Six Questions With... Paul Spencer of Maverick Festival

Six Questions With... Paul Spencer of Maverick Festival

Welcome to the latest edition of Six Questions With..., a regular short and sharp interview with a live music figure. Email jhanley@nbmedia.com if you would like to take part or recommend someone for inclusion. 

This week's Q&A is with Paul Spencer, curator of the UK's first Americana festival, Maverick Festival, which takes place in Easton Farm Park, Easton Woodbridge, Suffolk, from July 6-8.

What was your first job in the music industry? 

I was a drummer with the house band in a spit and sawdust pub in Felixstowe. The customers were all dockers and sailors and it was scary at times with regular bar fights. Fortunately, the other guys in the band were also dockers and they would typically charge down off the stage and break things up while I tried not to miss a beat.  It was great training for my days on the drum stool with Scottish wildman Alex Harvey, who sometimes attracted the same reaction from the Hells Angels who followed us around.

How long have you been in your current role? 

I began planning the first Maverick Festival in early 2008, so you could say it has been ten years. At that time I was finishing up a film I had made about Solomon Burke for BBC Four and starting one on Bobby Bland but the TV business was evolving rapidly and I was happy to make the transition to full time curator and festival director.

What is your favourite thing about working in the live music industry? 

I love hanging out with the musicians who play the festival. Americana players have a great attitude, egos are left at the door and there is a real sense of community. Occasionally, I have sat in on drums with a couple of my favourite artists and that is always a thrill.

What is the one thing you would like to change about the business?

I would love to see more music on TV. Later... With Jools Holland is great but I am convinced there is an appetite for something fresh. I would also like to see my particular genre, Americana, getting more airtime. There are some truly talented artists languishing out there who could leave many household names in the dust if they had the exposure.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

I was touring Germany with the band Magazine and we were supporting Patti Smith. Iggy Pop came back after our set and took us to a club in Berlin where we took over the stage. That was pretty cool. A more grown up answer would be that against all the odds, I was able to present the first Maverick Festival in 2008. I lost money of course, but it was worth every penny.  

What's the best gig you’ve ever been to?

It was my 30th birthday and a group of us went to see Live Aid. I will never forget how Freddie Mercury took command of Wembley Stadium, it was a master class in rock'n'roll showmanship. I can‘t even remember who was unlucky enough to follow him. (I looked it up and it was David Bowie!)

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