Established in 2011, Stendhal Festival is a multi-award-winning Music and Arts Festival which takes place each year in Limavady. It celebrates all things creative, including music, poetry, comedy, dance, theatre, contemporary and traditional arts, sculpture, street performance, craft, workshops and a dedicated family programme.
I went out and about around the festival site on the opening day of the weekend and chatted to all sorts of fascinating people, asking just exactly what it is that makes Stendhal so special. Here’s what they told me:
Paddy Glasgow – Stalwart of the Northern Irish music scene, founder of the celebrated Glasgowbury Festival and all-round local legend
Gigging NI: So, Paddy, you’re no stranger to the festival scene yourself. What do you think about the set-up here at Stendhal?
Paddy Glasgow: I think they’ve done great here over the years. As a festival organiser, I know what it is like; thinking about the ticket sales and you want good vibes and good weather. Like ourselves – I used to have an oul ritual to give us good weather, but I can’t say it here.
GNI: Is it a closely guarded secret?
PG: Well it’s really no secret; it was a boiled egg and a tin bucket – but it was just something that we always did. But you know I think that this place has a good family vibe. I suppose Glasgowbury was all about the music and we didn’t have as many family activities going on as they have laid on here – that all takes time and effort and a great team.
I think they are coming on every year. I have been here a couple of years and there is a great infrastructure; routes in and roadways. As a festival organiser, you always pray that the fields will be dry for carparks and so on – but beyond all that, the main thing is the music and there is also a lot of home-grown talent here.
GNI: Well that is the real question; is there anybody in particular that you are keen to see?
PG: People always asked me that when I was doing my own festival, but I just cruise around and find the wee gems everywhere, and there are plenty of stages for it here. I just wish the organisers the best with the whole thing.
Rosborough – Glen, Derry born singer-songwriter
GNI: So, have you played Stendhal before?
Rosborough: I have been lucky, I have done the last 5 years in various different bands. But this is the first time solo, as “Rosborough”, so it is pretty exciting. I have got loads of new material that I will be sharing. I don’t really play at home so much anymore so it is really nice to have this setting.
GNI: After a run of dates in the UK and Europe, including The Great Escape Festival in Brighton, how does playing to a home audience differ?
Rosborough: At home, I think there’s that extra pressure; these are the people that you know and love and you kinda have to prove yourself to them and make sure that you’re giving them as good as you can.
GNI: I listened to your sound check earlier and it sounded fab! For anyone who doesn’t know your music, could you give us a flavour of what your music is like?
R: Well, I am a singer-songwriter but I don’t play acoustic. With the full band we are pretty loud! If you think Muse meets David Bowie meets The Stooges you might find us somewhere in the middle there.
GNI: Sounds right up my street! Will your solo set today will be very different from your set tomorrow with the band?
R: On my own, I will be playing in a kind of acoustic style; I’ve still got my electric guitar though. I suppose today it’s me playing as I wrote the songs because I wrote most of them on guitar or piano.
GNI: So, what do you think about Stendhal and the set-up around the site today?
R: Because I have been here a few times before, I have really been able to watch it grow. It’s unbelievable; the size of it, how everything looks, every corner you turn there’s something else to see.
GNI: Are there any acts in particular that you are looking forward to seeing over the weekend?
R: I saw Wake America and Susie-Blue so far who were pretty good, and I am coming to see Ash tonight as well. And we are back tomorrow for a set with the full band.
Stuart Bailie – Radio DJ, journalist, media personality and Chief Executive of the Oh Yeah Music Centre project.
GNI: Stuart, you’re no stranger to festivals, how does this compare to others you have been to?
SB: I think this is my third or fourth Stendhal and I love all this – it’s always had a bit of heart and soul. It’s incredible that they’ve got Ash – that’s a really big one. And you know I am old enough to remember Echobelly and they’re great – so I think it is ever ambitious and I think that there are lovely wee corners to it; it’s a very pretty festival.
GNI: Are there any other acts in particular that you are looking forward to?
SB: Well, myself and Rigsy are involved in compering the Stevie Martin tribute set. You know I was here last year when the news broke that we’d lost him and so I think that is gonna be amazing.
GNI: I think that set will be the heart and soul of the whole festival. It’s a lovely tribute to him, but it’s very sad though. How do you think people will respond?
SB: I think there will be a “coming to terms” with it all. We will remember the great music but we will be grieving as well.
Paddy Nash – Singer-songwriter and frontman of The Happy Enchiladas
GNI: I know that you’ve played Glastonbury. How does the Stendhal Festival compare and what do you think about the set-up here?
PN: Well I think it is like a mini Glastonbury. There are all sorts of things going on, Stendhal wouldn’t be out of place if it was part of Glastonbury; there is beautiful art, everyone is so relaxed, and there is just such a diverse array of music and comedy – it’s brilliant!
GNI: You’re in a band called The Happy Enchiladas, I guess that means you are a John Prine fan?
PN: Well you know that is called a “Mondegreen“? A misheard lyric. There was an American poet writing her memoirs who recounted a poem that her mother read to her as a child, and she remembered it as; “they killed the bonnie prince of earl. And Lady Mondegreen!” This, she later discovered, was actually; “and laid him on the green”. So that has become the term in the English language for a misheard lyric; a Mondegreen.
Susie – Super crepe maker at “The Crepe Makers”
GNI: How are you enjoying the festival and what is your impression of the crowd?
Susie: Yes, the crowd are really nice, it’s our third year here and it is really fun.
GNI: Do you get any chance to see any of the bands?
Susie: We do a bit; we have been very busy but we get a chance to dander about occasionally when the crowd dies down.
GNI: Is there anyone in particular you are looking forward to seeing?
Susie: Well Lisa McHugh is here this year, so I’d like to see her.
GNI: And finally, what is the most popular crepe filling of Stendhal 2017?
Susie: No question – it’s Nutella!
More festival news to come tomorrow when I’ll be talking to some of the weekend’s best known artists!