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David Bowie fans recreated Free Festival in Croydon Road Recreation Ground, Beckenham for bandstand appeal
FORTY-FOUR years after David Bowie played guitar, jammin’ good with arts lab members, fans joined forces in Beckenham to reprise the legendary Free Festival.
Back in the summer of ’69 the event was to raise money for the Beckenham Arts Lab, a creative arts scene which had its roots at the former Three Tuns pub in the high street.
But last Sunday’s concert (September 15) was held to funds for the bandstand in Croydon Road Recreation Ground as it is in need of repair.
Organiser Natasha Ryzhova Lau said: “I moved to the community two years ago and started meeting artistic people and it was quite strange that no-one was connected to each other and there was nothing where people were meeting and connecting together.
“I decided to organise the festival so people could meet.
“David Bowie was a great inspiration for me when I was growing up in Russia and I had a picture of him on my wall of him playing at a bandstand.
Festival organiser Natasha Ryzhova Lau
“Then I moved to Beckenham for schools for my daughter and found the bandstand was in a state of disrepair.
“I went to a meeting and discovered the bandstand was the same one that was on my wall when I was growing up so it is special to me.
“Even if we have not raised much money at least we have drawn attention to it.”
Despite the rain this year’s Memory of a Free Festival managed to recreate the magic of the original event.
Performances included The Thin White Duke Bowie tribute band, Bill Liesegang (who played in 1969), Keval, Raf and O (pictured below), Low Rent Tractors and Scott Fuller and John Aldington.
And American folk musician Amory Kane whose set in 1969 was one of the highlights.
Speaking before the festival he said the invitation to play again this year was irresistible.
Mr Kane said: “I love beyond measure to be in the UK at any time because it is the land of my childhood, but this trip is really special – I have vivid happy memories of the Arts Lab festival and I'm delighted to be coming back.”
Photographer David Bebbington was one of the original festivalgoers
As well as the music there were stalls provided by Gingham Goose Craft
Markets, face painting, refreshments, and a raffle.
And the Thin White Duke himself donated signed memorabilia which was auctioned at the concert to raise money for the bandstand.
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