“The festivals we really looked up to were in the US – ProgDay, NEARFest and RoSFest. There have been 20 ProgDays and 13 RoSFests. Now that’s longevity. I guess we’re getting there.” Stephen Lambe, co-founder of Summer’s End might sound like he doesn’t grasp the enormity of running the UK’s longest progressive festival, but really he’s just being modest. This October sees the 10th anniversary of Summer’s End; no mean feat for an event that essentially started at the whim of Lambe’s partner-in-prog and Unto Us/ex-Also Eden vocalist Huw Lloyd-Jones.
“Also Eden were due to play the second ProgsFest in Chippenham in 2005, but when that was cancelled he started putting together a festival as somewhere for the band to play,” recalls Lambe. Thus Summer’s End was born.
As a former Borough Councillor in Swindon, Lambe was no stranger to working with long-haired miscreants with a taste for cider, and after the first Summer’s End, Lloyd-Jones invited him to become a partner for the next one.
We give people quality, a great vibe and a great sound.
It’s not been an easy road. Venue changes, including the shake-up that saw the festival move from Lydney to Chepstow, and financial uncertainty have affected the resilient duo. As a unit though, they’ve continued to make the best of it as Lambe explains, “In the main we’ve tended to support each other, so even if one of us has had a bad year, where life has got in the way a bit, the other has picked up the slack and there’s still been a festival.”
Over the last 10 years, Summer’s End has selected class acts – from Steve Hackett to Phideaux – from across the globe as opposed to bulking out the bill with numbers, a distinct difference from larger “soul-less” festivals. Says Lambe, “At Summer’s End we give people quality, a great vibe and a great sound. I think that’s what many want.”
This labour of love isn’t always requited though. “When you do get a few minutes to watch someone, it’s hard to concentrate on them. Part of the deal is that we never really get to enjoy the music. Summer’s End is for the punters, not for us!”
_Get your tickets at: www.summersend.co.uk. _