Islington International Festival '99

Unlike the previous year, when the festival was held on Upper St. and it rained constantly, the '99 Islington Festival basked in glorious sunshine throughout. I'd passed through Highbury Fields (where the majority of the festivities were held) earlier on in the day while on my way to cover at the Mildmay library, and when work was finished, I pedalled back to the 'Fields with a 4-pack of lagers and a spice rack I'd found earlier strapped to the back of my bike. I chained it up and then walked off to see what was going on. While walking around, I spotted a bloke I knew called Valley who was with his girlfriend (she once gave me a lift from the old Rainbow Centre on Kentish Town to the Lock down Camden where the first London 'Reclaim The Streets' occurred in 1995) and kids selling joss sticks and other bits behind the main stage nearby. Here's a snap I took sat cross-legged of the goings on in the 'Fields enjoying the music of Kangaroo Moon playing on the stage ahead of us.


I sat and talked with them for a while before heading off towards where there were some local drummers. Here they are going at it below.


Here's another pic of them. The little toddler was certainly enjoying the music, and he was also joined by a lady who had no problems letting go, judging from the way she was dancing!



Here's some local musicians who were playing some lovely latin melodies over the rhythms of the drummers. Even though you can't see her all that well in the pic, I had a chat with a lady called Yvonne who's a regular in the children's section of the South library I work at down Essex Road on Saturdays along with her daughter (she's obscured by the lady with the red backpack, but look closely enough and you'll see her holding a saxaphone in her hand) who'd come down to enjoy the evening and blow a note or two.


Having enjoyed the sounds of the local musicians, I strolled towards the main stage and found the self-styled 'Bard of Barking' - Billy Bragg, on stage with his 'blokes'. This was his second performance of the day as he'd played at the Glastonbury festival earlier before and he was soon to regale the audience with backstage gossip from the summer's main festy. Most notably, the prima-donna goings-on of the Manic Street Preachers and their very own private portable lavatories (to much cheers and laughter, Billy said that their next single would be called 'If You Tolerate This, Then Your Toilets Will Be Next'). During one of the songs, he did a bit of a Smiths pastiche singing, "I was looking for a job / and I found a job / and heaven knows, I'm underpaid now". Here's a pic of him below.


Here's Billy and 'the blokes' closer up.


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