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Interview with Above the Beaten Track festival co-founder Dave McTague

Save the date as Above The Beaten Track returns to Bluecoat  on Saturday 5 September with the best in grass-roots live music, DJs, artists, traders and makers. 

Now in it’s eighth year, the festival launched in 2008, re-locating to Bluecoat in 2010 to cope with growing demand. Originally conceived to celebrate the range of diverse songwriters in the city, it has since expanded to reflect the full range of musicians, DJs, artists and makers of Liverpool to provide a fully immersive cultural experience.

Bringing the Bluecoat’s historic building alive, each room will house different aspects of the underground cultural scene, including two stages of live music, poetry, participatory events and live art.

We interview Above the Beaten Tracks festival founder Dave McTague.


How do you decide upon the bands?

Well, it has a live music policy - supporting songwriters, so that helps
for starters!  As well as offering opportunities for DJs, artists, makers
and more.

The festival is made up of a range of promoters and partners, so it's
pretty democratic; everyone suggests a few artists and we try to find
common ground. Also, people look after certain stages for certain times,
so they can be a bit more choosy there.  We had hundreds of applications,
so it's pretty tough.  And we aim to showcase Liverpool / Merseyside music
predominantly, so that helps us whittle it down. We try to be accommodating.
As well as Rich, Jonnie and myself - Mellowtone & Beaten Tracks  -
there's loads of others who also a have an input,  Liverpool Acoustic,
Rebel Soul, Threshold festival and as of last year we have also been
working with the fantastic Soundstation and Red Sofa Sessions.

Why do you hold it at Bluecoat?

Initially - because we outgrew the View Two gallery!  The festival was only
supposed to be a one off when we started and after two years locking out we
needed a bigger and more accommodating space, and Bryan Biggs and all at
Bluecoat were very welcoming.  After the first year there we knew we had
found our new home, and it was perfect, as it was in keeping with the fact the
festival started in a gallery.  We work with as many spaces as the venue
will allow us to. It's a wonderful building and we're privileged to have
the opportunity to take it over for the day and make it come alive!

What is your background as a music promoter?

I have run the Mellowtone nights for over a decade, and before that worked
with a range of other clubights ever since I was a student.  My colleagues Rich and Jonnie both promoted too. We also work promoting a range of other events and festivals.  Actually, before then, I remember running an alternative school Christmas party as we didn’t trust the official one would be any good haha. I only remembered about that the other day!

Why should people attend ATBT? What can they expect to hear?

Well it's like a big family do! It is also free and has 
a lovely family friendly, welcoming atmosphere.

People can expect to hear a range of good
music - folk, blues right up to more upbeat rock and roll.  DJs this year in
the bar will be a chronological journey of American music from the early 1900s to the present day, in addition to and choice funk, soul, jazz, blues in between the bands. 

What are ATBT's intentions as a festival?

We aim to showcase some of the things that are happening in Liverpool and
Merseyside all year round, to give these artists and organisations a
platform and hopefully take them to a wider audience.  And have a one day urban festival in the process.

Is the festival inspired by anything?

The festival was inspired by the fact that in 2008, Capital of Culture, local
songwriters couldn't get a show at the Mathew Street Festival to perform
original material. Had LIMF been running then, we would have probably
never set this up - it's so eclectic, and testament to Yaw for doing that -
but at the time the Mathew Street Festival didn’t have a fringe or anything, so it really was lots of tribute acts etc, and Tony at the Zanzibar was giving a platform for the indie bands. We looked to offer an outlet for the songwriters, DJs and visual artists too.




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About the Bluecoat

Bluecoat is Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts, the oldest in the UK. Our landmark building, located in the ...

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October Half Term at Bluecoat

published by Barry

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