The Clash.

The Clash…punk gods? Load of tosh. Middle-class, semi pro established musicians by the time ‘punk’ hit us.

See previous review of Neck at Onboard the Craft festival for more

Onboard the Craft. Stoke Prior. 9-10.9.2016

Our second OTC festival and last year’s review shows we enjoyed it.  Weather forecast looked windy so we chose to take our middle size tent, which turned out to be a spectacularly poor decision! The stage is inside the County Club , with camping on the adjoining field.   So…

Friday. First on is Tom Spacer. One man show , a bit like Don Partridge does Rave.         BB Lonedog.  Another one man band, but without his predecessor’s effects.  In a strange coincidence, we were discussing how Her Ladyship had ordered a ‘Feed Your Head’ t-shirt and had arranged to pick it up here. Sadly the t-shirt man hadn’t turned up…and BB launched into ‘White Rabbit’, the very same song which inspired the t-shirt.  ‘Locomotive Breath’ went down well too.       Wizards of Delight.   Back to a regulation 5-piece rockers line-up. They brought to mind Def Leppard when they started up and occasionally got funky in a Black Crowes vein.  Her Ladyship detected a hint of the theme tune from Ulysses, which our kids used to watch. Very good, we both liked them.       PRFB.  All instrumental foray into the cosmos.            Dr Hasbeen. The good doctor and his chums informed us early on about those little green men. Archetypal space rock with a dash of punk.            Neck.   Irish music played by Irish men.  At least one up on the plethora of Plastic Paddies which the Pogues and the Levellers have spawned.  I know I have been in possession of my aural faculties for coming up to old age pension class, but I never understood a bloody word of what the singer said all night.  Their fast and furious version of ‘Fields of Athonry’ is a staple of their set and they have a good following. Rhythmic Raymond was in serious groove mode. I am not a big fan of this stuff and I did actually understand one word the man said. ‘Punk’.  We got the Clash’s ‘White Main in Hammersmith Palais’ and it annoys me how the Clash acquired this punk gods status. Joe Strummer was the son of a Foreign Office diplomat who had already been playing and recording  semi-pro at least with the 101’ers. Paul Simonon was the son of an amateur artist and a librarian and was a wannabe artist. Mick Jones had already been treading the boards in various groups. Topper Headon who replaced original drummer Terry Chimes was a jazz fan and had been in a prog rock outfit that supported Supertramp.  Quite a bit removed from the working class, poverty-stricken, 3-chord DIY outfits that ‘punk’ was all about. And , like Dire Straits, Eric Clapton, 10cc and Steely Dan they latched onto reggae as being ‘cool’. OK, rant over.  And to cap it all, Her Ladyship was batting vainly against catching the Last Train to ZZZsville. I was struggling too, so we had to give Psi Gong a miss and were soon in bed.  Sorry lads, was looking forward to it.

Saturday.  My decision re tent type had proved to be as good as my decision to put a tenner on Middlesbrough to win the Premiership. It rained like hell during the night and our tent (mainly Her Ladyship’s half) was like a swimming pool.  Emergency repairs and off to catch  John the Baptist and the Second Coming. Invisible bass player, very earthy vocal style. Very quirky but good musically and interesting visually. A good start.           Silver Trees. A very, very long opening instrumental based on E and D chords. Female singer on guitar, it was more than a touch soporific. The Velvet Underground set the mould 50 years ago, and did it much better.            Buff.   3-piece power trio line-up, but with spacey effects. Imagine Motorhead with the guitar pedal stuck on ‘cosmic’ setting.  (Although I have to say that there were times when Lemmy had got his goolies in a set of mole-grips, but it didn’t detract from the set.)  They came from ‘up North’ and were an enjoyable row, albeit occasionally over my ageing head!    Good blokes, thanks for posing for a photo for Her Ladyship!         Do Not Panic.   A Hawkwind tribute act from God’s own county , specifically York.  We have seen them before in Castleford, when we thought they were good.  So we were interested in what Rhythmic Ray thought , as he loathes copy acts and is a huge Hawkwind fan!  They actually passed the test, I saw Ray taking photos and having a bit of a twirl.  The bassist having a Motorhead-era Lemmy appearance is definitely anachronistic, but they finished strongly with ‘Urban Guerilla’ and ‘Silver Machine’. They encored (and soundchecked) with ‘Needle Gun’ which Hawkwind rarely play.  Probably the biggest crowd of the weekend.             Babal.  Very heavy on the visual aspect, with a female singer and female side-kick and Ming the Merciless on guitar.  He had a style reminiscent of Earl Slick in his Bowie period.   Very entertaining, they put a lot of thought , time and work into the show.               Third Quadrant. 80s prog outfit who reconvened a few years ago. Bassist had that very 80s (and,sorry,  awful!) sound.   Somewhat more grizzled now, of course, I assume they are not intent on conquering the world but are doing it for pleasure. Hopefully not on the basis of our hearing the guitar or drums, which were both non-existent early on.  Bloke behind us with a Bearded Theory t-shirt had nodded off, we decided to go and sit outside.             Heard the duo that is the Magick Brothers start up.  Violin plus keyboards/vocalist who also did some didgeridooing.   Singer told us that they only played one gig last year.             The Fierce and the Dead.  Early announcement from this 4-piece that it was to be all instrumentals.  They already have 2 cds and 2 eps.  For me, desperately crying out for a singer and lyrics.      Zub Zub.   Another lot with collective laryngitis it seems , after about 30 seconds I asked Her Ladyship to wake me up in about  an hour, or 59 minutes past Rave o’clock.                       Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash.   Apologies to any particular person if I have got the name not quite right. It seems to have changed a couple of times and I didn’t quite catch the announcer’s speech, so I took the name off my copies of New Live Dates Vol 1 and Volume 2.      They opened their ‘festival’ set with the title tune from their recent award-winning lp (which means the name of the group is not Wishbone Ash). Then pretty much back into the 70s. ‘The King will come’, ‘Warrior’, ‘Throw down the Sword’, ‘FUBB’, ‘Mystify Me’ (from the latest lp, very much in classic Wishbone Ash style), ‘You see Red’, ‘Blind Eye’, ‘Living Proof’, ‘Doctor’ and ‘Jailbait’.  Martin’s vocals held up pretty well ,and he gets good support from Danny and Tim.

A cracking end to a very good weekend. Ticket price good. The beer was reasonably priced, and the staff were really friendly. Very little noise on the campsite at night. The portaloos were fine. Security? Didn’t really need any. All very calm and serene.  There seems to be a change of venue for next year according to the poster. Any reason why? This is a great little site.

Her Ladyship forgot her camera. Photos were taken, but using her phone.

Blind Cat Festival. Cabourne Parva. 12-14.8.2016

We were attracted by the relative proximity (and cheapness) of this event as much as anything. Alternatives were Farmer Phil’s or Cropredy, both much further away.

Friday. Not much more than an hour to get here, although Marco Polo would have had trouble finding it. Absolutely wonderful setting, miles into the countryside.           Space Dogs.    5-piece, totally instrumental set.  Some variations in tempo.  TV’s no 1 Hawkwind fan was there.                 Red Elektra 69.    Bonus point to singer/guitarist for liking my banana Andy Warhol t-shirt. Classic power trio line-up, with occasional guest singer. We both liked them.                People’s Free Republic of Pandemonia.      Girl on flute, they opened with a 1 chord song which was good. ( 1 chord songs can be good, just like a 1-0 football match can be. More is not always better in music or football).   She changed to sax and we got some ska rhythms. Not for me, but it was short-lived. They had some unfortunate computer problems and people started to drift away.              Dubbal.   The name suggested ska -based stuff. It was. We went to bed.

Saturday.    First up, Shom. Looked like a 5-piece , but another keyboard/clarinet man was tucked behind a speaker. Another 1 chord opener, much emphasis on keyboard and effects. Second number had maybe one and a half chords!  The almost obligatory reggae number wasn’t far away. Her Ladyship liked them.     Went off to investigate the other stage.                Tanglemist.  No sooner had I mentioned to Her Ladyship that it was a bit Incredible String Band meets Led Zeppelin than she mentioned the ISB in her song.                    Silverspace. Featuring  guitarist and drummer from Shom, we got some more reggae. Went outside to sit by the big fire.               Spirits of the Earth. Came with a recommendation from Rhythmic Raymond, they obviously hadn’t read the fine print in their contract. They didn’t play any reggae!   Still spacey, but heavier.Even a bit punky at times.  I mention that they played a track ‘True Love’ only because it was the first song title I had heard since getting there.  They were pretty good, we both thought.        Andy Bole.  Him plus 6-string acoustic, with multi-layering.                 Roz Bruce Infusion.            Female vocal/guitar, bass and drums.  Different stuff to rest of the bill.  Roz seemed to have a toned-down Lena Lovich delivery.   They were plugging their upcoming record ‘Doctor Doctor’.               Aurora.  Very Teutonic sound,  with a female vocalist on keyboards.  The guitarist was not backwards at coming forwards, it was almost disco at times.                   Deviant Amps.    More of a regulation 3-piece rock outfit, a new number sounded very like part of the Groundhogs ‘Split’ suite.          Paradise 9. Punk overtones, with an early number having a U2-ish guitar sound.  Some unusual bass effects, with a clarinet making an appearance too. Think Johnny Dankworth meets The Damned!                Here and Now.  Very heavy bass sound, courtesy of Keith the Bass.  Formed in 1974, I had never got round to seeing them and unfortunately we were both so dog-tired we had to go after about half an hour. Shame, they sounded good.

Sunday.              Peyote Guru.   Not for the first time, Kev on vocals. Either that, or there are identical sextuplets here.   First number sounded like Neil from The Young Ones. (Sorry lads, it just sounded miserable!) Managed about 30 minutes before…some reggae.    But some New Riders of the Purple Sage came on the speakers after they had finished as compensation.             Magic Bus. Rearranged from yesterday, introduced as part of the ‘Canterbury Scene’ and they certainly owe a lot to early Caravan.  I also detected a bit of very early Jefferson Airplane and It’s a Beautiful Day. Closing numbers had a hint  of Wishbone Ash’s ‘The Pilgrim’ and Tull’s ‘Living in the Past’.   Very popular , they seemed to sell a lot of cds afterwards.                Electric Cake Salad. One of the musical attractions for us.  If you can imagine Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi listening to David Bowie’s Drum and Bass period, and phoning up Ozzy and Geezer to suggest making a ‘Rave’ lp (forgetting to ring Bill…again) then you are somewhere near ‘the Cake’.   An early appearance on stage by Stephen King’s ‘It’ necessitated a quick return to the tent for Her Ladyship. She had a sudden attack of SUS (Spontaneous Underwear Soiling). ‘Scene of the Crime’ and ‘Reason to Stay’ were both newer songs. They resurrected  Sabbath’s ‘N.I.B.’ and finished with the White Stripes’ most famous riff. Excellent stuff.   Try a big piece of Cake!                Miser on the Faery Gump.      They stick fairly closely to the Blind Cat stereotype of having spectacles, long hair (grey if possible) and a grey beard. (Or permutations thereof). Songs like ‘Wellies’ and ‘Fungi’ give you an idea of the deep profoundness of their lyrics. Good fun.                  Was tempted to say ‘Back down to earth’ for  Sendelica but it was probably further up into the cosmos.    One number had the Floyd ‘Set the Controls…  ‘ riff.            Krankschaft.   The other musical attraction. 3-piece with a lot of ‘e-help’.    Check out the extended Hawkwind family tree. Not an easy task, as it is bigger than Jonathan Woss’s wallet. Maybe even his ego! (Sowwy, that is an outwageous suggestion!).    Pulsating stuff, ‘The Great Procession’ slowed things down a bit…but only marginally. They played an Inner City Unit song I recognised, and were on for the best part of 2 hours. A great end to a really good event.

Some non-musical comments.  1.Toilets were absolutely spotless thr0ughout, loads of added extras. By far the best we have ever experienced at a festival. And a credit to the customers, not a drop of pee or even an errant piece of toilet paper.2. Beer £3.00 a pint, and, yes, £1.50 a half. Foster’s lager, Black Sheep/Theakston’s/Deuchars beer all came and went.  3. Chairs. Those who get annoyed with vacant green chairs being plonked in front of the stage in a field and vacated would have had a field day! A couple bought their big camping chairs into the indoor stage. (The venue was room with a bar and loads of settees ).  More than once they were unoccupied!  4. Campsite noise. Saturday was spoiled by inconsiderate musicians and loud women (someone packed up and left leaving a pointless ‘Noisy Bast*rds’ note!).  Have a bit of consideration for others please.  Friday and Sunday nights were fine.

Musically, Krankschaft got gold and ECS silver.  Honourable mention for the bloke behind the bar who was a cricket fan. Obviously from God’s own county. Most t-shirts?  Hawkwind, Gong in second place

A great little festival, really glad we went. Sorry the review didn’t have many song details, but we had only heard Krankschaft and ECS before, and that was only last year.

And I am sure those who seemed to be not happy that I am not a fan of completely instrumental sets, as indicated on my A New Day review (thanks to Bill ‘Flutatious’  for the reassuring e-mail ) , you will be delighted to know that Karma (be it he/she/it) came down to firmly bite me fair and square on the ar*e.  The majority of the weekend was just that!  And as for Rhythmic Raymond’s assurance that it would be a Reggae/Ska-free zone !

A New Day. Update

A few points have been raised on social media, so just to clarify/expand. Many of the points questioned concerned info that was given to me by third parties, so apologies for inaccuracies if ‘facts’ are not indeed ‘facts’

!. Re Dave’s involvement at Weyfest. As above, ie what I was told.

2. Re chairs/standing. It annoys us big style too when people put chairs/blankets/bollards/fences/barbed wire etc and then disappear for hours.  I originally did an update re standing in front of people that, conversely, people should not expect to park a chair a few yards from the stage and expect to have an unexpected view of the stage. But I forgot to press the update button!

3. Re Weyfest’s ‘business-like’ ethos. I was told, for example, when questioning Weyfest’s use of a ticket agency, thereby passing a huge admin fee onto the customer, that the powers that be basically didn’t want to be bothered opening envelopes, processing cheques, putting tickets into envelopes, licking the envelopes etc and were happy to let the punter effectively pay for that. I was told this by someone who may now not remember saying it!   So I am not going to say any more on that.

4. Re individual acts. I was quite forceful in expressing disapproval occasionally, but just my opinion. I didn’t buy Mr Blobby’s Christmas single many years ago. Thousands did, were they right and was I wrong?   Eg Flutatious.  I clearly said that they were good musicians, but, for me, totally instrumental stuff tends leave me a bit numb. I conceded that fans of them and Jean Michel Jarre would disagree.  All down to opinion. I would be interested to know if anyone would go to a complete weekend of music with no vocals.

5. Re comment attributed to Dave over cost of a half. Looks like Dave’s reply had been slightly mutated from leaving his lips to being passed onto me. Slight case of Chinese Whispers maybe, but, in my opinion, it IS sharp practice to charge £2.00 for a half when a pint is only £3.50.  A pub surely would be taken to task.

It was a really good festival, as I said.

There have been a couple of hundred or so views of the original post, so at least it has got people talking and giving the organisers ‘food for thought’ (and I still don’t like UB40!).  It pales into insignificance when I did a review of our visit to Beemageddon some years ago. There were 3491 views! It was as if I had presented the Queen Mother for vivisection

A New Day Festival, Mt Ephraim Gardens, 5-8.8.2016

Inaugural A New Day Festival. Dave Rees, the man behind the founding of the Weyfest Festival, decided to do his own festival, having seen his ethos for Weyfest being transformed into a hard-nosed profit-is-all variation featuring tired 80s has-beens rather than the festival for fans of Tull, Trower and others from a decade earlier. And the setting is just as good as Weyfest.

Friday. Arrived there late, having been held up for an hour near the Dartford Crossing.  We were ordered to our camping spot by a blonde woman in a Weyfest t-shirt, who constantly told us to move our car to the car park asap. Which is fair enough, but the blindingly obvious problem with this system means that anyone who wants to leave on Sunday night has no chance of getting their car back anywhere near their tent. (Get some yellow lines down to make ‘roads’.) Or even early Monday morning! And as it turned out, with no lights on the camp site!  But as Family once said…Anyway.

Unorfadox. Only managed to catch the last few minutes, which was a shame. We thought they were pretty good at the Hope Festival (see earlier review).    The Undivided. There is ‘Nothing like roots reggae music’ according to them.  Well, I certainly agree with that.  Although having an investigative procedure to check for bladder irregularities  probably comes pretty close, believe me.        Nashville Teens.    Remember seeing them back in the 70s at Hull University with the Troggs, and Ray Phillips is still on lead vocals. Missed their opening song, got to the other stage for ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’. We then got 3 Spencer Davis Group hits, a couple  from the Stones and 3  from the Who.  Their ‘biggie’ Tobacco Road’ brought their set to a close.  Apart from the name, nothing really to distinguish them from a bunch of decent musos doing 60s stuff. To be fair, Mr P was born before World War 2 so he’s not doing so bad.        Heavy Metal Kids. Gary Holton has long since left us, of course, but they still have some hard-core fans. Mr and Mrs Rhythmic Raymond being amongst them. ‘Rock Candy’ got some feet tapping and ‘She’s no Angel’ always goes down well.  Her Ladyship likes them.         Ignored the loathsome concept that is Limehouse Lizzy coming from the other stage.  I would have ignored the original too, but there were plenty watching.          Blockheads.  Sadly we never saw Ian Dury and Co live, so were interested to see the Blockheads.  Plenty of familiar tunes, guaranteed to keep the crowd singing and dancing. Still featuring Mssrs Watt-Roy, Jankel, Turnbull and Gallagher which gives them more than enough credibilty. Enjoyed them.            Jackie Lynton.  A Weyfest perennial, always entertaining, and rude!  Classics like ‘I’m Ready’. ‘Mess of Blues’, ‘Tulsa Time’ (a brilliant TWO chord song) and ‘You can’t always get what you want’ hit the spot, as does the closing ‘My babe’ medley.  Ideal festival fare.          Wilko Johnson.   A quick return to the stage for bass wizard Blockhead Norman . A change to the start of the set from the last time we saw Mr Wilkinson, but we were soon into ‘Dr Dupree’, ‘Going back Home’, ‘Roxette’, ‘Sneakin Suspicion’ and ‘Paradise’ .  ‘Gun’ still gets the drawn out treatment, but ‘Back in the night’, ‘She does it right’ and ‘Johnny B Goode’ send everybody back to their beds with a smile.  A very good opening day.

Saturday. Gate didn’t open at 11.30 am, put back 30 mins. Hope it was only a coincidence that Mr Anderson demanded the tent be cleared at Acoustic Fest some years back while Jethro Tull sound checked. (2000 people duly left, we and a dozen others refused).  So, eventually, Krankschaft.   Hawkwind fans were at the front, the first sound was keyboards which must have been courtesy of Mr Sony? The 3-piece of guitar/vocals, bass and drums proceeded to firmly dislodge any cobwebs from yesterday. Criminally short set, but a great start.       Flutatious.  Fronted by two females on flute and violin, by the fourth completely instrumental number things were just washing over us. We did get some brief vocals, but these totally instrumental performances don’t work for me. (I am sure their fans , and followers of eg Jean Michel Jarre and Mike Oldfield, would beg to differ). Still very good musicians.       Karnataka.    Standard female-fronted 5-piece prog line-up.  Lots of middle-aged lonely men at the front. Their eyes were obviously rivetted on the four male musicians and not the provocatively-clad female singer.  A bit heavier musically than any of the Mostly Autumn extended family, they had a particularly energetic (and hairy) drummer.       Leatherat. Her Ladyship likes them. Weyfest (and other festival) regulars. I suspect they will be A.N.D. regulars too.                Focus.   Like the Enid, who were on the other stage, and Curved Air (also to be on the other stage), Focus very much live in the progressive era of the 70s, but that is very much the audience that A.N.D. are aiming at …and there are plenty of people out there still. It was that time when it was almost obligatory to put out a double LP (Yes, Focus, ELP, Capt Beefheart, Rolling Stones etc. Wings went for a triple LP, as did Yes and ELP !)  They start out with ‘Focus 1’ (?) and soon give us the Tull-like ‘House of the King’. ‘Eruption’ started and I went to change into warmer clothes. It was still going when I got back.  We got a good version of ‘Sylvia’, a track from their last LP , ‘Focus 10’, and ‘Hocus Pocus’.  (‘Hocus Pocus’ by Focus!! ). They went down well.                Caravan.     Local lads done good,  the set had a familiar ring to it. Early numbers from ‘For girls…’ and the title track from ‘In the Land of Grey and Pink’.  Geoffrey Richardson is back as MC and introduces ‘The dog, the dog…’. We got talking, so I stopped taking notes, and left before the end to get a spot for Ian Anderson  on Stage 1. (It was either the Fork Handles Stage or the Four Candles Stage. Cunningly difficult to SAY to somebody which stage you will be at! . Good one Dave!).  Mr A had a young man helping his struggling vocal cords when we last saw him, it worked well.  This time Mini-Me (good analogy Ray!) wasn’t there , so we were a bit concerned. Energetic as ever, Mr A was straight into ‘Living in the Past’, followed by ‘Nothing is easy’ and the shortened ‘Thick as a Brick’. OK, his voice was shot 20 years ago, but he made a pretty good go at it. There were a few newer numbers but the crowd were still treated to older classics such as ”Sweet Dream’, ‘Songs from the Wood’, ‘My God’, ‘Bouree’ and ‘Dharma for One’. A not-unexpected finale with ‘Aqualung’ and ‘Locomotive Breath’ confirmed the billing as ‘Ian Anderson plays the music of Jethro Tull’ , or words to that effect.     And he did it pretty well. For me, the current line-up sounds like another version of the constantly changing group that was Jethro Tull.                     By the time Stray came on I am sure Mr Anderson will have been tucked up in bed with a cup of Horlicks and some industrial strength Strepsils to calm his aching throat.     Stray launch into ‘Come on over to my place’ from ‘Mudanzas’ and follow it with songs from the first LP and ‘Suicide’.   Always a steady outfit, we left as another shortened set was closing with ‘All in your Mind’.      Another very good day’s music.

Sunday.  Yet again, delays in starting on Stage 1, although it appeared that there were some unfortunate circumstances behind True Deceivers non-appearance.  Good new was that John Otway would be on sooner and longer to entertain his trusty disciples.  For those who are not familiar with the phenomenon, he basically has to be seen AND heard, as opposed to the old cliche ‘seen and not heard’. Her Ladyship had been to buy some flowers in readiness. Again, fans will understand. Starting out with the now first hit and the ‘B’ side, it is classic Otway. ‘Blockbuster’, ‘Middle of winter’, the Mobile phone song, ‘Louisa on a Horse’, ‘Body talk’, ‘I will survive’, ‘Bunsen Burner’, ‘House of the Rising Sun’, ‘Josephine’, ‘Rumpelstiltskin’, ‘You  ain’t seen nothing yet’ and his lament for his beloved Cheryl gives way to tumultuous applause. There were quite a few Otway virgins there, made obvious by the urine stains on the fronts of their trousers.  He has cleverly incorporated roadie Deadly into the act as his stooge. One-time guitarist Richard Holgarth is now seemingly a permanent resident in the Hot Rod Hotel. Should be on every human being’s  bucket list to see (and hear)  the man.            Spank the Monkey.   A good, solid blues/R&B outfit, they give us a sensible blend of original material and covers of such as ‘Watch your step’, ‘Ain’t got no money’, ‘Come on in my kitchen’ and’ Ain’t that loving you baby’ . Worth checking out.                 The corpse of Bill Posters Will Be Band was still warm when the entity that is Bonzo Bills rose arthritically from it . Mssrs Spear and Spoons from the original Bonzos are still there. Miraculously so, as their two combined ages must surely be approaching the boiling point of water in degrees Fahrenheit!? And the former’s props would probably challenge any carbon dating.  Megs still steering the ship too.  Fans of Bill Posters knew we were in for some serious  Billfoolery.  (Can I claim that as a new word for the OED as a close relative of Tomfoolery?).  ‘Jollity farm’ and ‘Hunting tigers out in India’ were on the bill (sorry, couldn’t resist)  and like Otway it is very much an audio-visual multimedia experience.  Again, a must see and chuckle event.     Nine Below Zero. Have been a fan since seeing them support the Who in Birmingham, and I was a bit surprised to see Dennis Greaves had decided to add a sax, trumpet, female vocalist and keyboards to the tried and trusted line-up.   Did it work? It was CR*P!!  A horrible jazzy, funky soul soundcheck gave way to expanded versions of all the 9BZ classics.  I stopped writing down the song titles. They were all there but played in some awful cruise liner mode. We saw Rhythmic Raymond exit stage left after about 4 minutes, we stuck it out until the end. Ray reckoned it was a watered down version of Jools Holland (and his ‘bland band  for the coffee table set’).   Dennis, get a bloody grip! It was so mindnumbingly bloody dull.  But the people in the tent next to us thought it was great, so there you are!             Martin Barre Band.  Tull guitarist for some 43 years, we have seen him since he ‘left’ Mr Anderson’s company three times, I think.   ‘Teacher’ was very muddy, and two female assistants came to the mics to give us a bluesy number very similar to the stuff on one of his cassettes I have (was it his ‘Summer Band’? Something like that, can’t find the tape).   Interesting variations on ‘Sweet Dream’, ‘Fat Man’, Skating away..’ and  ‘Love Story’ to keep his long-time fans in the loop.    By now it had been blindingly obvious that the stage had been beset by ‘problems’ all day…and all of the night.  Which is an excruciating link to the venerable                  Stranglers Was it going to be a festival-friendly ‘Greatest Hits’ show or a ‘Here is another one off our new record’ show. Well, they haven’t got a new record so option numero uno was straight into gear with ‘Tank’.  It was a real power display. ‘Straighten out’, ‘Grip’, my all-time favourite ‘5 Minutes’, ‘Nice ‘n’ Sleazy’, ‘Golden Brown’, ‘Always the Sun’, ‘Skin Deep’, ‘Hanging around’, ‘Something better change’ , ‘Peaches’, ‘Duchess’, ‘All day and all of the night’ and ‘No more heroes’. Another couple I didn’t recognise, they could have played as long again with another set of ‘classics’.     A great show to finish off a cracking weekend of music.

There were some great and some not so great aspects. The scheduling did go astray, but when the MC tells us about problems we ‘Don’t want to know about’ it is a touch condescending.   Biggest complaint was the toilets.  Personally, I didn’t see any of the interiors of the cubicles…I had been warned!  But the number of toilets seemed woefully inadequate , especially on the camp site. Is there a legal requirement per capita, is there a ‘recommended’ number or is there a ‘see how few we can get away with’ number. Needs a serious rethink. By far the biggest reason why people will not come again, which would be a shame. The music was of a high standard, the beer was good and reasonably priced. BUT, charging £2.00 for a half when a pint is £3.50 is just unacceptable sharp practice. And, Dave, when someone mentions to you that it is not on (his girlfriend drinks halves) , to give a smarta*se reply that no-one drinks halves is unnecessary and doesn’t put you in a good light.  Stewards were fine and friendly.  Good food variation. People commenting about the fact that the organisers should have not had any problems as they have had years of experience at eg Weyfest, should realise that each site has its own logistical challenges though. But as it says in the programme, ‘comments’ are invited, so don’t just sit at home and moan, tell them!

Overall, despite some problems, we thought it was a great festival. The main stage arena was very similar to Cropredy (plus 2 big trees). Croppers has a good policy of dancers/standers at the front and sitters further back. So don’t bloody stand up halfway up the hill where people have been sitting for hours! Stand at the front (or side) ! Brilliant weather helped, of course, but I am sure after after some adjustments it will be back next year.



Covers bands and tribute acts (Upton Blues Festival postscript)

The Della Grants made a very pertinent observation. They implored us to support ‘new’ music, because without ‘new’ music there would not be any ‘old’ music. Spot on lads!

Upton Blues Festival. Upton upon Severn. 15-17. July 2016

Our second visit to the blues festival. We enjoyed last year and there were a couple of acts we are fans of this year.

Friday. Directed to our camping spot. Last year was ‘park where you want!’ so increased numbers have have brought more organisation. We found ourselves next to Mike and Gayle, co-managing directors of SAGA (Salford  Anti  Greenchair Association) . So off to the Sports Field in village.                    Chris Gibbons.   We were met by Gary Moore’s ‘Oh Pretty Woman’ and the standard ‘Early in the Morning’.   He asked us to sing along to something woefully out of tune, we declined . A ‘Stormy Monday’ clone to finish.               Dove and BoWeevil.    Much hyped and award-nominated outfit.  5-piece , female vocals. Not regulation 12-bar stuff, very slick.  But all the attention they seem to have attracted was lost on me.  They were…ok.  Applause was somewhat less than rapturous.    Her Ladyship went off and came back with some onion bajees plus a special ‘dip’.  It was Agent Orange meets Napalm Death! (Great!)   If Donald Trump gets the recipe, he will drop a load onto the entire Muslim world, and anybody else who has the nerve to suggest his head is full of Dinky Toys and tomato sauce.         Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band.          Sort of like Captain Beefheart meets ‘Deliverance’.   Got a seat on the Grassy Knoll, Her Ladyship went on a Logan’s Run down to the front.    ‘I shall not be moved’ was a semi-soundcheck.  The tent was packed , with real applause emanating from it.  I discovered the good Reverend and his family a few years ago.    We got all the favourites,  ‘Front porch trained’, ‘ Clap your hands…’ et al.    Then came the dilemma. Babajack were a late addition to the acoustic stage , there would be a slight overlap. ‘Daddy or Chips?’.   Left before the Rev’s set ended and got a front row seat for Babajack.  Just the duo today, with Becky unable to use her percussion box as well.     Starting out with ‘Hammer and tongs’, it was a fairly short set. ‘Death Letter’ is always there though, so is the final ‘Gallows Pole.’ Her poignant song about her uncle hit home with Her Ladyship.   We love them and we also love the Rev’s mob. But we know some people who prefer the Jones/Bryant/Brown/Lister/Miller version of de blooze so we can’t all like the same. Our preference is the older, minimalist stuff.           Chris Antonik.     Riverside stage headliner, he is another much-lauded blueser.   First song was quite funky, so was the second, so was…   Very popular but I don’t go for the the funkier end of the blues. Back to the tent. A pretty good day though.

Saturday.    Della Grants.  Have seen these Leicester lads before, and thought they were pretty good. They have built up a good following on the blues and festival circuit.  Got a seat by side of stage but decided to move. We had discovered we were next to a group of 10 women from a very adjacent principality. They were obviously having a good time but it was like a day outing from Viz. There was a brief argument about who had the last bit of coke…and I don’t mean the stuff in a bottle! We are talking Bolivian Marching Powder. However, the jazz Woodbines calmed things down and while they didn’t quite have the A to Z of booze, they must have had the C to V (Cider to Vodka) plus all points in between. Bless ’em.  I think they were all suffering from  AAD  (Advanced Alcoholic Dishevelment).    Anyway, back to the Della Grants. A mention of Chicago and watching the Mississippi River had my doubting my dismal geography knowledge. I reckon you would need pretty good eyesight. But who was bothered?  Nearly all original stuff, with a festivally’ Stones disco attempt, ‘Miss You’.   Good applause, well justified.         Blind Pilgrim. Back to the Sports stage. The 3-piece started out with some Zeppelin ‘How many more times’ riffs, with some ‘oh-ohing added on.   Got a bit hungry so went off for some tea.  Neil from Whitwell reckoned they had been pretty good. (More of Neil later).              LaVendore Rogue.        A new group of seasoned musos with ‘form’.     Very difficult to categorise, Her Ladyship got an early hint vocally and visually, of Ian Anderson from the lead vocalist.   Like the Della Grants, nearly all original stuff apart from a Stones number. This one was ‘Get off my cloud’.  They must have been good, as Her Ladyship started grooving at the end…but only marginally.   Worth checking out.                   Aynsley Lister.  The square was full for the Saturday headliner.   Have seen him before some years ago, and have been listening to a very old gig from Abertillery in 2005. It seemed okay then, and he just came across as still just okay tonight.    It was almost MOR , even people near us were shouting ‘Liven it up’.  It was almost cruise liner stuff.  They did a bit of keyboard/guitar interplay that Lord and Blackmore were doing 40-odd years ago.  For us, he is one of that bunch of young bluesmen (okay, Larry Miller isn’t so young!) that I would struggle to differentiate between. But he has lots of fans.  Off to bed.   But no sleep just yet.    We could hear ‘Summer of 69’, ‘Sex on fire’ and, of course, ‘All Right Now’.    Want  a laugh? Do a Google search for “cover band bingo”. it’s great.

Sunday. Half Deaf Clatch.    From his opening words ‘ Mah fairst song’ there was no doubt where he was from…Hull.   He has a good voice and plays slide acoustic guitar with occasional banjo.  Mainly originals, with some Henry Thomas and Robert Johnson. Ended with the weekend’s second appearance for ‘Death Letter’. Enjoyed him, he was a bit like a less manic version of King Size Slim who was here last year.(See review).           Creole Brothers.  Soon discovered their gushing blurb must have been written by themselves ( ‘All delivered with OUR own wry humorous take…’ is a giveaway.).    Lots of songs in New Orleans Cajun French. Definitely not for devotees of King Crimson, I suspect.  A bit of Cajun stuff is always a good bit mid-afternoon, but this was pretty ordinary. A singalong attempt at ‘Don’t mess with my toot-toot’ died on its ar*e.                  Masai Blues.  5-piece female fronted outfit., doing jazzy, bluesy, soully stuff  that would be appropriate for a  support slot at Ronnie Scott’s or a Las Vegas night club.   The guitarist let rip a bit on ‘Born under a bad sign’  and did I hear Laughing Lenny’s ‘First we take Manhattan’ while I was queueing for drinks?   A regulation 12-bar gave the impression the musicians were happier  in that mode, and a female version of ‘I’m a Man’ didn’t really work. ‘Hound Dog’ wasn’t great either.  We got another ‘Stormy Monday’ clone and it made me think that with all these plagiarism cases in the news, T Bone Walker must be spinning in his grave.                The sun got really hot, so we went down to the Star . Bacchus were doing their Allmans’ influenced stuff, plus ‘Roadhouse blues’,  ‘Rock n Roll’, Route 66′, ‘Honky Tonk Woman’,’Carol’,  ‘Brown Sugar’.  (See Cover Band Bingo card).  Pretty good ‘Jessica’ though, and one of their own had a very Allmans-ish intro.   We should have got there earlier.                              Stayed there for the Worried Men recommended by trio of Welsh women Her Ladyship was talking to. Lead vocalist had balding long hair, Gibson Flying V and 3 black boxes with Marshall written on. I had a hunch we weren’t in for a load of 2-Tone ska stuff.   Much played ‘I just wanna make love to you’ was followed by ‘Same old story’ (was that a Blodwyn Pig song?).  Very good, very entertaining classic Power Trio stuff.  Originals plus covers (3 from Dr Feelgood’s repertoire, ‘Crazy about girls’, ‘Rollin’ and tumblin’ and ‘Back in the night’).   Interesting slants on Neil Young and Eddie Cochran too.          Went to get a place for Big Red and the Grinners.      Started with ‘Word up’ followed by ‘Walk this way’.   They have both been given the treatment before , by Hayseed Dixie and the excellent Boss Hoss from Germany. Steve Earle’s  ‘Galway Girl’ was next, but we were suffering from the Star stage in the right ear and this lot in our left.      I didn’t hear his intro to the Beatles’ ‘I’ve just seen a face’, and if he mentioned that the reconstituted Pure Prairie League did it in 1974 then credit to him. But let’s just assume it slipped his mind.  It has all been done before, and done better.   I just got the feeling of cashing in on Hayseed Dixie’s ‘rockgrass’ genre.   If you like ‘rockgrass’ you will know of Hayseed Dixie but maybe not The Boss Hoss.  Two others worth checking out are Luther Wright and the Wrongs version of ‘The Wall’ and the Hillbenders attempt at ‘Tommy’. The latter has been endorsed by Pete Townshend, and they are touring the UK with it.   As for Big Red and chums, I was disappointed.

But any disappointments were outweighed by the fact it is FREE!  Yes, the pubs are bloody packed. You could argue that the event has been a victim of its own excellence.  Suggestions?  Neil from Whitwell reckons, as we do, there should be a Hobson’s bar at the Sports stage. The camp site discipline seemed much better.   Some very good music, some not so good but that is down to personal taste. Sound was good at both main stages.   A really good, well-run event.

Plug for Whitwell Festival of Music. We met Neil and Val a few years ago, they have an involvement in this festival in North Derbyshire.  It has been going for 8 years, I think, but since we found out about it we have been otherwise engaged each time!   But it looks a brilliant (and CHEAP) little weekend. Plenty of festival favourites, check out this and previous years’ line-ups at It is a charity event too.   Price? You can get a ticket for the weekend for what it would cost to watch only the first half of an Oz Pink Floyd copy act.