I set up near the information and property lock-up tents as these were busy but with not much going on. No sooner had I started than a group of people carrying inflatable air guitars stopped and joined in. As one would imagine this was a really rockin’ gig with musicians, punks, children, ravers and random passers by all joining in and going a bit la-la with the inflatables. To get us further into character we were wearing fake ‘bandito’ moustaches and 70s facial hair, groovy. My final appearance was on Sunday evening near the lake and sand pit where I met photographer Damian Prestidge and had a chance to do a mini-photo shoot in return for explaining a few tips and secrets of keeping it wheel…

link to you tube video

Creative Dynamo Network ‘ecotainment’

I have just returned from Respect Fest a free one-day family event in Poole. I was booked by Poole Housing Partnership to provide recycling and renewable energy themed activities or ‘ecotainment’. This included Tip of the Pops the only solar powered wheelbarrow disco made from waste in the world ever! PLUS a recycled solar oven made from card and aluminium foil, a guerilla garden (also in wheelbarrow), dynamo bike beat box cycle, solar powered PA for the event arena & one less car a bicycle & trailer housing a small scale solar system. This event was a technical, logistical & creative leap for the project as I am nearing the end of my UNLTD funding phase and wanted to showcase some of the achievements.

Respect Festival Poole

Firstly I was using three separate solar systems; one in the camper van that was providing a public address system (music and microphone) for the main arena. This included Scottish and Disco dancing from audio cassette and compact disc. Then there was the Tip of the Pops wheelbarrow disco which has been re-built after two years of touring. Earwig (the barrow) has benefited from a ‘hazard tape’ & paint make-over, Numark mixer, and reclaimed ‘window sill’ solar panel. The final solar system was housed in a cycle trailer and called One Less Car. The trailer has a perspex top clearly showing the layout / circuit of the battery and terminals making up the solar system. All three systems have the same basic components so I had the idea of using my everyday bike and trailer to show exactly how a basic solar system is built. What’s more one less car powered a red voice changing SFX microphone and Panasonic ghetto blaster for kids to play along with.

Respect Festival Poole

Renewable also meant using pedal power for the first time at Respect Fest. The Dynamo Bike Beat Box is a childs bicycle generating 12 volt electricity to power toys or anything else for that matter. I had found the toy (DJ Mix Me) and cycle trainer (Trax) a long time ago but lacked the experience necessary to adapt the generator. In the end I recruited volunteers (also from the recycling centre) to help me achieve this and it worked perfectly. Now that the cycle generator is built there are some improvements that I can do to make it easier to use – thank you so much to Frank for building this at such short notice!

Recycled Solar Oven Card & Alu Foil

The Recycled Solar Oven consists of cardboard and tin foil that is so simple to make that it can be done in an afternoon. The solar oven panels reflect sun rays into a cooking chamber which can reach temperatures up to 100 degrees centigrade. However the solar oven requires 2-3 hours of direct sunlight with no cloud cover to actually boil / cook food and can only be used effectively in the UK during summer months. The final demonstration was a guerilla garden wheelbarrow with plants in cereal boxes around a small greenhouse. This was showing that you do not need a lot of space to garden or need any special equipment to get started.

banner & design by sign machine

Next up I am visiting Turlin Moor, Poole on the 7th August and on the following day, Gaunts House, Wimborne, for their Summer Gathering (5th – 8th) August. Turlin Moor is free entry & at Gaunts you may purchase a ticket for more information see their website. For further information and bookings please do not hesitate to contact me on this site.

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