Grillstock. Manchester. 29.6.2014

Our second year coming to Grillstock. First impression, with beer at £4.50 a pint isn’t great! Cans at £4.00 !?  Bit naughty. Does David Cameron think people in Leeds are going to be dashing over here on a new HS3 to pay that much?

Anyway, some youngsters are making a row on the smaller stage while the main stage starts. Ok, only a soundcheck, but there was still an overlap of some minutes. All around us were querying the (lack of) organisation by having the 2 stages only a few yards apart.  Richie Syrett (?) is the man on the main stage. He and his group seem to play that early 70s soft rock epitomised by Matthews Southern Comfort and America, and even though the smaller stage has finished , why are we getting music over the tannoy to interfere with the main stage?!

Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band.  There are 8 reasons why we came here today, and coming onstage are reasons 1,2 and 3. I stumbled upon the good Reverend and his cronies a couple of years ago and was looking forward to seeing them in the flesh. Various attempts to categorise them use the words blues, Americana and hillbilly. I am not going to try. Check them out on Youtube would be my advice. I would suggest, however, if there is anyone still out there who bought Captain Beefheart’s ‘Safe as Milk’ LP back in the 60s on a budget label…and (like me) has a cd copy in the car, go and see them.    We got much of what they have been playing Stateside (why can’t they bring Delfest to Yorkshire?!), ie ‘My old man’s drunk again’, ‘Easy come , easy go’, ‘Devils look like angels’, the saucy ‘Front Porch Trained’, ‘Clap your hands’, ‘Pot roast and kisses’, ‘Mama’s fried potatoes’, Bo Diddley’s Willie Dixon-penned ‘You can’t judge a book…’ , finishing off with ‘Two bottles of wine’.   The Reverend’s hillbilly persona belies a stunning virtuosity on his many stringed instruments and Mrs P on washboard is a great foil.  Great entertainment. If your idea of live music is paying £50.00 to see the Australian Pink Floyd and telling everyone how they sound just like the real thing, that’s your prerogative. But this lot just might not be for you!

Urban Voodoo Machine. More people on stage than UB40, playing ‘Gypsy Blues Bop ‘n’ Stroll’. I couldn’t work out exactly what audience they are aiming at, or who exactly would buy a cd . They certainly weren’t lacking in confidence re their merchandise, they must have had a bigger range of T-shirts than the Rolling Stones. Seemed very accomplished and went down well though.

Then got a long award ceremony for the various food categories. OK, the event is ‘Meat Music Mayhem’ so fair does.

Hayseed Dixie. Reasons 4,5,6 and 7 for our visit  (reason 8 was grandson-sitting).  We saw HD quite a lot in the middle of the last decade, and I was unaware that the Reno brothers had left fairly recently. It seems they are now in Reno and Farrell, although I suspect that bluegrass purists would add ‘The Next Generation’ maybe? Did they leave because, having turned 50, they wanted to do it ‘properly’ and dress in shirts and ties like the Kentucky Colonels? Anyway, thanks for many fun years boys.   We got the tried and tested covers ‘ Dirty Deeds…’, ‘You shook me all night long’, ‘War Pigs’, ‘Paranoid’, Poison’, ‘Ace of Spades’, a brilliant 100mph ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’/’Let’s get it on’. A classical tease preceded ”Fat Bottom Girls’, with ‘Walk this way’ , ‘Duelling Banjos’ and ‘Highway to Hell’ closing proceedings. Interspersed were a few originals, incl ‘Poop in a jar’.   So how were they? I was a touch underwhelmed. I think a bit due to having to move back from the front, where the sound was a bit piercing, to nearer the back where some young men were messing about and getting on a lot of people’s tits. The ‘new’ members?  The mandolin man ran around a lot , and stuck his tongue out. The banjo man didn’t. (He was like Bill Wyman with a banjo). Still spot-on musically, and even though a one trick pony, it is a good trick.   They have spawned an entire industry of similar acts, eg The Bad Shepherds, Everly Pregnant Brothers and ‘Barsteward Sons of Val Doonican’, so much thanks for that.  The days of our paying to see them in their own right have gone, I fear, but they are great festival fare.

Overall, some small reservations but a good day out.

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