I’ve been a part of the CAAF for three years now, and I think I was looking forward to this one the most. The three festival days each hold a different appeal: the Saturday is dominated by food, stalls and entertainment; the Sunday is a more relaxed vibe of jazz and blues.
However, it’s the Friday that’s always the most special to me. For the third successive time, I had the privilege of compering the stage on the first night, introducing the exciting up-and-coming local bands (some of which I’d had the opportunity to arrange) in front of a crowd that swells as the evening progresses.
Having taken the afternoon off work, I wandered up to Regent Street to see the set-up. The stage looked incredible, even if the weather was looking ominous after a pretty torrential downpour. I love the atmosphere just before the festival opens; I love the sense of expectation and talking to the stallholders as they’re setting up, the volunteers who put so much time into making things perfect and the first musicians arriving backstage, wondering what to expect when the stage is theirs.
I had a drink and scribbled down a few notes about the bands I was about to introduce.
It’s always a bit daunting when I stand up on the huge stage for the first time. It’s usually only in front of a handful of people at first, but I’m conscious I need to be as upbeat as possible to draw as many people forward as I can.
The tongue-in-cheek cry ‘Hello, Chapel Allerton!’ always seems to go down like a lead balloon.
As the evening went on, the crowd got bigger and it became more and more fun to be up there. By the end, I’m always a bit disappointed it’s over, because I love doing it.
Saturday always brings something different, as I’m usually on a stall with cara. This time round, I took roughly 200 photos of people who visited our ‘photo booth’ to create a larger image of Chapel Allerton faces, which will be exhibited early next year.
On Sunday, I took a few snaps and met some supremely talented musicians who graced the stage.
It’s one of my favourite weekends of the year. It’s also one of the busiest, with the most build-up, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.