Sunday, 14 April 2013


Next morning we picked up Frank at 10.00 am and were on site by 10.30.

Not another drummer, surely ?

Hopefully, today is going to have a few less problems ?

First job, take out all the gear from the back of the steward’s marquee which backs onto us and get the stage set up before Al gets here.
It doesn’t work because he’s as ready to start as we are and turns up ten minutes later, which only goes to prove that ‘many hands make light work’ because we accomplish it in record time.

It’s going to be an interesting day today as we only have one lot of out and out noise-niks, and they are second on the bill and replacing an already booked act.
Having said that, they’re as good as anybody else and a lot better than some booked on other stages.
The rain has stopped and it seems as if it’s brightening up somewhat ?
Unfortunately, the ground is completely soaked underfoot and is beginning to turn to that horrible liquefied mud in some places on site.

I’d hate to think what it’s like over by the main stage ?
That was appalling last night and with another probable twelve thousand people expected today, is only going to get ten times worse.
Still, that’s their problem, our stage isn’t as bad.
It’s not good by any means, but it’s not as bad as some of the others.

It’s a toss-up between whether we play a few African acts on cd while we wait, or go for something more ‘weird’, as my festie’ music is called, sometimes ?

Haddy, taking a break

Screw it.
Fatoumata Diawara gets the vote until Lee gets here to soundcheck.
The rest of the crew turn up by eleven.

Sarah’s daughter Charlotte has now swelled our ranks, but they’re all past masters at this sort of thing now, and by 11.25 we’re all set to go.
The camera is in position, the desk is working, and all we need is an opening act.
Before we get one, I get a ‘phone call…
It’s Joe Davin from Red Maxx who played yesterday.
Apparently he left his guitar in the marquee in our ‘safe store’ and it’s missing, presumed stolen, so can we please keep our eyes open for it ?
We can do that.

‘Frank, while we’re waiting can you go through ALL our stuff in the safe store and see if you can find anything, cheers mate ?’

Ok, so Lee’s here and ready to go.
I’ve only seen him once before playing an acoustic gig as normally he’s a bit loud.
He used to live four doors away from me in the family home until they moved away, and now he seems to be based anywhere from Hertfordshire to the South Coast.
His electric outfit were named ‘The Righteous Ones of The Rockets’ or somesuch, and they played a sort of jamming, psychedelia inspired rock.
When the words were sung, you actually realised that there was some intelligent thought behind them and they had never let me down at any gig I’d seen them, so I’d been intrigued when Joe Davin had recommended his acoustic set.
I’d seen him just the once, but that was enough for me and I’d booked him there and then.
It’s a thankless job starting things off on the Sunday, but Lee had been up for it and was happy to be involved.
He’d also got quite a few friends turning up to see him, which was always good, and… Today we are starting on time and thank Christ for that.
All we have to do is wait until the religious service finishes from our nearest neighbours at St Mary’s stage.
St Mary’s is run by the local vicar, Michael, but don’t let that fool you into thinking he just puts on twee and nice acts, that would place you totally in the wrong ball park.
Michael used to be a ‘rocker’ before holy orders beckoned, and he’s still known to strap on a guitar and rock out with the best of them.
His stage tends to cater for the smaller ‘world’ acts and the same type of acts as us but without the ‘attitude’.
That’s not to say they are boring and ‘nice’, they’re not.
They ‘kick ass’ with the best of them.
We’ve always said that what makes ‘Rhythms’ is the fact we have the sacred (St Mary’s) and the profane (Arcadeclectic) side by side, and we get on.
But Sunday morning service is Sunday morning service and since he’s on site, he holds it in the stage he’s responsible for, and it works.
Those wanting to go to church still get to sit in a church pew because he’s had them all moved onto the site, it’s just in a large marquee instead of a church, that’s all.
And what could be better than a non-denominational church service that brings different religions and faiths together at a festival that celebrates different music from around the World ?
I don’t know, but I have the feeling that when God calls, then Ol’ Father Michael is going to be classed as one of the good guys, despite his predilection for out and out Rock and Roll ?
Mike Roden rocks !
That’s all there is to it.

So Lee Clayden gets us underway…

Intelligent and thought provoking songs with some very nifty fretwork in places.
Yes, I think that about sums up Lee’s set ?
I could have added very enjoyable, but that goes without saying and it really is a perfect opening set.
Neither too loud nor too soft, but with something for everyone AND… He plays loud enough to challenge Al on the soundesk which is good as it keeps him thinking and he doesn’t go onto autopilot.

While Lee is keeping us all entertained, one of St Mary’s security guys wanders over and ask me if any of our lot has lost a guitar, as he’d seen a guitar case at the bottom of the river by the bridge, had waded in to rescue it, only to find the guitar was still in it. 

The bridge, beneath which was Joe's bass guitar...

He’d then done the proper thing and taken it to ‘lost property’.
Shit !
I bet it’s Joe’s ?
Two minutes later and it’s confirmed…
It is.
Now what fucking bastard is going to steal a cased bass guitar and throw it in the river ?
Hmmm ?
Safe store, eh ?
And all because we had that problem with security…
We’d been promised that the back area of the stewards marquee was safe to leave all our gear, AND, for the artists to leave theirs.
It turns out that has not been the case.
It’s not the best start to a festival I’ve ever had.

The next act is going to be loud.
I know that because I have never, ever, seen him do a quiet set.
It was going to be Mark Astronaut and Joe Davin, but Joe has relinquished his place in favour of Dom’, the Astronauts guitarist, as Joe had played yesterday with Red Maxx and will be playing again, later today, with POG.
Share and share alike.
It’s just as well Joe isn’t playing now as his guitar is totally waterlogged, still, there are enough bands for him to borrow one.
Al comes to the rescue, despatching Maria to go home and pick up his, which he says Joe can use until he gets something sorted out, either by insurance or otherwise ?
That’s why I love my crew…
They’ll basically do ANYTHING for their friends and colleagues if the unfortunate happens to occur, which in this case, it most definitely has.
It’s conduct above and beyond what is expected of anybody, but they don’t give out medals for it.
Sometimes I honestly think they should ?

Mark and Dom’ blow the loudest set of the weekend so far on the Arcadeclectic Stage, and I’m quite surprised we haven’t set off any decibel meters, but it seems ok, nobody is rushing over with orders to turn it down, so that’s good.

Bob comes over to see us while he’s on.
Bob was one of the originators of this festival.

The original gig, now over twenty years ago, had been done on a flatbed truck in the town centre as a fund raiser for Oxfam where people had collection boxes.
It seems to have grown somewhat ?
Now, here we are on The Priory, at the edge of town but still central to everything that is going on.
I have to admit I much prefer it ‘on site’ rather than being in the town.
The town centre had serious problems with drunkenness, the local police, who wanted paying for most of Hertfordshire’s overtime that weekend, plus, the local council’s insistence that we paid to clear up the complete town rather than just the bits we were actually involved in.
Basically those two organisations screwed the festival for every penny they could get out of us, and that does tend to cause a little resentment.
Now we were on our own site, there is no reason for either to do so.
It still doesn’t stop them trying, however.

 Anyway, back to Mark and Dom’

To be fair, it was quite an experimental set for Mark.
He does tend to do this every so often.
I’d actually been to one of his gigs when he only played one number…
It lasted for a good twenty minutes and ended with screaming feedback when he walked off the stage.
The crowd, expecting the usual Astronauts set, had been totally mindblown, but that was all in an evening’s gig for Mark, who has never been one to take audience considerations onto a stage.
Mark Astronaut does what Mark Astronaut does, and if he’s lucky, he’ll have people in the band who share his sometimes slightly out of kilter view.

With Dom’ and Joe he’d definitely got a pair who were up for challenging the preconceived ideas of what ‘Rock Music’ and a rock performance, is.
It makes for a challenging set, but once you’re into them, you never lose it.
They are, by far and away, one of the best bands around.
We’d had as many of the original band still upright last year, when they played their very first album ‘Peter Pan Hits The Suburbs’ in its entirety for the first time ever.
Now they were back with half the current incumbents.

What the hell, they’re different.
Bloody good, but certainly different.
They’ve brought a good sized crowd to see them, which is just as well, because we have a poet on next…

Joy T. Chance.
My stage partner for so long, I’d forgotten how many years ?
Since my heart attack I’d slowed down somewhat, and wasn’t now up for doing three gigs a week and promoting  another one every month.
As far as I was concerned, those times had now gone, Joy on the other hand, was still up for the gigs,
and so she was doing a ‘featured’ spot of her own at Rhythms.
She’d asked for the Saturday off from her usual compering duties and so I’d got Grant to fill in.
Now, today, she was back to her usual compering with Grant and occasionally with me.
People do ask me about that, but as the festival gets bigger and things get more involved I do what I can, and to be honest, if I’m booking the artists and stage managing as well, then there really is too much to think about.
I’m very lucky in that I have two like-minded friends and colleagues that I can call on to take some of the load from my shoulders.
It helps, let’s put it that way.
And so Joy takes the stage…

As usual, she’s thought about the set in advance.
It ebbs and flows and everything comes quite naturally one after the other, and…
It certainly makes you think, which, let’s face it, is what poetry is supposed to do ?

Let’s digress into poetry and how it’s ‘performed’ these days for a bit…
Since Pam Ayres and John Cooper Clarke popularised the art of ‘performing’ poetry in the 1970’s it seems to have gone from strength to strength ?
Now I’ve been called a ‘Punk’ poet.
I’ve been called a ‘Peoples’ poet.
Neither are particularly accurate.
Nowadays, it seems that everybody with a penchant for rhyming is a poet, but that is most definitely not the case, and in some ways it has been made worse with the advent of ‘Rapping’.
People call rap the poetry of the streets, but is it ?
Most of it seems to revolve around telling others how cool you are, how much pussy you’re getting, and how much you’d like to kill a cop ?
If that’s poetry then my dick’s a fucking kipper !
When I was a teenager I got into a guy named Lord Buckley.
He was a white American guy based in Chicago who laid these ‘jazz raps’ down, basically inventing his own way with language, most of which he took from the slang idioms that he’d heard when jazz musicians spoke to each other.
But it was inventive, it was thoughtful, and it was downright laugh out loud funny in places and eye wettingly tragic in others, but he told it how it was.
Lenny Bruce, a so-called ‘dirty comedian’ whose power cut right through the bullshit of the times he lived in.
When you heard Lenny on record you knew that what he was saying and the way he said it were sheer poetry, you couldn’t really call it anything else.
Listen to his Carnegie Hall gig if you don’t believe me ?
They were the first of my ‘poetic  heroes’ if you want to call them such ?  
Then I heard a guy named Gil Scott Heron…
A black guy with an incisive wit, that spoke volumes to me about black culture and the problems of the world, and who also used music to back what he was laying down.
Roger McGough and Adrian Henri from Liverpool, both of whom used music, either in The Scaffold or Liverpool Scene ?
These were artists I heard in the late 1960’s.
In the 70’s came Pam Ayres, who was so funny she made me howl in fits of laughter… 
John Cooper Clarke, who literally came out of the ‘Punk’ revolution and made me laugh again.
Linton Kwesi Johnson and Benjamin Zephania, who told of the West Indian experience and who used the rhythms of reggae to drive their points home.
Attila The Stockbroker, John Hegley… These were performance oriented poets.
And the one thing they all have in common, the one thing that unites all of these people under one roof whether they be white, black, British, American, West Indian or even Martian, is their ability to observe, and to translate their observances into words that people can understand when they are waxing poetic.
Poetry does not have to rhyme.
It can be free verse or whatever pentameter you wish, it can have choruses like songs, it can be stylised like sonnets or haiku but in the end it’s all poetry.
Nowadays, anybody who can rhyme is called a poet…
All you have to do is criticize the government or their policies in rhyme and I find that quite sad because there is definitely a time and a place for it.
I’ve done it.
Probably from every conceivable angle, and every conceivable government, too ?
They’re not usually the best things I’ve written, even if they do tend to please the crowd at the time.
Joy, on the other hand, is most definitely a poet.
She observes, she ‘feels’ and she translates those observances and feelings into words which have a power, a power to make others feel what she is feeling and what she has seen, and she’s an absolute natural performer on stage.

Every time she does her own set at Rhythms, she seems to get better.
Every time she brings something new to the table, either a phrase, a chorus, a feeling of ‘Hell… This is different…’
In my opinion (and I’m probably a bit biased because I’ve worked with her for years) she really is THAT good.
And that’s why she ‘performs’ poetry.
Books are all well and good, but where are the nuances of speech ?
Most poetry is taught in schools as an archaic form in that those who ‘wrote’ poetry are all dead and gone.
From Shakespeare to Wordsworth, Byron and Keats, Verlaine and Rimbeau.
They are all dead.
Remembered for what they did in their time, but dead nonetheless.
There are no nuances, no sly reminders that a living, breathing soul wrote those words.
They are just ‘there’.
Pages, in a book that you are forced to learn.
Why ?
Poetry moves with the times, constantly in flux, constantly in transition, constantly developing and constantly in motion.
We all have the ability inside us, it’s just a question of harnessing it and developing your own style.
Which is one of the reasons I don’t give a rats arse what people think of my stuff ?
I really don’t care.
If people don’t like it, then they wouldn’t keep coming to the gigs and, more to the point, promotors wouldn’t book me, so you work it out…
And so poetry moves on through the years, and with people like Joy, it’s in safe hands.
She blew an absolutely cracking set.

Humourous, indignant, moving and classy…
The girl did us proud.

Haddy & Joy T.

Changeover time and The Finger Choppers are on next.
This lot were going to surprise a few people.
Normally, we have a problem with blues artists because they want too much money.
They will happily play the local pub for a few pounds, but when we want them to replicate their sets, then they tend to charge us a few hundred instead.
Screw ‘em !
Bloody greed heads.
Now, we’d got a band who don’t tend to play pubs but clubs, and it’s a different world.
Their frontwoman, Hazel, had been on the local scene for a few years and she always played a quirky but interesting set and I’d always been happy to give her a chance on stage, but this outfit was something special.
Bruce, their lead guitarist had also done the same, usually in an out and out rock band.
Now they’d teamed up with bass and drums and were playing a blues based style that had more in common with cabaret blues than sweaty clubs.
It was an absolute eye opener when I’d first seen them.
I was all for getting a free cd, but my wife had actually paid for one…
(Note to self… Teach Haddy about ‘blagging’)
And I’d booked them as soon as they’d come offstage.
They were definitely going to impress the crowd, and the beauty of having Hazel on the bill was that she was a consummate ‘networker’.
If she was booked for a gig then hundreds if not thousands of people would be told about it.
The first thing you notice when the band hit the stage, is that Hazel is not exactly dressed for the weather.

Alice in Wonderland perhaps, but not a music festival on a drizzly day in Hertfordshire ?
But she looks absolutely fantastic, like a cross between Tom Petty, The Mad Hatter and some dame from an old black and white film noir from the 1940’s.
God knows where she got the idea for it, but it’s just so typically Hazel ?
And the music matches the style.
Were they good ?
Do bears shit in the woods ?
Is the Pope Catholic ?
Yes, they were good.
They were actually more than good.
They started with probably about fifty people in front of the stage.
And the longer they played, the more people turned up.

You could see them walking across the field, and then suddenly turning and pointing down towards us and then walking quickly to the stage, swelling the crowd to a few hundred, and they kept on coming…

The Finger Choppers played an absolutely brilliant set.
I’d been surprised at how well Bruce had fitted in ?
He’s a very good guitarist, but in the past he could definitely be accused of committing ‘fretwank’.
Now, he’d reined himself in.

His lead lines were tasteful, short and to the point, and fitted into the songs like they were born to be there, and his harmonica playing was top-notch. 

With a rhythm section that underpinned everything that Hazel played and sang and Bruce played, this was one mega-good band.

The shouts for more when they’d finished, were quite deafening.
Unfortunately, it couldn’t be done.

They definitely deserved an encore, but we didn’t have time on our side and so I tried the next best thing…
I asked the crowd whether they’d like to see them again next year ?
I couldn’t promise, but I could make a covenant.
If Hazel didn’t change the band in the meantime, then I’d make the commitment in front of the crowd as witnesses, to bring them back next year.
They deserved it, and it was the best I could do given the circumstances.
The crowd roared it’s approval, and I’m glad…

THAT had been one very special set.
So special that the band completely sold out of their cd with about twenty something people who were going to have to wait for the second pressing.
Now that’s the mark of a well played set. 

I was on next, along with my compatriots from Parnassus Performance, Sarah, Grant and Graeme.
Unfortunately the poets that I’d booked had to cancel with one week to go before the event, so we weren’t billed in the programme, but that’s ok, poetry is poetry, and it was timed as a poetry set.

I’d known Graeme was going to be in the audience and the others were part and parcel of the crew, so I’d known we were all going to be around. 

It made sense at that short notice to do it ourselves, rather than try and book somebody else from outside or even involve the rest of the group.
It was unfortunate, but there are considerations like parking passes to which we were oversubscribed anyway, and stage passes which I might have been able to arrange at short notice, but I would never have guaranteed  ?

That was the reasoning behind the decision to put us on.
I’d told everyone to bring five poems and we’d each probably have to drop one each in the thirty minutes we had on stage, and it seemed to work.

Basically we played it as a ‘Slam’.

All four of us on stage, and ‘slamming’ them out one after another, taking it in turns at the mic’.
We could have added Joy as well, but she was content just to do the introduction.
Well, two of us did four and two of us did five and then the thirty minutes was up.
At least those in the audience got a representative selection.

Sarah got the loudest cheer after attempting to sing one about the comic store where her daughter Charlotte works, and it was probably most deserved.
All in all, there was a reasonably good reception to the poems we read, which, at events like this, is quite gratifying.
Ok, we’re off, and POG are on next.

POG are based in Brighton.

Fronted by a guy named Paul Stapleton who I’d first met when he’d filled in for a missing ‘Fish Brother’ a few years ago.

I’d been listening and watching them on Youtube, and now Joe Davin had joined them I’d figured ‘What the Hell ?’
They were a forever changing line-up of between three and eight and it just depended on who was about as to who turned up to play ?

Recently there had been a few babies and so the female members had tended to be stay-at-home’s while the men went off to do the gig.
We’d ended up with four guys, Paul on guitar and lead vocals, Joe on bass and accordion, Deacon on keyboards and Roger on drums.
Any backing vocals were shared around.
POG write jaunty little poppy folk type numbers about being really miserable and the problems of making a living in a world that they are not suited to.

Catchy choruses, intelligent lyrics and lashings of humour abound, plus… You can dance to them.
So what’s not to like ?

There must be something because we’re being visited by an officious  guy with a db reader who tells us we’re upsetting everybody with the sound.
Is he having a laugh ?
Apparently not…
He’s got to be out of his fucking mind, these guys are quieter than The Finger Choppers and definitely quieter than Mark and Dom’ ?
But… We get ordered to turn it down or they’re going to turn off the power ?
Ok, we’ve turned it down, now you can’t hear it properly thirty yards away…
This bloke is one fucking twat !
I think he’s one of Ross’s blokes, so I’m not going to tell him to fuck off, not just yet anyway.

It’s a shame because the band needed that extra punchiness and now they don’t have it.
It’s way too fucking quiet.

Joe, with Al Richardson's bass guitar

So quiet that the punters in the crowd start complaining, and so I ask them to make their complaints official by going to the official rhythms office and to definitely write in, afterwards.
How to have a positive outlook without ripping the earphones off him and chucking him and them in the river is something I’m definitely going to have to work on...

He spoilt a damn good set.

Al doesn’t have a choice on sound.
He just has to go with it.
Ok, let’s see what transpires a little further down the line ?
POG do a Finger Choppers and sell out of cd’s after they come off stage, which I’m pleased  about.
I actually took the deal they were offering and bought four of them for their discount price.
Nice one guy’s (and I’m still playing them).

While Lika Sharps are getting ready, we get our following act too.
Is there any chance he could go on before them as he’s just heard his Mum is feeling a bit poorly at home and they want to get away as soon as possible afterwards ?
I think we can do that ?
A quick explanation to Jon, Jo and Graham and it’s sorted.
Strange how things work out ?
I’d actually wanted them in that order in the beginning, but I’d come up against Steve’s (The programme director who books the other stages) intransigence over the acts on St Mary’s where he’d already played.
It had been a nuisance because it had blown a big hole in the ‘flow’ of music.
Try and think of it this way, and I’ll try and explain what I mean ?
You have a starting position, obviously.
From there you build within two or three acts to a climax, then you change things totally, ie by putting on a poetry set in our case.
Then you have another start and you build again.
Do it three times and you’ve got a balanced stage without every artist trying to top the previous one, and it seems to work like a dream ?
I’d had that, but I’d been the one who was asked to change the running order to accommodate another stage.
I wouldn’t have minded, but it was me who recommended the act to Steve in the first place, and now, it’s all gone back to how I envisaged it in the first place.
Still, these things can’t be helped.
Illness is illness, so let’s try and accommodate people.

If you’ve read any of the blog previously, then you will know that one of the dates on my yearly calendar is the Cropredy Festival in Oxfordshire every August.
Known affectionately as The Fairport Festival, as it’s run and booked by Fairport Convention.
At last year’s festival I’d seen this lad on stage and I’d immediately sent a text to Steve to try and get him for Rhythms because a. He’s THAT good, and b. If we wait, then his price will definitely be going up.
Thankfully Steve had taken me at my word, made enquiries, seen the bloke once, and booked him.
His name was now being bandied around in Folk music circles as definitely somebody to watch.
And we’d got him, and managed to get him before Hitchin Folk Club, and they are a seriously well established venue.
While he was on at Cropredy, he’d sung a cover of Richard Thompson’s ‘Vincent Black Lightning 1952’ and he’d actually done it as well as Richard usually does.
This was somewhat astounding to us RT fans, but then we do have an affinity for that song as the Vincent motorcycle company was based in Stevenage, the town that I, and a lot of my Cropredy cohorts actually live in, and which is about three and a half miles away from the Rhythms site.
So what was the first thing I asked our guest ?
‘Are you gonna do Vincent Black Lightning…?’
‘I didn’t play it on the other stage, so I could do, why ?’
And I told him.
‘You were at Cropredy ?’
‘Half the audience waiting for you to go on were at Cropredy including me and the wife who will be taking pictures of you during your set… I can name them all for you individually if you like ?’
‘Wow !  Ok, I’ll do it…’
What a nice lad he is…
‘Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm Arcadeclectic welcome to Mr Blair Dunlop…’

Was he worth the effort ?
He was spellbinding.
An absolutely brilliant set of his own songs, classic folk songs and the odd cover version.
The cheer that went up when he announced Richard’s song was absolutely deafening.
So deafening that when I looked around it was to see Ross and his freaking minion haranguing Al to turn it down or be turned off…

One guy and a guitar ?
Fuck this !!!
It’s time to create a disturbance…
‘Steve, get your arse over here now… Ross wants to turn off Blair Dunlop…’
That was it.
Any niceness has now gone by the board.
It’s not fucking loud, in fact in places it’s quieter than POG after we’d turned them down so somebody better tell me what the fuck is going on ?
Apparently we have an official db meter about twenty feet from the side of our stage.
They are kidding, right ?
No… They’re not.
What fucking plank stuck it there ?
Do any of the other stages have one that close to them ?
Apparently not.
Right, then you can fuck off.
I know why they’ve done it, it’s because we used to face the hill where a lot of the complaints come from, but we don’t now.
What a bunch of cunts !
I know who’s behind it, and it’s not Steve and it’s not me…
The sooner we put the ‘festival sound’ out to tender, and get rid of ‘mates’ of committee members who get paid for their efforts, then the sooner we’ll get a little more respect from the festival going audience.
Unfortunately, this sort of takes precedence over Blair’s set, so I managed to miss the last part.
Steve has basically told Ross that there is no way that this is too loud, whatever his meters say, and thank Christ for that.
What a fucking twat !
That has seriously pissed me off.
Blair has thankfully missed the shitstorm going on around him, but his manager hasn’t…

He finishes his set to absolutely thunderous applause from the crowd and I seriously hope it took that bloody meter into the red again.

Good, time to get back on stage and get him a well deserved encore, which he graciously did.
More thunderous applause at the end of that.
Now we really do have to work like lightning as both our next acts do like to have perfect sound.
Thankfully, I’d managed to build that into the change-over times.
Al, stick a Judy Henske cd on while we do the change-over… I think we (the crew) need cheering up…

‘My God !  I haven’t heard her in years…’
‘Oh, you know her stuff, then ?’
‘She was very popular when we were a lot younger…’
‘My stepdaughter has an expression she uses… A good song is a good song… I’ll echo that, and she did tend to record good songs… She says it about one you’re on as well, Percy’s Song from Unhalfbricking… And she’s twelve…’
And Ashley Hutchings grinned.
Ashley, for those who don’t know, is Blair’s Father.

Blair & The Guv'nor...
He’s also his manager, and he seems to be guiding his son pretty well as far as I can see ?
He was also a founder member of the previously mentioned Fairport Convention, and can be found on, or sometimes offstage at Cropredy every year.
But it wasn’t only Fairport, he founded Steeleye Span AND The Albion Band, of which Blair is now a member in his own right.
‘So what was happening with the sound…?’
I wish he hadn’t asked that.
But I told him anyway…
‘It’s a nuisance, but what can you do…?’
At least he understood the problem.
I understand the problem, but I can’t see how Blair or POG could have been judged too loud when The Damned and JuJu weren’t ?
Something is definitely going on behind my back and I’m not party to it.
Still, at least it’s occurred now and I know about it, and knowing about it I can do something about it.
Whether certain people like what I intend to do remains to be seen ?

Blair and Ashley are still selling cd’s and signing autographs when the next act hit the stage.

Jon, Jo and Graham…

Collectively, Lika Sharps.
These are one of my favourite bands from the local scene.
Musically, they’re very rhythmic and are comprised of guitar, bass and vocals.
Jo sings, Jon plays guitar and Graham plays bass guitar.
It sounds so simple, doesn’t it ?
But it isn’t.
The musicians are rock solid on rhythm, but Jo’s voice is used as another rhythm block rather than as a solo instrument and so they are quite difficult to describe.
It’s not so much singing as chanting, but even that does not do Jo justice.
They are VERY visual, because Jo dresses up for every gig she plays and never the same way twice.
Ok, she’ll use maybe the basics, but there will be differences.

Jo is an artist.

That’s what she does for a living.
She creates works of art and people buy them.
In my time I’ve actually modelled for her…
And you can stop laughing, because it’s true.
Not only that but she asked for me specifically, and because we’re mates, I’d said yes.
And the outfits or stage clothing she wears are never quite the same twice.
There will always be a difference on successive nights.

Jon is currently in three bands, but is hopeful that it will be dropping to two soon, as he is finding three a bit much to cope with.

Graham is just rock solid.
Well so long as Jon doesn’t ditch this one…
It’s hypnotic just watching them.
Actually, mesmerising is probably a better word and they sort of creep up on you, musically.
All I know is that I love them and I really wish they were closer to finishing their first cd, but it will come when it’s ready, trouble is, it’s not ready yet.

Being at a Lika Sharps gig is an experience.
It’s not just a gig, it’s a visual feast, an aural feast.
In fact it’s a feast for all the senses.
Hopefully you’ll get what I mean if you play this clip from Youtube ?

I’ve no idea what you’re going to think of them, but I have to say that I really like them.
They don’t sound like anybody else I’ve heard, and that to me is a definite bonus.
Are they commercial ?
Well, yes and no really…
I suppose it varies with the individual ?
Anyway, whatever they are, they are never less than entertaining, and in their own way, they rock.

Shakey, Jo, Annie & my original bass player in Bass Relief, Mark Bailey
And I love them, so what more can I say ?

Which leaves us with one more band…
Or duo, to be a little more accurate.
Spandex Ballet.
As soon as I’d booked them I knew that they were going to top the bill, basically because there isn’t an artist on the planet who could follow them.
It wouldn’t matter whether it was Bob Dylan, Neil Young The Rolling Stones or Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band, you follow these two at your peril.

It’s not just that they are both quite good musicians, it’s because they are funny…
In a very ‘adult’ sort of way.

Their programme notes included the following lines…
‘…had over 20,000 hits on Youtube and more importantly, offended thousands of people with their vitriolic humour…’ 

I’d booked them six years ago as a headliner and they’d been brilliant.
Mind you, they had been helped by one of the local wasps…
No, not a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, a flying insect.
They both have a serious phobia with wasps.
How the two people in the locality with the same phobia had got together to form a duo is obviously one of those crazy things that only occurs in films…
Except that in reality and actuality, they had.
And with their tiny helper that had scared the shit out of the pair of them, they had produced a set to die for.
The next time I’d had them, I put them on before the official headliner…
Everybody wanted more Spandex…
Now they were going to headline again in their own right and a lot of people were looking forward to seeing them.
Whichever way it goes down, these guys are seriously going to make an impression ?
And they did…

It just seems crazy for me to talk about them when you can Google them up and watch and listen to your heart’s content, so I’ll stop the writing for a bit and you can click on this link…
I warn you now…
You got that ?

Ok, here’s the link…

And that’s what we ended with…
A few thousand people laughing their socks off and joining in with Leon and Chris on stage
Absolutely brilliant.
Everybody had smiles on their faces.

Musically we’d had a great day.
Yes, we’d had a few problems over the weekend of which the rain was only one, but musically we’d had an absolute blast.
Take down the stage and get the p.a. ready for collection and the same with the lights and we’re nearly done.
It’s the interminable waiting around after the event that tends to drag, but finally, an hour and a half after we’ve finished pulling out wires, everything that should be collected has been collected and we can finally go home, where I’m going to bed and if I get up before Monday lunchtime it’ll be a miracle on the same scale as Moses and The Red Sea…
Looking at the site before we leave, we’re all struck by the state it’s in.
The rain, which has been light all day, is now beginning to pour down...
I have a nasty feeling there will be a few ramifications further down the line ?
Oh well, tomorrow is another day…