From Huddersfield to Woodstock, AL
Updated: Sep 15, 2019
I'm absolutely thrilled to announce that I've been invited to play at the Woodstock Music Festival in Alabama this year, by the Mayor of Woodstock, Jeff Dodson. So on Saturday, 12 October 2019, I'll be up on stage playing an acoustic set of a few of my songs.
Out of the blue?
Whilst the invite itself was out of the blue there is some recent history behind how it came about. I wrote a song called Ballad of the Wild Flowers a couple of years ago, which appears on my Sirens and Sentinels EP, released in August 2018.
Before the Woodstock Music Festival in 2018, I was asked by if the song could be used at the festival during the announcement that the Alabama Suicide Prevention and Resources Coalition were opening a branch of the organisation in Woodstock, through a partnership that came about through work Mayor Dodson's wife, Cheryl, had been doing to raise awareness of suicide prevention; Cheryl is now a board member and suicide prevention advocate for the Woodstock area.
I was thrilled enough to say yes to that request, even more so to receive an invite to go and perform there this year.
Why Ballad of the Wild Flowers?
For those that know of it there was a podcast called S-Town released a couple of years ago, produced by the makers of This American Life, researched and written by journalist Brian Reed. It is fair to say it is one of the most downloaded podcasts of all time; we're talking millions and millions!
Without going into too much detail, the story was about a man called John B McLemore; an amazing and fascinating character. The unfortunate and sad twist of the story being that John sadly took his own life part way through, changing the whole context; it was shockingly unexpected in that first time listen.
It is fair to say that the popularity of S-Town brought untold focus to the town of Woodstock, a lot of which was negative. But out of this negativity a beautiful thing happened. Through an S-Town Facebook group where much surmising took place, Cheryl was an active member and began giving context to a lot of queries and questions. She began to set the record straight and of her own accord began taking positive action in her community, to raise hope and shed a different light on Woodstock.
Cheryl was also a longtime friend of John B McLemore.
As her activities increased, creating a wildflower walk in memory of John, with seeds donated from across the world, she began working then to increase the awareness of suicide prevention.
We became online friends.
I'd been working on a few songs during this time and was inspired to write what became Ballad of the Wild Flowers. It was a song about Cheryl's work and love, about her friend John, about legacy, memory and above all, hope.
I'm proud to have written a song that represents a story of hope out of sadness, understanding out of ignorance, an invite to go and perform that song in Woodstock, Alabama at the 2019 music festival.