INTERVIEW WITH... ANDY WHITEHEAD (FAST FEST)
FAST FEST returned last weekend for its 4th year, having raised approx. £6000 for The Stroke Association in previous years. Founder and organiser, Andy Whitehead explains: "The first event was held in April 16th 2016, the year after the passing of my mother after suffering a stroke. I wanted to do something, and being a man of no serious discernible talent (and unwilling to swim the channel in a bear suit) I realised I knew a few bands, got a venue and the rest is now history."
I first heard about FAST FEST through a local favourite of mine, FEAR LIES, who have appeared in the past, in fact, singer Ben opened the first event with an acoustic set and the band repeated the acoustic performance in February this year in aid of the cause as 'FAST FEST UNPLUGGED'. And as Andy says, "they must be doing something right as the name FAST FEST has gotten out there on the circuit" and bands are asking to be a part of it.
This is an inspiring event held in Barnsley, with a staple of local bands like STEAL THE CITY, FIREGARDEN and DELIRIUM all appearing in previous years. This year featured THE FLUFFY GREMLINS, a young bang aged 9-14 years old, A JOKER AMONG THIEVES, IDLE GENTLEMEN, CROOKED STYX, SOUTHERN SKIES, EDENTHORN, SILVERJET and headliner PURPLE ZEBRAS - "Tha’ll not find one uh these at t’Yorkshire Wildlife Park".
It's just a guess but I'd suggest putting on a successful event year in year out must be time-consuming and stressful at times, but Andy says the day itself always makes up for the challenges faced; "The smiles and the atmosphere! There truly is something in the air on the day. Knowing people are really enjoying themselves with what we’re bringing them is reward enough really. Also, I’m pretty sure (my) mam would be very proud and that’s enough all on its own."
In the current climate, is it difficult for an event like this to get people through the door? "The biggest challenge is the same for every event I guess it’s the old bums on seats," says Andy. "Also having 8 bands each year has on occasion been challenging, trying to accommodate each need from scheduling the lineup, deciding who goes on when via the popularity of the band, the availability of each member. We even consider their dietary needs, as we are a charitable event we aren’t able to offer any real recompense other than feeding them and I’m very grateful to each and every band that’s graced our stage for nothing but a curry or a fajita."
Each year has its own highlights, this year's being Tom Spendlove from PURPLE ZEBRAS "putting his wireless kit to good use and running off stage to come down an’ mosh" alongside organiser Andy Whitehead.
You may have missed this year's but they'll be back in 2020 and there's still time to donate via https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/fastfest