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Updated July 2021

Deeply Vale Free Festival -1976-1979.

Deeply Vale Festivals.

     One of the great tragedies of the early Free festival history was that so few of them were adequately documented on film. One or two people had 8mm cameras, but all too often the operators were so stoned out of their brains that the footage was barely watchable and of course, most of the film was without sound .A great deal of this material has also deteriorated over time. Video is more of a problem, even if in good condition, early video costs a fortune to transfer and often the machines that will play the various formats are difficult or impossible to find .Although one or two of the early free festivals were filmed by professionals, almost all of this has disappeared without trace. We are left with a few snippets of TV company footage and 8mm stock that is mostly in private hands.

     That’s why this 3 hours 40 minute long DVD which contains the 2003 Deeply Vale documentary and its new companions, the Deeper Deeply Vale DVD and Interview discs – despite their occasional flaws, are so important. We are really fortunate that Deeply Vale has been so well documented and that Chris Hewitt, one of the original organisers, has managed to convince a major TV company to create this program and has now made the additional effort to round up all the existing footage of acts that performed at the festival and to interview some of artists who attended the festival as well.

     There’s a great deal to like about the Deeply Madly Deeply Vale documentary, its well researched, it features key players who were involved in organising the original festivals and it has some footage of bands that played at Deeply Vale . The interviews are filmed well using tripods (mercifully no camera shake and the parade of talking heads are interspersed with film and stills, so that boredom rarely sets in) and in addition the narration is undertaken by "whispering" Bob Harris of OGWT fame, and his Northern accent gives the program an appropriately Northern feel.

    Overall the doco builds a fascinating portrait of the hippie scene that existed in Northern England prior to the creation of the festival. Like all of the best free festivals Deeply Vale sprang from the community and was organised by people who had no experience in running rock festivals, they learned the techniques as they went along.

     Through a mix of contemporary interviews and grainy 8mm film, we learn that the first Deeply Vale (a tiny festival that was the genesis of the other larger festivals-) was funded by the local dope dealers and went ahead despite the objections of local counselors and the police. As was usual in rock festivals both commercial and free, as they grew, so did the problems of organization and policing. The first few years of Deeply Vale were in many ways, a model of free festival planning. However as the festival grew in size and became more popular, hard drugs in the form of heroin, cocaine and speed entered the equation and their use really soured the scene for both the audience and the organisers.

    The new material is a mixed bag, there are some songs which are documented really well as footage exists for the whole song and these are the strongest portions of the "Deeper "section. Other songs are documented by using a combination of video footage and stills, which works well in some cases - such as the Misty In Roots sequence , but in others there's so little footage available that the producers have had to resort to using stills only ( as in the case of the Here and Now track ) in which case it might have been better to have left well alone , or to have selected a shorter track , as it becomes a bit tedious to watch stills for five or so minutes at a time . Its a shame that the most complete video sections are of bands who are unidentified or relatively obscure, but its nice to see the performances nevertheless.

   The bonus interviews are more successful, although I would have preferred to have seen the interviews spilt up so that there were not such lengthy uninterrupted chunks of interview with the same person (which tends to be a bit uninspiring ) most of the interviewees have something interesting to say, especially Steve Hillage and Steve Cowan . If you are a devotee of the festival, you will appreciate these new inclusions.

     Deeply Vale deserves to be celebrated, as it was the first really big free festival that managed to be held over consecutive years and which featured a mix of both hippy and punk bands. It was also able to present some big names, like Steve Hillage at a time when many bands were dropping out of performing for free. It provided a model for the development of the Stonehenge Free Festival, which more or less took over the role that Deeply played when it folded in 1979,and it was the longest running free festival to be held in the North of England in the 70s .
   Overall this new offering is a worthy tribute to the Vale .The only aspect that I didn't much like was the extensive use of split screens to show two different images at once in the documentary , this is ok when the images are of the same subject seen from different viewpoints , or if you are watching on a cinema size screen, but it doesn't work so well with a 34cm set in the home. Given that a large number of the images used in the documentary are stills, I found that this technique tends to sell some of the images short, I was struggling to absorb the content of the images, but this was mainly due to the fact that they were so small. Viewers who buy the DVD are advised to watch on as large a format TV as possible to get the best from this otherwise excellent documentary.


Deeper Deeply Vale

(wherever possible- audio soundtracks and film and stills from the actual festival have been used for each artist)
Mick Middles’ memories Part one
Misty In Roots- Six One Penny
Here and Now – What You see is What You are
Spizz Energi- Medley
Wilful Damage- Punk Space Rock
The Fall- intro by Marc Riley / Bingo Masters Break Out inc video comments from Mark E Smith
Tractor- Watching White Stars
Guitar George Borowski- This is not love
Ruts- Jah Wars
Nik Turner- Anubis plus Interview
Pete Farrow- Fixin to Die
Trevor Hyett- You just can’t make it by yourself
Tony Crabtree- God damn it we’re all gonna die
Body- Brave New World
Danny and The Dressmakers- Ernie Bishop’s dead body
Mick Middles’ memories -Part Two
Steve Hillage- Searching for the spark
David Bacha and DJ Foggy- Beautiful Friday Night
Accident on the East Lancs -We Want it legalised
Fast Cars- Who loves Jimmy Anderton
The Trend- The Cookie Flow
Unknown artist 1
Dave Smith’s on stage speech
Unknown artist 2
Unknown artist 3
Foreign Press- Downpour
Rivington Spyke – Poetry
Unknown artist 4
Elti Fits- Rebel Rebel

Truly Madly Deeply Vale the 49 minute documentary

Jimi Goodwin- Doves
Mark E Smith
Chris Hewitt- one of the festival organisers
Vini Reilly -Durutti Column
Andy McCluskey- OMD
Jim Milne- Tractor
Steve Clayton- Tractor
Graham Massey- 808 State
Grant Showbiz
Steve Hillage
Alan Hempsall – Crispy Ambulance
Luke Bainbridge- Observer Music Monthly
Stuart and Steve Murray – Fast Cars

Interview extras

Steve Cowen- Mock Turtles
Mark E Smith- around twenty minutes of classic Mark E Smith talking about Deeply Vale and The Fall
Jim Goodwin- Doves
Vini Reilly - Durutti Column
Andy McCluskey – OMD
Luke Bainbridge- Observer Music Monthly
Graham Masse

This site contains a goodly part of the Deeply Vale Archive , graciously provided by Chris Hewitt , but we are always interested in contributions from attendees. I

Any info to add ?-well don't just sit there , Contact us

For more Deeply Vale content visit -

OZIT records Chris Hewitt's record label- one of the original organisers of the festival , features recordings of festival artists, home of Tractor and the Deeply Vale Archive .

Deeply Vale menu

History-78-79 Press Aqua photos 1978 Here and Now Photos 1978 Sphynx photos 1978

Free rock festivals of the 70s and 80s

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