David Belcher runs to earth the trio behind the T In The Park festival

THIS year as last, Scotland's major outdoor festival, T In The Park,

is being assembled from a fittingly rustic base -- a converted

stable-block in green and pleasant Stirlingshire home of DF Concerts

(DFC), the event's promoters, as well as being the hub of a business

which buses fans to shows nationwide, and operates Scotland's premier

pub-sized venue, King Tut's.

In this pastoral splendour, DFC's small herd of golden labradors

gambol as fax-machines chatter, and phone-lines transmit talk of riders,

running-orders, and serious moolah to hard-bitten rockbiz managers

around the globe. But who's this cove with no socks on?

And no fat cigar. No greasy homburg. It's DFC supremo Stuart Clumpas,

and he wants to set the record straight.

''Here he goes, the thoughts of Chairman Clump . . . but it bugs me

that folk think promoters make millions when actually we work on small

margins, the final 3-4% of a gig's total cost, which is usually hundreds

of pounds, not thousands. So yeah, T In The Park nearly washed its face

last year, but not quite . . . although the loss was small enough for me

to view it as an investment.

''At the moment, in fact, I can only survive a loss on every sixth

gig, whereas at the start, 15 years ago, I could exist on losses for one

in every three.''

Glaswegian Clumpas made his start at Dundee University. Ostensibly

studying accountancy and economics, he only attained his degree in order

to continue doing what he really loved: booking bands as student

entertainments convener.

''As an obnoxious 16-year-old, I felt I had a flair for knowing which

bands would sell. I'd be at a packed Apollo saying: 'I knew.' That's the

thrill for me . . . hearing a band's records and spotting their

potential while everyone else is going: 'What's this rubbish?'

''Then, when I'm standing in front of 3000 people at the Playhouse,

it's like everyone's saying: 'Stuart, you're sussed in music, mate.'

Thumbs up. Told ya.''

Clumpas was encouraged by an early run of Dundee scoops. ''I booked

the Pretenders for #300. By the time of the gig they were top of the

singles and albums charts. Same with Peter Gabriel and UB40. I got Def

Leppard when they were on the way up, but too early . . . for #300 --

and they attracted 110 people at 90p each.''

Yet in his greatest success, there was a foretaste of the no-win

situation which promoters inevitably seem to face. ''The Pretenders'

tickets sold out in four hours. And for the next month I got dog's abuse

from people who hadn't got tickets. Terrible amounts of grief from pals;

from people who said I shouldn't have sold the tickets at 9am when they

were in lectures. From everybody.''

Clumpas's greatest financial blow -- caused in 1991 by the mid-gig

cancellation of a Pixies' show when the SECC stage partially collapsed

-- was similarly compounded by personal aggro. ''The band got paid; the

venue got paid; I lost #10,000 . . . plus I got grief from thousands of

ticket-holders. It's the only time so far that I've seriously thought:

'Why am I doing this?'''

It's unsurprising that Stuart Clumpas's life-partner is his

business-partner, too. Judith Atkinson foreswore a medical career for a

degree which combined music -- studying double bass under Gavin Bryars

-- with arts administration. Having once doubled her year's grant with

the staging of a successful alternative freshers' ball, Atkinson

graduated to work with one of Britain's biggest promoters, MCP. Today

she's in charge of DFC's marketing; graphics; bus co-ordination;

advertising; ticket printing, distribution and sales. And she runs King


''Before T In The Park opened last year, we walked out feeling like

worried party hosts. But by 1pm the audience had taken over. They were

enjoying the music, having a pint, knowing what they were supposed to do

. . . it was their festival.''

It's also Geoff Ellis's festival. Despite the fact that midfield

dynamo Ellis broke a leg playing for Blanefield FC in a Forth and

Endrick Summer League cup-tie last month, he's been successfully

negotiating, and liaising with band managers, agents, local councillors,

policemen, environmental health officials, health and safety executives.

Ellis's biggest score? ''A toss-up between having secured Black

Grape's first big gig and having convinced Hamilton District Council

that this year we don't need to provide very costly water bowsers in the

car parks.''

T In The Park: its creators deserve a stiffer drink, if not a cigar.

* T In The Park at Strathclyde Park, August 5 and 6. A 70-strong bill

includes Paul Weller; M People; Terrorvision; Black Grape; The Beautiful

South; Kylie Minogue, Elastica, and The Prodigy. Weekend tickets cost