HomeInterviewsDavid J Brown: Breezefest

David J Brown: Breezefest

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David J Brown, a songwriter and musician of twenty years, as well as a teacher based in Clacton organises Breezefest, a two-day music festival which takes place on 20-21st August – let’s find out a bit more….

HC: Now in its second year, how did Breezefest come about, what was the inspiration?

DB: It all started after the lockdown ended as a nice way to get people out and experiencing live music again. I approached Kevin & Nicki who run the SeaBreeze kiosk and we all decided to organise it together. The idea was to help foster community activities again and we were inundated with artists who wanted to play as they had been starved during lockdown of gigs. We added in activities such as the sandcastle competition, face painting and artist portraits to further expand the festivals accessibility to locals.

HC: How excited were you on the first day when you realised it was all going well, or should I say how did you feel when it was over and a success?

DB: I was very pleased by the success of our first year and everybody gave us some lovely feedback including the artists who played. They said they loved the overall vibe and opportunity to play down on the beach on a sunny day. They were also very happy with the free ice cream we provide on top of payment. The project kept myself and festival co-founders Kevin & Nicki sane over lockdown too and gave us something to get our teeth into!

HC: What was the feedback from the public?

DB: Very positive and many people said they hoped it would be an annual event

HC: What was the feedback from the local businesses as surely it was good for tourism?

DB: Yes; local businesses were very interested and this year we have gained a sponsorship from one of them. The eco shop ‘Loving-Life Unsealed’ are sponsoring us in the form of providing reusable cups for our festival which is a great opportunity to work with them and also try and be more environmentally conscious. We are also working with a local studio Black Cactus who are providing PA equipment and a sound engineer which is awesome as I had to use my own small rig last year and it will be nice to have a more serious system for arOsts to use. AJ and Black Cactus Studio are also a great local business who support up and coming musicians some of whom are performing at the festival too.

HC: How many came in 2021, was that possible to calculate?

DB: I believe our footfall over the three days was about two to four thousand people

HC: Do you expect more people this year?

DB: We have streamlined the festival to two days this year but hope to attract a similar number as we are pushing advertising as well as making T-shirts with the band names on the back to help expend our reach and visibility of the festival.

HC: What did you learn from last year which you will implement for 2022?

DB: We are offering more theming at the festivals such as BreezeFest Cocktails & Merchandising. We are also allowing local glass artist Red Flower Glass to sell her beach jewellery at the festival kiosk and are expanding the Sandcastle competition as the tide will be out during the two days of the music.

HC: How has the festival developed from last year?

DB: Mainly people have started to hear about us and become more interested in the event, we have applied for Arts Council Funding and are hoping to hear back soon about additional funding support for things such as an Art Trail and Beach Yoga Workshops.

HC: Tell us what is going on over the two-day festival?

DB: A fantastic mix of local acoustic musicians including artist such as Jamie Williams, songstress Bex & Freida, close harmony group ‘The Harmonettes’, James Morgan the pirate songwriter, Serena Grant, Indigo 90’s cover band, East Creek Union old time American Quartet and Irish traditional toe tapping group The Hooligans.

HC: The festival is free to attend, how is it actually being funded?

DB: We are funding the festival ourselves but have also applied for Arts Council assistance.

HC: Let’s talk facilities as this can sometimes put people off – is there plenty of parking, toilets?

DB: Luckily as we are on the promenade there are several public toilets and a lot of parking is available in Clacton. We are an easy walk from the pier so the location is easy to find and we have a big vinyl banner this year that will be up at the kiosk.

HC: What’s the situation on the food available?

DB: The kiosk where the festival is located offer very tasty hot food and drinks including alcohol.

HC: There is a sandcastle competition, that’s very cool. Are there categories and who is judging them?

DB: This will be happening on the Saturday & there are three prizes up for grabs, local artists will be judging the entrees at 4pm and prizes will be announced at 5pm. There will be a main category and an additional category for children to enter

HC: Tell me about the art trail?

DB: If we get our Arts Council Funding we will be offering an Art Trail for families so they can use beach materials to make art work such as Assemblages with a view of exhibiting at the local Jaywick Martello Tower.

HC: How much of the beach do you take up?

DB: Our festival footprint is mainly contained to the kiosk which has outdoor seating but as the beach is also available there is a lot more space for people to sit and listen

HC: What is the general vibe of the festival?

DB: It is very family friendly and upbeat. Most of the acts are acoustic in nature and there are a lot of bands which encourage people to dance such as old time musicians East Creek Union and the Irish traditional band The Hooligans.

HC: How do you select the acts to perform, was there an application process?

DB: We try and support local artists and give opportunities to those who haven’t played before to try and give the audience new experiences. We put an open call out several months ago and several new artists have been added to the bill this year who we are very excited to hear. Including folk singer songwriters Laura Wyatt & Elly Tree, young up-and-coming band Substation, performance poet/spoken word artist Lyric Deep Limited and high energy dance act Foxtrot Oscar.

HC: I see the acts are local talent, how important is it to give them the opportunity to play?

DB: Extremely important and the kiosk also puts on weekly Sunday afternoon live music events supporting these musicians. Recently a local choir have been performing on Monday mornings at the Kiosk which has been a lovely experience for the locals, the choir hand out song books to passer’s by so anyone can join in for a relaxing sing-song and get the oxytocin going and receive a nice boost of energy.

HC: There is an acoustic slant to the festival, is that by design?

DB: Yes, there are many local festivals that cater for bigger rock bands so we thought we would stick to a more chilled vibe. Bigger bands that play use stripped down kits and perform acoustic sets such as the blues band Mr B and the Wolf. This gives people an opportunity to see these bands which they might not normally.

HC: Is there much left to organise – are you in a state of panic or calm?

DB: Most things are done now, we have our TENS notice and all the bands have confirmed so we are really excited and looking forward to it. I can’t wait to see the T shirts & Reusable cups when they arrive next week! It’s all pretty calm at the moment but I am sure it will get more intense in the days before the event.

HC: Can dogs come along?

DB: We are very dog friendly & now sell doggy ice cream as well as offering water and biscuits to our canine friends. We have a lot of local dog walkers who use the cafe as a mid-day resting point during the week anyway.

HC: What would you tell those who’ve not heard of it before to encourage them to come down?

DB: I would encourage people to come down if they fancy a nice day by the beach and some relaxing acoustic-ish music. It’s not every day you get the opportunity to go for a paddle while listening to great music!

HC: How do we find out more:

DB: Find the festival on Facebook  or on my band, A Light Left On on Facebook or Instagram.

HC: Does it still continue if the weather forecast is rainy?

DB: Yes, our artists perform under two big gazebos in case of inclement weather and there are plenty of beach umbrellas for people to shelter under if we get a sudden unexpected shower.

HC: How do you manage your other commitments as you are a teacher and in a band?

DB:  I am very lucky that my job as a tutor allows me the flexibility to fit in my musical activities around my teaching work. I work for a great company called Noise Solutions who provide one to one music sessions to local young people and I am sure many of my students will attend the festival and enjoy the music.

HC: A Light Left On, your band, is playing the last slot on Sunday, will that be a nice ‘celebration’ for you to end the festival?

DB: Yes very much we always try and perform at the end as a nice way to say farewell and thanks everyone at the end of our set. Then I can sit down and enjoy a well-deserved cup of tea from the kiosk.

There are lots of activities going on not just the music, so it really is a fun-packed family festival at the beach – it sounds like a lot of fun! Thanks for talking to us.


 

Author

  • Hayley is a business co-owner working too many hours so it's a good job she's passionate about it. Hayley's down time is music, music and music of all types and she enjoys going to gigs, listening to new bands and breathing in the energy it creates.