Boutique fund raiser for Jimmy Page's Action for Brazil's Children
EAST ANGLIA, United Kingdom — Take a charity founded by Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, the expanding Festinho 2009 weekend fund-raising celebration of Brazilian music to support it, and sponsorship from Harman Professional, and you have a recipe for a highly successful event.
The festival was established five years ago by Rupert Barksfield and Lynda Colborne —as a garden party in a country home attended by 400 people. Since then it has changed its name from the Mini Chill (allied to the larger and long-established Big Chill Festival), and also its site to Kentwell Hall in East Anglia. As a result, this year they were able to cap their attendance at 3,000 (with acts like Jon Kennedy, The Cuban Bros and Penguin Café Orchestra headlining, along with James Yuill and Tom Eno).
In its quest to provide aid for Brazil's street children, Barksfield says the Festinho management team hse been indebted to Harman for its continued support on an increasing basis. After running an early Soundcraft Vi6â„¢ (along with JBL PA and monitor rig) three years ago, this time around monitor engineer Pete Fletcher also had a Soundcraft Vi4â„¢, while his Studiocare colleague, John Holmes, handled most of the FOH mixes on the Soundcraft Vi6.
But Soundcraft was not the only brand to grace the main stage. Also helping the event to swell the funds of the ABC Trust (Action for Brazil's Children) were again JBL, which provided a VRX system (VRX932LA's and SRX718S subs) and SRX712M stage monitors, along with Crown, who powered the system with I-Tech IT-6000 amplifiers. The inventory also included classic AKG C414 condenser mics and BSS AR-133 active DI boxes — with all equipment supplied by Studiocare Professional Audio.
Now operating as the event's Technical Production Manager, Rupert Barksfield (a full time production manager by day) has served his time as a FOH sound engineer and is well aware of the attributes of the Soundcraft Vi6.
“We are very proud of the support we have received from Soundcraft in different capacities over the last three years; they have gone to the ends of the earth to help us from the very beginning,” he says.
“The latest version of the Vi6 is unbelievable — it's a breath of fresh air in the digital console world. Any guest engineer who has not used it before requires just a 5-minute walk-through.”
With very few bands bringing their own engineers, John Holmes and Rupert Barksfield developed a master template on the FOH desk. “We would have a meeting each evening and early the following morning we would programme scenes from the input list and then tweak them as fast as possible during each act's line-check.”
The speed of access, via the desk's intuitive Vistonicsâ„¢ II GUI, is essential in a festival context, they note. “Although we had 20-25 minutes turnaround time between acts, that time can soon disappear with a 12-piece band. It was unbelievable how much quicker using the Vi6 was — it's not like going through every channel on an analogue desk.”
To illustrate how far production values have evolved in five years, acts were able to perform under the main stage Wango's purple canopy, while the event's second stage (The Harvest Stage) was set up by Big Chill Festival founder, Pete Lawrence — illustrating the bridge between Festinho and the Big Chill's community.
Reflecting on a thoroughly satisfying weekend, Rupert Barksfield commented, “We have always been able to reply on 100% support from Harman Pro. We were privileged to have the full VRX system and SRX monitors this year, while also at the stage end we were able to use a Soundcraft Vi4 on monitors for the first time — I had not considered a digital desk for monitors previously.
“We also had a WiFi network running — and to see Pete Fletcher, who was also system teching, being able to check the EQ on a Netbook at front of stage, was a brilliant sight.”