Monthly Archives: May 2018

Hope Festival. Warlingham. 25-27 May 2018

An early outdoor festival in the calendar, we have been for the last few years and always enjoyed it. Check out past reviews. Advance apologies for any errors re names. Also apologies for any acts being missed while we were chatting.

Friday. First on is Tom McQ. A familiar face to Hope regulars, via his mid 60s Donovan/Dylan appearance.  Good original songs, Her Ladyship commented that it was a good start to proceedings.             Unorfadox. Festy favourites of ours, the name has been going for more than 4 decades. Brian is a great front man, check out some great vintage photos on Youtube!  Good songs , including ‘Generation B’, ‘ Silent Hurricane’ and their excellent ditty about being at the Roxy. Still Bromley’s best-kept secret.                 Flakey Jake.   Drums/sax/accordian.  Ska to the fore, unusual enough to be popular.                         Carnaby Army  .   ‘Louie Louie’ and ‘The Seeker’ were the openers, I didn’t bother after that. basic pub covers outfit which we could see in our local pub. And selling t-shirts?!  But the pitiful reflection on today’s live music is that there were more in to watch this lot churn out covers than there were to watch Unorfadox play their own stuff.                         Port ErinThree young men with beards playing original songs. I seem to remember thinking they were decent last time. ‘Chaos in the Streets ‘ got some feet tapping .              Sasha and the Shades.  Another face that I seem to remember from previous events, with a young man on vocals with a much older set of tonsils.   The female on vocals gave it a sound not unlike the 1968 Jefferson Airplane.  They were very good.                        Mick O’Toole . Described as ‘folk punk’, my description is ‘Plastic Paddies’.  ‘Irish Rover’ is featured early and the set is an extension of that. Being told to put my hands in the air as a beginning doesn’t exactly get me on their side either. Tedious, but popular so ‘de gustibus non est disputandum’. (Apologies if my O level Latin isn’t quite accurate).          And that was Friday.  Some very good stuff…and some not so good. Still ok though.

Saturday.  The DJ in the Bar Stage decided, at 11.30 am, to unleash some AC/DC on us. I can only assume that a) his girlfriend is called Rosie  , b) he told her to listen out for the song   c) she lives in f**kin Dover because the dB level was ridiculous.  Especially annoying for those sitting outside when young Leon Tilbrook came on the other stage and they hoped to listen to him. A seasoned performer by now, he didn’t have his well-known father to help out today. Plenty of his peers there to give him a good reception.                                Gavin Martin. Irish punk poet with recorded music back-up. Had to include the word ‘f**kin’ though.                      James and Jonty. Due on the other stage at 1.00pm , it was about 1.15pm when a bloke with a leg in a pot hobbled up. More poetry, Her Ladyship liked him.                          The Random People.  Four teenage girls who seemed to be about forty years too late, as opposed to fifteen minutes as was the bloke in a pot.   But, bless’em, original songs. It made us chuckle when she included lots of obligatory ‘f’ words in one song. Sounded so polite! Plenty of peers and parents there to applaaud them.                 Small Victories. Two young men with shades on drums and guitar/vocals. Seemingly the bass player had to cry off on the Pat and Mick.    But they managed extraordinarily well as a duo.   Own stuff with festival favourite ‘Gloria’ thrown in . We got briefly more excited when we thought he announced a Spirit cover, but it was , I think, Spiritualized.                       Jimmy Regal and the Royals. Their appearance hinted at the onset of ska/Two Tone, but, no, they were a decent blues-based outfit. ‘Look Out’ had an ‘On the Road Again’ feel and some Bo Diddley is always welcome.  They finished with ‘Just Because’, which was much longer than my Flying Burrito Brothers version. Enjoyed them.                 Mee and the Band. Wacky duo, surely influenced by Bjork, Kate Bush and even Peter Gabriel?  They must have put a lot of work into the performance and went down well.      (Did I see Steve Boltz Bolton from Atomic Rooster walking around?)             Databass. Another occasion when the other stage was still going when this one started up.  Dave Ripp on bass, so it was always going to be what I understand to be ‘dub’ based. Plenty in to watch. We sat outside.                             Weird Cousins. B/D/G group with female vocals. Drowned out by Main Stage dj who thought it more important to play a load of ska.   They weren’t all that remarkable really. Harsh?  Maybe, but realistic.                             Hannah Scott. Young singer/songwriter with a decent songs and voice. But just basic chord strumming is just too…basic?                  Dead’s Man Corner. Well that’s what it said on the board! It is the afore-mentioned Steve Boltz’s side group.  Very much based  on sixties rock and roll. Some Billy Fury, Johnny Kidd and the Pirates and ‘Is Vic there?’.  Also Memphis Minnie’s ‘When the levee breaks’. Enjoyable set, you can send Mr B a seventieth birthday card next year!                       Twangers. More Hope regulars. ‘Man of Constant Sorrow’ set the scene.                         Dishy Tangent. Starting on time, with ‘twanging’ still happening across the way.  Now getting an annoying feature!  Drummer looked and sounded like he should have been in a much heavier outfit. But, again, full marks for playing original stuff.                    Hobo and the Hippies.  More Plastic Paddies, from a few miles down the road.                    Aunt Nelly. Five piece soul combo with female vocalist.                       Professor No Hair and the Wig Lifters. Sub-Ronnie Scott’s jazz stuff but a) warmer in the tent than outside and b) away from a couple of intrusive wimmin who decided that it was perfectly ok to invade our company.   Got some boogie woogie piano and a Booker T-sounding number. Bass solo! Drum solo!  ‘Mojo Working’ got some feet tapping.   Not our sort of stuff really.  Afore -mentioned couple came back to pester us again.  We were so fed up we went . Of course, if I had told them to ‘F**k off’ I would have been homophobic, they would have claimed. In fact, totally not. Is probably xenophobic , if xenophobic means not liking total strangers boring us with details of their tedious f**kin existence.        Went to bed, been awake for a long time. Just beat the rain.

Sunday. Tunehead.  Opening three numbers sounded very much like one of those Steely Dan b-sides which featured an instrumental mix.  In fact, one was a Jaco Pastorius number.  Freddy Husband, Grover Washington and a couple of Miles Davis tunes  came along. Not our genre but much better on a Sunday lunchtime than having some youngster telling us to wake up and put our hands in the air.                            Pelican Assembly. Low-key tapalong stuff with female trumpeter. again, ok for the time and day.                      Interrupted by Memphis  across the way doing their pub covers . ‘Roxette’ got Her Ladyship to her feet, it does no matter who is playing it.    Rolling Stones stuff well in evidence, but , after being marginally overserved the night before, a barrage of King Crimson would have been a bit misplaced.  Strangely, we were talking about Lou Reed’s ‘Transformer’ when they started up ‘Walk on the Wild Side’!  I decided to say my Lottery numbers out loud! *             Ukedelix   Women with ukeleles . Struggled with Roy Orbison, but who wouldn’t ?                              Stone Cold Fiction   Youthful power trio with original songs. Keep it up lads.               Dave Bassey. We got talking to a couple of women whose musical knowledge far exceeded ‘Bat out of Hell’, ‘Queen’s Greatest Hits Vol 1-3’ and Robbie Williams so missed watching Mr B and friend. Which was unfortunate, because anyone who starts with the Flying Burrito Brothers and includes Steve Earle, Little Feat and even Manassas in their repertoire will definitely get our attention next year.                                    Similarly missed the excellent Nigel Clark across the field.   Her Ladyship went across and and said he was great, as he had been before. She was especially moved by his rendition of Tom Waits’ ‘I hope I don’t fall in love with you’.                           Alex and the Wonderland.    Early showing of reggae and funky stuff.   All for people doing their own stuff but this lot didn’t interest me.  They seemed to have plenty of friends there to listen to a quasi-Jamiroquai number and Johnny Nash’s ‘Cupid’ sped up my exit.  Went across to await the arival of the excellent Mazaika.                                Like some before them , they came onstage on time but said there was no point trying to play over the other lot who thought they were wonderful enough to overrun. The woman was quite rightly annoyed . Frustrating that a couple of world class musicians whose presence would not go astray in the Royal Albert Hall were kept waiting by a load of bog standard, going-nowhere tw*ts who wouldn’t fill the Royal Albert pub in Grimsby.    Eventually they got going with their blend of hot swing, classic, Russian folk song music and Django Reinhardt.  Absolutely imperious musicians, Brian Unorfadox was in total agreement. He rightly also commented about the eclectic nature of the weekend’s music. I spotted an old biddy in a purple tie-dyed dress having a good jig to ‘Hava Nagila’ and then thought ‘ Sh*t, it’s Her Ladyship in her latest purchase!’. Worth every penny of their fee, which hopefully was in the tens of thousands of pennies Dave!         To end the event, Hope All Stars  mega ska jam session.  Definitely zed-time!

So, overall? An enjoyable weekend, met our festifriends and basked in the sunshine.  Predicted Sunday storm didn’t quite get to us thankfully but there was a spectacular lightning display witnessed from inside our tent in the early hours of Sunday morning. We never got down to the Piano Bar, so apologies for not covering the events there.

1. Music. Eclectic as usual, with the emphasis probably on ska. Missed the usual bonus of unannounced presence of Squeeze or members thereof though.

2. Food. More choice this year but £4.00 for ‘real’, ‘large’ chips!?

3. Bar. Price £4.00 a pint. OK, not Wetherspoons but not JFK Airport prices either!  But staff? Got to be said…hopeless. The number of times we were quoted wrong prices and (almost) given wrong change was far too many. Her Ladyship actually once gave some change back!  The gesture of giving eg £10.20 to make giving change easier on a round of £8.20 should have made things simpler but caused multiple aneurysms, And the fact that appeals were going out at the last minute for help behind the bar just doesn’t wash. The person getting the contract should surely have to provide a well-prepared, quality service. What if all the musicians had turned up without instruments and asked if anyone had a guitar?

4.Security. Seemed fine but certainly not intrusive.

5. Dogs. Once again ‘No Dogs Allowed’ was the order. So why let these tw*ts in with dogs who are just laughing at the stated conditions?

6. Scheduling of stages. The boards seemed to indicate one stage finish/other one starts. Too many instances of acts not sticking to an important schedule.

But a good, friendly event. Getting slightly more popular though.

Anyone wanting to use any of the photos is welcome to do so, it would be nice to credit Her Ladyship though!

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Blind Cat Gives You Wingies. S. Wingfield. 4-5 May 2018

Just to explain the complicated title, for the uninitiated. The South Wingfield Social Club is host to the ‘sister’ festival of the Blind Cat Festival. Sadly, the organisers of BC had to cancel early due to poor advance ticket sales. But to their credit (and financial loss) they did it early enough to give full refunds. So to ‘Wingies’

Friday. Entertainment started just before 6,00pm with the hardy annual BB Blackdog. Featuring the full trio, the opening number sounded a bit like Morrisey backed by the Velvet Underground. The next song ‘Groupie’ wasn’t the Delaney and Bonnie song though. Third one up had a Stranglers-ish bass sound plus obligatory female cosmic gyrations and there was a Bo Diddley feel to the encore. They always go down well, although the adjective ‘jolly’ doesn’t spring to mind.            Red Electra 69. 5-piece outfit with an insistent throb and distorted guitar. Two keyboards but suffer a bit from lack of vocals. They did however get some vocal assistance on the final ‘Little Green Men’.                   Not ON.   I seem to remember them at Blind Cat starting out with seven on stage and finishing with even more. Loads of big block chords and there were two bassists. ‘Dirge’ was written by one of them.  Was it the one who stood up and played something we could hear or the other who was seated and seemed to spend the whole set looking down at his box of tricks and occasionally moving his hands on his instrument. I wasn’t the only one in the audience who couldn’t perceive any aural contribution from the latter. The song sounded as though it could have come from San Francisco about fifty years ago, no bad thing!                    Monkey Trial.  Keyboards/percussion/guitar/FX.  Again, lengthy instrumentals . Vocals FX-laden.  Audience very appreciative.                   Deviant Amps. Psychedelic power trio, thirty seconds in we reckoned they were best so far.   OK, not exactly Paul Rodgers on vocals but fine for this. The guitar sound was very Fender and they were the only people to generate some audience movement other than closed-eyed nodding. Might the original Pink Fairies trio sound like this nowadays?   So first night’s music was over, but 1.30am bar closing meant the night was still young for some…but not us!  There had been plenty of Kozfest t-shirts, men with long grey beards and that sad tw*t who tells all in earshot that he is/was a teacher, Thankfully the two a*seholes from Blind Cat who plonk two of King Canute’s bloody thrones in the venue and bugger off for six hours weren’t there.

Saturday. Pretty much 12 hours of music in store so we slipped into FDM (Festival Drinking Mode, one pint per hour, starting at 12.00pm sharp then strictly hourly).     Line-up reshuffle meant Automatone opened up proceedings.  Some improvised instrumental stuff allowed a stand-in drummer to help out while the regular man was en route. It actually sounded not unlike the wonderful 1975 reformed Spirit trio, but with a chunkier Gibson (R.I.P.) sound.  Guitarist’s ‘Do Not Panic’ t-shirt was a warning for some Hawkwind . I probably preferred the earlier instrumental numbers though.               Sonic Trip Project.   Some familiar faces and not unfamiliar instrumental sounds.  Bassist got two yellow cards for not turning down , but avoided being sent off.  Interesting that an abbreviation STP reminded me of the Hendrix B-side  ‘Stars That Play with Laughing Sam’s Dice’. It was generally assumed that ‘STP LSD’ had drug references.                       3rd Quadrant. We went to sit outside in the sun, sorry lads!             SpacedOgs.   One of many groups here featuring members doubling/trebling/….up in other outfits. Another 100% instrumental set but it seems the norm for these type of events. Surely there are some bedroom poets out there who would add to some of these combos?   There was some very dodgy slide guitar on occasion.   Wasn’t too bothered about SHOM or Dubbel so went back to the tent.  Came back for Electric Cake Salad. I find the need for some people to categorise groups irritating. Where do they put these lads?  ElectroMetalDisco would be my suggestion if pushed but who cares? We love ’em! We absolutely love ’em!! We absolutely f**kin’ love ’em!!!  Non-believers should check them out via YouTube and if you live within twenty miles of Birmingham there is no excuse for not seeing them live. Set list at the end, cheers Steve!                     Capt. Starfighter and the Lockheeds. Name derived from Hawkwind’s Robert Calvert’s first solo LP, we are treated to ‘Spirit of the Age’, ‘Master of the Universe’, ‘Quark, Strangeness and Charm’ plus more. There was an ‘interesting ‘ second appearance for ‘Little Green Men’ with vocalist Mr Smith changing the title words for a less-than-complimentary phrase aimed at a certain someone whose ensembles he used to feature in.  I can’t comment any further, I don’t know any details.

And Wingies was at an end. Is there any group who has spawned so many festivals based on their music other than Hawkwind? I can’t think of any.

Any festival has pros and cons, so here goes…

  1. Venue. Very like the Stoke Prior set-up (Sonic Rock Solstice and Onboard the Craft).  Her Ladyship was close to wilting on occasions as it wasn’t possible to leave big outside doors open.
  2. Camping. As above, although one of the conditions was that we moved our cars after pitching tent, We did so and had to be towed out of a foot of concealed bog! I hope the many who ignored the moving of their cars haven’t spoiled it for the ones who did.
  3. Beer. It seems like the club kept the prices as normal, ie less than £3.00 a pint. Well done
  4. Staff. All very polite. The lady steward seemed pleased with the general decorum of the punters.
  5. Food. Only one outlet, but capacity of the venue only 199 so too small a crowd to warrant loads of vendors. £1.00 for coffee, £2.00 for egg sandwich puts some of these burgersheds to shame. Small but adequate veggie option.
  6. Toilets. None on campsite, One of each on adjacent bowling green premises, similar in the club. Maybe more luck than judgement, but could have been a big problem if any had become ‘out of order’.
  7. Sound. Very good as is anything under the jurisdiction of Dave Lowe.
  8. Security. There seemed to be lots without wristbands!  Probably a few ‘locals’ in attendance but no problems apparent.
  9. Noise. Dave L had indicated there were going to be warnings from the stage about noise on the campsite, one reason why the bar stayed open until 1.30. There was only one barely-audible comment at the very end, but nothing before. (To keep those wanting to carry on drinking INSIDE!) . There were plenty of ‘notices’ around the venue though, to be fair. The lads camped next to us were still ‘socialising’ in the early hours though on Friday.
  10. Value for money. £30.00. Excellent value.

A good , if short, weekend . Hopefully the Committee here will give the OK for next year. And, re a future Blind Cat Fest, remember the importance of giving the organisers some advance ticket funds. It is vital for this scale of event.

Footnote. I inadvertently accused Automatone’s bassist of not turning down. It was. in fact, Sonic Trip Project who were guilty. I have updated the above review. Thanks for pointing it out, sorry .

Footnote 2. I also mentioned ‘Black Cat’ in the final paragraph instead of ‘Blind Cat’!  Duly amended, thanks for alerting me!