Art throws annual party in the Lounge
A LOUNGE on the Farm stalwart who has played every year since it began, is looking forward to this year despite controversy surrounding the festival.
Blues harmonica player Art Ferguson, who will turn 75 just before he takes to the stage at Canterbury's Merton Farm, said: "I love playing Lounge on the Farm. I've done festivals all over Europe and in Mauritius and Papua New Guinea and this is the best one.
"I have fans coming over from Toronto and Vancouver – it's like a great party of old and young hippies.
"My philosophy is to make people happy – if they're happy, I'm happy – and to encourage young musicians to play."
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Art's Big Blues Band has 12 members but regularly welcomes extra musicians onto the stage.
This year fellow harmonica player Brendan Power and his percussionist girlfriend Laura Jowers will join in alongside student Benji Powling on tenor sax, Sam Bailey on piano, Arthur Kitchener on bass and many others.
Art revealed he broke his spine a year ago after blacking out and falling over at a gig. He will soon be undergoing acupuncture treatment but promised it would not affect his performance at Lounge next month.
He said: "I had to cancel four or five gigs in Sweden this summer but I can't get out of Lounge – I'll be hung, drawn and quartered!"
Art admitted his band's performances are "unrehearsed" – members simply get up on stage and see what happens.
He said: "I don't like the mechanical approach to music. I prefer to just knock it out and make it up as we go along.
"We make foot-tapping, jumping up and down, happy blues music. All the musicians seem to be happy; they all love doing it."
In addition to the music and the atmosphere at the festival, Art likes listening to the larks singing on the farm in the morning and eating pie and mash from one of the food stalls.
This year he'll be waking up to bird song inside a Mongolian yurt.
Last month a group of musicians attacked Lounge on the Farm organisers, accusing them of exploiting local bands by making them play for free while big names were paid to appear.
The accusations first appeared in a blog by Whitstable musician Emily Peasgood entitled Scrounge on the Farm.
Art, from Chestfield, disagrees with Emily's opinions. He said: "It's sad she said those things. Playing at Lounge gives young bands good exposure and looks good on their CV.
"Plus they get two weekend tickets worth more than £100 each when most of them only play for an hour or less."
Art Ferguson and his Big Blues Band plays at Lounge on the Farm, Merton Farm, Canterbury, on The Farmhouse Stage, at 5pm on Sunday, July 8.
For more information go to www.loungeonthefarm.co.uk