Rockstock, a one day festival held on the shore of Lough Neagh in Moortown, County Tyrone’s Battery Bar, has been bringing top class acts to the area for years, making the late August event the highlight of the Mid Ulster rock scene. This year’s line-up is more tantalizing than ever, with a major coup coming with former Mama’s Boys guitar hero Pat McManus being revealed as headliner, as well as an equally impressive support bill, including Lurgan blues rockers The Bonnevilles, fresh from releasing their excellent new album ‘Arrow Pierce My Heart’, as well as the Hardchargers, Duellists, Thieves of Ennui, Podracer, The Updocs, Safire and Symptoms of Silence. We chatted to musician and event organiser Gavin Corey about what to expect…
►So how did you become involved in organising an event like this?
A good friend of mine had been supplying PA for years and I was usually there, helping him. The organiser at that time had been been doing it for over ten years and just felt it was time to hang up the reigns. The owner of the Battery Bar expressed his wishes to keep the event alive and I simply said “I’ll get the bands” and the rest is history.
►So Rockstock has been running for several years now, but with 10 performers over the course of the day, would it be safe to say this year will be the biggest ever?
Hands down! This year is without doubt going to be the biggest yet. I’ll be totally honest, I previous I was still finding my feet in ‘event organisation’ and left myself little time to really do it right. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve always had great bands, but this year I’ve started early and got the line-up sorted which means I now have more time to work on the other aspects which didn’t receive enough attention in previous years.
►Securing someone as big as Pat McManus as a headliner will obviously turn a few heads, but who else on the bill do you think will stand out?
Who do I think will stand out! Honestly, all of them, in their own way. The Bonnevilles and The Hardchargers have developed loyal fans over a number of years. The rest of the bands are relatively new as the scene goes, but the talent is definitely not lacking. It’s going to be wall-to-wall riffage all day!
►Rockstock has featured plenty of cover bands through the years, but this year the emphasis seems to be on original artists. Is that a deliberate decision?
It wasn’t a deliberate decision at all. I play for a tribute band myself and would have loved to have played on this bill! When I put up on Facebook that I was looking for bands, the reaction was incredible: the amount of original band in Northern Ireland is staggering and commendable. That’s not saying this trend will be followed. I’m already toying with the idea of making next year “Tribute Year.” I’d even checked the availability of Status Quo to headline but alas, booked already.
►At Chordblossom we always try and support the scene throughout Northern Ireland, particularly outside of Belfast. How successful have you been at bringing more than just a local, Mid Ulster audience to Rockstock before?
This is probably the biggest “other aspect” as I mentioned earlier. It does seem to be difficult to get “city folk” to venues that they’ve never been to before. This year, though, we’re upping the game. Buses are already organised from Belfast, Portrush and Dungannon with more to be added. We’ll be concentrating more on advertising as well.
►Finally, with lots of small festivals popping up all over the island, what makes Rockstock stand out from the crowd?
Well, we’re the only festival to feature a live “pole fitness” show from local Dungannon crew “Dee’s Barbelle’s.” 45 minutes of rocking tunes and a serious display of strength! The only other way to answer that question is to be there. Then you’ll know what sets us apart.
Rockstock takes place on Sunday 28th August 2016. Tickets are £12 with free camping spaces available.