Have A Cigar: Saluting The Scene's Supporting Crew

Danny Mayo has been called “one of the great unsung heroes of the UK prog world”… it’s time to sing his praises!

“I saw festivals like Summer’s End and I thought: ‘Why not do my own?’ There was nothing much happening in the Midlands at the time and here I am now on number five!”

Danny Mayo is proof that the secret of success is often just getting stuck in. He held his very first prog-dayer at Leicester’s The Musician back in November 2011, with The Tangent, IO Earth and Alan Reed among those performing. He’d promoted a couple of local gigs before but had no idea that Danfest would still be going strong four years later.

Although the festival bears his name, Mayo’s line-ups aren’t entirely dictated by his personal taste. Concentrating on UK-based bands helps to keep the ticket price down, and his mix’n’match approach gives prog fans the chance to sample a wide variety of acts. “Danfest spreads the word of smaller prog bands that people might not normally get the chance to see.”

Previous line-ups have included the likes of DeeExpus, Haken, Magenta and Also Eden.

The Leicester lad’s venue of choice is less than a mile away from the city’s railway station, with a capacity of 220 and plenty of parking nearby. He even runs a food van outside.

Over the last five years, things have certainly changed for Mayo. Aside from Danfest, he’s promoted Leicester shows for the likes of Steve Howe and The Enid, and estimates he now puts on around 15-20 gigs a year locally. But things aren’t always rosy. Earlier this year he cancelled his prog metal fest Foxrox due to poor ticket sales. Fortunately, the experience didn’t put him off and tickets for Danfest are on the up. “They’re the best advance sales we’ve ever had,” he reveals. “[Festival headliners] Lifesigns and Karnataka are headliners in their own right so the weekend ticket is very good value.”

He’s already booking acts for Danfest 6, but if money were no object, what would his dream line-up be? “I’d like a bigger venue,” he laughs, “and the line-up would probably have to run across two weeks!”

Danfest 5 is on December 4-5. For more, visit themusicianpub.co.uk.

Natasha Scharf
Deputy Editor, Prog

Contributing to Prog since the very first issue, writer and broadcaster Natasha Scharf was the magazine’s News Editor before she took up her current role of Deputy Editor, and has interviewed some of the best-known acts in the progressive music world from ELP, Yes and Marillion to Nightwish, Dream Theater and TesseracT. Starting young, she set up her first music fanzine in the late 80s and became a regular contributor to local newspapers and magazines over the next decade. The 00s would see her running the dark music magazine, Meltdown, as well as contributing to Metal Hammer, Classic Rock, Terrorizer and Artrocker. Author of music subculture books The Art Of Gothic and Worldwide Gothic, she’s since written album sleeve notes for Cherry Red, and also co-wrote Tarja Turunen’s memoirs, Singing In My Blood. Beyond the written word, Natasha has spent several decades as a club DJ, spinning tunes at aftershow parties for Metallica, Motörhead and Nine Inch Nails. She’s currently the only member of the Prog team to have appeared on the magazine’s cover.