Picture of the John Peel Stage after Mumford & Sons in 2010, by Steve Whittenbury
In our latest Q&A with one of the Festival’s area organisers, we hear from Jim Fox about the John Peel Stage.
1. How would you describe your area of the Festival to someone who hasn’t visited it before?
The John Peel Stage is Glastonbury’s tribute to the legendary DJ and broadcaster, John Peel. Just like the man himself, we aim to present a mix of brand new acts, those who are just breaking through and those who have been long established. The atmosphere is something special at John Peel – the intimacy of the venue makes the audience actually feel part of the show rather than just observers, and of course the fact that we are undercover gives a shade from the scorching sun and (on those rare occasions in the past when it has rained) a shelter from the wet.
2. Have you made any changes/additions for this year?
Not really, it ain’t broke – don’t fix it.
3. Which of your acts are you most excited about in 2011?
That’s a hard one with so many good acts on the line-up. I think the set by DJ Shadow, who is headlining on Friday night, is going to be an amazing visual experience to go along with the sounds. He is bringing the whole Shadowsphere show to the John Peel Stage. I’m also looking forward to Noah and the Whale and the Streets.
4. Do you have any good food recommendations in and around your area?
There is a wide range of food available in the area but to be honest our catering is so good I don’t actually venture out to the outside world to eat.
5. How/when did you first get involved with the Festival?
My first involvement working with the Festival was back in 1985 as a performer in the Green Fields, I played a few times during the 80s, then after performing in the Field of Avalon I stayed on as a compere there for a few years until the New Bands Stage (renamed the John Peel Stage after John’s death in 2004) was established, where I was compere and stage-manager. I took on the role as area organiser before last year’s Festival.
6. What’s the best thing about running an area at Glastonbury?
I guess it has to be working with such a fantastic team who all help to make the John Peel Stage the great place that it is.
7. And what’s the worst?
Packing everything up at the end and having to go home.
8. Is there anything outside your area at this year’s Festival that you’re particularly looking forward to?
I don’t usually get the chance to leave the compound once the Festival is up and running, but I would like to take a look at the Spirit of 71 area, especially to see Melanie, but it probably ain’t gonna happen.
9. What’s the best performance you’ve ever seen at Glastonbury?
Too many to choose one on its own. Mumford & Sons last year was an outstanding performance, Magic Numbers a couple of years ago. In 2009 Bruce Springsteen played on the John Peel stage as a guest with Gaslight Anthem – that was pretty special. As for away from JPS, Leonard Cohen on the Pyramid was unforgettable.
10. Finally, what’s your top Glastonbury tip for people coming to the Festival for the first time?
Forget all your preconceived ideas – Glastonbury isn’t like any other festival. Go and explore all the smaller venues and the weird and wonderful areas and don’t over do it on the first day. Take some time to chill out – talk to people you’ve never met before and be open to whatever comes along. Above all, just go with it and enjoy.