Even with Ferocious Dog partying in a park this weekend in Galhampton, it was always going to be to Derbyshire near Matlock Bath that I’d be heading this weekend for Wistful Festival, organised by my lovely friend Lisa to raise money and awareness for the Lee Bonsall Memorial Fund. An expansion of the day event she put on last year, and this time on a lovely spot of farmland with a campsite built in. A debut outing for my new tent, and an excuse to raise hell whilst raising money – what’s not to like?
Amnesia is because, well, I might have a little bit of difficulty in bringing to mind everything that happened, which is where Snotface’s blog might help to fill in a few gaps – although she’s got loads of photos to get through before that’s likely to happen. Sometimes there’s a benefit to simply taking a grainy picture on your phone for blogging purposes rather than taking hundreds of (mostly) lovely shots on a proper camera! You can’t possibly do justice to a couple of days in words, so apologies in advance to any events or people missing from my musings.
Anyway, I arrived on the campsite early on Friday – the festival wasn’t occurring until the day after, but I had the day off, and what better thing to do is spend an extra day in a field with your friends, plus if there were any last minute bits of help needed then I’d be about. Luckily there wasn’t beyond writing up the acts on a blackboard (with a few errors), supervising Paul’s barbecue and well, starting on the cider probably a little earlier than is officially recommended once the tent was up.
Tim, Lisa and Tina were also setting up nearby, and as more and more lovely folk started arriving the field was turning into a bit of a party. Dave and Nadine spent what seemed like an age perfecting the structural integrity of their new tent, Dave and Caroline arrived and immediately began plying the field with prosecco mojitos – and along with the assorted concoctions that were being distributed around the fire by Tim and Tina it’s little wonder that memories of the day as it developed are a little hazy.
Hankin Farm is a delightfully rustic campsite with an adjoining barn where the music on Saturday was happening – it’s a massive field, and we’d loosely planned a few spaces for folk who we knew were coming a little later – not least Adele and Drew who were setting up Nana’s Kitchen next to the barn to provide much needed caffeine and sustenance for the assembled crowd, we also saved spots for Becky and Pete who brought an array of cider, wine and (evil) mead, and of course the lovely Seabridges.
Simon and Ella (henceforth known as Snotface, but I thought I’d be polite at first) had arrived and the former reluctantly gone to pitch their tent – seemingly just as happy to sleep in his car. Considering the festival wasn’t until the next day it was a cracking turn out of folk the night before – which makes sense really, the first act was up at 11:30 on the next day, why not be there already and not have to faff around setting up when you can be probably half-cut and staggering around. Not that I’d do that, of course.
Tim had arranged a few surprises for Suzy and Bryan who celebrated their wedding anniversary last week, which was lovely – meanwhile countless other folk had arrived and got themselves set up. And well, it’s probably from this point that the memory becomes a little more on the sketchy side. Certainly I remember Dave gathering folk around the fire nearest the barn as the darkness fell to have a bit of a singalong with guitars and Spike with his banjo and harmonica.
I could be wrong, but there was a lot of duelling banjos going on, and a number of increasingly raucous renditions of The Glass by Ferocious Dog, but a day in the lovely sunshine and quite a lot of alcoholic concoctions had quite a soporific effect by this time so I might well have found myself nodding a little bit – I was reliably informed. I’ve yet to see proof of this! I do remember Brian materialising in the darkness guitar in hand to play us some more songs before the rain started at which point I think I probably collapsed into my tent.
The party undoubtedly continued although I slept very well once I sensibly realised I’d settled with my head pointing down the slight slope – once I corrected this I actually felt pretty good in the morning. It’s a good job, I was awoken by an almighty blast of Diana Ross at around 7am from the sound system! I must admit I thought it was a little later but since I felt okay aside from slightly stung arms from the sun – and as I emerged the campsite was already a hive of activity.
A restoring coffee from Amanda was a most welcome idea – only to be corrupted with some amaretto courtesy of Kieron. It’s not a bad way to start the day, not least with the added bacon cobs! As I wandered around the assorted folk around the field there was the risk of the being a bit of a Vicar of Dibley situation going on with everyone making assorted breakfasts, Paul had the barbecue on again, Michelle was peeling spuds for what looked like quite a complicated breakfast whilst Tina and Tim had their fire roaring again cooking an array of breakfast goodies.
Then we of course get to the music. I made an absolute point of making sure I saw all the acts, but of course the steady influx of more booze means that memorability is not an issue of the performances but more the state I was in! Anyway, Ellie Keegan was up first, who’ve I’ve written about before – there was a minor panic as she – in true rock star style – arrived right at the last minute, but all was well. No loop pedal this time, but a stomp box, a guitar and her voice is more than enough and she kicked off the festival in fine style.
The lovely Paige was up next, even this early in proceedings my memory was starting to get a little bit unreliable. I had started a note on my phone to remind me of things which lasted a sum total of three acts, for Paige I simply wrote ‘awesome as ever’ – and well, you know how much I love Paige so there you go, she was awesome. I can remember her playing Hey Ya and finishing up with Home.
Up next were Black Thorn, a new band to me – they were lively and folky and were sure to get a good reception by covering Hell Hounds by Ferocious Dog. I’ll be keeping an eye out for them again. There’s a video doing the rounds on Facebook of some fairly energetic nearly-moshing about to them – quite impressive considering it wasn’t yet even two o’clock in the afternoon! Mercifully the video cuts out a little before it gets a bit too lairy and Rhii ends up on the floor!
Bart took to the stage on his own which I suppose makes him a Star Botherer in the singular for the day and played a cracking set – Bad Guys was a notable highlight as ever with a willing crowd to interject for the vocal parts normally done by Dave – and of course it’s always amazing to realise just how passionately people will express their surprise at the price of National Trust jam in a barn in a field. Really enjoyable performance, I think it wasn’t long after this the Evil Mead (TM) had claimed its first victim.
I might have my timing awry, but upon discovering the mead bar Dean was definitely ready for a little sleep – initially choosing a spot outside the barn near Nana’s then taking himself off to bed, but not of course before we’d taken advantage of the situation to take some amusing photos. It’s rude not to really isn’t it?
Up next on stage we’d moved into band territory again with 2nd Gear treating us to some straight-down-the-line rock music to blast the cobwebs away a bit. I remember enjoying it, but the evil mead was by this point becoming influential to more than just Dean so my recollection is sketchy at best for the most part.
I’ve seen New Groove Formation a few times – not least on the main stage at Bearded Theory a bit back, so to see them so low on the billing was a surprise but there was method in the madness, as they had other commitments to get to. They are great. How to describe them? Ska funk or reggae I guess – whatever it is they are infectious, energetic and fun and soon got us dancing like loons. This of course generated thirst, the nearest source of refreshment was the mead. You can see how these things get out of hand!
Brad Dear was up next – I was expecting not with full band but sure enough Chris was nestled behind Parasight’s drum kit and Andy was there on bass too. I love listening to Brad, there was plenty of silliness including some expansive ‘selfies’ whilst he was playing and what seems to have now become a thing after Something to Smile About – namely, forming an ‘upside your head’ style train of rowing during Special Brew. It was a fun set.
Next up we had the New Buffalo providing a more grungy rocky sound which I remember enjoying, but can’t remember a fat lot more than that! Terribly sorry, chaps.
Then t’was Doozer McDooze causing a one-man party like only he knows how with his infectious enthusiasm keeping everyone dancing and singing along merrily. At this point Tim had foolishly knelt down so it seemed only right to hop onto his shoulders, peer pressure saw him actually lift me up which is a questionable manoeuvre at the best of times – sorry Timmy, and to Doozer for omitting this paragraph until a later edit. I blame that evil mead lady! (Thank you to Naomi for the picture!).
Sam Jones was on after with a mixture of his electric and acoustic guitar (I think) – I remember lots of larking about and dancing, and him asking me to record and upload a video for Ellie (which eventually 3Ged its way onto Facebook this morning – low network coverage out in the sticks!). I know it was a great performance even if I can’t remember much of it!
As the night drew towards the finale The Fanzines took the stage and a bit of moshing had started to happen to their series of infectious punk covers, and I seem to recall a preview of their Bostin Days track (I want to say it was 100 Years of Solitude, but my brain might be remembering this wrong) – on Bostin Days, I know after a few issues the masters are in and they’re being produced so it won’t be long to wait for that either. As for The Fanzines – it was a brilliant set.
The penultimate act were Parasight – who are a ridiculously young band to have so much talent, covering a range of rock music as well as original songs that belie their tender years. It makes you sick, frankly! Certainly the energy they put into the performance translates well to the crowd who are all going a bit crazy – it’s at some point during this juncture that I probably went beyond the one-too-many meads quotient. At some point I’d also been ‘tattooed’ by some kids with pens, and had green paint smeared all over my face. Fun!
Seven Little Sisters finished off the music – another act I’ve been lucky enough to see many times over the last few years. A celtic folky cajun bluegrass style mash up was the perfect way to round off the evening – and whilst I probably lasted less than half the set dancing before retreating to what was meant to be a quick lie down (I could still hear the stage really well from my tent) it turned into a slightly longer-than-planned nap and since it was chucking it down outside it seemed like a sensible juncture to call it a night anyway!
This morning sustenance was as ever forthcoming – Tina had set up a production line of bacon and sausages in the drizzle, Nana’s was also providing hangover-busting caffeine and food for us as we wearily contemplated the faff of dismantling the camp and heading home. A break in the rain gave me the chance I needed to get my tent down and car packed before the not inconsiderable feat of working my way round the campsite to say goodbye to everyone. And I know I missed out plenty before heading off home.
At some point on Saturday evening Simon was shorn of his beard and mohawk – even though I took the clippers to him I can’t remember when it was, but a noble sacrifice by a top fella. He was also responsible for creating the Wistful t-shirts with ‘Official#nob’ emblazoned on the back. During one of the acts Tim was in the unfortunate position of having me up on his shoulders – and countless other random things occurred that probably didn’t make it into the blog post – but that’s okay, memories really belong in your mind and you can’t get them all down in words!
An absolute triumph of a weekend for Lisa and Paul who pulled out all the stops and delivered a fantastic event for an amazing cause – by the end of the night there was only about a fifteen minute delay to the running times, what a sterling job by the sound guys and everyone else involved in organising the day. The fundraising count has yet to be totalled up, but with raffle sales, entry fees and the youngsters doing a roaring trade with their tattooing skills hopefully a sizeable sum was raised!
Essentially this was an extended family party – I loved every minute of it with some of my favourite people to be around. Sure, this post is only very loosely Ferocious Dog related, but if it wasn’t for the band I wouldn’t have had the privilege of meeting such a wonderful collection of folk to get up to these shenanigans with. The best bit is, it’s only a couple of weeks ’til Deerstock where most of us will get to do it all over again! I really cannot bloody wait… I’d best get some rest in advance!
I’ve not added all my photos to this post as it’d get too cluttered (it’s already got over 2,300 words for heaven’s sake!) but you can find my album on Facebook just here, and countless others too and I’m sure more to come. Snotface will have taken some amazing photos which I’m sure will surface on her blog over the next few days or so once she’s gotten through the gargantuan editing process.