A lovely account of the fantastic evening that was Ianfest by Benjamin Newton
Ian Slipper was a prominent member of Riverside Players for many years: as an actor, musician, director and chairman. So when it came to celebrating his life and work, it was clear we were going to do our utmost to help make it a success.
Our brief was simple: a memorial to Ian that was filled with live music. I am pleased to report that many Riverside Players members were ready and willing to help make that dream a reality.
So it was that on September 23rd a large group of volunteers arrived at the Village Hall to setup the venue. From 8 o’clock in the morning until early afternoon, we setup the catering, the sound, lights and the seating. I’d like to thank everyone who came together to help or contributed some food – it’s always gratifying to have such willing assistance.
Lorraine kicked the event off with a short speech about Ian, including the first number, Monotony – I believe that was one of Ian’s own creations. We then sat back to watch a film covering Ian’s theatrical career. Special thanks must go to Rob Tizzard who worked hard with Lorraine to edit the various clips of Ian’s performances into a brilliant tour of his performances. It was a wonderful trip down memory lane for our older members, whilst for some people it was their first glimpse into how many shows Ian had actually been in. We finished with a few recordings of Ian, including my personal favourite: his poignant recording of Dark End of the Day.
Once the memorial was finished, it was onto the live music: an ambitious program of 28 acts spanning 4 sets. We had a diverse range of performances: from operatic singing to show tunes and from folk music to rock and roll. Some were playing standards, whilst some pieces were written especially for Ian. We had piano, brass, and singers. Of course – we also had lots of guitars!
It wasn’t just music – we had people reminiscing about Ian before their sets. One of the things we learned was Ian’s love of Tolkien as well as his punk roots!
The fish and chip supper went down a storm and the charity bar made over £700 profit – all of which will be donated to Macmillan Cancer Research on behalf of Ian. It was a great pleasure to see so many old and new friends come along to celebrate Ian in style: some came for a few hours and some for the whole day!
One of the most touching moments of memorial came towards the end. We finished with the Planet band on stage – the last band that Ian played with in public. A band that Ian shaped and mentored, a band that he had brought together that made a joyful noise together. It’s the first time they had played all together since his passing, with his guitar taking centre stage in the spotlight. It truly encapsulated the bittersweet note of the memorial: not quite sorrow, not quite joy, a little bit of sadness and a lot of happy memories. As Ian would understand, some things are probably expressed in notes than words.
I suspect that everyone who attended will cherish the memories for a long time to come. I’d like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who helped, but in particular a few people who went above and beyond to make Ian Fest a success.
Thank you to Geof, Wayne and Sarah for making sure that everyone could be seen and heard – your tireless work is always appreciated.
Thank you Dale and Peter for helping so many people with their acts – I’m not sure either of them got much break!
Thanks to Rob Hobson and Annie for being brilliant show runners.
Thank you Rob Tizzard for editing the video.
Thank you Lorraine for bringing everyone together.
Thank you Ian for inspiring everyone…
I mentioned Ian was a fan of Tolkien earlier. I’d like to end with a quote from the author that I feel is particularly apt. I make no apologies for the slight twisting of the words to make it even more appropriate.
‘I shan’t ever be able to make music again without thinking of him…’
‘Make music, then, and think of him! For he was a gentle heart and a great king and kept his oaths; and he rose out of the shadows to a last fair morning. Though your service to him was brief, it should be a memory glad and honourable to the end of your days.’