Northern Kin Festival.17-19 Sept. 2021. Ushaw House, Durham

We came to the first NK and enjoyed it (apart from teenage girls pinching festival £2,00 pint pots). Hope it has been addressed. New venue, Sat Nav woman directed us into a residential cul-de-sac for some reason. Massive amounts of tents already there when we eventually arrived. The event has grown ‘exponentially’, to use Covid adverb. Tent up quickly again, cold Lidl lager tins passed the time until 3.00pm.

Friday. First up are Creedence Clearwater Revived. Fronted by Pete Barton (regular Bunternet readers will know of him) with the ex-Slack Alice bassist too. Have they changed their name from Clearwater Creedence Revival (cunning moniker!)? The names may change but they are a copy act. I know at least one person who said they had seen Creedence Clearwater Revival on Friday, and thought it was the genuine item. Waited for the bar queue to recede and went for pinteroos with our ‘complimentary vouchers’. MUCH more on that later! So Barton and Co did what they do, to decent applause. Met up with Gayle and Mike SAGA (Salford Anti Greenchair Assoc) and Janet, who has got a Ph.D. (Pink hair Do)

Hector Gannet. NE combo with original songs

Geordie. Preceded by a blast of AC/DC, where most music fans know former Geordie singer Brian Johnson ended up. The lads are still going, with 2 originals, We got a fairly heavy rock hour, with many in the audience recognising their 70s hits. ‘House of the Rising Sun’ ended a well-received set

Little Moscow. More NE lads, with a Hairy Biker on lead vocals. I had been intrigued by young people wearing ‘Waiting For The Sun’ T-shirts, they seemed too young to be Doors fans. But it was a Little Moscow song too. Too jazz/ funky for me, they gave us some Stevie, Marvin, Doobies as well as their own songs. A jazzy assault on Bo Diddley was dreadful, but they obviously had a lots of friends there.

Atomic Rooster. 70s members Steve and Pete resurrected the name about 5 years ago, and they have been festival regulars since. Couldn’t hear much keyboard from our vantage point early on, They included their 2 hits ‘Tomorrow Night’ and ‘Devil’s Answer’,and LP title track ‘Death Walks Behind You’ in what was the ‘best of fest’ set so far.

We didn’t bother waiting up for Big Country and headed back to the tent. Like most of the known acts at the weekend, they seemed to have a ‘festival hour’ set which included many familiar songs. Not a bad first day at all (musically)

Saturday. Gates late opening. Yesterday we presented our plastic pints pots for filling, only to be refused on ‘Health and Safety’ grounds. Apparently, said the girl, ‘she didn’t know what may have been in it?!’ But we are the ones drinking it!! We were trying to reduce need for one-use plastic pots, she said the pots were biodegradeable. A lie, it would have said on the pot. Anyway, maybe today’s delay was via the same girl summoning a Deep Clean from Dyno-Rod, having heard somebody fart near the toilets. Trials of Cato. Folky foursome, we watched with dogs within 5 yards on all points N,S,E and W. One even crapped, seemingly with consent from its owner. I made sure she sheepishly cleaned it up. The Cato people kept instructing us to sing and dance. Even towards the end, the female announced that she expected more dancing by the end! They are destined for a career of opening Saturday afternoon festival rosters, methinks.

Lancashire Hotpots. Quite a few in, we hadn’t seen them before, but were ultimately disappointed. Songs about IKEA, drinking, bin men, it was family friendly , wittyditty stuff. (Can I claim ‘wittyditty’?). On the scale of Wittyditty acts, if you imagine The Wurzels at one end (banal) and The Doonicans at the other (brilliant) , this lot are a bit short of halfway along.

Skippinish. Not quite PPI (Plastic Paddy Infatuation) so slightly relieved. More Scottish/Northumbrain than Captain Pugwash. This stuff is always very festival-friendly.

Band of Friends. Started up by Rory Gallagher’s rhythm section to keep RG’s music alive. (I just never ‘got’ him), they started out with ‘Messin’ with the Kid’…but it sounded different. Went to investigate, and saw that they now have a new (twin) guitar line-up. I don’t know a lot of RG songs, but got the impression that. not unlike eg Skinny Molly , Son of Man and Snakecharmer, BOF are taking on their own identity. And it sounded pretty good. Plenty of RG t-shirts as usual.

Martin Barre. The former Tull guitarist is playing the full Aqualung lp to celebrate its 50 years, but started out with other numbers, incl ‘A New Day Yesterday’. Then moaned that they were indeed going to do Aqualung but didn’t have a lot of time. So why didn’t bloody start out with it? Pillock! Some of the acoustic sections had female lead. Interesting!

Ferocious Dog. Lots of T-shirts in evidence, I haven’t got one. Raucous Plastic Paddy stuff from Warsop. No interest to me or from me.

Red Hot Chilli Pipers. Like above lot, they were here at first NK. And are still a one-trick pony, and it’s not a great trick. Basically a pub covers outfit with kilts, bagpipes and dolly birds.

Wilko Johnson. Saw Wilks in his Feelgood days and quite regularly since. It was a few songs in before ‘Going Back Home’ and his solo classic ‘Doctor Dupree’. Then it was his half-time ‘fannying about’ section. Got some Bob Dylan and ‘Roxette’ before his lengthy ‘Everybody’s Carrying a Gun’ segment. Drum solo, bass solo, eventually finishing with ‘Back in the Night’ and ‘She Does It Right’. Wilko’s vocals are bloody awful (I think) and he has been left Dr Feelgood for about 45 years, having been in them for about 5 years. But still a great guitarist and performer. But too much ‘treading water’. A decent day’s music, all in all.

Sunday. Headsticks. The SAGA duo like them, but even though they are a fiddle short of full PPI shite, they do nowt for me. ‘Let’s have a little dance’ suggestion from the stage died on its arse, and so it should . It’s noon on a bloody Sunday! Get Paul Simon to come over and do an hour, I’ll gladly pay an extra 50p. But, again, their politico stuff goes down well. Her Ladyship liked them

Gerry Jablonski. Gerry on G/v, plus b/d/harmonica. Blues-rock quartet, but heavier. Another of the Larry, Lawrence, Danny, Ainsley etc who twiddly-diddly for an hour or so at festivals. Only this bloke has an ‘f’ word in most of his patter. Janet Ph.D is a fan.

Black Balled. Late replacement for Tankus the Henge, and it proved to be an inspired choice. Power trio, their first song had a definite ‘Oh Well’ feel and the second had a definite ZZ Top vibe. Also had a stand-in drummer, they put in a great and well-received stint.

Climax Blues Band. Originally formed as Climax Chicago Blues Band, they now have no original members, and hardly any blues. Another regular on the festival circuit, but very ‘Ronnie Scotts’. Jazz more than blues now, heavy on sax. ‘Spoonful’ started out more like the Canned Heat version than the Cream one, but soon developed into jazz-funk bollox. Singer kept telling us they had a recent ‘No.1 album’. Where? In his shed? We got the hit ‘Couldn’t Get It Right’, of course.

Lindisfarne. OK, only Rod is an original member, but not many people stay in the same job for 50 years! And people die! As always, they put on a super pro show, trimmed down to an hour of (mainly) familiar songs. Starting out with ‘No Time to Lose’ and finishing with ‘Clear White Light’ (which had Her Ladyship emanating buckets of IPA from her tear ducts), there were plenty of singalongs en route. And Rod C always namechecks Alan Hull copiously.

Hue and Cry. 80s popsters

Alabama 3. Saw them at Rhythm Festival many moons ago, It was remiss of me not to give them sufficient attention. Because I thought they were really good today. I hadn’t realised The Sopranos series opened with one of their songs. I was in the little boys’ room when I heard what seemed like Traffic’s ‘Dear Mr Fantasy’ over the air waves. When I got back it seemed to be the Velvet Underground’s ‘Oh Sweet Nuthin’. So 2 bonus points! Quite a few people drifting out though, probably those who had work on Monday

Finally, Nazareth. Still with Pete Agnew on bass, he recently turned 75! And like others this weekend, gave us a fest-friendly hour. All the hits, apart from ‘Bad Bad Boy’ plus likes of ‘Razzamanazz’ and Nils Lofgren’s ‘Beggars Day’. Again, Her Ladyship ( a fan since their Scarborough gig in 72) was awash with tears. And that was it. So, let’s have a precis

1.Music. Very good. Some decent names on each day

2.Value. Music-wise, exceptional for ticket price of<£50.

3.Food. Not too expensive, on a par with other fests

4.Sound. Pretty good

5. Security. Place seemed to have a lot of people producing cans and bottles from bags and coats. We got searched every time! There were a couple of instances of unruly behaviour during Big Country and Nazareth sets apparently. A Scottish element?!

6. Toilets. HL encountered a ‘Bangers and Mash’ scenario early on, but after that they were generally ok.

7.Site cleanliness. Cleaning up started before last acts had even finished. Pretty efficient

8. Camp site. Stewards directed our car to somewhere near Carlisle. We ignored them

9. Clientele. Majority definitely not south of Sheffield. And friendly. And, having lost my coin purse after about an hour on Friday, I thought I would (optimistically) ask at Box Office on Saturday . And it had been handed in! Many thanks for confirming there is a North/South divide!

10. Stalls. 9 food stalls, but little else

11.Seating. Benches were a good touch. The SAGA duo pointed out that people were bringing their own chairs and using the benches for their bloody coffee and sandwiches!

And last, but definitely not least

12. Bar. Big queue on first day, to be greeted that beer was £5.50 a pint! This is, according to website. ‘fantastic value for money’!! By ‘fantastic’, did they mean the definition ‘not real’?! And hardly ‘real ale’either. Queues on later days were strangely smaller. £5.50 may be the norm in London, but the clientele here was mainly Scottish or from NE, where wages don’t match up to southern disposable incomes. We booked in 2019, with a view to seeing Wishbone Ash and Fairport Convention. But, as requested by the organiser, we rolled over our tickets as the event would have gone tits up if all had requested refunds. It was a strangely long time before WA’s non-appearance was announced, we knew ages before. Our reward was 2x£5 beer vouchers each, So a pint of lager (£4,70) + pint of beer (£5.50) =£10.20 , so 2 tokens plus 20p? No, small print, £5 token valid for upto and incl £5.00. (And no change).So can’t submit voucher +50p for a pint of beer either!! So if you don’t like lager and you drink halves, you get a half of beer (£3,00) for each voucher. 4 halves for your ‘thank you for supporting us’ £20 vouchers. HL complained to bar manager, he said to complain to organiser…and she did, big style. His response? It’s down to the bar company! Absolute farce and could totally have spoiled the weeekend. We took deep breaths and basically likened it to going to NYC and paying the going rate.

Everybody’s no.1 topic of conversation wasn’t the music, food, toilets, etc but the bar prices. First thought is that the organiser is charging too much for the pitch, and Joe Public basically has to foot the bill. Her Ladyship told complainers to get on social media and not just grumble among themselves. Looking at the Facebook page, either very few complainers have voiced their opinions on social media or their comments have been censored

I would rather have paid more for the ticket and got reasonable bar prices.

I know customers who said they won’t be here next year. And the change of venue raised a few eyebrows too. Hints of refunds being non-existent. If they are looking to be a 10k crowd occasion, I think we may look elsewhere too.

It’s a shame that the review was almost taken over by the bar scenario, because most other factors were very good.

Pics soon.

Onboard The Craft. 9-11 Sept 2021. Stoke Prior.

Another of our fests carried over from last year. It took us ages to get there, courtesy of A42 being closed and my subsequent ignoring Mrs Sat Nav directing us to toll roads…despite my orders. But Her Ladyship got tent up in record time and we watched the usual suspects dribble in. Landrover Bare Feet Man was already there, as was Scouse Orange T Shirt Black Trousers Woman. Gradually, Mrs Piano Legs, Betty Bumless, Andy The Laugh, Caz The Van, Vince The Guitar, Hannah The Goth, Glowstick Man, Purple Annie (sans purple hair) and Mr HUT BAT (He Used To Be A Teacher) all arrived. As did lots of bearded men with Hawkwind/lords attire. (Rhythmic Raymond not here, niece’s wedding I believe).

Thursday. Kick off at 8.30 pm with BB Blackdog and Friends. BB’s drummer had been on his kit since we arrived at 4,30pm. First difference of the weekend was replacement as MC for (recently deceased) Kosmic Ken. It was Jim Beerman (more of him later). BB’s Dale started out solo, but we couldn’t hear much (lots of people talking, but probably a) all excited and b) been stuck in traffic too! The line-up onstage came and went, we got ‘Creep’ and consecutive Canned Heat numbers. The sound got gradually heavier, and they gave out some dvds from some years back. An excellent , if short, opening night

Friday. First up at ,4-ish was Blackburn troubadour Phil Cudworth. Guitar/vocals, he got good applause.

Visitation. Young, bearded, bespectacled rhythm section plus an elderly white-haired guitar/vocalist. (Is it against some snowflake law to actually say they were male?!) I think they may have been a family affair, and I think we may have been setting next to more of the family. Afore-mentioned older member sported a Hawkwind T shirt, so musical style was not unexpected. Decent original songs, with Hawkwind’s ‘Utopia’ at the end.

Shankara . Duo with vibes (later drums) and big mandolin (later guitar). Laid back stuff.

Capt Roswell and the Lost Alien Tribe. First real trip to Planet Bonkers, with a 6-piece including 2 aliens. And a new cd. And great as usual.

Dr Hasbeen. Some Strangely Strange familiar faces. Young Craig seemed beset by guitar problems, no doubt having been attacked by some rival alien planet’s telepathic powers. ‘Little Green Men’ is mandatory, HL sported her home-made L G Man (and gave Martyn Hasbeen one). Great stuff.

Dr Diablo and the Rodent Show. Two bizarrely-dressed blokes plus backing tapes (OK, maybe not ‘tapes’ now!) Very difficult to compartmentalise, a sort of Rocky Horror Show meets the 1922 ‘Nosferatu’ silent film with a nod to Alice Cooper turned upto 11. Much detail gone into the show, it was very like a stage musical. Purple Annie wasn’t keen, but they were popular. Another good night.

Saturday. Monkey Trial. Midday graveyard slot. Guitar/keyboard pus FX. Much preferable to a bunch of 17 year-olds playing Oasis covers and telling us to put our f^*kin hands in the air!

SpacedOgs. One fewer Telecaster than at Wingy Thingy, but it got to be a bit of a racket, so went to listen from outside. Her Ladyship nipped back to the tent, en route she overheard Mr HUT BAT telling someone that, yes you guessed, he used to be a teacher!

Teenage Zombies. Rockabilly trio, consisting of Sgt Bilko’s brother on guitar, an uncredited extra from ‘Deliverance’ on drums/vocals and a bloke whose hair and eyebrows had been burned off in a late night chip pan fire on stand-up bass. Well It looked like that to me but I have just had a cataract op. Definitely too lively to be zombies and definitely too old to be teenage and definitely bloody good! Heavier guitar than usual rockabilly tone, there should be one rockabilly spot at any festival.

Big Sky Orchestra. First impressions were 5 blokes, 4 beards, 3 lots of shades, 2 electric 6-strings…and by the end it was 1 really, really good unit. Had a definite feeling of early Doobie Brothers in the soundcheck and it wasn’t long before I got a blast of something I have never heard played live before. A Grateful Dead song! (And I must have been to at least 100 fests since 2003 and seen 1000s of gigs). We got a lengthy medley, based on the late 70s Dead ‘Help on the Way’-‘Franklin’s Tower’ live favourite, and did I hear an Allmans tease somewhere? What made it really poignant was that the late Kosmic Ken was a past secretary of the UK Grateful Dead fan club. I wasn’t the only one who got a small piece of water mysteriously in my eye. Even though Ken did eventually ‘Go To Heaven’ I think he would be absolutely made up. Well-deserved encore was The Band’s ‘The Weight’. They were very slick and all on the same wavelength. A cracking set. deservedly getting the best reception so far. (And like their predecessors, only a last minute addition to the bill).

Wood Demons. Including a violinist, they were quite heavy on keyboards. Is this ‘ambient’? Got folky and rocky at times, they did liven up though.

Poisoned Electrick Head. 5-piece from St Helen’s with female bassist (which gets my immediate attention). Masks involved, which was fortunate because they were better visually than aurally. Basically old school punk but not even second rate. Much stuff from their 1986 lp, should I use the adjective ‘disappointing’ or just say ‘crap’? The latter, I think. To use a cliche, from the sublime (Big Sky Orchestra) to the ridiculous (this lot) in the space of a few hours). But very popular…and so was Mr Blobby in the 90s.

Harvey Bainbridge. Solo set from the ex-Hawkwind man. We got what seemed to be an anti-vaxx lecture at the start. Basically a bloke speaking and pressing some buttons, occasionally joined by a female fannying about. Lots of related T-shirts giving much applause.

Ozric Tentacles Electronic. Two male members, sometime augmented by female on flute. Much anticipated and much applauded. A good end to a good weekend.

So, overall

  1. Music. Very good, what it says on the box, with just enough diversity to avoid any ‘sameness’
  2. Beer. I had Carlsberg@£2.80 . Very good BUT got overcharged twice on Friday, (NB, not short changed). Can’t have just been me?! But the main lad was very good.
  3. Food. One outlet, very accommodating if not massively cheap.
  4. Clientele. Always friendly here.
  5. Sound. Mostly good.
  6. Camping. Unfortunately, we had (disconcertingly!) an intruder while we were asleep on last night. Took my insulin test kits which were slung when discovered not to be wallets. Bloke nearby also found his door mysteriously open. So can’t give camping full marks and, sadly, can’t give security full marks either. Reported to Martyn Hasbeen.
  7. Apart from camping incident, the only real negative for us was the MC, Jim Beerman. Ken basically introduced the acts and put on cds in between. Sadly Jim seems to think he is some sort of stand-up act with a naff catchphrase he tediously churned out all weekend.. We certainly don’t need lots of ‘effing’, he can save that for his own Beermageddon Fest. Martyn’s fests are a different clientele, which includes children. Jim’s choice of T shirt ‘Boris Johnson Is A Fu*king C*nt’ (without the asterisks) may be what a lot of people think, but should 9 year old kids be reading it and asking ‘What does that mean , Mummy?’ No it bloody shouldn’t be there. And why can he seemingly spew out gallons of vape crap inside when no one else does? A rethink please, Sharon and Martyn.

Only a couple of negatives, which didn’t spoil a very positive weekend

WordPress format change has sold Her Ladyship a dummy, which has delayed recent fest photos. Fingers crossed.

Wingy Thingy Festival. South Wingfield Social Club. 20-21 August 2021

Last year’s fest sadly didn’t happen. but it was scheduled to be a 3 day event. This year’s was only 2 days. Got there early, tent up next to The Wallingers (more of them later). First observation was that the adjoining bowling green toilets were closed. It can’t have been as a result of previous Wingy Thingyers activities, because organiser Annie Lowe personally cleaned them 3 times daily last time. Club stewardess Joy walked round the field welcoming us…a nice touch. (But also allowed her to count numbers and tents). Met up with afore-mentioned Annie and husband Dave, festival organisers par excellence. Dave’s intention was to be lighting supremo, in charge of (as he says ‘LGO switch’) Namely, Lights Go On/Lights Go Off). But, as ever, he lent his expertise to the sound crew. Tray of chips @ £1.30!! Last fest were £4.00.

Friday. Some Pink Floyd John Peel BBC concert stuff over PA (Embryo etc) then Sonic Trip Project. Space-rock fest regulars. After 10 mins of an opening jam in one chord (E), we both reckoned it was already better than the whole of last weekend’s fare. Second number had two chords and , yes, I think the third might have had three!

Captain Starfighter and the Lockheeds. ‘Spirit of the Age’ was the opener for much Hawkwinding. Steve Smith’s lad on guitar was often in Santana mode. Lots of referencing to the (sadly) late Kosmic Ken.

Twisted Biscuit. Seemingly much-anticipated, we soon found out they were basically a bog-standard punk covers pub outfit. Oh, and a ‘hilarious’ reworking of ‘Blockbuster’ as ‘Fat Bastard’. Usual Sham 69, Pistols etc, then a crap attempt at some Madness. An excruciating take on The Police had us dashing for the door, and the tent. Lots of ‘effing’ still ringing in our ears, time for bed.

Saturday. Got talking to a bloke who reckoned Twisted Biscuit had been great. Lots did. Met up with Nigel and (another) Annie. Her Ladyship and she had a couple of traditional festival heart-starter handmade Bloody Marys. First up,

SpacedOgs. Another regular space rock fest combo, featuring a triple Telecaster line-up. Similar to yesterday’s opening , long jam on one chord. Her Ladyship sat next to the bloke who tells everybody he was a teacher. He told her he was a teacher…again. She had about twenty goes at saying the word ‘superfluous’ when talking about the 3 guitar attack. She gave up and said ‘not needed’. It didn’t help that she and Annie had earlier drunk about 10% of the Smirnoff factory’s daily production of vodka. A Deviant Amps number was aired, with some rare vocals. Next was a long Em and D tune, using the Moodies ‘Nights in White Satin’ and Love’s ‘Signed D.C.’ structure.

Dubbal. Is ‘dub’ music just reggae turned up to 11? This lot have previously been very reggae orientated but were more eclectic this time . Donovan’s ‘Season of the Witch’ and a song I have never heard covered, It’s a Beautiful Day’s classic ‘White Bird.’ Reggae to finish though.

Crossroads. The name meant it was either based on Cream’s reworking of the Robert Johnson song and they were going to be a local pub rock covers outfit, or it was a group consisting of ex-members of the cast of an ITV soap. Sadly’ it was the former. Starting out with ‘Wishing Well’ and finishing with ‘All Right Now’, we got the usual setlist in between. Eg. the ‘Gary Moore song’ which isn’t a bloody Gary Moore song, Thin Lizzy, Cream, Hendrix. (And, Free also used to play ‘Crossroads’!) I just kept thinking ‘Why!?’, I found out later. Lots of applause.

Dr Hasbeen. Martyn has been struggling with his hip and it was great that he made it. For me, this lot personify ‘Space Rock for the Proletariat’. Good fun, good music without having to pay £30 for a Hawkwind ticket. Two basses and a guitarist who looked and sounded like he wanted to be in Aerosmith. ‘Little Green Men’ is a classic singalong.

Deviant Amps. Vocals are not their strong point. One of the songs made both of us think of the brilliant Long Ryders. Another had an elongated drum pattern lifted from ‘Set the Controls…’. Good, as always. And finally,

The Wallingers. Totally new to us, their blurb looked very interesting! The music had more adjectives than members of UB40. I hate it when people being interviewed say ‘Words can’t describe how I feel….’, then go on to do just that. Well, this lot prompted me to be extremely minimalist. I’ll keep it to four words, and two of them are ‘f**kin’. ‘F**in’ bonkers’ and ‘F**kin’ brilliant’. I couldn’t do justice to the concept, production and show. Seriously, you need to check them out on Youtube. And that is an instruction, not a request! An absolute travesty that there were more people in for tedious nobodies like Twisted Biscuit and Crossroads than an absolute enigma that is The Wallingers. And Martin Wallinger was driving back to Plymouth the following day! But it was all over bar the shouting ( and we had some industrial earplugs for the tent. )

  1. The Event. One of those festivals halfway along the scale. One end has eg Cropredy. Open to the elements, in a field and distant camping’ The other end eg Butlins, with music indoors and solid accommodation. Here it is nearby camping and indoor entertainment.
  2. Music. Based on ‘space-rock’, Dave Lowe explained that having eg Twisted Biscuit and Crossroads is a sort of ‘time out’ after a couple of cosmic caper acts. That’s the policy. OK, seems to work
  3. Beer. Worthy Smooth @£3.00. I unfortunately knocked a full pint on the floor. About 1 molecule touched some woman’s leg, you’d have thought I had just sold her granny to a bloody vivisectionist.
  4. Security. Almost academic, but is annoying when the general public/club members seem to walk in for nowt.
  5. Toilets. 3 Portaloos , no bowling green toilets accessible.
  6. Food. Amazing value. And lots of veggie options if required. And he opened early on packing up day. How many times have I been at a fest when the food vans can’t be arsed to open , having made their pile over the previous day.
  7. Clientele. Always friendly, it makes this event a bloody great occasion, whatever the weather.
  8. Ticket Prices. Kept as low as possible. This is organised by people not out to make a buck, who just do it because they like the people and ethos.
  9. Next Year? My final words on the night were to thank Joy for making it a great weekend. Her response was ‘Thank you very much, duck, it’s a shame you won’t be here next year’. And I assure you that doesn’t mean I am personally not welcome. Lots of rumours circulating on Friday, it is not my place to comment on all the factors involved. But I hope the organisers put the record straight.

Hopefully pics in due time.

Farmer Phil’s Festival. Near Gatten Farm, Ratlinghope. 13-15.8.2021.

Not our first trip to (former) Farmer Phil’s fields, and not the first time it has rained here either. Got tent up, remembering to pitch at top of field and not under a tree, after last time!

Friday. Caught the end of Big Joe Bone‘s set, ‘Muskrat’. Energetic one-man band.

Next up are Savanna. Again energetic, a blues-rock trio from Telford. Original songs, they seem different to the mob we saw here the first time. Her Ladyship commented that there were as many toddlers without ear protectors as those with. The first of many rain showers.

Johnny Kowalski and the Sexy Weirdos. Ska/Plastic Paddy/Counterfeit Cossack mixture. They played ‘Raggle Taggle Gypsy-O’ , always makes HL think of her childhood.

Legend. Midlands Marleys. Beer £4.00 a pint, the traditional Brit queues starting to form, despite bar staff telling them that there was no need.

Dr and the Medics. Another of the former farmer’s favourites, the good Doctor and chums unleash the 1986 novelty no.1 hit cover plus other’s hits (Dead or Alive, B52s…). Even at the back of the marquee we were too cold, so declined Piston’s rocky offerings and retired for the night.

Saturday. Old Time Sailors. Must have been about 15 of ’em, I lost interest in my abacus after 7. ‘Irish Rover’ to start. Lots of beards, braces and black hats. Probably all had Pogues official underwear too. Sea shanties, New Orleans, music hall stuff as well as standard Plastic Paddy .Medleys too. They obviously think they are worthy of their own spoof Sunday newspaper. HL liked them, as did much of the crowd.

The Endings. Yet another sad opportunity for my using the term PPI (Plastic Paddy Infatuation). Do people in Dublin laugh when they hear this tosh? Does every song mention whisky? (No, second number, an instrumental mentioned Guinness in the title instead.) Another lot of Plastic Paddies who have included a Counterfeit Cossack spot. Even my pencil was getting pissed off!

Next, a street artist doing sword swallowing. Sadly crowd needed to be maximum 20 yards away to see what was going on. But at least the sun came out. HL had already resumed her attack on her Dean Koontz book.

Blues Brothers Show. (AKA Black Rhino Band plus Jake and Elwood methinks). Blues Brothers stuff plus similar others. Great entrance by the cop car, ‘Jake’ has got the rockier of the two voices. The women got chances to belt out a few standards too. Well-produced show.

Ska Burst. Does what it says on the can. HL said that is too kind…and the sound cut out. Encore was an appalling attack on Van Morrison’s karaoke go-to.

T’Pau. They have had 10 UK hit singles, and may well have played them all, but most people will only remember their no.1. Ms Decker and Co feature regularly on the fest merry-go-round (they were at one yesterday too) as well as 80s events. And she has weathered pretty well.

The Mighty Vipers. Yes, more Ska, with a dash of Salsa.

The final act on the Bar Stage were, seemingly , The Jam. I was intrigued to be able to hear from Mr Weller how Phil had persuaded them to reform for his little fest, but again was too ‘tired and emotional’.

Sunday. Captain Stingray Groove Machine.First song wasn’t reggae for some reason , but the second was. Next was Caribbean Calypso, next was Santana-ish. All in all, difficult to pigeonhole, but in the seemingly mandatory ‘crowd must jump up and down’ category.

And then there was an acoustic duo! Snow Hawk Duo. Two acoustic guitars, no vocal songs. But people still up and jiggling about. Slight waver during ‘Boh Rhap’.

One Eyed God. (Or Dog?). Couldn’t get enough enthusiasm to check which. Back to Phil’s Ska formula plus tin whistle. I had just been thinking that there hadn’t been any gratuitous ‘f-ing’ from the stage all weekend, this lot resumed standard procedure.

Dreadzone. More fest regulars and more reggae (plus electronic assistance). So enthralling that a couple of dozen Welsh people chose to sit inside to laugh at two small rutting dogs.

Still lashing down, we baled out to listen to Wayne Martin’s cliched pub rock from the tent. Still starting with Joe Walsh, we grimaced at a female systematically disembowelling ‘Freebird’

And it’s all over.

1.Setting. Glorious, in the Shropshire hills

2.Beer. Not particularly cheap.

3.Security. We were searched every time. I was expecting a torch being shone up my arse. But loads of people somehow with 2l bottles of Rola-Cola and family bags of crisps.

4.Clientele. Welsh (plus me and Her Ladyship who is half Welsh)

5.Toilets. Either ‘quaint’, ‘functional’ or ‘vile’ depending on your outlook. HL ‘gipped’ for first time since Glasto 2003. Defintely no hair driers. Pre-Industrial Revolution.

6.Food. Very little veggie stuff that wasn’t spicy. Caribbean patties best-of-fest again @£2.00

7. Music.For anyone who likes ska/reggae and PPI, this is the one for you. If that isn’t you, it could be a wet weekend of tedium.We booked for last year’s non-event, featuring Mungo Jerry and interesting Dutch lot ‘My Baby’. Both pulled out for this year.

So it will have to be The Beatles, Free and The Flying Burrito Brothers as headliners for us to make the long trip again. But lots will still come…and will all bring their dogs.

Pics to follow.

The 189ers. The Doghouse, Castleford. 8.8.2021

Second attempt at a review. Somehow the original review went AWOL when Her Ladyship tried to add pics.

The 189ers were the subject of the last review before the March 2020 lockdown, and we are back in Castleford to see them again, albeit at a different venue. The diminutive Doghouse is seriously ‘cosy’. Thankfully Santana aren’t on, as there would have been no room for any customers. And definitely not if all 63 former members had turned up too. Lots of beers to choose from , I opted to start with the cheapest, of course, @£2.50 a pint, it was good. Her Ladyship opted for her usual chocolatey stuff (8%) at about £8.00 a pint! But titter ye not, there was an item on the notice board (12%) @£7.00…for a half! Seriously, £14.00 a pint.

On with the show. 3.00pm kickoff, and they are into that old folkies’ standby ‘Dirty Old Town’. Followed by that old punks’ standby ‘I Fought The Law’, which thankfully they know better than to introduce it as a Clash original. Thereafter followed 2 hours + of mainly covers, but carefully selected for the discerning gig-goer. Tom Petty, Neil Young and Lindisfarne all got 2 numbers and there were plenty of other good songs from the likes of Green on Red, Old Crow Medicine Show and Tom Russell. (Amazing that Mr R wrote ‘Who’s Gonna Build Your Wall’ a decade before America’s greatest living simpleton started spouting off). They also threw in some originals which weren’t out of place, and put their own slant on a couple of others (‘Road To Hull’). And well done for singing the correct words to ‘California Dreamin’!

The vocals were shared between 3 of the 5 , with Andy Prowler happy to take a back seat for a lot of the afternoon. But he stood up (did he ask the committee for permission?) for the last number, a virtuoso ‘Bright Lights, Big City’.

A great way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon. Great songs, great beer and service (at sometimes literally great prices!), great venue and a great set of lads, tenuously linked by the 189 bus. Hopefully pics via Her Ladyship, setlist via Steve.

We actually went round to The Lion afterwards to catch Top Gun. Yes, a pub covers outfit but very good. Probably the best in the area. Apologies lads (and lass) but I was in a state of advanced alcoholic dishevelment after about 7 hours drinking, so no review. I was talking like both Bill AND Ben.

Nah Then Festival. Sherbrooke Scout Camp. 30-31.7.2021

Our first time at this little festival, it had been recommended by some of our festimates. Got there at noon, tent up pretty quickly, then an attack on Aldi’s lager and B&M wine before activities started at 5.00pm. So, review time.

Friday. First up is Pete ‘Have Fest Will Travel’ Drake. Thirty minutes of his fun ditties are always a good opener, even if the audience was a bit noisy. Met up with Gayle and Mike SAGA (Salford Anti Green-Chair Association) and Neil and Val Whitwell (check out and debated which of the very good beers we would assault.

Northern Monkey One of quite a few acts from Whitwell. There seem to be more musicians from Whitwell than actual residents! Second song invoked memories of ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’.

The Ferrets. Another Derbyshire combo but couldn’t make out a lot of the words, unfortunately. Less frantic than the previous people. One of the songs seemed to be an anti-govt rant that had lyrics that a 14 year old boy would concoct in his blackened out bedroom

. Verbal Warning Festival regulars, very much set in the old punk era. All original numbers, they are always good value. (Their ode to Piers Morgan is always well-received.) And plastic ducks obligatory for audience participation. A nod to John Denver to finish.

Formerly Butt Lane Warsop quartet who started out hi-energy and never let up. Very tight and very snappy, check them out . And they politely posed for a photo op for Her Ladyship.

The Silk Road Back to PPI mode (Plastic Paddy Infatuation). But any violinist has my respect. Drummer got a bonus point for apparently borrowing one of my Ramones t-shirts. Another outfit who sadly had to put up with power cuts, but there had been a big lot of rain!

Pretty Babs This lot made a serious mistake at Farmer Phil’s with a smartarse comment to Gayle SAGA. They were better here today and were pretty rocky if not all that memorable.

Headsticks Possibly the only ‘name’ of the weekend. There are people who think they are great and people who think they churn out predictable garbled pseudo-Paddy stuff all the way from Stoke. Gayle and Mike stopped, we didn’t. A decent first night, all in all.

Saturday Midday saw Pete Drake conducting an assortment of tugs-of-war contests. The final challenge was between two teams of dogs. (‘You lyin’ get!’)

Sam Tucker? Young man with an acoustic guitar and a dress and a question mark. (Nope, no idea about the last two!). Another of the Whitwell Mafia.

Samantics. There are many festivals whose programmes contain a blurb about an artiste that doesn’t quite match what you actually get. The only bit I could agree on with this lad was the word ‘different’. I popped inside for a few seconds to have a look, he certainly can’t be accused of not believing whatever he was on about. I believe it was ‘rapping’. Another example of some angst-ridden teenage twaddle to my ageing eardrums .

The Papashangos Some lads from Bolton, featuring a lead singer who seemed to be that absolutely wankered bloke on the dance floor at your uncle’s wedding. (Punked up ‘Delilah’ went down well ) Very entertaining! Original songs, Her Ladyship invested in a t-shirt and cd package. Best of fest so far.

Elm Tree Row Acoustic male duo, who commanded a decent slab of attention from a by now ‘lively’ audience.

Crag Rats Rockabilly outfit, with afore mentioned Sam T on double bass. Good , unpretentious rockabilly stuff, again mainly original tunes. LZ’s ‘Rock and Roll’ got a good treatment, the following ‘Wild Rover’ was not quite as tight.

The Whipjacks The blurb read ‘Alternative folk, fast and furious folk’. With an accordian. Singer drifted off-key a bit.

Star Botherers Opening number suggested His Royal Bobness, but then it was very much a la most of the rest of the bill. We looked at each other and agreed that proceedings were just getting a bit ‘samey’. So went back for a time out. Heard the next lot start out with The Jam, followed by…The Jam.

Went back after a siesta for the end of Shanghai Treason. Couldn’t make out a word of their ‘Celtic Punk’, surely the weekend’s most overused phrase.

Muddy Summers and the Dirty Field Whores Three (I think) ‘right-on’ wimmin plus a person with a beard. Said ‘wank’ and ‘fascist’ a lot.

Ghosts of Men A couple of southern lads (I think). Drums plus cranked up electric 6-string. Imagine The White Stripes meet Black Sabbath via Pete ‘n’ Dud . Very unusual and very, very good. New ‘Best of Fest’. Not interested in a Madness tribute for the final course, although probably ideal for this type of event. So…

1.Stewards. Very friendly, never saw anything that needed seriously ‘stewarding’

2. Beer. £3.50 for beer, £4.00 for an excellent Rhubarb cider which thankfully tasted nothing like bog standard cider but contributed heavily to the general atmosphere of marginal overservedness.

3. Food. Pizzas were good value @ £6.00 . But when people are attacked by the Beer Munchies at the end of a long day, surely a quick and cheap bag of chips or a burger has a place? But number of outlets will always be minimal at small festivals.

4. Music. Very much based on afore-mentioned PPI type of music. And it seems to work well enough. I think ‘John Denver’ was the only cover in the entire first night.

5. Location. Very good and easy to get to.

6.Toilets. As a result of location, proper toilets! And well respected by the punters it seemed.

7. Sound. A few hiccups but generally decent, Having 2 stages in one tent sometimes had one act ‘on’ with the next lot soundchecking at the other end .

8.T-shirts. Probably won by Ferocious Dog, who weren’t even there. But there were some links.

9.Value. All in all, very good value. And little things like getting a goodie bag on entry was a good touch. Contained programme, a glo-stick and a promo bottle opener. Hopefully no-one complained that it was a 2 night event and they only give us 1 glo-stick! Or that they give us a bottle opener but say glass isn’t allowed!

I always think that one and a half day fests are just a little bit disappointing. I wake up after the first night and realise I have got to go home tomorrow. But it is a very good and deservedly popular little festival. The rain was pretty much as predicted, we had invested in a couple of new umbrellas beforehand. They were the first items to go in the car.

Them Crows. The Lion,Castleford, 24.7.2021

The first weekend of The Lion being effectively back up and running, and the venue is accordingly packed. Her Ladyship remembers Them Crows as being worthy of checking out from a previous appearance, so here we are. The music room was too packed to get a seat, so had to listen from ‘the snug’.

Dr. Feelgood’s ‘She Does It Right’ is a decent, if unusual, starter. Certainly a refreshing change from AC/DC, Thin Lizzy or ‘Wishing Well’. And the second number ‘Let Me Roll It’ is a similarly rare number for The Lion clientele to get their heads round. Them Crows are a 3 piece, although I think I heard a female vocalist make an occasional contribution. ‘Proud Mary’ was pretty frantic and ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ got a good treatment.

Cheap Trick’s version of ‘Ain’t That A Shame’ was good , as was ZZ Top’s ‘Have Mercy/Jesus Left Chicago’. We left for the last bus after CCR’s ‘Born On The Bayou’, but we will certainly try to catch them next time.

Hopefully the Bunternet’s resident photographer’s efforts will come out.

The Eyes Have It Festival. Duffield. 2-4 July 2021

Our first visit to TEHI was the last one and we were suitably impressed. Sadly last year’s event was a Covid casualty but we were straining at the leash this year to head down to Derbyshire, the epicentre of Planet Smallfest. First (belated) outing for our new tent. Two of the hoops that organiser Simon has had to jump through are a 6m gap between tents and cars not being parked next to tents. We duly obliged on both, the arseholes next to us ignored the latter. Seems that Sid and Dick Lardarse didn’t care that a routine council inspection could endanger the event. We met up with Gayle and Mike SAGA {Salford Anti-Greenchair Association), Neil and Val from the excellent Whitwell Music Festival (check it out) and their friends Rich and Sharon. So…

Friday. 7.00 pm kick-off and it is, seemingly, T.Rex. Basically, touring T.Rex drummer Paul Fenton has for a long time had a combo on the road featuring some people who have also toured with Marc Bolan. Saxon founder Graham Oliver is there too plus a Marc-alike So we get ‘Metal Guru’ for starters and ‘Hot Love’ as dessert, with pretty much all the singles in between plus some bits and pieces. Encore included Mr O doing a Leslie West-type rifferama solo. Lots of wankered woman randomly grooving around the field. It occurred to me that I may have been the only person in the audience who actually saw Marc Bolan live (Stockton -Billingham Tech College, Tyrannosaurus Rex in the 60s). Val Whitwell said that back in the day she would have crawled naked for three miles over broken glass to see him fart in a biscuit barrel. (Or words to that effect.)

Next, some bloke fannying about with a big stick that was on fire at each end. No bloody idea why!

Andy Bennett . Ex Ocean Colour Scene , soundchecked with a long version of Spencer Davis Group classic ‘I’m a Man’. The set comprised of OCS stuff incl ‘The River Boat Song’ and ‘The Day We Caught The Train’ (they actually had loads of UK hit singles), plus some heavy plugging of newer solo stuff. Very slick, if a bit ‘sterile’, but the best moments were, for me, good versions of afore-mentioned Steve Winwood composition, His Bobness’s ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’, the much-covered ‘Baby Don’t Do It’ and The Beatles ‘Come Together.

Last on, in the beer tent, were The Wam Bam Band . Local big band soul/ska , usual end-of-night singadancealong . Tent time for us. An evening with some showers, as predicted. The beer was £3.50 a pint, no queues and polite service. That will do very nicely, thank you!

Saturday. Noon start, Amy Sharpe. Cover song to start (Amy McDonald). Mainly original stuff, Elton’s ‘Benny and the Jets’ seemed a strange choice.

Next, oh dear, Telsen. Regular Bunterneteers may remember I didn’t quite share their self-esteem last time. I therefore bigged them down (is that possible?) to Royal Park Rich (it appears he used to go in The Royal Park in Leeds when we did). Last time I said that the male singer was rehearsing his Michael Stipe impression. Well now he has fully arrived there. And it just looks and sounds bloody, utterly NAFF. All we could see was a grown man making a fool of himself. (I discovered REM in 1982 and was hooked.) He had the ‘whoa-whoaing’, tambourine-bashing woman there again, maybe to distract the audience. Last year the bass player played as if he had bought it yesterday and someone had given him one lesson. A year on, he is still what can generously be described as ‘basic’. ‘Stipey’ put on a 6-string electric at the end to bash out two chords. Wow! ‘Harsh’, you may say, but just think what Simon Cowell would say if they decide they are worthy enough of appearing on one of his shows. Pretty much what I have said, I reckon.

Mamma’s Dukes. Pretty good, pretty popular and didn’t try to be somebody else!

Eddie and the Wolves. Thought they were decent last year , so did Neil Whitwell. They were a blues-rock power trio, but have now added a female on backing vocals/percussion. I suggested that it could be another example of Linda McCartney-ism? I wasn’t wrong. And it has softened their approach and also their bit of edge. Exemplified by inclusion of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain. Still ok, Her Ladyship enjoyed them.

Buster Shuffle . 2-Tone jumpyupanddown stuff, with a definite affinity to what the Nutty Boys were doing forty years ago (but Madness had twice as many on stage). Sadly, the elements hit the arena big-style, and the generator died. But they went down well. This sort of stuff usually does.

Sara Knight Band. Cranked up versions of pub rock classics. Another airing for ‘I’m A Man’, she seemed to overrun. Given the earlier storm break too, why does a bog-standard pub group cut into the legend that is Steve Harley’s time?

Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel. Early showings for ‘Love’s a Prima Donna’, ‘Judy Teen’ and ‘Mr Soft’ and the excellent ‘Riding the Waves’. But then there is a bit of a miscalculation, in my humble opinion. Her Ladyship was in love with Mr H after seeing them play in Scarborough and I too think he is a class act. But songs like ‘The Best Years of Our Lives’ and the incomparable ‘Sebastian’ are not suited to a festival audience who want to bop about and sing to eg ‘Here Comes The Sun’, which they didn’t get. Val Whitwell said she was going back to the tent to slit her throat, and the pacing of the set sadly, probably, meant others thought that too. His ‘pension song’ , as he calls it, to finish ( complete with obligatory singalong )and he was off. No encore. But I thought he was great, and thought Telsen weren’t, so that demonstrates that you can’t argue about taste. Gave Facsimile in the beer tent a miss. Another day that suffered from really heavy showers.

Sunday. Another noon start , with open mic spot. Started with 4 old blokes setting up about a grand’s worth of gear and ‘entertaining us’ for an hour. Thought these slots were for the public to get up and bash out a couple of songs? They started and finished by mauling an REM song. Her Ladyship had sought refuge in a Dean Koontz book. A nervous young woman with a uke sang a song about hedgehogs while another woman with a uke wandered around the main stage. A local girl was next, with confident renditions of covers and originals. Then, for some reason, Ms Hedgehog +uke appeared on the main stage to do a repeat gig.

Sue Warren. She was on last time, with uke. Back again, but no cds to sell this time.

Pete Drake. Guitar-strumming wordsmith, with a range of some topical and some completely silly self-penned songs. Good fun, plenty of laughing and singing along. Songs? Elton/Community Page/Oddly/Accidentally/Finger/Home Schooling/Toyah/Suitcase/England. That should help a Google search.

The Rye Sisters. Country-folk duo, who also fell foul of the elements and power failure (as they were about to replicate Alison Krauss’s version of The Foundations UK no.1 single). Obvious fans of Emmylou and Gram, via their ‘Love Hurts’ rendition.

Silicone Taxis. Remember them from last time, I think the bass player now gets even more solos! Strong openers from Average White Band (a favourite of Royal Park Rich), Georgia Satellites and Jimmy Vaughan . The soul medley seemed to be interminable and the encore of ‘I’m a Believer’ ended a well-received set.

Aynsley Lister. A late change to the bill, young Aynsley was also here last time. His approach has become mellower over the years, and his set is still mainly bluesy originals. Also a Rival Sons cover, and his ‘Purple Rain’ always goes down well.

Littlefield. More TEHI regulars, pubrock based mainly in 90s (opener was ‘Real Gone Kid’). The heavens opened yet again and we pulled up stumps.

Sat in our tent and listened to Women In Rock lay into Pat Benatar, Patti Smith and others in a show concentrating on US AOR stuff. Brief thanks from the MC and things pretty much started winding down at 8.30pm. So, scores on the doors?

  1. Site. A sportsfield. Lots of Covid-based rules, pretty well adhered to
  2. Music. Obviously Mr H was the ‘name’. Fests on this scale are always heavily populated by local groups, that’s why the tickets are closer to £50 than £250. I don’t want to watch somebody on a big screen from a spot in an adjoining post code!
  3. Beer. Excellent staff, always polite. Surprisingly there were never long queues. Cheaper than our local.
  4. Security. Low key, never saw any problems
  5. Toilets. Always clean, reflecting both cleaning routine and behaviour of the clients
  6. Organisation. Massive effort from Simon Clark. Always hands-on, opening beer tent, coming into audience to explain power cuts etc. Refused to curl up and sit in Covid Corner, pro-active to the nth degree.
  7. Food stalls. Not many! But a small fest just isn’t worthwhile for loads of food vendors.
  8. Other stalls. Only one had a bit of vinyl. Again, only a few hundred potential customers makes it unviable for many. Her Ladyship bought a ring from one shyster and took it back as it kept slipping off and wanted to change it. Refused exchange on ‘Covid’ grounds. Yet the same arsehole was quite willing to accept much-handled coins for it?! He was too simple to understand the hypocricy, but I didn’t see a single punter there the following day. Karma!
  9. Weather! Comes with the ticket! At one point I was wondering how one cloud could hold so much bloody water. Then I realised it couldn’t, which was why it dumped it all on us.

A highly recommended event.

The Petty Heartbreakers. The Grove, Leeds. 23.5.21

So more than a year after our last live gig, here we are at The Grove. Under normal circumstances, we would definitely not arrive at a venue more than 3 hours before kick-off time, to watch a tribute act playing outside on a chilly afternoon with rain forecast. But this is a new world now.

For anyone who has not seen these lads, they do what it says on the can. An efficient, knowledgeable and enthusiastic performance of Gainesville’s finest’s greatest moments…and more ‘deep cuts’ for the TP anoraks present. No glaring omissions, they are constantly reinvigorating the set and don’t shy away from taking requests. I got to see T.P.a.t.H. in the 70s (with Nils Lofgren) and the 80s (with Bob Dylan), so this is the closest we will get now to seeing his great songs played ‘live’.

I think Her Ladyship may have managed a couple of photos but she spent the afternoon alternating between bouts of weeping with joy and dancing in the adjoining street so could be a mixed bag to say the least.

We were OUT!!!

The Markles v The Monarchy

Or to put it more simply, ‘Greed v Greed’. Last January I reviewed Norman Baker’s book on the monarchy ‘And What Do YOU Do?’. Any staunch monarchists out there who are aghast at the dreadful, beastly conduct of The Duke of Dimness and his hard-done -to bride should ‘beg, steal or borrow’ the said book.

It illustrates perfectly another cliche, ‘greed begets greed’. And the fact that the ginger one is inbred doesn’t help. (Yes, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are both great, great grandchildren of Queen Victoria!). What is even more disturbing is that Harry genuinely cannot comprehend that he is doing anything wrong?

They all richly deserve each other.