Dave still sings the praises of Maryport Blues Festival
Last updated at 20:39, Thursday, 19 July 2012
Dave Park has steered the Maryport Blues Festival for nearly 12 out of its 14 years – and it all started with a plea to the public to offer a band a home.
Dave recalls: “My wife Debra and I used to go to the festival because we loved live music – not particularly the blues but live music in general.
“In those first couple of years the festival was run by Paul Sherwin from Allerdale council and Maryport Developments Ltd. Much of the organisation was done by the late Hugh Beverton.”
When the organisers appealed for people in Maryport to offer accommodation for visiting bands, Debra was keen and David not so.
“I was thinking The Who and the Rolling Stones and musicians getting drunk and trashing my house,” he says.
“Instead we got Parkers Alibi, who made me coffee and fixed my computer.”
With this introduction, the couple had no hesitation in stepping forward when the founders of the festival decided to take a back seat and leave the event to the local community.
Maryport Festivals Ltd was born with Dave as chairman, Debra as one of the directors and, to complete the family affair, Debra’s sister Lorna as another member of the team.
It has been a rocky road, and sometimes Dave felt like it was he who was singing the blues.
But he has loved every minute and he is determined that this show will go on.
He says: “The blues festival is fantastic for Maryport. This year there have been so many festivals locally and I am sure the economy cannot sustain them all.
“But I think the established ones will remain, and the blues is established not only in Maryport but throughout the country.”
Two years ago there was a difference of opinion which saw three of the six directors resigning.
It was a blow to lose three people who had dedicated themselves to the blues festival but, again, it demonstrated the durability of the event itself.
In fact, this year the trail is the biggest yet, with 17 venues already confirmed and more in the pipeline.
Dave has met and mingled with some of the legends of the music world.
His favourite is probably this year’s headliner, Chris Farlowe, returning for the third time.
He says: “He is the nicest, most down to earth person you’ll meet.”
The best all-round entertainert is Jools Holland and his favourite moment was meeting rock n roll hero Chuck Berry.
Gary Moore was special for his sheer passion, but Van Morrison beat them all for his love of music, says Dave.
“He’s not interested in mixing with people – he just wants to play his music. It’s what he lives for.”
That is some rarefied name dropping for a kid from the Oval at Salterbeck, in Workington.
The 46-year-old, who now lives at Lawson Street in Maryport, was born and raised on the Salterbeck estate, attending Harrington Infant and Junior schools, Salterbeck Junior School and then Workington Grammar School.
His links with Maryport started early, however. He spent most weekends there. His mother Pauline Haston was from the town and he had plenty of family there, he says.
When he left he became a welder at Sellafield. When that contract came to an end, in his mid-20s, Dave took himself off to university and did a higher national diploma in metallurgy.
He says: “About 15 years ago I began working with Sun Chemical Company at Lillyhall. I started as a yard man, then an ink blender and gradually worked up to my present job as cashier accountant, market controller and part of the management team.”
In many ways he is lucky to be working at all after a near fatal motorbike accident in 1988. He came off his motorbike and broke his back in two places, rupturing his spleen and almost totally severing his foot.
He remembers: “It was kept on by the skin. It had to be pinned and, because of the back and foot injury, I was out of action for six months, learning to walk again.”
He says that he still has to be reasonably careful but is seldom in pain now.
But it’s the blues festival that remains his passion.
He says of this year’s line-up: “We could not keep getting international legends such as Chuck Berry and Van Morrison but I think we still do a fantastic job.
“Where else would you get around 45 bands and musicians playing in one weekend for the amount we charge?
“You have to keep changing to survive. We have changed our main venue to the Wave Centre, which means we are more central again, we have three outdoor stages and we have some artists who are going to give us the type of music that people have travelled from all over the UK and further afield to see each year.”
Maryport Blues Festival takes place in the town next weekend. Tickets are available from the Wave Centre on 01900 811450.
First published at 19:20, Thursday, 19 July 2012
Published by http://www.timesandstar.co.uk
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