Our third visit to this ‘bijou’ festival in Derbyshire. Set up camp on the Social Club field and went into the club for a couple of heart starters.
Friday. Inside stage only tonight, first up are Eddie and the Wolves. Blues-rock power trio from Derby. They start out with a heavy Beatles ‘Come Together’. Their songs are nearly all originals. One such song had a very ‘Little Wing’-ish feel, but had some decidedly dodgy guitar too! They suffered a bit from the sound being distorted for the last couple of numbers. Good start to the fest though. Solar Love Society. Reggae sextet from Sheffield. Not a genre that does owt for us, but a few dancing. Male keyboardist took over on lead vocals for ‘Prisoner’. Tony Wright. Terrorvision’s lead vocalist doing his solo acoustic stuff. Place was full, so no seats for our elderly frames. We had to go and sit in what looked like God’s Waiting Room. He’s a good pro, lots of anecdotes to accompany his songs. Unfortunately, we were both suffering from bad heartburn so went back for an early night, missing Molly Manders and the Shut Ups.
Saturday. 11.00 am kick-off in the Social Club with a Beatles theme singalong hosted by Smiley Pete Drake. Then over to the indoor stage for Sam Tucker . Local lad with acoustic guitar. mixing his own songs with covers of the likes of Frank Turner and Illinois’ Alkaline Trio. No delusions of grandeur. we chatted with him in the Royal Oak on Sunday night, where his photo comes from. Moore and Watson . Acoustic folk duo from Barnsley. Festival regulars in one shape or another. Went into the Spoken Word room, caught the end of Sophie Sparham . Young lady from Derbyshire. Does she class herself as a poet or a poetess? Is Meryl Streep an actor or actress? After all, a female lion is a lioness, isn’t it? Pete Drake is next . Another festival regular, he had to compete aurally with Verbal Warning outside. (People 20 postcodes away could hear them so it wasn’t going to be easy.) Song about England Women’s Football team, Lionesses!!! Then ditties about Toyah, his local community page, Yorkshire TV’s Peter Levy and Elton John. His ‘Oddly Excluded’ has some Chris Difford-ish rhymes. He is always a welcome sight at Whitwell, just as well as he is always there! Went outside to catch the end of afore-mentioned Verbal Warning. Punk veterans, with good originals mixed in with ‘classics’. Their ‘Piers Morgan’ sounded like it could have been written 40 years ago. (He was probably a tw*t when he was 14 too). Smiley and the Underclass. Blurb told us to expect punk/reggae stuff, ie Clash-ish. Again , not for me. Why does a white London boy with curly fair hair talk with a Rasta accent!? Very energetic, obligatory Ramones T-shirt on stage. I went inside for a pint of Coors Light. Yes, I am a big girl’s blouse but I needed to drink something different to hopefully avoid another night of discomfort. Came back out for the Blue Carpet Band. Starting out with The Doors ‘Break on Through’ and following on with their new single we were treated to a manic rock ‘n’ roll display, with a dash of punk.’The Devil’ slowed things down, briefly, but the whole set was a real treat. We both loved ’em. Good call from the Committee to book them. Went inside for The Garderobes. We came in during the Feelgoods’ ‘One More Shot’. Lots of familiar blues tunes from the likes of Jimmy Reed, Andy Fairweather-Low and Fleetwood Mac. Fine by me. Nick Parker and the False Alarms. Not as good as we had hoped, went back inside for Duncan Oakley . Bloke plus acoustic, when I tell you his first song was ‘The Unfortunate Girl With A Face Like A Bum’ I am sure you get the picture. The ruder he got, the more Her Ladyship’s double G and T’s attacked her laughing bone. Eric Clapton’s ‘Wonderful Tonight’ got a less than reverential pasting. Good applause. Fuzzbox. An interesting ‘coup’ for the Committee. A couple of wacky women, sporting the abbreviated name from ‘We’ve Got a Fuzzbox and We’re Gonna Use it’. They are definitely a few chips short of a Rotherham schoolkid’s dinner. More than the occasional sound problem, plus the occasional hairpiece problem added to the haplessness. A lot of bemused faces in the audience, which dwindled exponentially. Gayle and Mike SAGA (see reviews passim) actually left twice . Most people only left once. For me, they did what it says on the tin (or box). They lived down to all expectations. We got a version of ‘Spirit in the Sky’, maybe they should have done Steve Miller’s ‘Take the Money and Run’. Certainly got people talking, but mostly using words of one syllable. Her Ladyship went outside to check out Robert Fripp’s missus. It was Toyah plus guitarist plus electronic help. Obviously cheaper than booking the full group, but reports were good. Sons of Clogger. Plenty of T-shirts and hoodies in evidence. Another outfit who have fallen victim to PPI (Plastic Paddy Influence) but have thrown in some U2 too. Her Ladyship liked them, for a while. And it was time for bed.
Sunday. Another ‘inside only’ day, finishing at 6.00pm. Bright sunshine! Sadly a cloud over proceedings when it is announced that the excellent Broken Flowers had to cry off. But… first on are The Blues Revue. A Ten Years After t-shirt and an excellent rendition of Jethro Tull’s ‘My Sunday Feeling’ were a good barometer of things to come. ‘Outside Woman Blues’, ‘What’d I Say’, BB King and ZZ Top were all well-performed and ‘Man of the World’ brought a great set to an end. Twin guitars, but often playing the same riff rather than harmonising. Very good for the Graveyard Slot. Jess Silk. Young women with acoustic guitar and her own songs. Some angry, some not. To replace Broken Flowers, we were treated to the Alan Doonican All Stars. ‘Alan’ and ‘Bjorn’ Doonican gave us a hastily-arranged Doonicans set, sans Scott of course. Which evoked much ribaldry. A hall packed with Doonicans fans, so no huge guffaws at any of the songs’ punchlines but who cares? Songs about Nando’s, Costa, Birdwatching. Songs from Marc Coen, The Stones, The Police and Andy Williams are shown no mercy. ‘How Deep is Your Glove’ had to be abandoned but ‘B.I.S.T.O’ escaped unharmed. And ‘Lady in Gregg’s’ rounded off a plethora of peerless parodies. Apologies, I have been listening to Stephen Stills (AKA Captain Alliteration). Itchy Fingers. Bass drum said Country Blues Ragtime, and we got some. Plus a lot of swing. Old time stuff from eg The Boswell Sisters and Irving Berlin plus some original songs. Very good. Nick Harper. Son of Roy, he has been performing for 20 years but has had to contend with FFS…Famous Father Syndrome. As have Arlo Guthrie, Steve Rodgers, Ziggy Marley, Jeff Buckley, Julian Lennon et al. Some of these have forged their own identity but Nick H, like others, has his father’s voice. Yes, he is a very good guitarist and yes he writes his own stuff and yes I like a bit Roy Harper! But, Harper Jr does nothing for us, or Gayle and Mike SAGA. I just do not like his vocal style. He slaughters ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ (no doubt with reference to his father singing on the Floyd LP ) and ‘Purple Rain’ . Definitely a Marmite act, but lots in the hall were very happy and came out to buy cds etc at the end. A bit disappointing that Mr H didn’t come and work the merch desk and sign stuff. And the building had to be sorted for business as usual tomorrow.
How was it overall?
- Value for money. Exceptional. Run on a tight budget, they always manage to get a ‘name’ or two on the programme.
- Music. Eclectic, they don’t stick to one genre. Always decent quality.
- Beer. Festival drinks and the venue bar are very reasonable at around £3.00.
- Campsite. Unfortunately there was some disgraceful activity on Saturday night. A group of younger people decided to get back to their tents and continue their revelry. Much singing, shouting and effing. Somebody took exception and was told that ‘it’s a festival’ and ‘we have been playing’ so we are carrying on. Fists flew, women screamed, car stereos blared out. Yes, boys and girls, it IS a festival. But go to bloody Leeds and be amongst drug-addled and booze-fuelled 20 year olds. That is your sort of festival. You are on a field here next to kids sleeping in tents and over the fence are old people’s bungalows with 90 year old residents. And the very festival could be in jeopardy with this sort of disrespectful, selfish, inconsiderate behaviour. And, yes, we know who you are…and so do the organisers.
- Security. Low key.
- Staff. Friendly.
- Toilets. Maybe room for another portaloo on the campsite? Both were full all day Sunday.
- Ventilation. The Indoor Stage room got very hot. If not Air Conditioning, how about a bloody great fan on the ceiling? Please?
- Clientele. Accepting that the people involved in point #4 were a ‘blip’, very friendly. Thanks to the couple who found my notebook. I hadn’t realised I had lost it!
- Sound. Unusually, the odd problem but seemed ok in general to the paying public
Next year? Yes please. It is a slight concern though that a younger, rowdier element may discover it as cheap festival weekend.
Pics … apologies, forgot camera so these were taken on my phone . Therefore some of them are not worth looking at. I had problems with indoor the stage lights [strangely, they took away everyone’s face!] So here’s the best of a poor lot.