Prog rock festival at Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Prog rock band Knifeworld
Prog rock band Knifeworld
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NOT many events in Blackpool attract legions of fans from Bulgaria, France and the United States.

But the Electric Garden Festival does.

You probably haevn’t heard of this event, not least because it’s only been on once before in the resort.

It took place two years ago at Beat in the town centre but now, after a year off, returns in a new venue – Uncle Tom’s Cabin – next month.

The concept is simple – the organisers book some of the finest names in progressive rock and fans of the music flock to see it.

Ken Foster, of Clifton Drive, South Shore, is co-organiser and is hoping for a memorable festival, not least because progressive rock music has such hardcore and committed fans.

“That’s why two years ago, when we first held this event, we had people come from all over the world,” said Ken.

“We honestly had progressive rock fans coming to Blackpool from all over Europe, particularly Scandinavia and Bulgaria, as well as America.

“It is a cult thing and people will travel long distances to see it.

“In fact I’d say about 90 per cent of the audience two years ago was made up of people from outside the north west.”

The festival, which will take place on May 4 and 5, includes performances by bands like Karnataka (fronted by singer Hayley Griffiths, a member of Michael Flatley’s Riverdance), top Glasgow prog act Comedy Of Errors, Knifeworld, Trojan Horse (who Ken describes as one of the finest live bands he’s ever seen), The Fierce and The Dead, and Counterparts (a Rush tribute band, who appear with a full 70-song Rush repertoire ... could be a lengthy set).

But why Blackpool for a festival? Ken explains: “I’m getting on a bit now, I’m 53, so I grew up with this type of music in the 70s, just before Punk exploded, and I’ve never really gone off it.

“The biggest prog rock festival in the UK is in Gloucestershire.

“I went to that for a few years and then decided we should do something up north, because there is literally nothing in the north for that genre of music. We did it as an experiment, not to make any money, but for the first one in 2011 we got an Arts Council grant. This time we are having to raise all the finance ourselves, so it’s a bit trickier.” To that end, Ken and his co-organisers are raising the money through the newish concept of ‘crowd funding’ - which basically means getting as many people as possible to contribute small amounts of money. It usually works.

In 1997, fans underwrote an entire US tour for the rock group Marillion, raising $60,000 in donations by means of a fan-based internet campaign. “We only need a fraction of that sum, obviously, but we do need people to give,” added Ken.

“But the beauty of doing it this way is that it guarantees the success of the event before it actually happens.”

To help support the event – and to get your hands on a ticket for what sounds like it will be a very decent two days – head to www.fundervine.com