By Jeremy Miles
Award winning Wimborne Town crier Chris Brown is a familiar sight around the Dorset market town but now he’s gaining fans on the music festival circuit too.
For Chris, 47, has been adopted by Texan psychedelic visionaries The Polyphonic Spree and so far this summer has appeared on stage in full regalia at Glastonbury, Leeds and Reading.
Chris who is also Wimborne’s Town Sarjent was signed up after being introduced to the colourfully be-robed Americans after doing volunteer work on the festival circuit.
The Polyphonics and their charismatic leader Tim DeLaughter loved the idea of having their own real English Town Crier.
He was introduced, they hit it off and the next thing he knew Chris was strutting his stuff on stage at Glastonbury and hanging out in the VIP enclosures with bands like Supergrass and Elbow.
Reading and Leeds followed and for Chris it’s alll something of a dream come true.
“It’s absolutely brilliant,” he told me. “They’re lovely people. I used to be a bit of hippy and this is right up my street.”
He admits that back in early 1970s he also had a hankering to be serious biker. His Norton Dominator 650 SS was the envy of the local motorcycle gangs.
“They loved looking at my bike but I used to wear crushed velvet jackets and I don’t think they could really deal with that. Anyway, I could never have been a Hells Angel or whatever. I hate aggression and I’m vegetarian so biting the head off a live chicken would be out of the question.”
Chris, who has done voluntary security work at Glastonbury for a number of years, has the dubious distinction of once trying to ban Bob Dylan from his own dressing room.
“I was told that no one but Dylan was allowed in so when this strange looking bloke turned up and knocked on the door I told him to go away. He fixed me with this really weird stare and just said: ‘Do you know who I am?’
“ I said; ‘I haven’t got a clue mate but no one but Bob Dylan comes in here.’ Then he just stared at me again and I realised that he had an eight foot security man with him. I thought ‘Oh yeah, I know who you are.’ Dylan, he says, was rather distant and aloof. ‘I think he’s been damaged.”
Chris, who was recently made redundant from his job as complaints officer of the Children’s Society, has also recorded a CD with The Timespanners and next month will appear at a gig in Sixpenny Handley with Dorset band Pronghorn.
Although he says his foray the festival circuit has earned him virtually nothing he hopes that a future career may now lie in the music business.