The big event of the Scottish music calendar this year has to be Fife Aid 2, taking place at Craigtoun Park near Saint Andrews on the weekend of Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 July. Going under the by-line 'David Bellamy's Festival For The Future', the festival is the British contribution to Live Earth Day, an international event (honorary adviser: Michael Dukakis) taking in simultaneous concerts throughout the world, all aimed at promoting a greater awareness of the irreparable damage being done to the world around us, and how it can be avoided.
Its predecessor, Fife Aid for Africa, took place in 1986, inspired by Bob Geldof's Band Aid efforts, and was a purely small-scale festival, headlined by Run Rig. This follow-up, as part of the networked environmental link-up with a potential audience of over one billion people for the three of the ten hours of broadcast time it has been allotted, concentrates on long-term methods of famine relief, and the preservation of the planet's ecosystem. Unfortunately, British TV will not be carrying the event, though highlights of Fife Aid may be televised later in the year. In addition to the numerous bands and other entertainments performing on four stages dotted around Craigtoun Country Park, the park will also play host to an ecological fair, with displays of working examples of solar, wind and recycling technologies (including a solar laser show).
Whether by accident or design, the posters seen advertising Fife Aid, in all their multi-coloured Tolkienesque splendour, reflect some of the artists attending. Marillion headline on the Saturday, and the seldom-seen Rick Wakeman and Steve Hackett both make appearances the following day. But for those to whom John Martyn, Osibisa and Jack Bruce are part of a dimly-remembered older brother's record collection, and who perhaps don't know who Phil Manzanera is, The Sugarcubes, Joe Strummer, Michelle Shocked, Go West, Run Rig, Transvision Vamp among others, will all be playing on Stage One, the sound for which is being operated by the same company who did the honours for Live Aid. The smaller stages host too many acts to categorise, let alone name. Suffice to say that theatre, comedy, dance and children's entertainment are all represented.
Although slow to attract big-name artists at first, as happens with even the largest benefit until someone of sufficient stature confirms (in this case Marillion), artists are still being negotiated even in the final week's run-up. Confirmation is hoped from Terence Trent D'Arby and possibly one or two others. At this stage, though, the Trust are unlikely to hear the first query put by John Martyn's manager when approached: "Where's Fife?"
Of the funds raised, 10 per cent will go to local charities, 45 per cent will be donated to the Band Aid Trust Fund and the remaining 45 per cent will, under the direction of environmentalist and broadcaster David Bellamy, the patron of the Fife Aid Trust, go to conservation programmes in areas where famine has resulted from mismanagement of the earth's resources. One of the greatest problems in Africa, it transpires, is a lack of spare parts, and money will he directed accordingly.
A chilling reminder of just why public awareness of these issues needs to be raised was given at a Fife Aid press conference in mid-July. At the height of Band Aid fever, when millions were digging into their own pockets, the EEC were destroying, and these are their official figures, 411 cauliflowers, 75 lbs tomatoes, 448 peaches, 221 lbs pears, 3,170 lbs apples, 511 lbs mandarins, 1,358 oranges and 1,648 lemons every single minute of the year. All that while 100,000 were dying a day of starvation.
Tickets for Fife Aid 2 are on sale in numerous shops (mainly record stores), costing £15 for both days (£10 concs) and £12 Saturday only (£8 concs). Prices for Sunday have not yet been fixed, but will be by payment at the gate only. Accompanied children under 12 will be admitted free. A campsite, naturally, is available. The festivities commence on Saturday at 10am, and draw to a halt at midnight to recommence on Sunday at 11am until the close of the festival at 10pm.
This piece was published in The List of 22nd July 1988, issue 71, page 8. This was two days before the festival. John signed the poster (not included in the magazine) exactly in the middle: