Arlebury Park, The Avenue, Alresford, Hampshire SO24 9EP (view map)

The Alresford Music Festival is a one day music event showcasing a diverse range of music styles from both established and emerging local talent. Now in now in its eighth year. The festival and has grown since its inception in 2010 to become one of the most anticipated events of the Alresford year.

Meet Ken Veitch, founder and chairman of Alresford Music Festival:

Forum: Your Scottish accent tells us you aren’t originally from Alresford, what made you come here?
Ken: My wife Alison and I were both working in Belgium and I was planning to start a business in the Thames Valley. Alresford was always on our radar and of course once we visited we fell in love with the place. That was back in 1998.

Forum:So festival organising isn’t your day job then?
Ken: No, I work in investment banking in the city and so setting up the festival was a very steep learning curve for us all.

Forum: So what inspired you to set up Alresford Music Festival?
Ken: In 2007 my wife gave me an Eric Clapton DVD called Crossroads. It was a series of music festivals and benefit concerts featuring Clapton and well-known musicians like John Mayer and Jeff Beck. The festival raised money for Clapton’s drug rehabilitation clinic in Antigua. I wanted to do something to raise funds to help find a cure for Diabetes as both my sons are Type 1 Diabetics. Initially the idea met with some resistance, people said it wouldn’t work in Alresford. But I like a challenge and I’m a musician myself. Band mate Brian Hayward (Hayward Guitars, Winchester) and long time friend Tim Miller (Thomas Miller Creative Ltd., based here in Alresford) were really keen on the idea. Right from the outset Tim and Brian were right behind the idea and fully engaged from day one.

Forum: Talk us through that first year
Ken: The level of organisation and the things we had to find out and get through at times seemed insurmountable.  From finding a venue and sourcing reliable suppliers, to motivating bands to play for free, and then convincing the festival goers to come, took a huge effort for all concerned. Luckily Tim, Brian and I were able to inspire other like-minded volunteers with our vision and passion to make this work. Winchester City Council was supportive, but as often happens finance was the biggest hurdle to overcome. 

Forum: How was the finance question resolved?
Ken: We found a fantastic headline sponsor in Tim Considine, Matt Clarke and Richard Turner of First Option here in Alresford. They understood our vision and stepped in to help. If not for First Option’s support the music festival simply would never have got off the ground. First Option remain our principal sponsors to this day and words can’t express how grateful we will always be in fact without any of our valued sponsors and volunteers we simply wouldn’t be able to do this. Right now I think Tim & I would say that we have one of our strongest teams ever.

Forum: Have you had many set-backs in the eight years you’ve been running?
Ken: Oh yes. 2011 was the wettest coldest day of the summer; the rain just didn’t stop. The bands all turned up and played but it was to a very small and soggy audience. We lost money and the festival nearly closed. But we’d been through too much to let it break us, so between us we raised the cash personally to try again. And thank goodness we did because AMF has blossomed. It’s grown, moved from its first venue at Perins School to Arlebury Park and last year we doubled the size of the festival area thanks to Alresford Town FC.

Forum: So what’s new for 2017?
Ken: We now have five stages. As well as the three main stages, there’s a new Globe Theatre Stage featuring creative and theatre acts and a Blues Jam Tent where younger musicians can rock out early in the day while later on and people can pay to play on stage and jam with other musicians. We’re really excited about how things are developing. We’re also offering Friday night entertainment around the town, from the Soul Cellar in The Swan’s Undercoft to singer-songwriters in The Globe and popular covers band Answer Back in The Horse & Groom. We are looking to make this the Alresford Music Festival weekend and to give venues in town the chance to welcome new customers coming to camp and enjoy the festival weekend.

Forum: Who is headlining this year?
Ken: Molotov Jukebox fronted by the Game of  Thrones and Harry Potter actor Natalia Tena. This is arguably the most high profile band we’ve signed up to date and we’ve over 25 other bands coming too. It’s the strongest most diverse line up we’ve ever offered, from established to emerging talent – and across many musical genres.

Forum: You have donated over £25,000 to good causes since 2010, who are you supporting this year?
Ken: We have founded a charitable trust called the AMF Foundation. We are committed to supporting charities with a musical leaning. This year we will be supporting three worthy causes: The Winnall Rock School (providing musical opportunities to families in the Winnall area), Key Changes (a music therapy charity working with mentally and physically challenged people as well as terminally ill children), and Harmony of Hope (a charity working with Refugees and using music for rehabilitation). So we are supporting regional, national and international music charities.

Forum: You must be proud of what you and the team have built?
Ken: It is an immensely good feeling to create something that did not exist before. I am super proud that what we as a team have created, an amazing, fun and safe family music festival that everyone can enjoy. But even more important is that we are not-for-profit and the funds we raise really make a difference to people’s lives.