The promotion of the broadest possible range of live music and the encouragement of new talent and original material is at the heart of the festival.
There are masses of photos from previous festivals in The Togfest Archive (opens another window to an external site).
The 2009 festival needs writing up.
2008: Togfest’s Tenth Birthday!
The 2008 festival was a big event for the Togfest Team, as they celebrated ten years of Togfest fun. A new-look website was launched – which, besides highlighting the great stuff to come, helped raise awareness of vital services, such as the National Organ Donor Register.
It was all go behind the scenes; and, thanks to the dedication of the Management Team and hundreds of wonderful volunteers, the 10th Anniversary Festival was, as ever, jam-packed with cracking music, fun workshops, and a great festival audience!
For the first time ever, Togfest became a 2-day event, with a fantastic line-up on the Friday evening. The gates opened to a rollicking Drum Workshop in the Chillout Marquee, led by Inta Africa. The Marquee Stage rocked to the sounds of Firetone, Soul Fever and the Powders; while the courtyard stage was lit up by sparkling performances from Solstice and 3AM… with Mud II (featuring members of Les Gray’s Mud) providing a final, rip-roaring finale to the evening. But the fun didn’t end there…
2008 also saw another first, with the introduction of camping facilities. The campsite provided a great opportunity to make a weekend of the festival, allowing the revellers to keep up the festival vibe, while being sure not to miss out on the next morning’s activities …
Saturday kicked of with another great drum workshop from Inta Africa, with loads of other fun activities to join, such as Games & drama workshops from Stargazers; Children’s Craft Workshops with Paul Smith; Didgeridoo and throat-singing workshops from Jonny Cope (who also joined the music line-up later in the day); and a great beat-box workshop with Big G. Rockhopper came along with their mobile recording facility, offering festival-goers the chance to record their own hit single!
All you fans of retail therapy were not to be disappointed either, with a great variety of stall-holders offering plenty to choose from; and, to keep you all fed and watered throughout the day, there were a good mix of food vendors on site offering tasty snacks at reasonable prices. And let’s not forget the two bars…
The Saturday Music line-up was as brilliant as ever, with four stages to host the action. The Acoustic Café Stage, compered by Dan Plews, saw great performances from Jonny Cope, Big G, JJ White, Yaw Asiyama and Derek Rose. All performances here were well received by a chilled out audience in relaxed surroundings, with excellent refreshments available from the Barrel Bikers who were raising funds for their charity of the year.
Meanwhile, back at the Cruck Barn, you lucky folks were grooving to the sounds of Taylor’d Country, Damask Rose, Navaro, Big Laundry Bill, Vikki Clayton, Kejosi and Geoff Watson. Down at the Marquee Stage, you were tempted by the sounds of The Bad Habits, Royston Jones Band, The Zeds, The Red Bullets, Liz Simcock, Machine, Rogue Poet and Titan System.
Out in the sunshine – which was glorious in honour of Togfest’s Tenth – the Courtyard Stage boomed with sounds of the summer from Terrapin Trainstation, Sixpointfive, El Mahico, The Lovedays, The Peartree Bridge Family, Red Dirt, Stone Foundation, with the grand finale from Togmor themselves. But still there was more fun to come…Another first for the 2008 festival was the Chillout Tent, where campers, crew (off-duty, of course!) and performers alike played, sang and generally frolicked their way towards the dawn… way, way after they all should have been safely tucked up in their jammies. You know who you are, you rascals! Race you to the sofas at the 2009 fest…
There are lots of photos from the 2008 festival in The Togfest Archive (opens another window to an external site).
In 2007,Togfest was sadly missing from the summer line-up. All in a good cause though! Milton Keynes celebrated it’s 40th Anniversary and we gave up our day so as not to clash with any of the many birthday celebrations planned to take place around the city that weekend.
The sun shone, the festival site was bursting with musical talent, and our audience basked in rays of sound and light. But you had to be there….and you probably were!
The line-up was as terrific and varied as ever. New Talent mingled with Old Hands, (not Slow Hand…….yet. Maybe one day, if you are reading this Eric!), and the list of musical genres continued to grow and our artistes came from all over the UK and beyond.
The Drum and Didge workshops (thanks to Drums for Schools and Tony Morris) were well under way and already proving a very popular and early success as festival goers continued to arrive. The Courtyard Stage flashed with the glint of sun on metal as The Shore Tar Rappers wielded their swords as they danced. Silencer opened The Marquee Stage and the day had begun in good style already demonstrating the varied mix of music that would continue throughout the day.
The Curvy Love Dogz opened on The Courtyard Stage and set the scene for a lot of great sounds to come. Following them throughout the day were Touchstone, Steve McDaniel Project, Spikedrivers, Great Pig in the Sky, Bleeding Hearts, Meltbak and Del Bromham’s Stray until festival host band Togmor closed the show and The Courtyard Stage at the end of the day.
Daniel Rachel demonstrated his exceptional talents as opener on The Cruck Barn Stage and was followed by a line-up of equally superb and varied talent that included The Beathovens, Lu Cozma with Steve Askew, Simon Hopper band, MyPilot, John Howarth Band, Zoox and finally ending in similar style with Poppyseed.
On The Marquee Stage, now buzzing thanks to Silencer’s lively opening, Left Hand Drive kept up the momentum to be followed by The Bullfrogs, Tokyo Dawns, Genghis Brothers, Dyframix and The Zig Duo - more diverse and eclectic talent than you could shake a stick at!!
Unfortunately, also billed on The Marquee Stage, but sadly missing were The Mansek Collective from Ghana who we already knew had been refused their visas just a few days earlier, (you may have heard about that on some news reports at the time). The brilliant Fozz were approached, fortunately were available and performed a stunning set at very short notice. Also unexpectedly absent were The Blackrose Project whose vehicle was unfortunately involved in an accident on their way from the Midlands. But before any need for the (potentially dangerous) cry of “Is there a musician in the house?”, locally based musician Andy Powell was spotted in the crowd and needed little persuasion, (as anyone who knows him will attest!), to step in and in true ‘show must go on’ style gave a stonking surprise performance.
The Acoustic Café proved ever popular with a great start from Tuck. The stage continued to see a wide and varied range of genres with Caliko, Emily Haig, MKMS String Quartet, James McArthur, Bernard Hoskin, Stuart O’Connor and finally closed with Christian Bell-Young. Every single one a real winner and each and every act worth the whole ticket price on their own!
There was a free entry prize draw open to all our festival goers with prizes of a keyboard kindly donated by SigNet Music and a guitar courtesy of Talkin’ Headz and Yamaha.
Amongst our audience were a producer from the BBC and a photographer from Rolling Stone magazine (Australia). Who did they have their eyes on? And the best weather forecaster on TV, Clare Nasir, had given Togfest a lovely mention on GMTV the day before….
What a day it was!
There are lots of photos from the 2006 festival in The Togfest Archive (opens another window to an external site).
Were you there in 2005?
By 2005, Togfest’s three stages had grown to four, with the debut appearance of ‘The Acoustic Café’ proving a great success. The audience enjoyed the ambience (and the tables and chairs!), and the artistes enjoyed the intimate atmosphere. It was also a great space for our storytellers and poets.
The weather could have been a bit kinder but it didn’t daunt the festival goers who turned out in force to enjoy what turned out to be another really great day out. As all stages are under cover (apart from the Courtyard Stage), our regular visitors knew that even if it bucketed with rain, they could still be cosy and dry.
The day opened at 11.00 a.m. with MK Rock School showcasing their talents on The Marquee Stage. The first Courtyard Stage slot was a rousing overture from Gekko. The Underdogs trod the first board on The Cruck Barn Stage and The Acoustic Café opened with some blues with soul from MK duo: Cheap Dates.
From there on it was just music, music all the way with occasional pauses for breath, and time to reflect or laugh with a variety of spoken word performance.
The Courtyard Stage also featured The Zeds, Australia’s Gwyn Ashton, Connecting Routes, Mark Joseph, Igagu from Soweto, S.A., Little Johnny England and Waysted. Festival hosts Togmor, completed the night with a set featuring special guests Del Bromham, Guy Fletcher and Gareth Turner.
The Marquee Stage also saw performances from US artist Joe Driscoll, Graham Robins, Freakanature, Six.Point.Five, Terrapin Trainstation, The Michèle Welborn Band and The Powders.
The Cruck Barn Stage also rocked to the sounds of The Underdogs, Nuada, The MKMS Orchestra, RPM, Storm Within, Sweet Tin Hoax, my pet junkie and ZIGZIG.
Throughout the day, The Acoustic Café also hosted performances from So Long Angel, Pat Rogers, The Crow, Dan Plews, Sam Gatehouse and The Peter Principle. Poetry came from Steve Holden and John Pinkerton and we saw a wonderful performance of the story of ‘Me, Marley and I’ from Yaw Asiyama.
There are lots of photos from the 2005 festival in The Togfest Archive (opens another window to an external site).
Do you remember 2004?
Well…by then Togfest had three performance stages having added The Marquee Stage on the meadow to The Courtyard Stage and The Cruck Barn Stage. In the event of a heat wave (See 2000!) the Togfest team were now happy to know that for two out of three stages our audience would always be sheltered from the sun…. It rained but the trusty audience came armed with chairs and weatherproofs, took full advantage of the excellent food vendors and drank the real ale bar dry…again!!
The music was magic. Thirty bands…from blues to bhangra, from classical to country and in between there was soul, rock, jazz, folk, indie, pop, funk, hip hop, emo rock and lots and lots of lovely original stuff that defies description. Amongst the bands, our youngest artiste was thirteen and our oldest, if he’d wished, could have got there free on the bus. By now the Togfest A & R team had had to review well over 200 applications from all over the UK (and beyond!) to build the line-up.
Apart from the Togmor, the line-up included a second festival appearance from the mighty Del Bromham and Stray, Bridgefield, Common Ground (the funky soul one…see 1999!), Cozma Vaughan, Smudj, Little Spitfire, Shenley Brook End School Jazz Band, Soul Fever, enq, Bleeding Hearts, MK Sinfonia, Restless Bentleys, Stonegrass, Dansaul, Touchstone, Dansaul, Unlikely Brothers, Hedroom, Jimi Volcano, Rangla Punjab, Karen Grace, Souler Rhythm, Vicious Cabaret, Beech, Meltbak and Table Nine.
Togfest festival goers were warmly welcomed as they arrived by the busking team with either some jazz or some contemporary folk on sax, clarinet, guitar or flute.
BBC Three Counties radio sent a radio car and did a live broadcast from the site interviewing several of our musicians and taking in some of the festival atmosphere.
By 2004, Togfest also presented spoken word performances from three poets who took small slots between the music to entertain on the various stages.
There are lots of photos from the 2004 festival in The Togfest Archive (opens another window to an external site).
Were you there in 2003?
Great weather and another great day. Two performance stages this year plus the dedicated Rock School Stage. Radio FreeMK came along and recorded all the performances from the Courtyard Stage which then went out on the internet for months afterwards.
Togfest also added spoken word performance to the range of entertainment with MK based poet, Rod Eyre provoking a lot of laughter and some contemplation!
The line up included Robins/Grove Blue Jam, Top Banana, X-POSED, Gwyn Ashton, Vivant, Fidjit, Devlin, Irene’s New Country Band, MOT, Pete White, Colvin Quarmby, Memphis Plates, 3 Sticks, Rivers & Da Costa, Fozz, The Sindys and Togmor. The A & R team were now receiving a lot of band applications and they were coming from… everywhere.
There are lots of photos from the 2003 festival in The Togfest Archive (opens another window to an external site).
These two years will mainly be remembered by the Togfest Team as the summer they got to spend some rare time with their loved ones! Unfortunately due to Foot & Mouth disease, Bradwell Abbey in common with a lot of green spaces, had to close to the public during 2001. In 2002 the site was unavailable for the date.
Were you there in 2000?
By the way…..Togfest has always been, and will continue to be, non-profit making, self-funding and will continue to be professionally run, but managed and run entirely by volunteers.
It was the year of the rain! The plans had been bigger and better and the musical talent on offer was tremendous. The team licensed the event for 6000 people and were now organising the music on three stages. At noon the gates opened and at 12.05 it rained. And rained. The heavens opened and it bucketed down. Nevertheless nearly 3000 damp and lovely people spent a great day seeing some tremendous music and sharing a very good but wet time.
The Togfest word seemed to have spread. By now the A & R team were receiving applications to play not only from MK based bands but also from surrounding counties. In a bit of a musical coup, the incredible Del Bromham and his band, Stray made their first Togfest appearance. Included with the excellent talent lined up alongside were The Cock & Bull Band, MK Music Service Chamber Orchestra, Euphorian Sound, Five Men Not Called Matt, Prussian Blue, Jimi Volcano, Blue Jam, dizimini, Fozz, Memphis Plates, Blindside, Izmael, The Hoodoos, Gray Lady Down, Cathy Rivers & Mark Da Costa, Common Ground (the folky one) and of course…Togmor.
Turning the Stone Barn into the Rock School Stage where the Milton Keynes Music Service provided instruction, masterclasses and showcased their talent proved a very popular idea. No end of young budding musos were inspired to pick up an instrument and ‘have a go’ for the first time at Togfest 2000.
Jools Holland sent his best wishes and Yamaha kindly donated a guitar and a keyboard. Loads of you brought along your Citizen voucher or filled in the programme form to enter the draws. Could that be yet another two musicians on the scene?!
Thanks to the generosity of Jon Tompkins at Logicom, who brought a crew and filmed Togmor in rehearsal, Togfest managed to get coverage on local BBC TV to promote the festival.
Do you remember 1999?
4000 people turned up to enjoy the day! Togfest was now boasting two stages with the creation of an outside stage on the courtyard. This meant the team could double the line-up and increase the variety of music on offer.
Vikki Clayton generously gave her time to play and support the festival. She also spent a day recording and filming a song which went out on The Biz on ITV especially to promote the festival. It was a really great line-up which also included Gwyn Ashton, Penguin Freud, Blunderherd, Karen Grace, Gecko, Michele Welborn, Endless Knot, Syringe Babies, Acchord, Sugarland Slim, Greed, Hellzaboppin, Carport Extension, Doohickey, Topaz, Bullfrogs, Soul Fever, Out of the Wood, and of course, Togmor.
Southern Arts provided a small grant the covered the production of a CD which was taken live from all the artistes playing The Cruck Barn Stage by a separate multi core into a studio built for the purpose in the CDC library by Protec Music. The CD was engineered by someone really quite famous …but we cannot tell you who!!
The ever-popular free Children’s Craft Workshop also began in 1999, run then, as now, by the inspirational Paul Smith. Lots of ‘Gullivers Land’ characters also frolicked about the courtyard to the delight of our younger visitors.
The ever-supportive Yamaha Kemble donated a guitar that went into a free draw for our visitors on the day. And Susie Quattro sent Togfest a lovely handwritten note wishing us all (you too!) a very good day.
This year the festival had to make a small charge for entry.
In the beginning, back in 1998, the Togfest all music Festival started as a one-off party to celebrate Togmor’s tenth anniversary and ended up being one of the biggest and most successful music events that Milton Keynes had seen. Admittedly the plan did grow a bit between initial conception and the actual day. The idea had been to hire The Cruck Barn at Bradwell Abbey in Milton Keynes, have a bit of a party and play a gig. It ended up becoming a day long free 'party' with all manner of bands contributing to a whole day of musical entertainment. Came the day and an incredible estimated two thousand people turned up. There was now no going back: Togfest, it seemed, was born!