The third BMF and our first. We were looking for an alternative to Cropredy, and found this. We did Croppers in 2009 and 2010. First time was to test the water, but we found it (amongst other irritants) to be a bit too big. But when we saw that in 2010 Little Feat (faves of mine) and Status Quo (faves of Her Ladyship) were on, we gave it another try. And again, the same fat, ugly, bearded individuals in badly-fitting 1997 Cropredy T-shirts, this time moaning about how THEIR festival had been spoilt by Quo and their rough following. Stuck-up tosspots! And their husbands weren’t much better. Cowboy hats, shorts, walking boots, calf-length black socks, even older Cropredy t-shirts, engraved pint pots on belt, real ale bores! Telling their similarly attiredcompanions how they were talking to Peggy…yawn, yawn. As Seth Lakeman was on at BMF, and it was £50 all in, I went for it.
Friday. Pitched tent, went into Bakewell for what we thought would be a cheaper pint than festival prices. First pub £6.55 for 2 pints! (Remember, this isn’t Covent Garden). Went next door…£7.05!! Went to festival before we spent our weekend’s allowance. Caught end of Roberts and McMasters doing ‘Rocking in the Free World/ Don’t fear the Reaper’ medley…sounded decent.
Next up Miss 600 (seemingly a major coup). For me, sounded like cruise liner swing/jazz wallpaper music. Her Ladyship went off to see Harp and a Monkey, came back to say they were better than this ( mind you, Joe Dolce would be). Miss 600 were proficient enough but , well, not for us. And please note, at least 50% didn’t want to stand up and clap their hands! We then got Steve Papa Edwards. Seeing the Bakewell Acoustic Festival sign, I was struggling tocomprehend why were were getting this discofunkbollox, but it does advertise jazz, funk, country,bluegrass, blues. folk. Where do these people actually play, apart from early afternoon at a festival? Even worse, we had some skinny knob in a Ramones T-shirt grooving away to this tosh. I thought Her Ladyship was going to nut him. Fortunately, to the rescue came the Everly Pregnant Brothers. Silly and brilliant South Yorkshire takes on the likes of Johnny Cashand Radiohead, and when I say they mutated Bob Marley into ‘No Oven, No Pie’ and Kings of Leon into ‘Me chip pan’s on Fire’, you’ll get the message. A must see. Then we were back to funk dross with Montuno, and people were soon stampeding out of the tent. Caught some of Old Nick Trading Company in the Acoustic Tent, good old fashioned (proper, not American) R’n’B. This was followed by a TOTALLY acoustic set by DH Lawrence and his Skiffle lot (?!) .
Very good , miles better than the majority of the stuff in the main tent. A good end to the night.
Saturday. Time to air a couple of comments re the set-up. Dorchester-style comfort toilets, but not enough of them! The organiser did announce there would be some more coming, as he wasn’t expecting so many people. ( By the time we left on Monday, I had to assume that these extra toilets had come fitted with a Romulan Cloaking Device.). Also, the bar had a huge queue, whichresulted in disgruntled drinkers smuggling in their own drinks. Fair does, extra staff did seem to be added for the other days. Also, the two stages were far too near to each other, Impossible to sit outside without listening to two simultaneous acts…really irritating. I sat and listened( but not for long) to two blokes trying to be Steve Earle. one in each ear. Went for a walk and came back to a similar twin attack of ‘Wish you were here’ and ‘Pride and Joy’. Notlooking good! At least the sound system started playing lots of Caravan in the Main Tent. DH Lawrence etc came onto the Main Stage for a ‘proper’ set. and a decent slot saw ‘The Weight’, ‘Hit the Road Jack’ and ‘These Boots are made for walking’ amongst other covers. Next on was Jake Morley. Unusual percussive/guitar style, using Jeff Healey laptop technique. Good songs and good voice too. Changed to regular guitar playing with addition of extra instrumentalist. Got a good reception from obviously knowledgeable fans. We then got Planet Ukelele’s answer to Wishbone Ash, the Re-entrants. Uke-based versions of Motorhead, Spandau Ballet etc. Always go down well, especially at the end of the day when people have been, er, ‘marginally overserved’. Neon Railroad were next. Local 4-piece, melodic rock (to me, U2-ish). Covers included ‘Knockin’ on heaven’s door’ and the Buzzcocks one that everyone does. Back to a folky feel with Flight Brigade. 7-piece, variety of instruments but I couldn’t get really excited by them. Her Ladyship warmed to them eventually but I found them a bit one-paced. We then got the much -vaunted Gipsy Fire. Very fast instrumental neo-classical/Latin stuff. Undeniably talented, but I am of the ‘slicker is quicker, but more is a bore’ faction. Take me back to the 70s to witness Robin Trower doing ‘Daydream’ or Free doing ‘Mr Big’ at a hundredth of Gipsy Fire’s speed. And then it was Seth Lakeman. We saw him last at Skeggy ButFolk and were disappointed at the poor pacing of his set. However, to take a leaf out of Andrew ‘Mr Metaphor’ Strauss’s book (oops!), he hit the stage running with all guns blazing. A couple of songs in before we got any of his slower stuff from’Tales from the Barrelhouse’ and then we were back to ‘Freedom Fields’ songs. A class act, bed-time.
Sunday. First bit of rain. Ryan Lauder on first. Good voice, joined by a violinist. Chunky guitar work, reminiscent of Mike Scott, bit heavy on the reverb. Any one who mentions The Byrds, Sweethearts of the Radio and Gram Parsons in one breath gets 3 marks straight away. Cara Sebastian is on next, Her Ladyship thought very Alanis Morrissette, the first song was an Anni de Franco song. One problem with it being a family fest is there are lots of kidsrunning around and lots of chatter (sorry, that’s TWO things!). So if you are a folk club saddo who demands silence (and not the Spanish Inquisition!), not for you. Quickly lost interest, went to briefly sit in the maelstrom outside, before going into Acoustic tent to see the 9 year old Little Elvis!! Good on yer, son. I’d rather listen to you than the wishy-washy sub-Joni warblings that keep popping up. Main tent gave us String Driven Thing. 70s refugees, good to see men my age on stage giving it some! Not too loud or frantic, but good, honestrock stuff. OK, it wouldn’t have made much of a dent in the ribs of Deep Purple or Led Zeppelin in the 70s ( didn’t they have a female singer then?), but I enjoyed them. Bo Walton, from Wales, on next. Another 4-piece, reminiscent of the Dave Edmunds/Nick Lowe late 70s style. (It this point, I was thinking that Friday had been jazz, Saturday was folk and today was rock, so where is the country, bluegrass or blues?) Then Bo and chums got a bit countrified, finishing with a bit of 50s Elvis. From Spain, next was Juan Zelada. Easy listening but not too cheesy. 5-piece line-up, but again I wondered where they get a gig. Weddings, ferries, nightclubs? So, the fest almost over and on the podium I had Seth taking gold, the Everly Pregnant Brothers with silver and Jake Morley taking bronze, with String Driven Thing being edged into fourth place. And then, a complete power failure!! Just before Phantom Limb who had come from Bristol, had time to soundcheck. And please, Mr Organiser, can I suggest that one of the most annoying aspects at any fest is lack of communication! OK, so no microphones but tell us the score. So Phantom Limb came on, no mics or amps , battery lighting and completely blew away the afore-mentioned medals placings. The man on Telecaster appeared to maybe have a practice amp and a car battery , but their ‘country/soul’ brought the house down (great version of Little Feat’s ‘Willin’). Ironically, they probably went down better because of the circumstances, but the whole event ended undeniably acoustically. Strange, no farewell speech from the organiser but he was probably trying to fix the generator.
So, unless someone really good at Cropredy, we’ll come again. Get the stages further apart though please.
Quote of the weekend, from String Driven Thing. ‘The past is another country. They do things differently there.’ In fact, the opening line of the book (and the film) ‘The Go-Between’ by L.P. Hartley.