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.

No comments: