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…

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