Monthly Archives: August 2017

A New Day Festival. Mt Ephraim Gardens. 25-27. 8.2017

Last year was the inaugural and, barring a few mendable issues, it was pretty good.  (Check out last year’s review)

Friday.  Got there in good time, first up were the (acoustic) Strawbs. Dave Cousins has one of those real Marmite voices, and he and Mr Lambert and Mr Cronk have been doing pretty much the same set for some time now. Mr C’s banter doesn’t change much either. The Cronk-Cousins song ‘Turn me Round’ is the opener, followed by 1968’s ‘The Man who called himself Jesus’.  Lots of chat about TOTP and ‘The Hangman and the Papist’, and they finished with ‘Lay Down’. A good reception for the folk stalwarts.                            Paradise 9. They started up promptly on the other stage, Her Ladyship went for a Charlie Cooke.                 Pearl Handled Revolver were next on the 1st stage. Regular festival favourites, saw them some years ago at Cambridge Rock Festival. Now without a bass player, they were plugging their latest record ‘If the Devil cast his net’ the title track had a definite Doors feel. ‘Help me down from the Trees’ was another newie.                                Del Bromham’s Blues Devils      Good ol’ Del never lets you down, with his blues combo made up of Stray and the recently warmed-up PHR  .  His Jack Daniels song reminded me of  Whitesnake’s early blues sound.                                Off to the other stage for Dr Feelgood.  Starting out with ‘Stupidity’ and ‘I can tell’,  the set was very 70s . All the expected offerings…and  no ‘Down by the Jetty Blues’. After 17 bloody years!  We did go back to ‘Shotgun’ though. Steve W had a sing on ‘Rolling and Tumbling’ and the more recent ‘One more Shot’ ended a short, tight and well-received   set.                      Kaz Hawkins A late replacement for King King.  She wanted us to make some noise, I think she was making enough herself.  Gushing blurbs always make me nervous, and being ‘much-acclaimed’ made me think ‘much-acclaimed for looking like a cleaning lady’.  There were others around me who weren’t overwhelmed.           We were very tired after a Thursday night out in Peterborough and an early rising so went to bed.    Heard Martin Barre launch into ‘Minstrel in the Gallery’ from the gallery. Mr B seems to have come to terms with the audience wanting a Tull set basically. He still features his Beatles stuff, but now rolls out ‘Aqualung’ as well as ‘Locomotive Breath’.                Not interested in Big Country  . A pretty decent opening day.

Saturday.     Got down in good time for Edgar Broughton. Solo with 6 string acoustic. Light years away from his 70s power trio.   He is another one who has adopted this ‘am going to burst into tears’ vocal style…and it is bloody awful! Sorry Edgar, the song about Mick Farren’s death sounded terrible (Rhythmic Ray was there that night too).  Stick to ‘Out Demons Out’ and ‘Apache Boogie’ a la 3-piece, mate.                             The Fierce and the Dead . I just don’t get them. Loud 4-piece but all instrumentals. I listened from Stage 2.  Ray wasn’t too impressed by the sound from the back.                               Solstice. Veteran proggers, much liked by our chum McTaff.  Some oldies plus stuff from newer ‘Keepers’ record.  Not my favourite genre but they sounded decent.                      Jackie Lynton. He managed not to swear for the first three seconds!  Usual start with ‘Ready and Willing’ and ‘C’est la Vie’ not far behind. A raconteur par excellence, we also get the occasional original number.  If you can’t see the genius of Chuck Berry, stay in your tent and put ‘Queen’s Greatest Hits’ on your mp3 player.                   Soft Machine. There will have been many in the audience who remember when a double lp was almost obligatory. The Who, The Beatles, Chicago, Can etc…and Soft Machine.  I do remember a student chum buying it, and I do remember listening to about 30 seconds of it.  I kept my distance today.          Went across to await Martin Turner playing some classic Wishbone Ash with his current line-up.    They played the whole of the ‘Argus’ lp to start with, and they absolutely nailed it. Vocals and playing were spot on, although the silly ‘lumberjack’ interlude could do with binning.  Singalong in ‘Jailbait’ too. But ‘Living Proof’ is the best song of the  Wisefield era, and we really enjoyed them.                             John Lees’ Barclay James Harvest. One of the two versions of BJH, but I didn’t stop long. Had intended to, as I really like some BJH songs. But the bass player?!  Some git with a Working Man’s Club ‘witty’ banter.  What a total tw*t!   Couldn’t bear to stop, had to listen to the excellent ‘Hymn’ from the other stage.                               Lindisfarne. There will be Lindisfarnoraks who will be despairing of the personnel merry-go-round, but starting out with the B-side ‘No time to Lose’, they wisely never strayed from their first three studio lps.  The reformed version’s ‘Run for Home’ is a guaranteed singalong, and they were great. A real pleasant surprise , I expected to be disappointed but certainly wasn’t.                          Uriah Heep. Headliners across on the other stage, starting with ‘Gypsy Queen’. Lots of 70s stuff, of course, ‘Easy Livin’ ‘ and ‘Stealin” are always there.     I have never been a fan, but Her Ladyship was when  she was 16 (and still is).  They seemed to please the faithful. New track ‘The Law’ didn’t sound special.              Some good stuff today from the assorted bill.

Sunday.  Chris Conway and Dan Britton. Ok, I don’t want some bunch of teenagers on stage at midday on Sunday telling me to get my f*cking hands in the f*cking air, but I don’t want twee sub-folky tosh either. Fifteen years since their first lp, been together for twenty five years. Coincidentally they are on A New Day Records.                    Opensight. Went over for a brief look at them. A cross between Spinal Tap and Anvil…but deadly serious.                       Back for House of X. Like Snakecharmer and Skinny Molly, they are forging an identity away from the mothership. Danny Peyronnel and his UFOsters give us the expected ‘Shoot Shoot’, ‘Lights out’ and ‘Doctor Doctor’ as well as their own stuff. Dave ‘Bucket’ Colwell joined for the end. Lots of t-shirts in evidence.   Good applause.                         Jackie McAuley. Still treading the boards at 70, once of 60s group Them. ‘Baby please don’t go’ gets an airing, but his attempt at Bob Dylan wasn’t to Paul Bobfan’s liking!   His slide playing occasionally missed the mark and Her Ladyship spent most of the set playing hell on Facebook at the news of the much-needed Leeds Arena putting another sh*te tribute act on.  They went down well though.                     Most of our party went off for the medieval meanderings of Gryphon, we decided to stay put.                  Dennis Greaves and Mark Feltham.  Lots of old blues standards from the Nine Below Zero duo. ‘L and N’ is a 9BZ staple, and we got some Hank Williams and ‘Amazing Grace’ to finish. Very low-key.                         Focus. What happened to the policy of no one returning from last year? Another 70s outfit who put out a double lp. ‘House of the King’ was featured early, we had decamped to the other stage by the time the A-side ‘Sylvia’ hit the air.                         Slade In 1972 I was listening to ‘Free at Last’ and ‘Meddle’ and Slade were just a pop group. But ‘Gudbuy t’ Jane’ was a cracking single , so when Don Powell opened up with that drum attack they had my attention. And it was absolutely f*ckin SH*TE!   As was the rest of it. Paul Bobfan reckoned they sounded like a second rate tribute act, Her Ladyship likened them to the dross you usually hear on the P&O mini-cruises.  Noddy Holder and Jim Lea must be appalled at the treatment of their songs. OK, Holder and Lea got all the composing money but are Dave Hill and Don Powell so skint they have to churn out this insult to the group’s legacy?!   (We definitely didn’t think they were very good. Lots did).   Left Gail and Mike Leatherpot to top up their marginal overservededness.                   New Model Army.  Not a clue about them, went back for much-needed kip.       Not maybe the best of the three days.

So how was it all?

  1. Music.  A bit sad that Weyfest has gone for a slightly younger on-stage presence, but the ex-Weyfest organisers have gone for eg Big Country and New Model Army too?  In general, the music was appreciated by the majority of the customers. We thought Lindisfarne got the gold medal, with Martin Turner and Dr Feelgood also on the podium.
  2. Toilets. No festival is perfect, and last year’s toilets situation was terrible. But full marks for addressing it. They seemed ok to us . But none near the second stage?
  3. Bar.  Always queues at whichever bar had the music was on…so go to the other one! Price acceptable as was quality. Occasionally ran out of stuff but impossible to be perfect.
  4. Seating. Again, many were disappointed last year with lack of seats at the top bar. Sorted. Lots of hay bales, cheap and did the job.
  5. Security.  Gurkha Security were polite and efficient. Didn’t appear to be any drunken idiots to police
  6. Food. £8.00 plus for a pizza is a bit naughty and £6.00 (!)  for some chips that had a bit of batter on and had the word ‘organic’ featured somewhere.  Come on!
  7. Stages. Very punctual, with performances staggered.  Good scheduling.
  8. Sound. Another problem last year, particularly for Martin Barre. This year seemed ok to us, but some of our friends reckoned there were occasional lapses.
  9. Camp Shop. Or lack of it. Another festival out in the sticks which should have facility for basics provided.
  10. Litter.  Thankfully the clientele seem respectful. Maybe a skip to put rubbish bags in?
  11. Finally, campsite parking arrangements. The only real negative from the weekend. OK, the situation last year needed sorting but having to cart stuff uphill from the car park needs some rethinking. The availability of the little chugalongs and smartarse comments about bringing too much stuff is all very well, but the fest was VERY VERY lucky that the weather was good. Imagine if it had slammed it down and the punters ( NOT a young crowd by any means) had been forced to carry stuff in the mud and rain…and spend all weekend thinking about doing it in reverse!  Quite a few adverse reactions on Facebook when we were told (with only a few days to go ) of the arrangements. Many would not have bought tickets if this had been pointed out originally. Just sounds a bit cynical re the timing of the news.

All things considered, a good weekend.  But campsite parking situation is the one aspect that will need thinking about. And, by the way, next year will be the same weekend as Cambridge Rock Festival (as it was last year). Both campaigning for the same customers…and CRF has camping NEXT to vehicles!  Take note.


Blind Cat Festival. nr Caistor. 11-13.8.2017

Our second visit to Blind Cat. We enjoyed last year and decided it was well worth a second look.  Her Ladyship has got tent erection down to a fine art so we had plenty of time for pre-fest scoops.

Friday.     Electric Cake Salad.  Unfortunately for us, the one mob that we had really come to see were up first, with the audience numbering less than ten to start with.   So the Throberama started, with a new Telecaster?! What happened to the green machine centre stage?  Anyway, it was a mixture of new and oldies such as ‘1408’ and ‘Baby Firefly’.  ‘NIB’ got a rousing singalong with Her Ladyship well up in the mix.  The brilliant ‘Absinthe’ ended a hard act to follow.                                  Road Trip.  Guitar/vocals plus some percussive assistance. An early version of Floyd’s ‘Breathe’ was pretty impressive for a duo {with some invisible sonic help).  There was a definite hint of that 1967 Floyd ‘pulse’ at times.  ‘3rd Stone from the Sun’ seems to be used by a lot of people nowadays, ‘Comfortably Numb’ was different enough to be interesting.  A decent show.                              Magic Bus.  Much hyped last year when they played.  They are not short of self-esteem, and still are reminiscent of very early Caravan.  Plenty watching but a bit soporific for me. Big applause but nowhere near last year’s interest in the merch stall.                         Dubbal.  Watched a few seconds last year, watched even less this year.   Bed time. Not a bad start.

Saturday.                Tanglemist.  ‘Why is the Sky so High’ pretty much summed them up. ‘Goblin King and the Fairy Nymph’ kicked any doubt into touch.                      Went to the other stage for Not On.  Tried to count how many on stage. There was at least one ‘not on’. Thought there were eight, but after a few recounts I decided it was eleven!  Very long, cosmic songs, only to be expected.                                 Spaced Ogs .   Only seven on stage, looked deserted! Long instrumentals , with a drummer whose style looked more suitable to Aerosmith than aerospace.    We got a semi-spoken vocal number, Her Ladyship likes them.  Good act for those who have had a hard week at work and want to chill out.              Caught end of Deviant Amps on the other stage but we needed a few tactical zeds, and just made it back to the tent before the heavens opened.                        Sendelica. If their first number wasn’t called ‘Careful with that sax Eugene’, it should have been!   They also lift heavily Floyd’s ‘Set the Controls…’  Her Ladyship got into serious groove mode, but even she thought the all instrumental set was too long.                 Psi Gong. I am sure Rhythmic Raymond wasn’t the first to say he may ‘miss Psi Gong’ !!   Again, early Floyd sound, with a funk/disco ingredient, Quite a few in, we got some lasers to supplement the aural display. A few had left by the end.                     Litmus. Last on, 4-piece from Brighton.  A more regulation line-up, there were vocals!  But , sadly, the vocals were awful to start with.   The songs were familiar to a fair few in the audience, and one song had an intro similar to ‘Highway Star’.   Went down well.      A pretty good day, musically.

Sunday.                 Gregg and Kev. A lot of people appear more than once on stage, none more than Kev!    A gentle easing in to Sunday, much better than some premature ejaculant shouting ‘Make some f**kin noise’ at this juncture. ‘Hurry on Sundown’ was almost riotous, with its ‘Gloria’ riff.  Lots of jolly banter, with a slab of Neil Young to finish.   Went to take advantage of the currant bun, taking time to cremate Her Ladyship’s broken sandals.  Nipped into Caistor for money and sustenance (see later comments).                       Her Ladyship wanted to check out Silver Trees.  I remember them, so it wasn’t my dying wish.                         Went off to the other stage for Devora. Blend of Deviant Amps and Aurora, I caught them in the middle of a ‘Sister Ray’-like marathon. Is it really almost fifty years since the Velvets unleashed it on an unappreciative world?   There was a number which sounded like a cross between the Floyd’s ‘Eugene’ and ‘Embryo’. Fine by me.   There was much Floyd referencing over the whole weekend.                             Peyote Guru. Another fluctuating line-up, we went outside to listen their doodlings from a short distance.                    Phaselock.  Man with unusual electric guitar with a chum on additional gadgetry. I think I can confidently state that the guitarist played more notes  than the number of times that Ozzy Osbourne has said the word ‘f**kin’ in his entire life. That is a f**kin hell of a f**kin lot!   Pretty good though.                        Shankara Andy Bole/Motoric 3. Starting solo, the first number was reminiscent of Page’s ‘White Summer’.  There was seemingly a Blind Willie Johnson number  which Ry Cooder ‘stole’…so Led Zeppelin weren’t alone on the burglary antics!     Good use of ‘loops’ . The on-stage numbers gradually increased, and although there were no vocals, it was quite compulsive.  What started out like ‘Interstellar Overdive’ brought the weekend to quite a low key finish.

So, scores on the doors?

  1. Music.  Accent firmly on space rock.  Maybe lacking a bona fide headliner? I have been critical at other fests of all-instrumental sets, but there were plenty here! But it seems to work ok.
  2. Security. Hardly any there, but more importantly not needed.
  3. Bar. £3.00 a pint , which is very good, But like last year, they ran out of beer regularly. There must be room for improvement surely!
  4. Toilets.  ‘Swanky’ falls spectacularly short as an adjective. Not only amazing, but a good reflection on the customers that they were kept pristine too.
  5. Sound. Good, as it was last time.
  6. Food. The REAL problem. Only one savoury food outlet. Poor  choice, poor/average quality, not particularly cheap…and apparently can open and shut when they please. There was a drinks/sweet crepes van which was fine and a hut which served up some pretty poor breakfast fare , we were told. Seemingly Facebook has some  adverse comments about the food situation. We had to go into Caistor for food supplies and some beer cans for when the bar ran out …again. They almost ran out of pint pots too.

A lovely weekend in a lovely setting.  Such a shame to end on a negative, but the food situation is a serious concern.

Photos…   Apologies to E.C.S. theirs didn’t come out very well focussed.( Must be because I was too busy jumping about)  H.L


Cambridge Rock Festival. Horseheath Lodge. 3-6 August. 2017

We went to the very first CRF at a nearby racecourse and have been to most, but not all, since. A new venue, we decided to give it a shot.  Well off the beaten track, and a 4 day event so had to take extra provisions.

Thursday.  Nice touch from organiser Dave Roberts to greet everybody at the gate.               First on the AOR stage were The Room. A 5-piece outfit that had a hint of Marillion.  Inoffensive  stuff, certainly preferable to the Thin Lizzy copy group on the Tribute Stage.   They got a good reception, it helped when the side of the tent was opened up and we could hear better.                              Searching Grey.  Young quartet from Cambridge , with original songs. They had a lot of fans singing along.                                   Moritz.   A 6-piece, they started off with a soundcheck that was very Kiss-like.    A very NWOBHM  (look it up if you don’t know) sound, a bit sub-Foreigner.                                  Voodoo Blood.  A late replacement for the headliner , who called off.  Scantily-clad female fronting a 4-piece. definitely not AOR!   Went off to bed.  Had managed to avoid the Bruce and Bowie copies, we had to walk past a T.Rex copy act.  I imagined being a painter/decorator and forming a T. Rex  tribute act…R.Tex!! You saw it here first! Her Ladyship had been talking to a man in an Iron Maiden t-shirt, and promised to check out his lad’s group tomorrow, so…

Friday.    Maverick on at 11.00 am.  Four young local lads, and I mean ‘lads’!  Dave Roberts has always given local youngsters a shot, which is good. (OK, also free!) .   Original stuff, they went down well.                          4th Labyrinth. CRF regulars, started out with ‘Black Night’.  Very distinctive dreadlocked female bassist.                                    We went to the Blues/Rock Stage for Chris Bevington Organisation.  Big blues band line-up.  Pretty regulation blues fare, they gave us a good ‘I Don’t Need  No Doctor’,  as has been covered by NRPS and Humble Pie. ‘ Five Long Years’ was an early sixties staple for most of the British Blues Boom, I seem to remember another Organisation (Graham Bond) doing it?   Interesting question…has Stevie Ray Vaughan only recorded one bloody song?!  As soon as his name is mentioned it is time for, yes, ‘Pride and Joy’.    They were encouraged to play on, seemingly another act had been delayed.   Lots of Clapton on the PA.                Catfish.  Seen them recently, they gave ‘So Many Roads’, title track of their cd, an early airing.  Did some BB King too. Warning of some imminent ‘funk’ got at least two dissenting voices.   Guitarist had a walk into the audience with guitar for a while. ‘Make it rain’ had some awful Enrique Iglesias-type vocals and went on for ever and ever. But very popular on the blues circuit.                                    Blacktop Deluxe. Finally got there.    Thought we would give them a go rather than Chantel McGregor. ‘Crank it up’ was a promising start.  Not long before ‘Hoochie Coochie Man; and Willie Dixon’s ‘Seventh Son’  made an appearance.                                 Tez had been up to see Ms McGregor and reckoned she was pretty good so we went for a Dr Hook.  The giggly girl guitarist guise has gone…I must stop listening to CSN’s ‘Helplessly Hoping’!   An elongated slow song dragged on a bit and the next song had an ‘Immigrant Song ‘ riff.  I still can’t see the Stevie Nicks comparison in the blurb.          Bumped into John and Karen. They went to see Paul Rodgers twice on his recent tour, I gave them my 2cd version from the Newcastle gig (see earlier review).                    Tygers of Pan Tang . North Eastern metal merchants, last time we saw them in Skeggy it wasn’t brilliant but the sound was awful then.   I was a bt too old for them first time around , but credit to them for still treading the boards.  Intro was Tom Jones’ ‘What’s New Pussycat’ then a mixture of old and new songs. Finished with ‘Tush’ and ‘Love Potion No 9’.                            FM. Another big recorded intro and into ‘Diggin’ up the Dirt’.  Followed by ‘I Belong to the Night’, they are of a similar era to the Tygers and also still have a loyal following. Again, we were flagging, and had to succumb. Had the misfortune to pass Jason and the Skagonauts in the Blues/Rock Stage. (?)  Yes, makes no sense to me either . Predictable pub ska sh*te.  Goodnight John  Boy.  Heard Malcolm Bruce doing ‘Politician’ from the  (allegedly) Acoustic Tent while horizontal.  Weather, like Thursday, had been ‘mixed’.

Saturday. To us, and others, it looked the best day.                        Kinky Wizzards.  I overheard the MC utter the dreaded word ‘jazz-rock’.   An instrumental trio, you either find this stuff clever or tedious.  I went back to the tent to pull my toe-nails out with some rusty pliers, it was less painful than staying there.                       JFK Blue. 4-piece playing original stuff. Her Ladyship detected an early Spin Doctors sound, the second number was less funky.  There was a snatch of ‘3rd Stone from the Sun’ (which the Rainbreakers also featured on the other stage)  and a number similar to Thin Lizzy’s ‘The Rocker’.                      Headline Maniac. Hot Rods’ rhythm section plus on/off Rods’ guitarist Chris Taylor in a side project power trio.  Songs from their recent release plus ‘Suffragette City’, ‘The Rocker’, ‘War Pigs’ and ‘Born to be Wild’ . Dipster and Simon both have a decent set of pipes and the unit stands up well.                      Last Great Dreamers.  Rhythmic Raymond recommended we check them out. The intro as a cross between Green Day and T.Rex was surprisingly accurate. They sounded more like the latter than Thursday night’s copy group.  Her Ladyship liked them (she says ‘Thanks for the cd Ray’).                         John Otway Big Band. Still some Otway virgins about, if you are one get him on your bucket list.  Usual start, there was a definite accent on girls’ names tonight…Josephine, Louisa, Cheryl, Delilah.   Her Ladyship had been to Aldi for some flowers, I had to fight off Julie who tried to pinch mine!   ‘Ineffable’ is a good word for the man.                               Son of Man .   Featuring George Jones and  Bob Richards from the post 2000 Man, they have now put out a cd in their own right. Unfortunately they have decided to fill almost all of the opening hour of the set with it  and nearly all the Man stuff was left to the end. We both thought it would have been more sensible to put the likes of ‘Ride and the View’ , ‘7171 551’ and ‘Romain” at regular intervals earlier. Obviously keep ‘Bananas’ and ‘Spunk Rock’ for the end.  And their fan base is Man fans, is it not?  So a touch disappointing for us.                             But the best was to come.  Eddie and the Hot Rods .  The usual set list, starting with one of my favourites ‘Get Across to You’ and finishing the main set with my all-time favourite ‘Beginning of the End’.     If the encore had been ‘Get out of Denver’ instead of ‘Born to be Wild’ it would have been a perfect 10, but Barrie Masters would probably have  ended up in an iron lung!   Have seen them dozens of times , this one was up there with the best .  Chris Taylor back with them tonight on second guitar  .    Had to pass pub rock outfit Buster James churning out ‘Tush’ and ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’  but went to bed smiling .

Sunday            Had a bit of a chuckle looking at old t-shirts featuring the much-heralded but much-sh*te Bubblegum Screw and the master conman Leon Hendrix.                                               A Twisted State of Mind.   Young lads from Oxford.  Being told to ‘Make some noise!’ at 11.00 am on Sunday by some teenager had me thinking what Captain Mainwaring would be saying to him.  I was worn out just watching them. Four boys with a combined age of my cricket bat but well done for  making their own music and not taking the easy option of being in a tribute act.                     Kyrbgrinder were a late change on the other stage. CRF regulars , I had found an early cd in a charity shop. A good grungey guitar sound but the songs didn’t stick in my mind.        Had no interest in Deborah Namedropper Bonham or Mostly Awful (but there are plenty who have) so camped at the Blues/Rock Stage.                      Big River.     Rocky 4-piece with a hyperactive bassist. Very riff-laden stuff, with surprisingly decent versions of ‘Trouble on Double Time’, ‘Fire and Water’, ‘Deal with the Peacher’ and’Rock Steady’ for any Rodgers and Kirke aficionados. Thankfully avoided the pub Free and Bad Co standards.                    London Blusion    Early slappy bass solo wasn’t encouraging.  Booker T-like line-up, early stuff was very MOR late night listening.  But a really good ‘Crazy Mama’ signalled an increase in energy.  During a lapse in sound I could hear Led Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’, which has been belatedly credited to Willie Dixon and some British Blues Burglars, from the other stage.  Some more Hendrixy stuff and it ended on a high.     High up above , that Apache Chief Billy Black Cloud was threatening to empty himself, but without success this time .                 Laurence Jones . Another young guitar slinger who has left us unmoved, and an early sarcastic  ‘It’s called a soundcheck mate’ didn’t have a positive effect on me  (maybe it wasn’t him).  There was a song with ‘All along the Watchtower’ chords and he finished with ‘Every day I have the Blues/Sweet Home Chicago’.                           Red Butler. Not seen them before, seemingly their female singer has left.  Heavy blues-rock quartet,  ‘Shakin all over’ was a bit strangulated but different. An early slow blues was very 60s Fleetwood Mac and Her Ladyship sensed a touch of Free’s ‘Moonshine’.   Stevie Ray Vaughan appeared via…yes, you know.  Whitesnake’s version of ‘Ain’t no love…’ seems to be a blues-rock standard nowadays but they get a point deducted for finishing with Thin Lizzy.                         Magenta. We went up to the other stage to sit on the Big Magic Roundabout (which doesn’t go round).   The CRF prog template , 5-piece with girl singer, started up.  To me, it sounded like a Tesco shop assistant with 4 Yes wannabees who will neverbees. But others obviously had a different opinion.                                Atomic Rooster.    The 70s veterans finished the weekend.  The singles ‘Tomorrow Night’ and ‘Devil’s Answer’ both made surprisingly early appearances.    But the weekend had taken its toll, so we headed  off for our final kip.

So, let’s have a bit of a breakdown of the weekend

  1. Venue and layout.  A new site but the layout very much familiar. And the same area of concern. The two main stages are too close together. You could throw a cricket ball from one to the other. Sitting outside you can always hear both. And if you sit in front of the annoying Radio Caroline van, even more! And that is without the Acoustic Stage.  Really needs looking at, especially when the acts starting times are simultaneous. Stagger them perhaps?
  2. Chairs in tents. Not allowed, so when the bloody MC tells those sitting outside to come on and watch the acts…we can’t because we are too bloody old to stand up for 12 hours!  And when is a tent not a tent? Seemingly when it is an Acoustic Tent!  Why can people take chairs in there!? The whole council by- law argument doesn’t wash
  3. MCs. The female ( ‘Did I tell you I have a show on the BBC?’) mentioned( more than once)  that we were at the Cambridge FOLK Festival ! A real pro!!  Also keep the crowd a bit better informed of changes/delays please.
  4. Traders . 4 food stalls, 1 cd stall and 1 hippy-dippy stall. Not much to wander round really. Food quality and prices were as per most festivals but possibly the first we have been to with no chilli anywhere!  More than one trader at other festivals has told me that they don’t go to CRF because the charge is too much. Believe me, you WOULDN’T believe me if you knew what the ice-cream van had to pay!  Which links to…
  5. No Camp Shop.  Again the money wanted is apparently too much. But it should be a SERVICE!  On a par with toilets and bar. It is a 4-day weekend, miles from anywhere. Milk, bacon etc won’t keep for that long and it needs a grocer’s, even if only to buy a newspaper
  6. Security. Seemingly there were illegal aliens coming in, including people who only paid for camping. Hence wristbands being checked.  So don’t sell camping tickets without festival tickets!     Sadly, there were beer token forgeries but even paper tokens can be taken home and scanned if someone feels the need. The staff were very relaxed, sadly I saw one bloke smuggle a full bottle of Jack Daniels in.
  7. Toilets. Well maintained and promptly  relocated when necessary.
  8. Stewards. Friendly and helpful as always.
  9. Bar .  £4.00 a pint? A bit steep, especially for us northerners!  And £2.00 for a receptacle isn’t ‘nominal’. I have taught kids whose mother would have fought Tyson Fury blindfolded for that.
  10. Music.  On the whole, pretty much as it has been in recent years. The emphasis on prog and bluesy rock stuff. Some better than others but generally of a good standard.
  11. Sound systems.  Very good on both main stages. Vocals always audible.
  12. Disabled area. Previous years have had a raised area at the back for wheelchairs. I assume the tent layout with bars at the rear has made this not possible.

Overall, it was a good weekend.  All aspects of the staffing were first class. The arena was constantly kept clean by a squad of volunteers and the festival goers on the campsite were equally fastidious. Maybe it is an age thing?  OK, a lot of the music wasn’t great for me , but it obviously was for the vast majority there.  Hopefully some of the points raised above will at least be considered.  Was it worth £125 each? The jury is out but with a few bits of tinkering the decision would be a thumbs up.  Hopefully the owner’s generosity wasn’t abused ecologically,  the camp site looked decent when we left (couldn’t find a skip for our rubbish bag though). There was a feedback form available, I wonder what other reactions were.

Swampcandy, Jed Thomas. Duck and Drake. 31.07.2017

A late addition to the schedule, not even listed. Main man Andy suggested we come, then changed it to an order!    Jed Thomas did a 20 min solo opening act, featuring the likes of Muddy Waters, Tony Joe White and Leadbelly.

The duo of Ruben and Joey that is Swampcandy started 9.30-ish, we could instantly see why Andy recommended them.  Originals such as ‘Baseball Bats and Bear Traps’, ‘Positive Drinking’ and ‘Drink Whisky with Me’ mixed with the likes of Son House.  Big sound from two blokes, due in no small part to a tremendous one-man rhythm section. Sadly we had to go after a brilliant first set.

Audience of less than twenty got a real treat.  If they are announced for the Upton Blues Festival next year we will be there (and f*ck the Plough…see recent review of the festival.)

Due back soon at The Grove in Leeds, miss them at your peril! Check them out on Youtube…now!