There was a lot of local hype on social media and chatter in pubs prior to the sixth Codfest, Codsall’s own ‘Friendly Festival’. Codfest didn’t just live up to the hype – it chewed it up, spat it out and saw the likes of The Replicas and Ronin destroy it.
It wouldn’t be a lie to say that Codfest gets better year on year – its only limit being its capacity – but this isn’t necessarily a handicap as it ensures that the event stays intimate and attracts the right sort of people – mostly by word of mouth. Codfest doesn’t need much in the way of advertising. There’s no doubt that the festival could be huge, but as it is, things work very well.
The choice of artists and bands was perfect, each building up as the sun dropped behind the distant Wrekin to a final crescendo as a large crowd gathered to watch and sing along to The Replicas – who are so good it’s amazing they aren’t working on their own material (I won’t run through all the acts here, but the likes of Luke Wylde & The Japes and Sam Draisey were all worthy of their respective stage – see a list of some of the acts here).
In fact, the whole festival was a showcase of local talent – the best of the Midlands, from the music to the organisation, from Morton Brewery’s real ale (festival special Speedwell Bitter sold out in a few hours) to the merchandise. If you haven’t yet been to this September annual, you really should – if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a ticket.
We caught up with one of the festival organisers, Roy Draisey, for a quick Q&A session.
WW: Saturday’s event was the sixth Codfest; where did the inspiration to start a local festival initially come from?
RD: If you check out the Codfest Facebook https://www.facebook.com/CodfestOfficial page there’s a nice little video (based on Starwars) that tells the history. It was a few (3 or 4 pals who were fairly regular festival goers) having a drink and talking about how nice it would be to run your own festival. At around the same time I was approached by a local field owner about the possibility of putting some live music on for a gathering of friends. (my son Sam is a local musician and runs open mic’s in the area and we spoke to him about getting performers) It turned out the gathering was for quite a few people so our group of friends said we would help as long as it was done properly, with Licence application and insurance etc. So we did the first Codfest in 6 weeks, charging £5 to cover costs and had £15 left over after expenses.
WW: Where would you like Codfest to be in another six years?
RD: Same place and size as it is now. It was tongue in cheek, but the last thing I said on Saturday night after The Replicas had finished was ‘don’t tell your friends’. If we could have the same crowd back year on year that would be great. The crowd is the right size, they are all friends, or friends of friends, they behave well, and give us the income we need to put on the show, and have something left over to give to good causes. Codfest is run by a group of volunteers who do it because of the ‘buzz’. It’s great when the day goes well and local bands and acoustic artists get to play in front of such a crowd, but equally giving £600 to a local infants school to buy 20 ukuleles and percussion instruments was a great feeling. We hope to do the same again this year with another local school. Also we’d like to look back in a few years and see someone who played at Codfest deservedly making it in the music industry. Long live Live Music. We had around 60 performers at this year’s festival and we are very grateful we get supported the way we do. Without them there is no Codfest. We are always looking for new acts, with the emphasis being on fairly local and fitting a balanced line up. We think the stalls are a nice balance of arts crafts with interest for adults and kids.
WW: What is it that makes this festival such a popular and positive event?
RD: The organisers are all local and have links in the community. Several of the organisers kids are musicians as well as being on the organising committee. Sam Draisey, Joe McKim and Dan Boyce all performed at this year’s Codfest, and they have all been through Codsall and Bilbrook schools. Codfest is not for profit, and we keep the cost to a minimum, although the fact that tickets sell so well gives us the opportunity to improve things like the stage and lighting, which was our big intention for Codfest 6. We also like to think that our attitude towards putting Codfest together and engaging and helping our supporters rubs off helping create a happy atmosphere. There are a lot of musicians in the local area, both young and established. Codfest is a great platform for them to perform and be supported by people who want a good day out. Pretty much the last thing we do is publish who’s playing at Codfest, and that’s always way after the tickets are sold. So it’s the Codfest day out rather than who’s playing that brings people back. Someone called it the ‘Friendly Festival’ a couple of years ago, and we adopted that description as part of our logo. A large number of our attendees have been to all 6 Codfest’s so far, so we must do something they like.
WW: The greater Wolverhampton area – including South Staffordshire – regularly receives negative press. Is this justified?
RD: Maybe some of it is, but equally we should be sharing what is done well and for the good of the community by members of the community. Having said that we don’t want to advertise wider. Codfest has grown by word of mouth and that way we hope we get folk coming who understand and respect what is we are doing. We are a few friends who enjoy putting Codfest together, but there are Community groups doing great stuff, and also Codsall is putting on its first independent beer festival in October, https://www.facebook.com/Codsallbeerfestival and we are happy to support this kind of event as they have similar values to ours. We don’t do this for recognition or as part of larger voluntary initiatives because other services have been withdrawn. We just do it because we want to, and people enjoy it.
WW: Events like Codfest, Tettenhalls ‘Make It or Bake It’ market and local attractions such as award winning pubs like Hail to the Ale & Codsall Station raise the profile of Wolverhampton and the South Staffs border area. If you could do any three things to enhance our area to put it in a positive light, what would they be?
- Encourage pub chains and owners to have more live music for community enjoyment.
- Encourage schools regarding the development of musical talent and having fun with music.
- Ban the X Factor