Our thanks to Jo Macaulay for sharing this review of The Million Dollar Bash on behalf of All Wight Now. Ed
The Million Dollar Bash to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Isle of Wight Festival was hailed a great success by all those attending, which was approaching 2,000 people.
The weather was fairly kind, with some sunshine and not too much wind, and the music and entertainment was fabulous, with artists such as Julie Felix, Wishbone Ash, Richard Thompson and Pentangle on the bill, just as they had been in 1969.
Steping back in time
An exhibition marquee housed photographs from the original festival, merchandise for this one and books from Medina Publishing, with signings here for the band’s CDs and the poet’s books.
Sixties themed items were on sale from That 60s Place’s shop in Cowes, including a life size cardboard cut-out of Bob Dylan, which proved a popular draw for photographs and sculptor Guy Portelli had a maquette of the Bob Dylan statue he intends to make.
Busy day for traders
Outside there was a bar, stalls and a hot drinks wagon who said he “didn’t stop all day” – I guess he’s now off to the Bahamas with the proceeds.
One stall sold delicious meringues and gooey chocolate brownies. There was only one arts and crafts stall, selling pretty sea glass and driftwood sculptures and wind chimes, which tinkled in the wind.
To the music
Newer acts on the Main Stage included reggae folk outfit Edward II, who were the first to get people up on their feet and dancing to their upbeat fusion of the traditional merged with ska – it was hard to keep still.
Deana Walmsley went down extremely well with the audience, especially a few of the younger ones at the front who had seen her on The Voice.
Then Sally, Lady Grylls got up on stage to say a little bit about dementia and to implore people to support dementia charities and the Admiral Nurses Appeal – Admiral Nurse Lindsay White joined her at this point.
The Million Dollar Bash was supported by Barbara Stephens’ charity Dementia Pathfinders in partnership with Playlist for Life and was the very first dementia friendly festival.
Back to the music
Then the Blair Dunlop Trio played a fabulous set of their melodious covers, even though their young keyboardist had only just come out of hospital after a gall bladder operation – a fact to which they alluded rather too often for the poor embarrassed guy.
Pentangle were entrancing, with Jacqui McShee’s vocals sounding just as clear and strong as they had back on that day in 1969, and her band backing her beautifully.
Even the Liverpool Poets came to share some of their words of wisdom with the crowd. Brian Patten owned up to his poetry ‘habit’ in a hilarious sketch with Roger McGough playing the interviewer.
“How did you start?” “Well, I just tried a few rhyming couplets at the start but before long I was moving on to the harder stuff…”
The return of Julie Felix
Julie Felix played on the Acoustic Stage, which was filled to bursting with people trying to catch a glimpse of her performance, and to keep out of the wind!
She treated everyone to one of her legendary high kicks – at 81 no mean feat – and a selection of numbers including Bob Dylan’s Chimes of Freedom.
Later Julie would join the Dylan Centric collection of star musicians for the Dylan tribute and play and sing Blowin’ in the Wind. But before this were both The Pretty Things with the Island’s own Dick Taylor on the Acoustic Stage and on the Main Stage, Wishbone Ash. It was rather sad that they clashed, but probably inevitable with such a stellar line up and only two stages.
Richard Thompson then played a selection from his vast repertoire, including some great Fairport Convention favourites such as Sandy Denny’s Who Knows Where the Time Goes and his poignant Vincent Black Lightening 1952.
Never-heard Dylan poem
The finale of Dylan songs from Ashley Hutchings, Blair Dunlop and a star line up of musicians from the day, had everyone on their feet. And you could hear a pin drop as Ashley read out the poem that Bob Dylan had given especially for the event – a love poem to a girl at his school called Echo.
And then it was all over. Roll on 2020 when the 1970 commemoration concert will be happening – possibly at the original festival field at Afton if all goes well.