Playing The Lagoa Guitar Festival

 In March this year The Small Change Diaries were invited to play at the prestigious 3rd Lagoa Guitar Festival. The lineup for this month-long festival included many established successful international artists including Martin Taylor. This is the biggest festival gig for us in 2016 and both The Grand Northern Ukulele Festival and The Wetherby Arts Festival were terrific opportunities to work up what was to become “The Lagoa set” 
I wrote an article recently for Uke Magazine about playing overseas and suffice to say that there are a huge number of moving parts to consider. Key considerations are what instruments and equipment to take and what to hire in for the event. Despite the best possible planning, there are many elements that are simply out of your control. The two key individuals that will determine the outcome of any event are the event promoter and the sound person.
I noticed in the UK, the ukulele festival promoters vary massively in terms of business and organizational awareness. 
At one end of the spectrum an organizer who is next year promoting the key UK ukulele festival for the 5th consecutive year works with great marketing and precision and attracts from all over the globe. All the early bird tickets for this event sold out in a couple of hours. At the other extreme I was copied in on a quite bizarre e-mail that was essentially a tirade of abuse conducted in a wholly unprofessional manner. I didn’t even know this character and was mystified as to why I was even receiving what I suspected was an alcohol fueled missive! Fortunately, Eudoro Grade and the sound guy are the most professional skilled individuals and this is I suspect one of the many reasons why this festival is such a success.

Playing on a bigger stage

David Byrne wrote a brilliant book “How Music Works” One chapter talks about the acoustic environment for different styles of music. The venue in Lagoa was perfect for The Small Change Diaries, with great acoustics and a brilliant sound guy. The stage was bigger to what we are used to, so the band positions on stage need to be different. We have a group formation that works well for us and as with all things, detail is everything. The Fire Eye Red DI boxes and the Ultramafic cables worked brilliantly during this gig and of course when playing a bigger venue, the signal path from the tiny ukulele to the audience needs the utmost care and consideration.

Les Kostards – what a great trio!

les-kostardsLes Kostards were closing the festival in Lagoa. This trio that plays gypsy jazz and just terrific. I have seen musicians play this style of material, but even in New York and San Francisco I have never seen it done better than Les Kostards. These guys produce a wonderful, energetic, musically superb set. We were staying at the same hotel so we had the opportunity to hang out, jam and discuss musical gear. I suggested they might want to sit in on one of our tracks. They counter offered us playing with them at the end of their set that become the closing song for the festival. What then ensued was a truly magical and musically inspirational version of “Slow News Day” where “Les Kostards” took solos in between verses. We are deeply grateful to have the chance to play with these guys and we will certainly remain in contact.

Final Thoughts

This trip has been a wonderful experience. Playing 100% original music at an overseas festival is quite an experience. We are now looking at opportunities for 2017 both in the UK and abroad.
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