Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Resonance Festival - Bedford pub, Balham

TWENTY years ago Mike Morton played his first gig at the Bedford pub in Balham. Now the 52-year-old is back with his band The Gift to host a four-day music festival which will also act as a fundraiser for cancer charity Macmillan.The idea for the event which takes place between Thursday, July 31 and Sunday, August 3 came about after Mike and band mate David Lloyd were travelling back from a festival last year.
"We started talking about the music and discussed setting something up ourselves so we could feature the music we wanted," says Mike.
"Prog rock and classical rock bands don't get the audiences they used back in the 70s when they were more in fashion but there is still an appetite for it so it seemed a good thing to do."
But the idea really gained momentum when Mike lost his mother Marion to cancer in September.
"Mum had bowel cancer and at one stage we thought she'd beaten it but then it came back and eventually it took her life," says Mike.
"She was 79 and it was a shock because she was always so full of hope and positivity.
"I wanted to do something to remember her and Dave and I had a chat and decided that a music festival featuring adventurous guitar bands would be the perfect opportunity to do that and raise money for Macmillan in the process."
"Macmillan was great and provided my family with so much help and support towards the end of mum's life and I couldn't think of a better charity to raise funds for."
The Resonance Festival will feature an eclectic mix of national and international bands and genres from prog rock, hard rock, metal, punk and avant-garde.
Among those appearing will be Also Eden, Mostly Autumn, The Enid, Big Elf and Anglagard.
"We have described it as music without boundaries," explains Mike. "We had a wish list of bands we wanted but it took a good few months to get the final line up.
"There are lots of up and coming bands included - those who have taken inspiration from the great bands of the 70s - which we are really excited about and they were really keen to be part of this.
"It was more tricky to get the established bands - some had other commitments and for others they need a bigger space - but we have been really lucky because Anglagard is coming over from Sweden especially for the festival and Bigelf is flying in from California so there has been a lot of good will."
And he hints that there may be a few other famous faces popping in throughout the four days.
What was never in doubt was the choice of venue. This was partly because Mike lives in Balham, but also because the Bedford has a well-deserved reputation for hosting other festivals including the Comedy and Folk Fest.
"It is such a great venue with three amazing rooms which are so full of character and are actually quite intimate so it's the perfect environment," says Mike.
"I played my first gig there so it has special memories for me.
"It's also a great area generally - there's always so much going on and there's a real earthiness to it. I grew up in Streatham and in those days Balham was always considered to be quite gritty.
"Now it's a bit more gentrified with lots of young people moving in and it's got a really bohemian atmosphere with a great cultural and ethnic mix.
"Growing up in Streatham in the 70s, groups like ELO, Yes, Queen and Genesis were very much my diet and they really informed and influenced my musical tastes," he adds.
"The South London music scene in those days was brilliant and full of budding musicians. There were loads of opportunities for us back then and lots of places like the basements of pubs in Tooting, Streatham and Balham where we would play and rehearse.
"The 70s was a very fertile time when it was great to be young and into music."
But he insists there is still a place for prog and classical rock and says he hopes the festival will prove a success.
"I want to raise at least £15,000 for Macmillan because the work they do is fantastic but I also hope the festival will be popular enough that we can make it an annual event!" he says.

The Resonance Festival takes place at the Bedford pub, Bedford Hill between Thursday, July 31 and Sunday, August 3. Visit for full line up and tickets.

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