We were all shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Alan Surtees, who was both friend and valued colleague to everyone at Show of Hands. Steve Knightley pays tribute to Alan in an article reproduced by Songlines Magazine:
‘Festivals are by nature as varied as the folk that create them. They can be chaotic but joyous, uncompromising and organic, structures yet still remain inclusive. I can think of no other event that more reflect the character of its founder than Shrewsbury Folk Festival and Alan Surtees.
I had met Alan at Bridgnorth Music and Arts Festival some years earlier but it was only when the event moved to its present home in 2007 that we really connected. The day after our show, he asked me if there was anything the festival could do to improve the overall experience of the performers. Extraordinarily this was the first time in 20 years I had been asked such a question by a director! Hesitantly I suggested, maybe some second hadn’t sofas, rugs and a general space where musicians could hang out, chat, and chill. Alan instantly agreed, cannily realising that the more the performers were enjoying themselves, the more relaxed they were onstage and the better they played.
This backstage experience was mirrored by investing in onstage production facilities that are world-class; the crew, the sound and lighting system and big-screen projection are unique to the festival and reflect once again that combination of playfulness and professionalism that Alan embodied.
Above all what I will remember most was the sheer joy that the music brought him and his delight when acts that he had championed connected with his crowd. He was always to be found out front or by the side of the stage with the irrepressible twinkle in his eye, giving me the thumbs up or mouthing “you tosser Knightley” if he thought I was being pretentious or pompous!'