Wednesday, 27 May 2015


Sunday had the same start.
We picked up Grant and Frank and made our way over.
Ben and Marcus had slept on the kit, either on the stage or under their sound desk gazebo because as far as they were concerned, sticking the whole lot together again was a definite no-no.
We were supposed to have a very noisy start on the Sunday but the band concerned had switched to third after our third had managed to get herself on at Cambridge Folk Festival as well.
It wasn’t going to help that she was going to have to start at twelve-thirty because of Bob’s drummers, but that was out of our hands.
Oh well, whatever ?
I’m glad I pulled the time back though.
Those bloody drummers would definitely have drowned her.

While we’re waiting to start a full half hour later than everybody else, we’ve actually got the time to introduce you to our crew, so here we all are…
Somebody asked me once why I dress the way I do for the Festival and the answer is quite simple really.
I dress so that I’m comfortable in what I’m wearing bearing in mind some of the jobs that I have to do whilst I’m there, and I also dress to be seen.
The first thing artists have to do when they arrive on site and they’ve been checked in is to find me so that I know they’re around and on site.
I can usually be picked out in any crowd of people, so now you know, ok ?

                                Ben and Marcus, the sound crew.

Grant and Haddy, Co-Compere and Still Photographer/Merchandiser respectively.

Marcus, James and Sarah, Video, Video Assistant and Video Assistant/Still Photographer respectively.

                                          Bob, Trustee and Main Stage booking and me.

Amy, Chair Person and overall in charge, and me.

                   Sarah and Haddy. Still Photographers and Merchandiser

                        Frank, Front of Stage Manager and Artist Security. 

Me, snacking on the run...

Haddy, with former Chair-Person and overall head honcho, Steve and Missus.

                                                  Marcus (Sound) and Marcus (Video)

                                                                                              Joy T, Co-Compere

      Joy T (Co-Compere), Shoeless Dave (Rigger) and Grant (Co-Compere)

Grant. Co-Compere

And this is Pete, the third of our Sound Crew... I think he'd brought the axe because he needed it for his last job, driving a 'Boyband' around...

It’s twelve thirty and the drums have stopped and yes, they were loud, and yes, they would have drowned out our first act who is a young and up and coming folk singer by the name of Kelly Oliver.

I’d had so many people last year tell me that this girl was good and they’d seen her here, there and everywhere else that I’d booked her sight unseen.

She’d recorded her not quite out yet album with Dave Swarbrick among others and so she was evidently going somewhere, as I can’t see ol’ Dave getting off his perch for anybody that he doesn’t want to, so that was a serious recommendation in itself.
Was she good ?
Oh yes.
Some strong guitar work, and a seriously good voice which suits the songs perfectly.

Kelly was excellent and I’d fully recommend her to anybody of a folkie persuasion who wants to book somebody on the up.
Anyway, in the absence of anything from the festival here's a version of a song she performed on the day so you can check her out yourselves
Give her about five years and I reckon she’ll be at the top of her chosen profession without any doubt.
That girl is definitely something special.

Kelly was followed by Laura Victoria.
Now we’d had Laura previously back in 2006 as a young solo act and she’d been good then in a strange sort of way.
She plays a hybrid type of Bluegrass Folk but instead of using the traditional instruments of those genres, she plays the cello.

It sounds odd until you see and hear her do it, but then you realise that it doesn’t matter so long as the instrumentation is up to scratch and she can sing.
It is and she can.

Besides, anybody who’s coming to play for us that can belt out Utah Phillips Rock, Salt and Nails or that old Jerry Garcia favourite Deep Ellum Blues can’t be all bad, can they ?

Accompanied by Jo Cooper on fiddle and banjo, these two can pick or rock with the best of them.
Downright impressive even though I say it myself, and I booked them.
Give them a go, folks… You won’t be disappointed. 
It’s artists like Laura Victoria that tick all the Arcadeclectic boxes.
Vive La Difference and all that stuff.

Because of Kelly playing two gigs on the same day, Traitors had shifted from openers to third place.
Now the thing is, every member had been in a respected band locally, and they’d just combined to make an even better one.
Not only can they play and sing but they actually know what a harmony is, and that’s what drew me toward them.
Grant had originally suggested that we ask them to do an acoustic set to challenge both themselves and their audience, but after thinking about the possibilities I decided not to.
These guys (and girl) were like a bolt out of the blue.

Loud, brash, rocking, punky and harmonic all in one package.
Sounds good to me.
And did they haul in a few punters…
The place was packed.
And without further ado they literally exploded onto the stage.

Total high-octane rock with choruses and harmonies.
Check them out.
Kaboom !!!

One of the things I like about Rhythms or at least our part of it, is the closeness between us and the musicians and the crowd.
People talk and they exchange thoughts with each other.
We try and keep the audience on it’s collective toes and those that like the apparent random-ness of the acts are missing the point somewhat.
No sooner had Traitors finished their set than Laura Victoria was telling me that putting them on after her and Jo was a stroke of genius…
Not strictly true, it was a happy accident because they were supposed to open (in MY head at least) until I realised that it could also work back to front.
The fact that she also added that was why she liked our stage because you really never know what is coming next,  just seemed to justify what we do.
I’m happy with it anyway.
Thanx Laura.
Maharaja Blues had been the act I got from the applications to play the Festival, specifically no. 88 if you want details ?
The instrumentation intrigued me because it’s not really the done thing in Blues circles where ‘authenticity’ is a prized attribute.
And whilst a metallic resonator guitar might sound authentic, the tablas that accompanied them were certainly not.
Having said that, after watching everything I could find on Youtube I knew we had to try and get them.
It works.

Slip a bit of harmonica in there to sweeten the mix and you have the ingredients for one seriously good Blues band.

It’s perfect Sunday afternoon Festival music.
And after Traitors I think we need to just lay back and chill for a bit.

Just a bit, mind…
Great set and the crowd seemed to enjoy it too, which was nice.

Restricted Hours are thoughtful acoustic punk.
Well, they are if you want to stick one of those genre labels on them ?
It’s that attitude thing again.

They’ve got it.
Mark has always had it and although Alan tries to hide it, it’s there underneath.

Once upon a time there used to be three of them but now there are only two, Bob having left a few years ago to learn to blow the saxophone which he can now do quite accomplishedly.
(Is that a word, who knows but it looks good ?)
Mark’s lyrics are never going to be considered mainstream or even anything like it and Alan’s guitar just seems to fit them perfectly.

They suffered by being on at the same time as The Crazy World of Arthur Brown who were headlining the Main Stage at the same time.
Unfortunately, being the band that I’d had to drop and then reinstate, they were now working a half hour later than they would otherwise have done and this managed to split the crowd.
Not that Restrictive Hours would have got thousands but they would have had a couple of hundred.
Oh well, we did our best and so did they.
Unfortunately there isn't a video from their set that I can find so here's an old recording of their initial recording from way back in 1979 instead...
Good set and everybody there enjoyed it, including Nuzz who had turned up specifically just to see them.
I must be doing something right if he’s turned up ?
Actually that is one thing I do miss from the old days.
It occurs occasionally like the gig at the museum, but I do enjoy working with the guy.
It’s challenging.
Doesn’t matter what it is, it’s always challenging.
Loads more ‘wild cards’ in play and there are times when I think music gigs have become predictable but never with Nuzz involved.
Predictable is not a word anybody could associate with him.
Oh, and if anybody wants to read his ‘Kombat  Blog’ then you can find it here…
It’s all about politics and music and it’s a good place to be if you like high-octane punkrock & roll because he can put you on the path to digging (and downloading) something new (ok, I’ve gone all hippie) but you know what I mean ?
If you don’t then what are you reading this for ?
It can’t just be because I have a crazy family life over two continents because the pricks in government won’t allow the kids into the country because they’re African and Black and not European and White and they keep changing the rules to get them here, can it ?
Anyway, check out the Blog. 
I can't say I always agree with him but it does make you think somewhat and that can only be a good thing, and it’s a good alternative read nevertheless.

Matt Stevens is something else.
I’d seen him do a support slot to one of Daevid Allen’s bands, a sort of ‘Not quite Gong band…’ and he’d not just impressed me, he’d made my jaw drop.
Grant had been going on about him and his band The Fierce and the Dead for ages now and so off we trekked to check him out.
Blinding solo set and a lesson in how somebody can actually play the guitar with a few loops thrown in for good measure.

And now he was going to do the same for us with a battered old acoustic that looks like it’s on its last legs…
Hey !
What do I know ?

Another amazing set.
Well… That got all the guitarists in the audience talking…
(It's the only bit I can find from the festival but if you click on Matt Stevens you can find others on Youtube)
It was a masterclass in how to cajole your instrument into playing as if it were a guitar orchestra.

Great set.
I wonder if we can get the band to play ?
Wait until this one’s over and we get a date for the next one and ask, I guess ?
Sometimes these things have to be done.

Time was getting on.

There are six people in this shot who will not kneel... Five standing and one sat... 
Nuzz had returned from a wander around and we were now boogieing away to Chevy Heaven.
Formed from the ashes of a rock’n’roll band that we’d had on back in 2008, The Rapides had got themselves a female singer and were getting a bit more into that old Rhythm and Blues sound that paralleled a lot of the early sounds of Rock and Roll.

It was a good old fashioned back to basics sound that just seemed designed to get people dancing, and even Haddy grabbed me at one point.

There are times when you have to trust other people, and so when Dave their Bass player had told me about their new line-up then I figured what the hell !

I like Dave and we’ve known each other on and off since probably the early nineties and I think he would have told me if he didn’t think they were ready ?

But they were, and they ended our day quite nicely.
I think Nuzz said it best when he said ‘This lot aren’t bad… They’re like the punks of their day…’ 
And when you think about that simple statement within the context of all the shit that we all (You, me and everybody else) have to go through on a daily basis, then he’s bang on right.
Turn the clock back to the late fifties and early sixties and you can hear in what they are playing, how they are playing it, and the exuberance and passion in which they are putting out, why so many kids bought guitars and went the rock and roll route.
Yes, they were the punks of their day, and by the sound of them their day isn’t over yet…  
We were done.
It’s all over for us now bar the moaning over things that had gone wrong.
I’m still trying to think of something ?
Ok, you could say the drummers were a pain in the arse, but that was all.
Everything had gone completely according to plan otherwise.
So we say goodbye to Marcus and Sarah who have been rushed off their feet doing the videoing of God knows how many bands this weekend, and to Joy who is staying over at her sister’s place tonight, and make our way round the site to say our goodbye’s to the rest of the crew.   
People who deserve a mention include Tony who put the stage together, Sophie who decorated it and Amy who pulled it all together and my long suffering crew...
We’ve had a good one and I’ve got a day off tomorrow.
Then I’m working two days and then we’re off to Cropredy to chill out in front of another stage with some friends.
But first we have to sleep…

Friday, 22 May 2015


We’d picked up Frank and Grant at the appointed times and now we were off.
Weather ?  Reasonable.
Into the site.
Armbanded and ‘passed up’.
Now we were ready, so let’s head toward the stage and see if Ben has managed to get the sound and lights sorted, and see what Sophie managed to do with her team of ‘decorators’ ?

The Arcadeclectic backstage 'chill-out' area for the artists.

Pete has just heard that Justin Beiber is coming this year...

Brilliant !
That’s times two by the way…
Ben and his assistants Marcus and Pete have performed miracles and so has Sophie.

Ben, who can make anyone sound good...
Nearly ready... Didn't Sophie do a brilliant job with the stage decorations...

Frankly, I’m gobsmacked. 
It doesn’t happen often, but it definitely occurred at that moment…
So while I’m collecting my thoughts and Sarah, Marcus, James and Joy start to arrive, let’s let you lot have a look around the site which has six stages set in fifteen acres of Priory grounds before the hordes get at it, shall we ?

So off we go to visit a few stalls, eateries and stages...

Icehouse Stage

St Marys Stage

St Marys backdrop

The Main Stage

Ok, you've had a look around the site and so you now know as much as I do about what's happening, don't you ?

Saturday is our midday starting time, we've soundchecked and I think we’re ready to go ?
Our first act is Twirling Canes.

Twirling Canes
I don’t know what it is about these two.
They write good songs and have some good tunes but this isn’t ‘Pop’ in any sense of the word.
This stuff has to be worked on by the listener.

Whatever it is that they are doing, they seem to be doing it ‘right’ by us ?

Beau Jangles:  Soul-Folk, Rootsy Groove ?
Bloody Hell !  How do you stick a genre to these guys ?

Beau Jangles
A bit of funky fiddle, a bit of moody mandolin and a dollop of grooving guitar.

Whatever it is, it has that roll to it that Keith Richard is fond of describing when he says that ‘any band can rock but not every band can roll…’ or something like that ?
I know what it means because these guys have that ‘roll’.

And then we have Fishwife’s Broadside…
A sixteen legged monster who had played the festival previously but on a different stage.
When they’d been booked previously they thought they were playing Arcadeclectic…
They weren’t.
We’d have loved to have had them but The Nettlebed Stage got there first.
Now we’d finally got them and although it was going to be a bit cosy with eight people on stage the band were looking forward to it.
Talking to Mark their bass player at a previous gig, he’d told me that the band loved Rhythms but were disappointed they hadn’t played the stage they’d wanted to.
Well you can’t really argue with that.

Fishwife's Broadside
There will be some who will think they were lucky to play at all, but when you’re in a band you sort of ‘define’ who you are by those who have gone before and playing a particular stage is just one way of following in the footsteps of the bands that you yourself follow.
I understood what he meant.

Now at this point we could always branch off into the psychology of being a ‘Rock god’ but I can’t really be arsed so just take it from me, I knew what he meant and I felt quite happy about the comment.
What it boils down to is that by his band’s internal psychology we were doing something right and they wanted a part of it.

Well, they are definitely good enough, I wouldn't have booked them otherwise so let’s be havin’ you…

Our one poet of the whole festival this year follows shortly.
It’s not that we’re short of poets, it’s just that the timing of the artist slots didn’t really gel with putting any more on.
This was a bit of a disappointment for me as far as booking was concerned but I’m quite sure the audience won’t mind too much ?

Ms J.S.Watts
It was Jackie’s first appearance at Rhythms of the World but she was ready and up for it.
She’d been a Parnassus member for a couple of years and she was good, so let’s throw her to the wolves and see what occurs ?

She survived.
Good set, too.

Still no sign of the band coming down from Glasgow so I’d best give them a ring and see what’s occurring ?
We’ve got an hour before they’re due on stage but it isn’t doing the stress levels any good, I can tell you that.
Apparently they’re getting closer but the roadworks at Birmingham have slowed them down somewhat.
Ok, get Hazel’s gang on stage and cross my fingers…

The Finger Choppers had played for us in 2012 and I’d promised I’d get them back.
Apart from having the most amazing front person in Hazel Turnock, they were the sort of band that fits our little stage like a glove.

Hazel Turnock
Whatever they do, whether Hazel is playing guitar, baby piano or accordion, it always has that earthy and early swamp rockabilly blues sound to it.
Ok, call me biased but I love this band.

The Finger Choppers
We’d been featuring Hazel over the years and although she was always interesting and always good there just seemed to be one ingredient missing.
It was the band.
And if you want to see them in action then click on this...
Now she’d got a band not just worthy of her talents as she was worthy of theirs, but worthy of the name too.
Trouble is, she’s only on for forty five minutes and the next band isn’t here yet, so with ten minutes to go I’m standing at the entrance gate waiting for my guys.
I know they’re not far away and so I’ve got all their passes in my hands which I’ve managed to blag from artist-liason.
Typically three cars turn up at once and they’re in the third…
Come on guys, let this lot through because they’re on stage in four minutes.
Thankfully they did, and so with me carrying probably the heaviest guitar case (Bloody Gibsons) we parked up and ran it…
Jesus !!!
That was close.
God preserve me from any more of those.

Jamie Flett and the Flaming Jets had made it with literally seconds to spare.
Jamie had been in the Ballachulish Hellhounds with Dochan MacMillan when they played the festival for the second time, replacing Crawford who'd had a motorbike accident and now he’d branched out on his own.
When I first started listening to him he’d sounded vaguely Richard Thompson’y, but that sound had gone and now he sounded like nobody but himself.

Jamie Flett and the Flaming Jets
The band interested me because they weren’t frightened of rocking out with folkie type open tunings which as anyone who does that sort of thing knows, makes things a bit interesting sound-wise.
I’m just going to relax for this lot and let Frank take over.

Jamie and Dochan
Much to his disgust because they interested him sound-wise too, but that can’t be helped as I’m stressed to the max and gulping down alcohol to numb it is a no-no whilst we’re working.
Well that worked until the last official number when they went into their version of Neil Young’s Powderfinger and proceeded to rock the place out…

Bloody Hell !
Yeah, you’ve got five minutes, do another one for Chrissakes…
The look on Dochan’s face said it all when they came off stage.
They knew they’d just played an absolute belter and it doesn’t really get better than that.
Pressure ?
What pressure ?
Let’s get the next artist on stage and we’ll relax and have a chat…

I’d got Ric Birtill via Steve Smither.
He’d sent me an e-mail saying he’d just seen this singer at another festival and suggested he might be the sort of artist we’re always looking for ?
He was right on with that.

Ric Birtill
Ric’s quirky but wry and penetrating sense of humour just shone through in everything he seemed to do and he was right up our street.
He was also one of only a couple of artists mentioned in the Pussy Riot website.
Mainly for a scabrous wind-up of a song about Vladimir Putin coming out, which you can watch here if you want a giggle ?
Our Sarah had been a fan from day one and had been advertising his presence at Rhythms every couple of days.
One thing I learned years ago is that what I like might not translate to other people.
Ric was great, but his humour was too subtle for some people and they didn’t get it.

Sadie, our volunteer from the audience, and Ric Birtill
Shame, because I thought him outstanding.
Right, let’s have some fun…

Los Chicos Muertos.
Was this really Los Chicos because it looked suspiciously like the complete Trailer Trash Orchestra minus drummer to me ?
Ok, the personnel are interchangeable and so are a few of the songs but when I’d said I’d like them previously I was put off by others who’d said we’d never fit them all on our stage…
Probably because they’d wanted them it must be said ?
If we can fit Fishwife’s Broadside on then we can fit the Trailer Trash Orchestra on, it’s as easy as that.
And ostensibly this was the smaller outfit.

Los Chicos Muertos
Grae had even suggested we take the smaller outfit when I’d contacted him.
Fit ?
They were perfect.

This is a band that plays for a crowd and ups the ante somewhat.
If you’re going to follow these guys on stage then you better be ready to pull out all the stops because they’ll wipe the floor with you otherwise.

Absolutely great set and I found myself boogieing down the front with Hazel from the Finger Choppers.
Well the crowd enjoyed it, the band enjoyed it, the crew enjoyed it and just as they ended, a couple from our last band of the day turned up to say they’d all got here safely…
Thank God.
I don’t know what it is with some bands ?
They’re a promotors nightmare.
But they were all here now, so let’s try and enjoy ourselves eh ?

First things first, let’s get their gear over to the stage.
So there I am, carrying guitars and amp’s again whilst talking to Kareem who I’d been doing all
the e-mailing and phone calls with, and he says…
‘I’ve got to meet this Chris Ripple guy and say thank you for having us on…’
At which point I just laughed and said ‘You already have…’
‘I don’t believe it… It’s you isn’t it, You don't look how you sound for sure ?’
'Nah, like something from The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers when I'm working...'
'Brilliant !'
We’re cool.

By our standards the crowd for Los Chicos Muertos had been pretty good bearing in mind they’d been up 

against Haddy’s compatriot Musa M’Boob on St Marys, who she had taken a break to see, 

Haddy with Musa M'Boob
and at the same time the London Afrobeat Collective had been on the Main Stage.
World acts do tend to draw the crowds somewhat, but we were now getting rammed with people and they had all seemed to come from the Main Stage area ?
So, as Joy who had found me the act in the first place, gave The Ryddim Kings feat. Kareem their introduction I just stuck myself at the edge of the crowd barriers.
We don’t need anybody crashing this lot.

Ryddim Kings feat Kareem
For one thing, they’re far too good to let that sort of thing occur.
Since Rhythms had upset some of the local West Indian contingent a few years ago we hadn’t seen many reggae bands on the bill over the past few years, but now we’d managed to get an absolute corker and now all I can hear is people complaining that ‘this band should be on the main stage’.

Ok, in a perfect world maybe they’d have booked them,
who knows ?
But they’re not, they are on Arcadeclectic which I book and I’m not apologising for that.
It might be the smallest stage at the festival but it’s got a heart that beats and pumps and rocks out when it’s needed.
It’s bigger than any of us, and we’re proud of its reputation as being well run with some seriously good acts.
And so ladies and gentlemen, give it a fucking rest from your whingeing and let’s get down to some seriously groovy sounds shall we ?
You can check out one track here if you like ?
Amaziah in the centre
I don’t want to know what stage you think they should be on, all I want to know is are you
enjoying them ?
If the answer is yes, then we win.
If the answer is ‘yes, but…’ then go and complain to somebody else because I don’t want to hear
about it.
We did our bit and that’s all that matters.

Kareem Shabazz
They finished to absolutely rapturous applause.
I’ve just thought ?
We’ve been so busy that we haven’t eaten yet…
Ok, do a bit of delegating and escort Kareem and the band round to the artist food wagon.
The band seem happy at least.
While we’re stuffing our faces with whatever they have left at that time of night, Haddy and I get into conversation with Amaziah, one of the female singers.
It turns out that she also knows The Gambia and she’s been out there to stay a couple of times ?
It’s a small world and it’s getting smaller.
An hour or so later when we've been thoroughly fed and watered, it’s time to go.

Kareem and the gang are quite happy backstage chilling and eating and so we make the rounds, say our goodbyes and split.
We’ve got to get Frank and Grant home before we can sleep and we have to do it all over again tomorrow.
Musically it had been a good day and you can’t ask for more than that.