Blowing our own trumpet

There is a fierce discussion on a Facebook group on which bands should headline or appear at all at the Ironhorse festival.

For the three people who aren’t aware, the Ironhorse festival is a celebration of the train history of St. Thomas, celebrated with stalls, fairground rides and live music. There are three stages that are used at different times of the weekend, a small community stage, a stage in the beer tent, and the main stage. The musical highlights of the weekend are Friday and Saturday night on the main stage. Last year we have a fantastic Beatles cover band on the Friday and then a 0s metal cover band on the Saturday.

Admittedly, the metal band, named Leathersnake which I am refusing to use again out of protest of it’s Spinal-Tap-ness name, did encounter some technical issues but from the people around me, the reaction was less than enthusiastic. I grew up on rock and metal in the 80s, I had long hair, I tried to play guitar, when I first saw the Poison album ‘Looked what the cat dragged in’ I also thought there were a couple of hot chicks on the cover. I saw lots of bands, from the good, Aerosmith, Poison, Van Halen, Def Leppard, even to the questionable, Vixen, White Lion, Tigertailz. I loved the whole concert scene. I loved looking at the girls with teased hair and skin tight spandex. Yes, I am a male pig but one that has moved from the music of my mis-spent youth.

As I grew older (I can’t say up) I started to see less and less concerts as my tastes changed and the bands I loved didn’t tour as much. If you take into account the whole decade, it is at least 21 years ago since the genre hit it’s peak. While the Beatles touched so many people, I honestly don’t believe that hair metal was as big. Yes, AC/DC are still a huge band but it doesn’t mean we need another tribute band each and every year. Why are we looking backwards at the ‘golden age’ of music that wasn’t even so much golden as glitter and hairspray. You can split hairs on the impact of different genres but I still don’t understand why a festival would hire the same act two years in a row. Why not something different every now and again? I appreciate that drinking music is often loud and rocky but seriously, unless the Ironhorse festival is going to become the 80s festival, how about some original artists, we have several recording artists local to St. Thomas, or a different genre, or heaven forbid, a different band each year.

I am not slighting the Ironhorse festival. Each year it brings people to St. Thomas from all over the place. I just don’t see it helping to promote St. Thomas in any light other than a redneck, hick town that is still living with mullets and Bon Jovi. A stranger coming to town might think that he is in a twilight zone episode where time has stopped still for over 20 years. It is difficult to promote the future of St. Thomas when the biggest festival it holds only focuses on how great the past was.

If the Ironhorse festival is to promote St. Thomas, not only the history but the future as well, why aren’t more local bands being featured? I am not suggesting that a local band take to the main stage as the headliner but how about a warm up act? How about a super jam night? We had one at the Hungry Fox and a great time was had by all. There are plenty of talented musicians locally who play in the bars and clubs, who have strong followings and who never fail to entertain. Shouldn’t they have the chance to play to bigger crowds.

I appreciate that this is the wrong time to bring it up as booking for these concerts must take place months before hand so perhaps later this year a discussion could be had about how and who should appear next year. I for one would love to see local bands playing all three stages, and perhaps having one being the warm up act for one of our local recording artists. We should be proud of being St. Thomas, and we should focus on what makes us special and great, not on what can be rehashed time after time.

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