The fifth annual Hanwell Hootie music festival will take place on Saturday, 6 May: It will be ‘the day music comes home’, as they are saying. The Hootie has become London’s biggest one-day, free music festival. But this year it could be even bigger…
It was shortlisted for two national awards last year and always features a fine array of up-and-coming and well-known acts, who have taken over many of the town’s pubs, a church and also a specially erected ‘igloo’ tent last year. The atmosphere of past festivals has been electric and, in 2016, there were 80 acts performing across 13 venues. Read on, and you will discover why the team behind it thinks the Hootie could be even more impressive this year.
Run by a community interest company, the Hootie is endorsed by Ealing Council, Hanwell Association of Traders, Ealing Blues Festival, the Ealing Club and sponsored by many others – most notably Marshall Amplification, the international firm whose founder opened his first shops in Hanwell in the 1960s.
In fact, for those of you who do not know by now, the Hanwell Hootie was conceived as a music festival to commemorate the birth of the mighty Marshall amplifier. It was in 1962 that a drum teacher and instrument salesman known as Jim Marshall, later nicknamed ‘the father of loud’, built a guitar amp in what is now Tony’s Barbers at 76 Uxbridge Road, that finally satisfied the demands of the growing rock scene in the UK and USA. The original Marshall shop is commemorated by both a paving slab and a black plaque. It was the ‘go-to’ destination for famous guitarists of the day, from Pete Townshend of the Who to Jimi Hendrix.
Apart from all of this history, what makes the Hootie so special? One of the Hanwell Hootie organisers Andy McRobbie gave us his take on it.
He said: “Well, not only the music, which is an amazing mix of homegrown, emerging, and established bands, but the fact that it brings the whole community together and it’s completely free to attend. We are trying to buck the trend of music venues closing throughout London because live music should be, we believe, readily available.
“It has been half a decade since the birth of the first Hootie. Time flies when an entire town is having fun, right?
“Talk to any Hanwellite and I am sure we each have our favourite Hootie moment, be it The Men They Couldn’t hang at the Igloo stage, Tankus the Henge at the Prince of Wales, or Smiley and the Underclass at the Village Inn. The Hootie has been memorable each year for all the right reasons.”
What can people expect of the 2017 incarnation of the event?
“We will still have the busking bus, the church and a lot of the pub venues,” said Andy. “But each year we try and trump the last and this year is no different. I can’t reveal too much, but let’s just say that, in addition to some amazing new venues, the whole event is going to feel a lot more ‘festival-y’.
“The music is also shaping up to be another corker. From raucous bhangra and gypsy folk to ambient synth and soul, we have got it all this year. We are essentially a rock festival so, fear not, we also have a heavy dose of guitar driven rock music in all its forms. We are aiming to announce the line-up by the end of February, so watch this space.”
Staying true to its community roots, one of the key partnerships the Hootie team has developed is with Ealing Council.
As well as support from its Hobbayne and Elthorne ward forums and the council leader Julian Bell, the council has supplied the Hootie team with a part-time intern who is helping the festival organisers liaise with various council departments, including the regeneration team which is helping to drive business support for the event and the recycling team which is helping to tackle the issue of recycling and waste generated by visitors on the day.
June Martin, one of the Hootie management team, said: “It is a great partnership with the council, helping us to deliver what is truly a community event. We feel totally supported.”