INTERVIEW: Glastonbury Fest founder MICHAEL EAVIS on line-up 2014, Dolly, and his love for Somerset (From Somerset County Gazette)
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INTERVIEW: Glastonbury Fest founder MICHAEL EAVIS on line-up 2014, Dolly, and his love for Somerset
ELBOW… Kasabian… Jack White… Kelis… Blondie… Paolo Nutini… The 1975… Wilko Johnson… Bryan Ferry… Arcade Fire… Jake Bugg… Massive Attack…
Allowing your eyes to eat up that glorious Glasto list in its black, red and white, makes the heart skip beats.
On Friday, all were confirmed as key music-making ingredients in the mere “slice” of Glastonbury Festival 2014's humble line-up pie.
Stellar, it is, as it should be, for the mother of all music festivals in its 44th year.
But MICHAEL EAVIS, dairy farmer, and Glasto's 78 year-old impresario, isn't resting on his laurels.
“Well, we always worry about it, you know. People bought their tickets in good faith on October 4; 150,000 people have already forked out their money you see, and it's a huge responsibility to make sure that they're happy with the programme we have prepared for them.
“I have about a dozen people working on the programme all the time, and all year round to get the very best in their particular area. I think they've all done very well in the end.”
Daughter Emily is in that fold of course, with her husband Nick. “It's why she married him, because he's so good at music,” Mike twinkles.
The Rolling Stones took up the Festival's 'legend' mantle in 2013.
This year, Dolly Parton seizes that crown; the unrivalled country queen's heart won by Glastonbury after years of long, hard wrangling.
“We have been trying her people for years,” Mike tells me.
“She said - they said, on her behalf - that she didn't like playing to big crowds. But she was persuaded in the end after seeing the Rolling Stones play; and with the status of U2, Coldplay.
"She couldn't resist.”
Unveiled line-up 'slice' aside, festival watchers are still awaiting the announcement for Saturday night's Pyramid Stage headliner - considered the zenith of the weekend.
The Glasto gang are on tenterhooks, says Eavis.
“We are still hesitating about the second night headliner at the moment.
“There are two or three bands that are capable of it. We are trying to get confirmation of the band of our choice.”
But top calibre, no fear. Looking at the waterfall of names on the bill then, where can you expect to find the festival founder in those hazy, escapist days of June 25-29?
“For me, well, I've got rather a weird music taste. I'll be somewhere in the back of the Field of Avalon, with the acoustic stage.
“Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin frontman) will be good for me, because I'm that sort of generation; the Zeppelin generation.
“But Dolly's going to have a huge following. There are local people, 6,000 of them, who will be in the right place for her on Sunday evening.
“It's a huge thrill for me to have her play, and for them to come on the Sunday, because those people will know who she is for one, and appreciate her being here.”
The line-up so far... IMAGE: glastonburyfestivals.co.uk
Speaking to 'Mr Glastonbury Festival', him dressed in his trademark polo shirt (collar upturned), suit jacket and shorts, is a fantastic, head-whirring honour.
The man with the “human touch” (to quote one Guardian journalist), has “talked to people all my life”, he says, brushing off his hero status.
“I went to Dublin last week and got an award from the university, and I did TV the following morning - every single person had bought a ticket for this year. It's extraordinary the enthusiasm in Dublin.
“The festival crosses all those international boundaries, whether Irish, Welsh or Scots.
"There's no political nature to what we are doing here, it's lovely. It's such a joy to cross over all those silly boundaries of social patterns. It's wonderful I think.”
Mike's ancestors settled at Worthy Farm in Pilton over a century ago; today, the modern Eavis family's work brings millions upon millions into Somerset, as well as supporting the festival's key charities: Oxfam, Water Aid and Greenpeace.
Then there are the causes close to home. At the end of 2013, Mr Eavis called in at Bridgwater's Eastover Oxfam shop to celebrate its becoming one of the charity's Top 10 South West stores, after offering to pay its rent until August 2014.
The shop had been threatened with permanent closure two years ago, until he stepped in to save it.
“One of the best things I've ever done in my life,” he says.
“I do love all that sort of thing. I can't really brag about it. But I'm so pleased that people love it, and enjoy it, and we can also bring £100 million into the UK, and over £50 million into Somerset. And we don't have to build a power station to do it.”
Less than 80 days until the 900-acre plot opens its gates to its 135,000 ticket holders on Wednesday June 25, the pace of preparations is entering the hot spin.
For the future beyond, Mendip District Council has renewed Glasto's licence for 10 more years, and no one put up a fight.
As for his legacy? With the accolades still coming, the septuagenarian is rooted in the present.
Michael says: “I've had so much fun really. It's 44 years. People so appreciate what we have done here, from Somerset to Nashville.
“We work at it all the year through, and put our hearts and minds into it. It's wonderful.”
GLASTONBURY Festival 2014 is Wednesday June 25 until Sunday 29. For information on April's ticket resales, visit www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk
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