Festivals, Sister Sledge and “We Are Family”

It may seem like we live in the sticks up here in the North of Scotland, but this year has certainly been a bumper season for tourism and there has been, proverbally, no room at the inn for most of the summer. Great for those who run hostelries and B&Bs, and great for those of us who like to have a bit of a buzz about the town, none more so than when there is a music festival and last weekend saw the last of the season.

First we had Belladrum’s Tartan Heart Festival which has already been written about (link here), then we had Groove Ness (Scotland’s biggest nightclub under the stars, apparently) and finally Jocktoberfest held at a local farm that specialises in the production of beer (oh how we laughed at that play on words – NOT).

Darling daughter and her friends all headed off to the first festival at the beginning of August however a bad cold had been brewing in the days leading up to it and sadly, possibly due to the relentless rain that muddified the event, it resulted in a trip to A&E on the Sunday night. Fortunately the final festival was blessed with glorious weather and although the smallest of the three, it was the one that proved to be the most fun.

One upside to this summer of festival-going however has been that DD is now a big fan of Sister Sledge. They were on the bill at Belladrum for the second time although sadly this year without Joni who had passed away in March aged only 60. After writing about the passing of Walter Becker of Steely Dan last time I realised that it is now September and I still haven’t paid tribute to Joni and the contribution she and her sisters made to that body of work attributed to the disco genre. Sister Sledge always symbolised strong family values and their 1979 hit We Are Family did that with bells on.

Sister-Sledgeat-Belladrum-2017-
Sister Sledge in their wellies!

We Are Family by Sister Sledge:

I would be lying if I said I’d ever been a massive fan of Sister Sledge but they were for many years a permanent fixture on chart rundowns, their other memorable hits being He’s the Greatest DancerLost in Music and the 1985 UK No. 1 hit, Frankie. That particular song was taken from their Nile Rodgers produced album “When the Boys Meet the Girls” and was apparently about Frank Sinatra (although listening to the lyrics I find that hard to believe).

The reason I particularly remember that song of theirs is because I still have the NOW That’s What I Call Music album on which it appeared! It was only the 5th edition in that long series (of which we are now at number 97 I think) and it had been acquired for a flat party. Back in the mid ’80s, just like now, young people all became property owners by about the age of 25 – Oh no, that’s right, hardly anyone can even save enough for a deposit until about the age of 40 nowadays such has been the ridiculousness of houses becoming financial assets, as opposed to homes, over the last couple of decades. But anyway, pre-rant, my point was going to be that in 1985 most of our friends had bought their own flats and wanted to keep them all pristine, so our large rented one became party central. Looking back at the tracks on this album we had the usual eclectic mix of all that would have been hogging the airwaves that summer from Sister Sledge to Simple Minds, from Duran Duran to The Damned. I wish I could remember how the party turned out but I can’t, although I do know that we often had nice policemen turning up at the door asking us to turn the music down (before returning to join in the fun once their shift was over).

joni

Poor Joni (pictured above) should have been at our local music festival this summer but sadly passed away of natural causes before the event. Her son however was there in her place so the strong Sledge family values will continue it seems.

Until next time…., RIP Joni

We Are Family Lyrics
(Song by Bernard Edwards/Nile Rodgers)

We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up everybody and sing

Everyone can see we’re together
As we walk on by
And we fly just like birds of a feather
I’m not telling no lie

All of the people around us to say
Can we be that close
Just let me state for the record
We’re giving love in a family dose, yeah

Living life is fun and we’ve just begun
To get our share of the world’s delights
High hopes we have for the future
And our goal’s in sight

No we don’t get depressed
Here’s what we call our golden rule
Have faith in you and the things you do
You won’t go wrong, oh no
This is our family Jewel, yeah

We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up everybody and sing

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was recorded for the film of the same name and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might finally work out the answer to his question, "What's it all about?"

8 thoughts on “Festivals, Sister Sledge and “We Are Family””

  1. Never been a fan of music festivals, but the ones you mentioned sound like fun. My only foray into festivals was a one day event at the Oval cricket ground way back in late 1972. It featured Frank Zappa and Hawkwind as headline acts plus the Jeff Beck Group and various other bands including the wonderful Man who appeared with a full Welsh male voice choir on their ode to marijuana titled “Bananas”, an absolute joy to behold. I doubt if it qualifies as a festival, more an open air gig.

    I’ve always been a fan of Sister Sledge, mostly their Nile Rogers/Bernard Edwards albums with songs like “He’s the Greatest Dancer” and “Lost in Music”, the latter being a particular favourite.

    Your mention of the “Now That’s What I Call Music” album brought back the night terrors which I thought I’d erased forever…aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh…but your 1980’s parties sounded like fun. 🙂

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    1. Sadly, as mentioned on other posts, I think I was too young for the late ’60s festivals and too old for the current crop (the camping fills me with horror and DD’s trip to A&E did nothing to allay that fear). Thanks for sharing the story of your open-air gig at the Oval – quite a line-up.

      As for Nile Rodgers, it seems that anyone he worked with in the mid ’80s automatically had hit records – He could do no wrong and obviously had his finger on the pulse of what people wanted to listen to/dance to back then. As for the Now album, this was the only one I ever bought actually as useful for a party – Could have made up a mix-tape but they had a terrible habit of getting chewed up in the machine which would have been a bit of a disaster. Sorry to have brought on the night terrors!

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  2. Love the thought of your legendary home-made pizza and those after-hours partying policemen! You are well-served for festivals up there – I was trying to see who else was on the line-up for Tartan Heart but can’t read the poster, will have to check it out, but looks like a huge selection of acts including some good ones to see. Hope your daughter’s experience of it with the unfortunate trip to A&E wasn’t too traumatising – must’ve been a big worry for all concerned though. Indeed bizarre that she is now a fan of Sister Sledge given how long ago it all started but I realise that dates and age are pretty irrelevant now when it comes to music – I love the fact that it’s no barrier and that today’s kids have so much respect and love for what has gone on before without any prejudice about watching people in their sixties (and over) perform…. hope for us all!

    I was working in the record shop in the ’80s when a brand new chart compilation album was released to much fanfare. It was simply called ”NOW That’s What I Call Music’….. Who’d have thought it would still be going?!

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    1. It just couldn’t have happened for our generation could it – Going to see bands in the style of Glenn Miller etc when we were in our early 20s. The late ’60s changed everything music-wise and writing about these tracks of my years has made me realise that an awful lot from then on could almost be contemporary – Jonathan Richman’s Roadrunner was originally recorded in 1972 but could pass muster in today’s chart (is there still one?) I would reckon.

      As for DD it turned into a nasty chest infection and she was off work for a week but it wasn’t the music festival’s fault it was just really bad timing. She’d been looking forward to it all year as well. I’m afraid despite all these great festivals on our doorstep we didn’t go to any – You have to camp and I’m just not up for it (also it was really, really muddy this year!). Realised when I kept hearing the sounds of Sister Sledge from DD’s devices that I hadn’t written about poor Joni’s demise yet this year and again, so young.

      No I doubt very much if we’d have ever thought there would be a NOW 97! – They must still make money or they wouldn’t still be making them. Funny that they had to start repressing NOW 48 after it was featured on Peter Kay’s Car Share. The power of nostalgia. I keep wondering if the record shop you worked in was the same one that another blogger mentions often? I know you probably can’t reply but it has intrigued me!

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