Sonic Rock Solstice. Stoke Prior. 16-19 June 2022

Instructions were to not get there before 4.00pm on Thursday, so we thought we had timed it pretty well by arriving at 3.52pm. Loads already had tents up. Some had been there since Wednesday. Tent up quickly (next to Rhythmic Raymond and Carol) , leftover tins of Amber Nectar from Blind Cat Fest ready and waiting.

Thursday. First on are Astro Al. Male/female duo who started out with the female singing and strumming a song about Joe Meek. Both the ‘…ings’ seemed to be slightly inaccurate and I turned to Her Ladyship and said ‘What the f**k can I write about this?’. She said ‘Exactly that’. Then her male companion launched into what appeared to be an audition for the B52s. But, very soon, we got it!! Songs about Joe Meek, Nik Turner, Sharkgator and a homage to Hammer Horror Films. Completely and blissfully bonkers…but very cleverly and deliberately done. I later heard one of Losers Inc (those friendless saddoes who try to latch onto you) that anyone who liked them must be stupid. If I could quote Count Robot’s (ie the male half) blog ‘Welcome to the blog about the band Astro Al. Journey into the mystery and stupidity that is Astro Al the B horror/sci-fi band that exists for no reason.’ So purely by default the afore-mentioned saddo was very shrewd? No, just a tw*t. And, even better, another slot from them on Sunday when I would duly wear my ‘Plan 9 From Outer Space’ T shirt for Count Robot and DNA Girl to feast upon.

Zub Zub. Another duo, but playing the sort of acid house rave stuff I believe DJ’s get paid 5-figure sums to play for 5-figure crowds. There were a couple of dozen colostomy baggers grooving here, so Zub Zub’s fee was probably proportionate. The guitarist was mysteriously at the bar while he ‘seemed’ to be playing a number.

A short but always welcome early start to the weekend. And the backdrops are always wonderful..

Friday. First up is Cliff Underdog . Seemingly a one-time member of a Groundhogs tribute act. His mission was to play some more unusual cover songs in alphabetical order. Starting with Syd’s ‘Bike’ and Ian’s ‘Billericay Dickie’ , he sadly fell foul of sound issues and finished somewhat abruptly on ‘L’ (Rory’s ‘Laundromat’). But an interesting start to proceedings.

Chasing The Dark. A solo performer. Bald, black glasses and long black coat plus a magic finger which produced lots of sounds, Once of Metropolis, I couldn’t help thinking how much better it would have looked with 4 dolly birds swaying and miming with instruments behind him like a Robert Palmer 80s video. It just didn’t work (for me).

Superheads. Power trio, second song veered dangerously towards that awful ‘R’ word (Reggae). Overall, sounded totally acceptable from our vantage point in the sunshine outside.

Distance From Zero were a no show. ‘Van Broken Down’. It must have been Eddie and the Hot Rods’ one from the 90s which mysteriously broke down when anyone said ‘Yorkshire, this way’ to it. So Captain Roswell and the Lost Alien Tribe. Four humans and two aliens (possibly), starting with ‘Sign of the Times’. Definite regulars! Love ’em.

Dr Hasbeen. Featuring some remarkably familiar faces, including DNA Girl and Count Robot too. Two bass line-up, half of Captain R and chums might as well have stopped on stage. Song about Ukraine and, of course, ‘Little Green Men’.

Ozric Tentacles Electronic Much-hyped cosmic veterans, they have been to the Stoke Prior Space Port before, but not our cup of Saurian Brandy. ‘Over and out Scotty’

Saturday. I forgot to mention that Jim Beerman has returned as compere, he took over from the sadly-departed Kozmic Ken last year. And, also sadly, subjected us to a barrage of effing and jeffing, plus his naff stand-up routine. Thankfully it seems as though he has been ‘requested’ to tone things down this year. But he still bellowed into his mic as if he were in front of 80,000 at Download, not 9 at SRS.

Mark Needham. Young man with 6 string electric and FX. Nearly all instrumental numbers, with layers recorded and built up. ‘Albatross’ I thought was clunky but HL liked it. Seemed to drag on too long.

Sloth Metropolis. 6-piece masked and robed combo. Some spoken word, some ‘singing’. Sadly, couldn’t catch a lot of horror-based words, but an interesting concept. Much changing of costumes, and a lot of work obviously gone into it. Seemed much shorter than previous set. Would gladly have them back to the Space Port.

Deepshade. Another power trio. Most memorable aspect seemed to be changes of pace and gaps in songs

Lacertilia Taff-Rock quintet. Powerful lead vocalist. HL and Formerly Purple Annie both liked them. Jim Boorman now telling jokes that not a single person was listening to. (Sorry, bar himself).

Silas and Saskia. More from the extended Ozric Tentacles family. Kate Bush-esque vocals. HL went for a long walk, in the rain

Lords of Form. Lengthy donning of white boiler suits provided an embarrassing period of silence for the compere. Their soundcheck had been quite Metallica-ish, but they started out more akin to Tangerine Dream. No encore. Another trio I would happily watch again next year.

Krankschaft. Now this is a bit weird. We like Krankschaft and were looking forward to this. And the following morning I remarked to Rhythmic Raymond and Carol (long-term fans) that I thought that they had seemed ‘not quite at the races’ until the last two songs when they seemed to ‘krank’ up to a different group. And Ray showed me main man Steve Pond’s online comment, apologising to all for being so awful up until ‘Moon’, and playing as if they had never met each other for first part! I felt so bloody relieved. And Steve’s experiences getting there really fired him high in my estimation. Lesser (and younger!) mortals would have played the ‘Van Broken Down’ card and pulled out. Top blokes.

Tentacles of Static. Couldn’t face any more from the Optic Testicles commune, went to bed.

Sunday. Metropolis. Remembered the name from a previous visit, and being impressed. This line-up is 60% different but no less impressive. Black bowlers and waistcoats is , it seems, a giveaway for the genre of ‘steampunk’. Newer songs fitted in well with older stuff. Again, seemed a short set. It always is when you think it is good!

Codex Serafini. First thing I saw was a saxophone, not a good sign! (No sax please, we’re British). Then the sound of what appeared to be a female undergoing an unexpected 45 minute gynaecological exploration. Stayed outside, and grimaced

Astro Al. Our heroes return, complete with woollen little green man given to them by HL. (And thanks for the cd, Count Robot). Got a serious Anne Frank song (featuring some Twilight Zone guitar from DNA Girl) amongst the horror/sci-fi cheese. A Van Der Graaf Generator reference woke some people up. Some repeated songs and a final song which collapsed but so what? Very clever and very underappreciated by people who seemed to be completely baffled. Their loss, not ours.

Bitchin Hour. A 5 piece, seemingly all female, according to Formerly Purple Annie’s investigation. Loud. A young woman was screaming something in a key unknown to me. We stayed outside, Rhythmic Raymond stopped in for a while. He came outside and asked the question ‘Why do they need to tell us they are lesbian?’. Not sure if his use of the trendy annoying plural pronouns was deliberate, I suspect not. My thoughts were that I have 100s of Bob Dylan concert recordings from the last 60 years and I have never heard him tell the audience that he is heterosexual, so Ray has a point. Maybe we should all check out their website…’5 piece bunch of gays and theys from the UK with an attitude problem’ seems to confirm it. The ‘attitude’ certainly doesn’t seem to be ‘modesty’. We sat outside and did a quiz. I had to speak up quite a bit.

Rage DC Old school punk. Right up Rue de Rhythmic Raymond. They get on and do it. Don’t need to say owt else. (Apart from that their set is already on Youtube)

Big Sky Orchestra. Much requested return (by me at least) from Sept 2021. 5 lads whose combined age is a fraction of that of Her Ladyship and me, and whose musical hearts lie much closer to San Francisco than Stoke Prior. They play great renditions of Grateful Dead songs, and ‘Shakedown Street’, ‘Jack Straw’ and Merle Haggard’s ‘Mama Tried’ all got an airing. Like the Dead, they proudly guarantee to never play the same set twice. ‘Manifestation’ and ‘Black Coffee’ now seem to be regular numbers and ‘Southbound Wind’ was tight and just brilliant . As with last year, they finished with a meticulous version of ‘The Weight’. For once I had to agree with Jim B’s over-the-top summary. Bought one of their hastily-pressed CD-Rs from their Bromsgrove Festival gig from previous weekend. They knocked their older fellow performers into a cocked hat.

David Smale. Even RR, a long time Yardbirds fan, had no recollection of this man’s stint with them. Seems he joined in 2009! How old was he, 9!!? Cosmic quartet, definitely no chance of ‘For Your Love’ being in the set. Drummer seemed to want to be John Bonham. Some Kate Bush to finish, the man has a huge vocal range.

Invisible Opera Company of Tibet Sextet, 3 male and 3 female. Seems were formed by Daevid Allen of Gong. According to their website ‘The latest studio album The Bardo of Becoming is a whole journey based on the Tibetan book of the dead’. And they encore with a Chuck Berry medley. (One of the 2 previous statements is not true).They were actually a bit ‘rockier’ than I expected but still too far down the Hippy Highway for HL and me. Looked at the clock, they had only been on for 40 minutes. Exit Stage Left.

So, after a 4 day marathon event and review…

  1. Music. Mainly space-rock but Big Sky Orchestra got joint gold medal position for us. With the wonderful Astro Al
  2. Venue. Just about the right size
  3. Bar.I would be surprised if the regulars pay as much as we do. Got charged differently too many times for me to be happy. Once is a mistake, twice is a coincidence but thrice is a trend.The 2 lads are going, so won’t be at future fests. All in all, those two did pretty well over the years. Still under £4.00 a pint
  4. Sound. Quite a few problems, unusually.
  5. Light Show. Brilliant.
  6. Camping. No problems
  7. Dogs. One is too many for me, but DOGS=DOSH so I am f**ked.
  8. Clientele. Always friendly. Mr Bare Feet Man was actually cleaning the portaloos, top bloke. (He was later seen wearing sandals though!)
  9. Food. Burger shed and falafelly stall. Enough for the size of the crowd
  10. Security. Only really noticed them on Saturday night. Wristbands never checked.
  11. Ticket Value. Still good.

Occasional precipitation didn’t spoil a good weekend. It always is.

And not only is that the end of this review, it is the end of all reviews. The bunternet is now actually full, so after more than a decade, that is it. There are still lots of photos which Her Ladyship needs to put on, but from now on, no more note-taking and subsequent laptop hours for yours truly. Many thanks to all out there for clocking in over the years. (Although Don Henley famously said in 1980 about when would the Eagles reform… ‘When Hell freezes over’. Well it did in 94 apparently and the Eagles are still sliding about on it.)

Blind Cat Resurrected. Birch Coppice Miners Social Welfare Centre. 3-5 June 2022

A new venue for ‘Blind Cat’ Festival. A club with a capacity of 499, which gives scope for more attendees than its previous venue in South Wingfield (199 capacity). We actually took up the option to set up camp on Thursday night. Quite a few had same idea. Lots of the usual suspects trickled in, namely Mrs Piano Legs, Bare Feet Man, Loud Scouse Woman, Vince The Guitar, Man With Specs, Long Beard And Big Stick With Duck’s Head, Woman With Long Blonde Hair On Speed All Weekend, Andy The Laugh, Rhythmic Raymond and Carol, Formerly Purple Annie and Caz ‘n’ Dave ( no, I haven’t got a speech impediment).

And peerless organisers Dave and Annie Lowe were there good and early

Friday. Burger shed open early, great value too. Dave came round every tent checking that all ok and Annie cleaning portaloos armed with two dozen bog rolls. Can you imagine any of the Eavis family doing that at Glasto?!. First on is Andy Bole. Various stringed instruments plus bongo chum. No vocals, ‘ambient’? Caught a snatch of ‘Within You, Without You’.

Tantric Obstacles. Deliberate pun on Ozric Tentacles record. Solo bassist with hair so long he had to tie up the bottom and carry it. Honestly! Lots of concentration , lots of backing tracks but I can’t imagine Jaco Pastorius spinning in his grave at the level of virtuosity on show. Bit of Iron Maiden foot on monitor, a buddy on guitar/keys joined him. He seemed genuinely pleased to be there.

Dubbal. Good version of ‘Season of the Witch’ to start but vocalist soon made a fatal error. Angrily told us all that we had to wake up. Oh dear, mate. Maybe it was your tedious stuff that had induced this seeming stupor? An old biddy in a green fairy outfit was fannying about in the audience, she later admitted to have had a XXX Brownie! The dull Dubbal treated us to more unwanted reggae and trundled offstage to prepare for another unmemorable future early afternoon festival slot.

The Wattingers. So from something sub-ordinary to something definitely not ordinary. The multi-media experience that is Arkansas’s Infamous Inbreeds. A great ‘find ‘ for us at last year’s event. Sadly the back projection couldn’t quite be seen from our vantage point. New songs eg ‘Demon Riders’ mixed with oldies eg ‘Arkansas Beard Stalker’. Luv ’em!

Sonic Trip Project. Vinnie on guitar is a big Velvets fan, and it shows. Huge aural soundscapes, often in one chord. Her Ladyship, sadly, had to go off for 30 tactical ZZZs.

Nukli. 3 piece that started out a bit reminiscent of a John Mayall 80s American line-up, but quickly turned to tedious jazzy/funky bollox. Some electronic assistance and more pedals than nearby Nottingham’s Raleigh factory. Even the bass player! WTF for?! How did Jack Bruce ever manage?! We were soon praying for those 5 magic words…This is our last song.

Electric Cake Salad. After the last lot, ECS could have played The Mister Blobby Songbook and been better. A new record to plug but still plenty of old faves on display. Got a setlist from Steve which hopefully Her Ladyship will post at the end of the review ( but there is a big log jam at present!). The words ‘Tootie F**kin Frootie’ introduced the last number, and we eventually trotted off to bed.

Saturday. Fest regulars Spaced Ogs got the graveyard slot. ‘Songs’ included ‘Nebular Fire’ and ‘Dylan’s Journey’ (I think). Mainly instrumentals, and any cobwebs well and truly blown into a different and distant local authority.

Spiral Navigators. Missed them and also Visitation as we were watching rugby league on tv. Sorry lads.

Monkey Trial. More ambience from this trio. Bloke with Turkish hat pushing buttons, mate with an ‘electronic wind instrument’. Cosmic waffling whispered intros, definitely no pissed women twisting on the dance floor! Some drums seemingly surfaced too. All four of our company were seriously nodding off. Woman whooping at the end seemed to be Mr Turkish Hat’s wife.

Deviant Amps. Vocals a bit low at start of the trio’s set, but adjusted. Again some additional instrumentation from ‘somewhere’. Festival hardy annuals.

Firegarden. Power trio. Much vaunted by BCR band booker Steve Smith. Started out Motorhead-ish, became more Maiden-ish (obligatory foot on monitor). One song had a needless reggae section. And went on for hours, it seemed. A bit different from most of BCR line-up, but not any memorable songs. Steve Smith promises to book them as headliners next year! Maybe he will think again when the cold air outside hits him.

Paradise 9. Prog/punk quartet, came across as Sham 69 with a synth. PRONK? FX to the fore, artificial vocal harmonies, bass player not lacking in self esteem.

Guranfoe. Young 4 piece instrumentalists. Reminiscent of Allmans ‘Elizabeth Reed’ stuff. I realised we had seen them before. We chose to take the Last Train to ZZZsville.

Sunday. A few line-up changes causing the organisers to borrow my pen. It was gone a long time. Her Ladyship and Formerly Purple Annie once again started the day with paint stripper strength DIY Bloody Marys.

TangleMist. More festival regulars, featuring female ‘cosmic frying pan’ vocalist. Julia is actually a lovely woman and I was reliably informed she was abducted by aliens as a child and had her head filled with Dinky Toys and Tomato Sauce before being returned. Song titles eg ‘Why is the sky so high?’ and ‘Magic Mushrooms’. But self-depracating ‘Bloody Hippies’ song was good. Vinnie added some Tele.

Next on are a TangleMist tribute act called MangleTits. Not really.

Devora. 3 x 6 stringers in a line! Blind Cat Skynyrd? Bassist made up Full Frontal Four Fender Foray. More one-chord wipe-outs. Team meeting to discuss key for each tune.

Road Trip. (Or maybe not?) K/G/B trio plus another virtual appearance for Ginger Baker.

Dark Zen Kollectiv. Seemingly a bloke from Litmus (one of Rhythmic Raymond’s faves) involved. Proper drummer present. HL up dancing early, not long before her left hand on her head (ie ‘wankered’). Very Velvets a la ‘Sister Ray’…that will do very nicely!

Capt Lockheed and the Starfighters. Steve Smith announced it to be his final gig. Hawkwind copy act, should anyone be unaware. Some stand-in musicians needed. ‘Quark…’, ‘Spirit…’ etc.

Deltanaughts. 4 x beards, 2 x specs, lots x hair. Heavy. HL liked them. She said it was like being 17 again (which coincided with the number of pints she had necked).

And it was all over.

1.Venue. Very good. Previous venue’s committee were something out of ‘Phoenix Nights’. I think they wanted to impose a Ten Pence Turd Tariff, which involved demanding 10p for every released Richard in the toilets. (But not for members, who were also allowed to watch the acts FOC). Seems some small Communication Breakdowns but overall well worth the change of venue.

2.Sound. Very good , personnel very disciplined. Dave Lowe (historical sound supremo) was theoretically only on ‘lights’ but regularly was invited to advise (and did so). Bit like kicking a football to Bobby Charlton and expecting him to not kick it back?

3.Music. Number of Hawkwind t shirts in evidence gives an idea of genre. Lots of musicians making multiple appearances. Spaced Og Dave won with 4, I think.

4.Camping. No problems, as far as I am aware.

5.Clientele. Friendly. One Marti Pellow lookalike thought it was funny to lie on floor and pretend to have a fit. How amusing! Please do it next time, mate, there will be a queue to punch your very small lights out.

6.Bar. Late replacement for licensee, who broke her leg. But they coped pretty well under the circumstances. Occasional problem but not a major blot on a good performance.

7.Dogs.Annie Lowe still had to clean up dog shit. The owners should have their faces rubbed in it.

8.Food. Big Burgers van. Totally fine and were there and early every day.

9.Portaloos. But club toilet available too.

10.Value for money. Definitely.

All in all, a very good weekend. A good choice for a new venue, hope all ok for next year. Might it be worth doing a survey over possible market for fest t shirts? And could banning dogs be replaced with people who won’t go because of dogs?

Dr Feelgood / John Otway & Wild Willy Barrett. Brudenell Social Club. 28.5.22

A quick return to the Brudenell and a quick revisit to Dr Feelgood. But first, it’s John Otway and Wild Willy Barrett.

We have seen Otway loads over the years but only once with Willy (surrounded by a load of pissed twats in a tent at Acoustic Festival of Britain). Starting out with ‘Louisa on a Horse’, the set has more Otway & Barrett songs (eg ‘Racing Cars’) than Otway’s usual solo mayhem. ‘Cheryl…’, ‘Body Talk’ and the like have Otway virgins undergo some serious pants-wetting. The ‘hit’ and ‘the B side’ are there, of course. Finishing with Willy on his bagpipes/Bagpuss/guitar hybrid, the duo got a great and fully-deserved round of applause.

So to round 2 of this double header, Dr Feelgood. Returning guitarist Gordon Russell starts up ‘Drives me wild’, quickly followed by ‘No Mo Do Yakamo’ from the same ‘A Case of the Shakes’ lp. There are early appearances by Wilko-era songs (‘I can tell’, ‘All through the city’) and some actual new songs! Been a long time coming. A couple from Gordon’s original mid-eighties stint, he contributed some good tunes back then. Gypie-era stuff (‘Down at the Doctors’, ‘Milk and Alcohol’) blends seamlessly with the earlier stuff, and there are still people who think Feelgood are nothing without Wilko . (They have been going for 50 years, Wilko was there for first 5!) We still get a half-time blues (thankfully shorter without Steve Walwyn) and the ‘Freddie’s Footsteps’ instrumental encore has been revived.

We must have seen them 40 or 50 times and I can only recollect 1 disappointing show (Fforde Grene in Leeds ’83) when Brilleaux first put together Kevin, Phil and Gordon. ( Gordon had a wry smile tonight after a bum note, it would have terrified him back when he first played with them.)They do what it says on the tin, and long may the tin be for sale.

Red Windows. Duck and Drake. 14.5.22

Having checked out their credentials, we decided that they were worth investigating. Some decent ‘form’ amongst them. 5-piece archetypal prog line-up, incl female lead vocalist. (Heidi is a former Mostly Autumn frontwoman. We are not fans of MA but they have always had a female who had a decent voice!)

Starting out with the opening from ‘Dark Side of the Moon’, we recognised the guitarist from York’s Dufflegoat (regulars at the Lion in Castleford).

Some Supergrass, followed by Supertramp and CSNY’s ‘Almost cut my hair’ were a welcome change from the usual pub covers setlist. As were ‘Maybe I’m amazed’ and ‘Lady Eleanor’. The Mac’s ‘Gold Dust Woman’ let them stretch out and they kindly bumped up the set possibly the finest 2m 29s ever consigned to vinyl, Jefferson Airplane’s ‘White Rabbit’, to allow Her Ladyship not to miss the bus home! Thanks Heidi!

All good musicians, Heidi is no slouch on the 6 string either, they are a good few notches up from the majority of covers outfits. I suspect the second set had further surprises but sadly the buses back to Bunternet Boulevard are too unreliable to risk the last one, so we missed them.

Check them out at the earliest opportunity.

Oysterband. Brudenell Social Club. 12.5.22

Oysterband are back on the road, unleashing their folk- rock anthems on a small but perfectly-formed Brudenell. A sold-out show, with the dance floor all seated.

They usually have a new record to flog and today is no exception. And their new record, whatever it is, never falls short of their high writing standards. ‘Corner of the Room’ and ‘Roll Away’ ( a rare cover?) fit in well among staples like ‘River Runs’, ‘All that way for this’ and ‘Here comes the flood’. I’ll not give a blow-by-blow setlist, I am sure there are people out there who prefer to be surprised, but pretty much all the classics are in the current set.

Our only disappointment was the lack of ‘Bells of Rhymney’ but some surprises made up for it. And it was probably the quietest I have ever heard them. I used to describe them to Oysterband virgins as Fairport turned up to 11, not tonight though.

Essential still, after 40 plus years.

Northern Kin Festival. Ushaw House. 29.4.22-1.5.22

Good directions on web site, good guidance from stewards and good price for a pint of Fosters (£4.50, cheaper than last year)… and a good start for a review.

Friday. Dr Feelgood. First act of interest for us. I first saw them in the Wilko days and have stuck with them. Now with 80s guitarist Gordon Russell back to replace his replacement Steve Walwyn. Opening with ‘Drives Me Wild’ and ending with ‘One More Shot’ , there are plenty of familiar songs , plus a couple of new songs. No ‘She Does It Right’, would I be a bit harsh saying that GR hasn’t quite ‘done it right’ just yet? Still very good though, a lot of people thought so too

Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy. A trio playing ELP stuff without a keyboard player?! Yes, but it works! Starting out with ‘Welcome Back…’. by the time we got to ‘Benny The Bouncer’ I thought we were getting the same set as at HRH Prog (see previous review). But, no, we got ’21st Century Schizoid Man’! OK, there is a link to King Crimson, and it was great. Never heard anyone play it live before. Think the Fosters must have attacked my tear ducts.

Becoming tired and emotional, headed off to Zedsville. From my bed I could hear both Newton Faulkner and Scottish 90s rockers Gun (not the Brummie ‘Gun’ from the late 60s). I could make out their version of ‘Word Up’ before the lights went out.

A decent first day

Saturday. Cregan and Co. Featuring ‘go to’ session musician Jim Cregan, who was in Family, Cockney Rebel and Rod Stewart’s live ensemble. Usually billed as ‘Rod Stewart’s musical director’, does that mean he showed Roderick how to get to the stage from the bar? OK, he co-wrote some of his hits, but incorporating a reality talent show finalist Rod-alike is a bit cheesy, methinks. The front man even abandons the gravelly mode for Mr Harley’s ‘pension’ song (Jim provided the original guitar solo). Plenty singing along to an hour of Rod’s catalogue, yours truly not involved.

Fairport Convention. A bloke from the Levellers was still Beautiful Daying when we went into the tent. He went off eventually. Starting with ‘Walk Awhile’ and finishing with ‘Matty Groves’, the rest of the Fairport set was mainly from the latter half of their career (apart from another dip into the ‘Full House’ lp). And no ‘Meet On The Ledge’?! No doubt because of previous much lesser-talented act over-running?! Asshole! Always liked FC, Her Ladyship had to sing MOTL by herself. Next up were Focus, had enough of their Twoddly -Yoddling at HRH, so sat out in the sunshine. Chatted to Royal Park Rich and Sharon. Discovered that it was ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ and sadly it had nothing to do with the Al Pacino film.

Never seen any attraction in Urban Voodoo Machine , and Peat and Diesel seemed to start out a bit different but lurched into ‘Dirty Old Town’. No doubt to be followed by ‘Leaving of Liverpool’, ‘7 Drunken Nights’ and ‘Whiskey in the Jar’. Didn’t hang about for confirmation.

Caught the end of Then Jerico doing ‘Big Area’ and waited for Bernie Marsden. Always smiley, always puts on a good show and always something to sell! Whitesnake songs plus plenty of Peter Green references. A bit like the Sydophiles, who can’t tolerate Pink Floyd without Barrett, the Fleetwood Mac Green-era faction are totally anti the ‘Rumours’ and onwards line-ups. I have been listening to ‘Behind the Mask’ feat. Billy Burnette and Rick Vito. The former was in FMac for 8 years, the latter for 4 years, Mr Green for not quite 3 years. Another festival regular though.

King King. And another festival regular. Our friend Janet, who has a PhD (Pink hair Do) reckons they have gone ‘commercial’, Her Ladyship commented that, while they are good, she couldn’t remember a single song. They do seem to have lost a bit of ‘edge’ and, paradoxically, I only realised they had another guitarist when he was mentioned. Too heavily dominated by big organ chords, and too many minor chords. But Royal Park Rich hadn’t seen them before and thought they were excellent. He was not alone.

Del Amitri. More 90s JockRockers, HL used to like them back in the day, but even she thought them a bit anachronistic now. We headed off to the strains of ‘The Last To Know’

But not a bad day

Sunday. Sat outside Main tent, being assailed by Stevie Wonder songs delivered by someone born much closer than Mr Wonder was, we tried to work out our timetable. (Unaware of recent changes)

Sad Cafe Back treading the boards, including one original and one near-original member. The male and female vocalists looked more like they should have been in Lynyrd Skynyrd. Starting out with ‘Hungry Eyes’ from their second lp and finishing with their biggest hit ‘Every Day Hurts’ from their anagrammatical ‘Facades’ lp, they also seemed to have been given a slot shorter than some others.

Andy Fairweather Lowe. Her Ladyship had a poster of him above her bed in 1968 and it is above our bed now! (Well half of the previous statement is true). So she got her place on barrier. Five piece outfit, with a bit of a Jools Holland ‘Lite’ air. An early brush with reggae via ‘Something You Got’ was different to Dr Feelgood’s 80s stab at it. The set took in ‘From Me To You’ and ‘One After 909’ from The Beatles and a bunch of instrumentals from likes of Duane Eddy, The Champs and Booker T. But eventually we got ‘Wide Eyed And Legless’ and Her Ladyship’s 50 years plus wait for Amen Corner wasn’t far behind.

FM . Bumped up two slots. we had moved outside so missed seeing them. Their mid-80s stuff still has a following though. Big choruses.

HL went into Acoustic tent, she said there was a bloke who sounded like he wanted to be in the Beautiful South. She wasn’t wrong, it was a bloke from a tribute act.( Irritating that copy acts are more popular than original music, don’t get me started!) No interest in Skerryvore or Nik Kershaw, we waited patiently for the real deal…

Squeeze. Bit late coming on, but they launched into an hour of absolute classics…OK, ‘F-Hole’ leading into ‘Labelled With Love’ was a non-single and ‘Cradle to the Grave’ is from the eponymous lp, but starting out with ‘Take Me I’m Yours’ and ending with ‘Black Coffee In Bed’, they took in all points in between. Only ‘Another Nail In My Heart’ was absent. Could have done without solos and singalongs though. (‘Tempted’ was needlessly ‘Crackerjacked’). Mssrs D and T have honed an all-killer, no-filler set. A great note to finish on


  1. Music. One, at least, of our favourites on each day.
  2. Sound. Very good
  3. Security. Never been so thoroughly searched …and on every day. Thought it was a bit much to ask me to drop my pants and bend over while he shone a torch up my arse though. Just as well it didn’t happen. But no objections from us re security. Couldn’t have even smuggled a hip flask in.
  4. Stewards. Friendly, never saw any need for any interventions.
  5. Bar. We were prepared for extortion after last year, but I found Foster’s for £4.50. Acceptable
  6. Toilets. Always very clean. Only lack of bog roll was on final morning
  7. Customers. N East fests are always the friendliest in the country
  8. Camping. We were a bit nervous about setup, but were allowed to park next to our tent. Critical for OAPs!
  9. Food. Plenty of options, but maybe not for vegans.
  10. Stalls. No music stalls, a few clothing and jewellery stalls
  11. Dogs n kids. If you want to be surrounded by both or either at a festival, this is the one for you.
  12. Value. Exceptional, £59 a ticket.

Overall, if next year is promised to be the same as this year, put us down for two.

Update. Have just checked website, and it seems that next year’s early bird ticket is a mind-boggling £99.50!!! An inflation-busting 67% increase! I can only assume The Beatles are on.

Further update. Line-up revealed, I predicted The Levellers as headliners. I wasn’t wrong. Having had to pull out this year, Wishbone Ash are on, but maybe by default? Average lineup announcement, we won’t be giving our money to piss-takers. And not for Stone Valley North either.

HRH Prog X1. Sheffield O2 Academy. 2-3.4.2022

Our first visit to any of the popular HRH brand of festivals, some of our festifriends recommended it.

Saturday. Bit late getting there , halfway during what appeared to be Moon Goose. Seemed to be an all-/ instrumental outfit, pretty much setting the theme.

Psychic Lemon. Guitar /drums plus FX. Again, no vocals but a lot of sound.

The Fierce and the Dead. Have seen them before, and know people who are fans. But I just don’t get them. They just seem to play demos of songs to which they haven’t got to adding vocals to. Then they played a song which had some words. But it was a rarity. I hadn’t been converted.

Nth Ascension. Regulation 5-piece prog line-up, redolent of Gabriel-era Genesis. A Floydy instrumental had some iffy guitar. A group definitely in the prog stratum.

Spacelords. Instrumental trio from Germany, had checked them out a couple of years ago. Best so far

Hawklords. Part of the Hawkwind family, any of the original Hawklords line-up are long gone. A heavier version of their parent mob (no sax), they dip into Hawkwind stuff too .We both like them.

Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy. Seen them before too, and was absolutely gobsmacked when they played ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ …with no keyboards?! But it worked! Starting out with the familiar words ‘Welcome Back My Friends…’, Carl and Co. give us a ‘hits’ set including ‘Knife Edge’, ‘Lucky Man’, ‘Benny the Bouncer’ (CP on vocals), ‘Hoedown’ and ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’. No ‘Pictures…’this time. Encoring with ‘Nutrocker’, we got a display of absolutely terrifying musicianship. Each of them an absolute master of his trade, and the drummer won’t see 70 again!

Decided against Rick Wakeman to try and catch a bus back to the hotel, which we just missed. So went to the Yorkshireman pub, we could hear some music rumbling up from the basement. It was…

Sushi Belushi. Chesterfield quartet, in the mode of RATM, Alice in Chains. And absolutely excellent! Playing to an audience of about 0.5% of what was over the road, we quickly decided to stay the distance. They must have known Her Ladyship is a Black Sabbath fan, by playing ‘War Pigs’. One brief lapse into a jazz-funk-bollox number was forgiveable. A good day all in all

Sunday. Looked at the line-up, decided to wine and dine for a while before going in. It ended up being ‘quite a while’.

This Winter Machine. Yorkshire proggers, they had an unfortunate false start. Another outfit that brought to mind early Genesis. Well-hidden keyboard player very much to the fore. One number had a nod to Iron Butterfly’s ‘In a Gadda da Vida’

Focus. Starting with ‘Focus 1’, not long before we got ‘House of the King’, which 50% of the world’s population think is by Jethro Tull. Then it is ‘Eruption’. A little man appeared in my head, shouting ‘Why don’t you write some f**king words, you stupid fat git, instead of f**king yodolloddloddling and ladedahing !?’ I was praying for a 20 minute drum solo even. ‘Sylvia’ came along, then ‘Moving Waves’ (which did have some sort of lyrics). And ‘Hocus Pocus’ of course. Did ‘Focus 3’ as an encore which he admitted was ‘forbidden’. Yes, and also totally unprofessional to maybe cut 10 minutes out of headliner’s Wishbone Ash’s slot.

Wishbone Ash. Playing their recent regular set, their complete ‘Argus’ show will come later this year. To be brief it is B/E/EWO/TKWC/W/TDTS/WSAO/SITR/P, with BF/J as encores. Fortunately the previous lot’s overrun didn’t affect them too much. Mr P’s vocals were clear, as were his and Mark’s guitars. Mike’s drums were big and confident and Bob on bass was…Bob. (As ever.) M & M’ s playing obviously fired by their liquid lunch in the nearby Head of Steam. The recent line-ups certainly seem to have rebooted AP, the MM years had them too often in cruise control. (NB. Cunning use of letter M!). I recall on 6 April 1988 we saw the reformed Mk1 lineup here, at Roxy’s as it was then.

Bus back to hotel, and ZZZs

So, how was our first brush with HRH

  1. Music. Pretty much all could be squeezed under the prog banner
  2. Sound. There seem to have possibly been concerns about onstage sound and gear but the sound out front was fine.
  3. Food. A desert for vegetarians. Little choice at all. But coffee @£1.50 was fine. There was also what looked like Usain Bolt’s willy in a bread roll that straddled 2 postcodes for a fiver which looked amazing value
  4. Beer. The HRH beer was advertised online @£4.25 but was £5.50. Hobgoblin was >£6.00. So not cheap by any means. And card only
  5. Security. Low key, never seemed to be needed

An enjoyable weekend, we’ll be back.

Great British Rock and Blues Festival. Butlin’s, Skegness. 14-17 January 2022

Last year fell victim to Covid, but 2022 is on and we are here. A review of all things good and not so good…

Friday. First on the Introducing Stage is Max Bianco. Youthful 4-piece, the sound, as always at Skeggy, was very good. Original songs, one of them had a ‘Come Together’ feel. They seemed to be lacking a lead guitarist, but seems I missed their saying that they were indeed one short! Her Ladyship liked them, but thought they could have done with more up tempo songs. Time for food.

Ken Pustelnik’s Groundhogs. Not ‘The Groundhogs’ (as advertised), that is a different group. This outfit were formed relatively recently by KP, performing stuff from his days as The Groundhogs drummer. (Fans of Wishbone Ash, The Searchers, Barclay James Harvest, Foghat know only too well of duplicates!). Front man Chris on guitar and vocals is pretty good, and their short but decent opening set is well performed. The usual early 70s set, featuring lots of audience-pleasing classics eg ‘Garden’, ‘Soldier’ with ‘Cherry Red’ to finish. No, they don’t sound like Tony McPhee but his songs, playing and singing were very ‘eccentic’ and a bit out of step with the rest of the British blues-rock movement. Noticed Ken walking round after, an innocuous little old man in a scruffy anorak! But he was born in 1946!

King King. Seen them seen them a few times a few times at festivals. Respectable blues-rawk stuff, our festifriend Tez reckons they have gone a bit ‘corporate’. I agree. I got that ‘Two and a half songs glazing over’ feeling and moved back from the front stalls. They are well supported though.

Miguel Montalban. Had checked him out on t’ t’Internet, he looked interesting so chose him rather than the ever-dependable Stray in Centre Stage. (I never went into Centre Stage all weekend, in fact). MM is talented but all the 100mph guitar fretwankathons eventually just got tedious. The set was over heavy on instrumentals too. Just as I was thinking that I hadn’t heard any covers all day, I realised he was playing ‘Hey Joe’ (Hendrix’s was a cover version too). Left for bed before the end. but it had been a decent first day.

Saturday. Doors open at midday, acoustic singer/guitarist Dave Speight is in the graveyard slot. Three Big Bill Broonzy songs for starters, then a couple associated with Rev Gary Davis. Lots of chat about the old bluesers, and the obligatory ‘Crossroads’ got an airing. Great acoustic guitar playing, perfect midday Saturday start to the day. Thankfully, Skeggy have resisted starting out with a set of noisy metallers telling us to ‘Let’s f**kin rock Skegness, let’s see your f**kin hands in the air…’

Laurence Jones. For us, another of those 2000AD bluesers who churn out a cd every year or so and turn up at blues festivals. Interchangeable with countless others. Inoffensive stuff, but somewhat short of earth-shattering. 100% bearded four-piece, wanted us to sing along after a couple of minutes. ‘Purple Haze’ to finish.

The Stumble. Another Skeggy hardy annual. (More of that concept later). Instrumental intro then grand entrance by singer., (Pompous, bloody annoys me! But will forgive Lou Reed doing it on his brilliant ‘Rock and Roll Animal’ LP)). A basic blues/soul review, not lacking in self-esteem. Been going for 20 years. Do they really need three guitarists? I assume one of them owns the van. Left after a while and caught the end of Gorilla Riot in the Pavilion, should have left earlier.

Dana Gillespie. We opted for Hot Shots venue for the evening. The indefatigible septuagenarian Ms G is first on. With a young 17 year old guitarist, slightly older drummer and much older keyboeard player in tow (and a heavy cold), she served up 90 minutes of stuff from the jazz-blues spectrum. No mention of David Bowie, which was surprising. Definitely more than their fair share of iffy moments, but her group were soloing more than usual to help out Ms G’s struggling larynx. A well-received show. but too long. The longest set of the weekend.

Jo Carley and the Old Dry Skulls. Our reason for choosing Hot Shots tonight. An audio-visual 3-piece, wonderfully wacky, devil/zombie/voodoo/bones experience. The word is spreading. Catch them while you can. A lot of converted JC and Co virgins by the end.

When Rivers Meet. Another outfit with a big following, revolving around husband and wife duo Aaron and Grace. Her Ladyship had seen their acoustic duo show before and was impressed. But my first impression was that would they have the same adulation if the lead female vocalist/instrumentalist was an overweight, grey-haired, middle-aged woman rather than a pretty, petite, scantily-clad young woman? Harsh but fair. We didn’t stay. Their songs weren’t memorable, and their acoustic mini-set was just naff. One of our reasons for abandoning the Cambridge Rock Festival was its addiction to 5-piece, dolly bird singer outfits a la Mostly Autumn. I can hear the howls of indignation from mainly middle-aged single men as I write!

Sunday Opening the final day are the Gary Fletcher Band. A side project for Blues Band bassist GF, fans of the defunct Hamsters will have spotted bassist Zsa Zsa back treading the boards. The Blues Band are on their final tour so Mr F could be looking for employment soon, but this combo are a great start to a Sunday afternoon. His ‘So Lonely’, from the Blues Band’s ‘Itchy Feet’ was included, as was Blind Willie Johnson’s ‘Nobody’s Fault But Mine’. How strange that a band of heavy metal burglars should credit the writers as some people called Plant and Page when BWJ wrote it in 1928. Slip of the pen obviously. Gary and Co were a bit better than their last Skeggy appearance (Harp player Alan Glen , ex Nine Below Zero, was missing today)

And it is indeed Nine Below Zero. Still sporting a 6-piece line-up, they just don’t compare with the classic quartets of earlier years. Maybe Dennis Greaves, at 62, has just wound things down? (Mick Jagger is more energetic now than he was 60 years ago though!). Plenty of their 80s repertoire still, with the young female getting more than one outing. Mark Feltham gets to sing too. Do we need a Ray Charles singalong?! This is definitely 9BZ-Lite, and even though I am in a very small minority, I just reckon it is ‘same name, different game’.

Jim Kirkpatrick Band. Another bluesy, rocky 4-piece. (Hammond organ sound was a definite feature of the weekend.) And Mr K, like Dana G’s guitarist, seemed to come over all BB King-ish when strapping on a red Gibson ‘Lucille’ guitar. Their ‘Brave New World’ was certainly Floydish , but he did warn us. He didn’t warn us about the 100 mph guitar solo though. Predictable cheers when mentioning Rory Gallagher (no, I never ‘got’ him). Then those magic five words (This Is Our Last Song), so Exit Stage Left. Sorry, a bit unfair, they weren’t bad! Bit of name-dropping, but I assume nowhere near as loud as Deborah Bonham’s).

Allman Brothers Band Project. I like the ABB, but sadly never got to see them. So, despite my loathing of the whole Tribute Act Industry, I was interested to see how they did. The backdrop had a bright display, mentioning ‘ Fillmore Sessions’, so I was a bit surprised to hear the likes of ‘Ramblin’ Man’, ‘Jessica’ and ‘Soulshine’ from post-Duane eras. Plenty from 69-71 though, ‘Statesboro’ Blues. ‘…Elizabeth Reed’, ‘Dreams’ and more. All played with much enthusiasm but with a fair share of ‘senior moments’ too’ Sometimes it is good to see copy acts, it it reminds you of how good the originals were/are and how it is not always easy (or wise) to try and replicate it. Couldn’t catch much of the patter, but the group could also be a bit of a family affair? They set the bar high and went down well

Dr Feelgood. Guitarist Gordon Russell has rejoined, replacing Steve Walwyn (his successor in 1989).Current line-up is 75% of the 1983-89 version, sans Mr Brilleaux of course). They feature a couple of new songs, from an upcoming new lp. I had forgotten how different Mssrs Walwyn and Russell’s guitar playing was. One extremely welcome change was the farewell to the marathon half-time blues overkill. Now back to a much briefer ‘Shotgun’. No other real surprises, Her Ladyship spent most of the (criminally short) set dancing. They always go down well, and do what it says on the can.

Johnnie Williamson and Blue Swamp Band. Final act, and regular attendees. A good name for the group, summing up their sound. Good renditions of Yardbirds ‘I Ain’t Got You’ and Robert Palmer’s ‘Bad Case of Loving You’. both cover versions themselves. Predictable Creedence covers from Mr W too and ‘Polk Salad Annie’ was pretty tight. And it was all over. So….

  1. Music. As always, the line-up is never as advertised! But still a good weekend of music. Jo Carley and Co were my ‘Best of Fest’.
  2. Accommodation. Perfectly acceptable, as was
  3. Food. Usual examples of people taking far more than they need (‘Ah’ve bloody paid for it…’) and leaving half of it.
  4. Clientele. At one point, I thought that the entire population of the North East of England had been evacuated to Skegness on Friday, with instructions to plonk a chair or stand in a thoughtless place. Which they duly carried out. But mostly very friendly.
  5. Beer. Drifting a bit further away from pub prices maybe but acceptable
  6. Stalls. Not loads, but one of them, Little Pot Stove Records, had a great range of relevant (and sensibly priced) discs. Second hand cds from £2 too. And their Little Pot Stove Vintage display had lots of interesting stuff. Yours truly bagged a new Steve Earle cd for less than a price of a pint and Her Ladyship bought some guitar ear-rings for less than the price of two pints.
  7. Queues. Never been to a Butlin’s weekend without them. Sadly, it was no different this time.
  8. Plastic pots. No rationale. To help avoid waste, we take our own reuseable marked pint pots. We have to get our drinks in single-use plastic pots and decant into ours! Have tried complaining to Butlin’s, hopeless. One laughable comment from a bar person was that she isn’t allowed to handle my pint pot! So how can you handle my bloody money?! Stunned silence. The pots are, allegedly, recycled. So they employ someone to empty all the bags of pots, food,paper etc from the venues and separate the plastic pots?
  9. Familiar Faces. If you are wondering why you see Pete Barton (Creedence tributes, former Animal), The Stumble and Johnnie Williamson every year, it is not down to coincidence. Mssrs B, W and one of The Stumble are (or were?) part of Rock Artist Management. This company book the artists for Butlin’s.. (Apologies if I am mistaken). So they are booking themselves! (Conflict of interest?!, I hear you cry. What’s to stop you paying yourself an exorbitant wedge of Butlin’s money?). Look at RAM’s roster, and look at the line-ups of this and other Butlin’s weekends. Makes interesting reading.
  10. T-shirts. Rory Gallagher and Pink Floyd fought out an honourable draw in the non-performers apparel bout.
  11. Covid restrictions. Mask requirements in place, adhered to when reminded basically. No social distancing at all in the venues. We have heard of at least one person who has tested positive since. And, sadly, I don’t think it was the a*•”hole who announced in the restaurant that he ‘hadn’t got round to getting vaccinated yet’. We have both tested negative on return, we think it responsible to test anyway (even though we have previously had it and isolated accordingly).

A good weekend. We have been going for a long time. But, please, let’s not go down Tribute Boulevard! First act announced for next year appears to be an Alex Harvey copy group. Oh dear.

Sorry about lack of photos. Lighting proved to be too bright for Her Ladyship.



Struggling to add photos of musicians and setlists. Updated format proving demonic.

Do$ch. R.I.P.

Sadly, it looks like Sheffield’s finest, Do$ch, have called it a day. And, yes, I know where Pulp, Human League, Arctic Monkeys and Joe Cocker are from.

The Do$ch egg-timer has finally run down, and it must be a bloody big one, having been turned upside down in the last century.

We’ve seen them many times, most memorably at Her Ladyship’s 6Oth birthday bash. The venue was packed with Do$ch virgins, who still talk about them years later.

Obvious great fans of Wilko-era Dr Feelgood and The Pirates, they had some cracking original songs too. And they never gave anything less a great performance, both musically and visually, with various rhythm sections.

So a fond farewell to Andy and Ian and all their partners in crime, and genuine best wishes from Bunternet Towers.