I was rather taken aback when my copy of What's Brewing, the CAMRA newspaper, arrived yesterday. Wow! A personal attack! I'd had a letter published in a previous edition which was a shortened version of this post from 1 June this year about music at beer festivals. I didn't think it was an especially controversial opinion: if you prefer no music, just choose those sessions when none is on. That sounds reasonable enough to me.
Obviously it didn't to the correspondent, called Peter, who said I'd had a vested interest when I wrote my letter as my band had played at the Southport Beer Festival, and he went on to state that he and his group had disliked the music so much that he was never coming back - and it was all my fault.
It had never occurred to me that, just because I have played at quite a few beer festivals (not just in Southport), I was not entitled to an opinion, or that it rendered my view worthless. But when I thought about it, I realised that Peter's critical letter only served to illustrate the point I was actually making, which was: don't complain if you don't want music; instead choose those sessions that don’t have any on. In the case of Southport, all the publicity stated that more information could be found on a webpage which could be reached using a deliberately short and easy URL. The webpage made it clear that a band playing 50s and 60s songs would be playing on Saturday afternoon. I know all this because I designed the festival poster, the URL and the webpage. Two minutes on a computer would have saved Peter an afternoon of “ear torture”, to use his phrase.
As for my having a vested interest – that's a joke. As a member of the organising CAMRA branch, I played for nothing, as did the drummer, who is a founder member of Liverpool Branch. The other two band members had further to travel and were paid an amount that covered their petrol costs and no more. It is a strange vested interest that doesn’t earn you a penny.
I am not so vain that I assume everyone will like my music, although the feedback we in the band received was quite different from the negative attitudes of Peter’s group, but I fully accept they are entitled to their opinions. However, the band had been advertised, so they had only themselves to blame if they did not get the quiet session they wanted.
Changing the subject slightly, the webpage for this year’s Southport Beer Festival (9-11 October) can be found at: tiny.cc/beerex. I think you'd agree that's a short and easy URL too.
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