by Alice (Brit Rocks Producer)
Our Brit Rocks concert is just six days away, and we spent all day yesterday making mad phone calls and sending emails–for musicians, production systems, stage, safety measures, etc. We want to stream the Proms on Saturday night and I have been trying for days to reach my friend Big Al who knows how to do magical things like bring the internet and a big screen to the middle of a field. I couldn’t seem to get a hold of him. We have also been looking for a few more musicians and I was having trouble reaching anyone. I got some rejections. There were plenty of other frustrations and by 5pm we were all exhausted and went outside to lay in the sun by the cairn.
We all stretched out on our backs and stomachs in the grass. The cairn, a hundred yards away, looks fresh and colorful after dozens of people came to add a few tons (literally) of rocks to the top. Laura took out some popcorn she had in her bag – it was rather stale, but appealingly salty – and as we munched we talked about how to maximize our time before the concert.
As we talked we began to reflect on all the interesting people that have walked to this spot from far and near over the past few months. Everyone has something to contribute – among the rocks in the cairn are stories from every continent, but also passions and encouragements, new connections and ideas, and loads of creative energies.
I was suddenly struck with what a magic catalyst this monument has been. It has allowed thousands of regular citizens to participate in this important time in our history, not just as individuals but as a collective, by giving us a reason to be in the same place and combine our imaginations. At that moment of exhaustion, a thrill and sense of peace gathered around us and offered an instant of respite: this is the beauty of our democracy and the choice we make to raise our voices together.
Tomorrow, we thought, instead of making phone calls, why not sit out here, by the cairn, and ask visitors for suggestions about musicians? It made more sense. This physical space has offered so much community already. I agreed to spend tomorrow outside.
Just then a woman came by with her son to place a stone in the late evening, and we broke up to chat with her. I almost forgot to ask her if she knew anyone who could help us with Brit Rocks, but then Angus reminded me just as she was headed back to her car. Immediately she offered a name and contact. I took out my notebook and in a second had something I’d been after all day.
Late that night, Laura and I drove out to the cozy, traditional Crown Pub in the village of Hesket Newmarket to meet with Reuben, a brilliant up and coming musician who agreed to play at Brit Rocks. We spent two hours over brews and wine, tossing around ideas for the festival with my friends Shaun, a true local Cumbrian, and Amy who is a professional violinist. The sound of folk music drifted in from the other room, where a group of locals had met up to play and sing together. My notebook became filled with scribbles of names and ideas and contacts. It was 11:30 pm by the time we left.
We piled back in the car. It had been an amazing day’s work. We throttled along the narrow country road, winding through the dark under a near-full moon that spilled over the hills. As we neared Amy’s house, we saw two figures walking along the deserted street. It was nearly midnight. Shaun leaned over.
“Is that Big Al?”
I pulled the car over and rolled down the window. “Big Al!” I cried. “What are you doing here? I’ve been trying to reach you for days.”
“Hello,” he answered, as if it made perfect sense that we should run in to him in the country side on an empty road at midnight, after failing to reach him by phone for nearly a week.
“I need to set up an internet feed and projection in the middle of a field,” I said. “Day or night?” he asked, leaning in the window.
“We can probably stream from a modem,” Big Al said.
“Ok, but the signal is rather weak.”
“If that doesn’t work, we’ll try 4G,” he added.
“Right right, 4G,” we all agreed.
“I suppose if that doesn’t work, I know someone who can help us with a satellite connection.”
Are we talking about this now on this road? I thought.
“Good night Big Al,” I shouted as I rolled up the window, and we drove off through the dark country side, laughing hysterically. What’s the point of dial-up when you know a guy who can help with a satellite connection, anyway?
Planning Brit Rocks over brews at the traditional Crown Pub in the village of Hesket Newmarket