By Simon Smedley
THE clock is ticking louder each day as excitement continues to build ahead of the third annual Cotton Clouds music festival.
Friday and Saturday, August 16 and 17 will see Saddleworth Cricket Club’s Greenfield base once again transformed into a live music and arts extravaganza, organised again by local trio Rick Lees, his brother Max, and Luke Stanley.
This year the Friday night showpiece will be headlined by Peter Hook and the Light, Ash and Alabama 3.
Saturday’s all-day event features the legendary Wailers as bill-toppers, backed by Reverend and the Makers, the House and Garage Orchestra, Tim Burgess, and top up-and-coming British artist Jordan Max from Oldham.
Again, Rick and his team continue to back local talent by including a plethora of unsigned bands from the area-the likes of Callow Youth, the Maitlands, Stereohaze, the Flatline and Dirty Laces.
The artists on another cracking bill have been pulled together from near and far, but Rick has been particularly delighted with the local Saddleworth support ahead of the 4,000-ticket capacity per day event.
Rick said: “We analyse all of the ticket data, we can plot it with postcodes, and the vast majority of sales are local.
“That’s not surprising I don’t think because Saddleworth is renowned for quirky events like Whit Friday, Yanks Weekend and that kind of thing. It’s quite a tourist-y area too.
“The locals do get behind events stuff first, though, and that’s what helps it grow. There’s a wide range gap too.
“Last year we had around 400 kids in the festival, particularly on the Saturday when we have a full programme of children’s activities as well.
“We want all the family to come down and support the festival. We’d love the kids to come down to an event which we hope will help develop them from a music and arts perspective.”
The Saddleworth and Oldham live music scene is bursting with exceptional young talent so it was tough to pick a handful of bands to feature at what promises to be another magical Cotton Clouds festival.
“There are so many bands locally,” added Rick. “When we opened up applications to play, we received 400 responses. That’s unbelievable really.
“The standard is amazing, and I know because I sat down and listened to every one of them.
“It took me a lot of time. But I learned a lot about the way the local scene is going, and it has been the same every year.
“It’s good for us to know what’s going on. We want to use Cotton Clouds as an important platform for these local bands to help learn their trade and build on what they’re doing.
“As a whole package it looks like a more solid offering we think this year, and a more developed festival than previous ones.
“We were always going to have the two nights again. Hopefully, that’s part of the blueprint moving forward.
“We just have to take it one year at a time at present, though. We’re a new business, we’ve not got an unlimited pot of money, so we’ll see where it goes and then we’ll make plans for 2020.”
As has been the case for the past two years, tickets for 2019 Cotton Clouds are flying out once again. VIP area tickets have proved extremely popular once again this year.
For up-to-date ticket, full line-up and venue news, log on to: www.cottoncloudsfestival.com