Estival the best of all?

IMG_4362We always look forward to a trip to Thorne – it generally involves something awesome set up by Pete and Becky!  Estival is in a similar ilk to last year’s Midsummer’s Afternoon in the Park – a fundraiser for Firefly Cancer Support and community engagement project to get the local folk of Thorne exposure to the arts as well as the aim of giving the local food bank a boost.  We hotfooted it straight from Banbury, picking up some ice and water en route and dropping it off at the park to keep the wine and mead cool.

After the errand was run we popped the van round to where we were going to stay, and made our way back to the park armed with chairs, and having glanced at the weather prognosis a couple of umbrellas!  With the weather in mind the MeadEvil bar was set up in one of the marquees with another set up with seating to protect folk from the elements – and the first performer, Davey Wilson, was already underway on the bandstand.

He was perfect for the time of day, the sun was still shining just about – and he flooded the park with acoustic cover versions often in medley form.  Pete had said he hadn’t had time to tell him, a last minute substitute, that he doesn’t like his events to be full of cover versions (a pity, as Davey would’ve preferred playing his own stuff too!), however it worked really well for me – a myriad of songs like Valerie, Sweet Home Alabama, Let’s Get it On, Stuck in the Middle With You sounded nice to me!

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Probably the highlight of the set for me was the lovely delicate acoustic imagining of Arctic Monkeys song Fluorescent Adolescent with some cracking finger picking in there.  Always does it for me!  There was an original number in there too, Close to You which sounded cracking before a medley finished up the set – including songs like Lego HousePrice TagNo Woman No CryNo Diggidy and Gnarls Barclay’s Crazy.  See, eclectic – yet hung together well with Davey’s musical stylings.

In the meantime the park was filling up – hearteningly plenty of local folk, and further flung visitors like Mark, Dan and Kiara (with Caroline joining later), Dave, Dusty and his family.  The exciting crepe stall that was at Something to Smile About was there too, over the course of the afternoon I’d indulge in two of those, and of course the wonderful cider and mead available from the organisers (as well as canned beers too for those into that kind of thing), the cafe in the park providing soft drinks, beers and vodka slushies too as well as food – sorted!

IMG_4368Wonderfully named The Electric Spider Club were up next – psychedelic blues rock, like something straight out of the seventies – in look and sounds.  It was ace – a flamboyant front man, some eye-catching (or is that ear-catching?) guitar work too – of course, the drawback to Pete’s mandate of playing your own songs (a good mandate, I would say!) is that if they don’t tell us the song titles, then I have no idea what they are!  Bloody enjoyable though, I’d definitely watch these again!

IMG_4378Another late substitution was The Silk Road, or three of them in acoustic guise.  It works really well though, with guitar, vocals, harmonica and fiddle.  Melodic but passionate protest folk.  The acoustic set up at Smile was great, I really liked this stripped back sound too – I’m looking forward to the full electric band sound at Wistful Festival even more now!  I picked up a few song titles, The Ancient Road, a lovely cover of seldom-heard Levellers song Robbie Jones and Boats Come in at Midnight.  Cracking set – a band to watch out for this year.

Then t’was to be Headsticks – Julie and Mark had arrived in time to see ’em, and they got into a rip-roaring start.  I think Headsticks are getting better every time I see them perform – maybe this is a good juncture to give kudos to the chap running the sound all day, he was doing a great job!  They kicked off with World Away and into This Dog Will Have Its Day.  High-octane folk punk with a very clear social message, all the more apt in the current political climate in the UK – although asking the audience if he was in Yorkshire or Lincolnshire was probably a mistake, Andrew! Haha!

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Paper Flowers and Cold Grey English Skies kicked into the crowd-participation segment – What Do You Want is supposed to involve the crowd shouting back ‘revolution’ – some of us might have shouted ‘mead!’ instead!  Tomorrow’s HistoryTwo SidesMississippi’s Burning and then a song I didn’t catch the name of (but involved being dressed in black and feeling blue!) kept the pace going before finishing up with anthemic Flatline Town and finally You’re Killing Me America.  Definitely a band on the rise – with a new album I need to acquire when I’ve worked my way through my current backlog!

IMG_4393During the set Brad Dear along with Andy and Chris had arrived – which is good, they were up next!  Much of his set was accompanied by an awesome little lad having a right old boogie in front of the bandstand!  I’m Still Here started the set off and into Circles and Roundabouts.  Brad was dealing well with a bit of heckling about the rips in his jeans (which may or may not have come from me), launching into Far Away and Festival Bar Blues it was sounding great.

The new song he tested out up at the Black Market Venue the other week had a full band airing – The Only Road I Know sounds like it will become a firm favourite with Brad aficionados!  Billy Brown and Walls were played to the backdrop of a nearby thunderstorm which mercifully looked to be on course to blow past the park rather than over it, so we were able to enjoy They Say, Save Our Souls, Long Road Home, Special Brew (I attempted to get Pete to start the conga – he wasn’t having it!) and to finish we had Leave It All Behind.

IMG_4410Then alas the rain that had been threatening did arrive, a mass retreat to the big marquee gazebo and a shuffle of closer to the bandstand was in order before Matt Montez took to the stage in trio form. It didn’t curb my enjoyment but it must’ve been a bit less good for the performers playing to what must’ve looked like our legs!  Lots of acoustic goodness, a bongo, harmonising vocals that would’ve been more at home on a sunny beach – it deserved a lot better from mother nature!

There was a song about a quiet island in Cambodia, another inspired by an aboriginal proverb about how we are merely borrowing the land from our children – clearly a well-travelled collective!  The set ended with fun, a cover of King of the Swingers, another song called Monkey Corner keeping up the primate theme before finishing up with Thank You with a medley of loads of songs tacked on to it, even the inclusion of Nellie the Elephant we asked for!  Awesome!  I grabbed a CD from them but haven’t had a chance to listen yet.

IMG_4433Next up on stage were The Twisted Dolls – grungey dirty rock, I loved it!  Whilst watching Leon had acquired some magic tricks from the stall he’d been dutifully visiting all day (just as I would have done at his age to be fair!) they were pretty impressive.  Meanwhile on the bandstand songs like WarchildMidnight TrainIf I Was a Millionaire and Boneshaker were really rocking things up.  Black Magic started with a homage to I Put a Spell on You before they finished up with King of the Blues.  I liked these guys a lot.  And the rain was easing off!

The weather easing up lured the chap who’d been teaching the kids magic out to us – I met him briefly at Smile but spent that time largely making a fuss over his dove, haha!  He proceeding to absolutely bamboozle us with an array of card tricks – okay, so I was a bit drunk by this point, but I think it would’ve had the same impact if sober!  I’m sure I once saw the same chap performing in a pub in Nottingham a good few years ago now – he’s really very good (I’m sorry, I don’t have a link to a Facebook page or similar, sadly).

IMG_4438Last act were Smiling Ivy – a bouncy lively mash-up of rock, reggae, ska and heaven knows what else – by this point I’d been handed a bottle of mead with a straw by Becky, so there’s bugger all chance of me recalling song titles, but the sound was great – it’s a real shame the weather had (understandably) driven a few folk away who hadn’t ventured back.  I’m glad to have stuck it out to see them (partly thanks to Dusty for lending me his spare jacket!).  I did manage to make a note that their drummer popped over the fence of the bandstand to relieve himself mid-set – ha ha!

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By the end there were still plenty of helping hands to dismantle, carry and load stuff into the van – leaving Ella, Brad and I a short walk back to Becky and Pete’s where the excesses of cider and mead had me craving tea.  I might’ve nodded off before the pizzas arrived, I woke up to grab a couple of slices before the mead coma properly struck and I was actively encouraged bed ward! A fun morning with Pete, Becky, Brad, Leon and Cyrus – the latter’s birthday being celebrated with presents and cake and then it was time to go.  Top weekend!

Compared to the last event in the park the ratio of locals to travelling music fans was more in favour of locals – which is great, given the mission of the event, but even so it would’ve been nice to see more folk there – it wasn’t just music, plenty of kids entertainment, plenty of food options in the cafe or in crepe form and great drinks – but a chance to raise some funds for charity and collect food for the food bank, I just wish more people would get involved.

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