It takes one person with a vision to make a difference. This statement rings true for Pete Eastwood – the founder and creator of Confessional Festival and Night at the Museum in Blackburn. His events showcase the best emerging artists in incredible locations while also putting the town on the musical map. We sat down with Pete to discuss the beginnings of Confessional Festival, his role as a booker and promoter and why this year festival`s theme is a rain forest.
Your social media description goes straight to the point: music promoter, booker, venue owner, band manager, film maker, mentor, head of a music festival. Please introduce yourself to the readers of Indieterria.
Pete Eastwood: Hi, I am Pete, a mod with a punk attitude from The North.
My passion is live music, and in particular young emerging talent. I always strive to book hot new acts that are about to break. I am happy to be just called a booker these days, as that is the area I am most proud of. A friend once asked me why I use the word booker before promoter, but my line ups are what I put the most effort into. I am OCD fussy, and give myself stupid rules, like I never book the same act twice for the same event as I consider this lazy booking. I never understand why some events book the same acts year after year (lack of imagination and effort). I love the challenge of having a blank piece of paper and having to make my current event, better than any previous.
Also even though I get a huge amount of applications for artists to play (which I appreciate) I only ever book off my wish list of acts that have excited me live over the past 12 months. The word promoter comes with the role of a booker anyway, as you need to promote the acts that you are showcasing (along with them of course).
Managing or representing a young act I believe in is where I feel most at home, but I am concentrating on putting on special events these days.
On 6th-7th of September, Blackburn will welcome another edition of Confessional Festival. Please tell us about this event. How did it start?
Pete Eastwood: Confessional Festival started when I was offered an old disused grade 2 listed church that closed in the 1980s, as I wanted to do more that just book a gig in a gig venue. I came up with the idea of a music and arts festival once per year and from day one I wanted it to have the wow factor, which I feel we achieve.
The setting for the festival is grade II listed Holy Trinity Church in Blackburn, commonly associated with Chad Varah – the founder of Samaritans. We have to say this is an unique venue to have a music festival in. Tell us why you decided to host the festival in this particular place?
Pete Eastwood: I got fed up with working for venues or promoters, who didn’t seem to treat the bands with much respect, or even watch the acts they booked .
I decided to put on my own events, then it was up to me how much effort I put into this. I do it under the umbrella of Fairground Events (very cool Beatles link) with the tag line Amazing Acts in Amazing Buildings. I feel part of the success of these events is the extra effort we put in and the attention to detail.
We have been wondering why the festival is actually called Confessional Festival? Are the artists required to confess something before coming on stage?
Pete Eastwood: I am more than happy for folk to confess, but no. I remember as soon as I was offered the church, I said yes as long as I can call it Confessional (it just came to me). However a friend of mine tells me he came up with it! (laughs)
The festival started in 2015 and has been going from strength to strength with each edition. What’s your secret for a perfect line up? New talent? Established acts or a mixture of both?
Pete Eastwood: Always new emerging talent, but if I have a chance of booking legends I have always loved, then of course I am going to.
Each year comes with a particular theme as well. 2019 is dedicated to rain forest. Who is behind the décor and how long it takes to prepare the church for the festival?
Pete Eastwood: The theme just comes to me each year, and we don’t do it in a tacky or cheesy way. How it works is I have a vision which I tell to my art manager legend (Kev) initially he laughs and tells me to go away. Then a few days later he calls me asking if I was serious, as he has worked out a way of doing it.
The Rainforest theme is current and very topical. We have tried to also put the effort into being ethical. Expect to see birds of paradise, Aztec temples and waterfalls.
We have worked for the past 9 months on this years event.
You have hosted some incredible names at Confessional: Cabbage, Pins, She Drew The Gun to name a few. This year’s line up has Liines, The Blinders and International Teachers of Pop among many others. Which performances would you consider the best of the festival?
Pete Eastwood: I really have liked every single act that has played, but I think Cabbage has to be up there.
Running a festival is a herculean task and few people truly know what it takes to organise one. What would be your advice for those who would like to follow in your footsteps?
Pete Eastwood: Do it for the right reasons (to make something positive happen in your town) not for money. Choose the right trustworthy team who believe in your vision.
Put in the extra effort and attention to detail and don’t book the same acts twice.
Besides Confessional, you also hold bi-annual Night At The Museum in Blackburn. You seem to specialize in finding some truly magnificent places to stage music gigs. Tell us more about Night at The Museum.
Pete Eastwood: Night At The Museum Live happens twice per year, in a magnificent room surrounded by a 40 million pound backdrop of art, with an Egyptian mummy in the dressing room, and never has more than 120 tickets for sale. Even Jools can’t offer that. All 10 events have fully sold out in advance, so we must be doing something right.
We like our last question to be fun so please tell us, is it true that you are known as Saint Pete of Blackburn, Patron Of The Art among the musicians and concert goers?
Pete Eastwood: Ha it should be, but I am probably known as a mad mod that eats, sleeps and breaths music, who tries to sell tickets to every person he bumps into.
You can follow Confessional Festival online:
Tickets are still available online so grab them while you can:
Sister event – Night at the Museum can be found here:
and you follow Pete Eastwood on socials:
Confessional Festival happens this weekend (6th and 7th September) at Holy Trinity Church in Blackburn. See you in the Rain Forest!