Rock-Stock is rising.. saturday..

Saturday morning came with no particular hangover, the joys of Scrumptiddly Cider and pacing yourself!  With the morning likely to be taken up with wedding preparations, as Dave and Caroline were being handfasted early in the afternoon, and with The Star Copiers having a set mid-afternoon I was more interested in acquiring some breakfast and tea than thinking about getting on the cider.  We did find time to pop into the main room to see Phily’s daughter and her band open up the day with some ace indie rock to blow the cobwebs away.

I’m going to try to remember that I think they were called The Hatters – I’m really sorry, that’s pretty bad not even getting a name written down!  I was dipping in and out of the set trying to track down the sword I needed for the ceremony shortly, but one song was dedicated to a dead fish called Speedy (I think!), and there was a rousing rendition of Chelsea Dagger to enjoy too.  It was a shame not to have seen more of the set but my principle duty until he was handtied was to protect Dave, so I set out to find him.

Eventually guests were ushered into the acoustic room which had been set up to perform a handfasting ceremony – which Tina expertly guided them through.  Siobhan and I were witnesses – along with the rest of the room.  It was a really quite moving, I’ve never really experienced a handfasting before.  I was sorry to have to give up the sword to Dave though, I must admit!  The indoor ceremony was concluded with the sharing of mead from a drinking horn, whilst outside bird seed was scattered and the happy couple jumped a broomstick held by the witnesses.  A beautiful way to start the day.

It wasn’t long before we needed to think about getting our gear into the acoustic stage – we had time to take in some of Morris and Watson on the main stage though, dazzling with traditional folk songs, I also caught their own song The Travelling Life in there somewhere.  Over a spot of lunch Treebeard were setting up – I was more than a bit gutted that before they struck up we needed to head off to get ourselves set up in the acoustic room, I really like them and they had the massive bass balalaika too.  This is something you don’t consider as a performer – the faffing about to get yourself sorted!

We took all our gear into the room and Sophie did an amazing and patient job of getting us soundchecked (“Why’s my amp not working?” said Mark, “is it switched on?” Sophie said so politely!  It wasn’t).  Once we’d got things set up I popped over to Murphy’s Stage to catch a fleeting glimpse of Honeywitch in two-piece form, Adrian on guitar and Claire on vocals.  I really only had time for one song – it was the anti deathrow song they have – I must say the sound in the Cheezy Vinyl Tent was really good, but it was time to head back and prepare to get on stage myself along with Jacquie, Mark and Kev.

I won’t write about us – but luckily for you Ella already has – so these are her words (there’s quite a few of them, and my desire to be unbiased is probably betrayed by picking my other half to cover our set, but never mind!).  So I’ve inadvertantly made this a very Star Copier-tastic post – I do apologise.  So anyway, yes – by this time it was time for The Star Copiers.  Take it away, Ella!

Once the stage was set Jamie appeared armed with tequila shots for the band (complete with salt and lemon).  They opened the set with What’s Up? by 4 Non Blondes – which suits Jacquie’s voice to a tee – throughout the song you could see and hear her confidence building, and with Mark now adding an electric guitar to the mix it’s really beefed up their sound and gives them a huge boost.  Next was Levellers 15 Years which is always a crowd pleaser – but this time they welcomed secret weapon Jamie to the stage with a tambourine – and I have to say, he is quite the master of shaking a jingle ring!

The eagle-eyed viewer might’ve noticed that Alan had two cajóns nestled at the back of the stage, his usual stickered Star Copier one which he started out playing and a new beautifully hand-crafted Labyrinth-themed one by Mick Sullivan (see Rockabilly Voodoo Custom Cajons for more info – Alan) – he swapped them over at some point, the new box definitely has a lower pitch to the original – but it gives a great sound.  As always Jacquie sang beautifully to this tune with Kev singing along for the chorus – a sore throat giving him a huskier than usual voice!

Next was Too Late, for which both Jacquie and Mark left the stage leaving Kev and Alan.  Issac joined them to play Kev’s guitar whilst Kev sang.  Since watching Issac doing this for the first time, he gets better and better – you’d best watch out for this one, he’s a talented kid and will soon have his own band and be rocking the stages before you know it.  As a tradition when Ferocious Dog play this Paul, Nicki and Dean do a triple-stack – there was an attempt here, but for the low ceiling it ended up a brief two-and-a-half stack before Dean had to put them down.  Kev was delighted though!

Down Under was next and they do an amazing job on it. Standing at the back of the room Jacquie’s vocals were mixed in with the crowd and it was such a good feeling seeing so many people turn out for them.  Jacquie left the stage again for Kev to sing Doozer McDooze’s Searching – Andy went to fetch Doozer along with Birdy.  It was getting faster and faster and poor Kev with his bad throat did really well to keep up – I’m not sure if it was down to a timing problem or purely because Alan and Mark found it hilarious to keep upping the pace.  Doozer did remark after that he wouldn’t fancy singing it that quickly!

Good Riddance takes me back to my rebellious years – it goes down well with the crowd whod are singing back to the band.  Then a real surprise, Ferocious Dog’s Mairi’s Wedding Part III wasn’t what I expected – Jacquie’s vocals work beautifully for this delicate song – the rest of the band cut out completely at times to really let her take centre stage.  Again the crowd were singing back at her – Mark with the electric guitar, Kev finger-picking and some top notch box-banging from Alan made this sound really special.

As they’d steamed through their set list there was time for an encore – which the crowd did ask for, and got with Basket Case – they’ve been playing this a while but it gets better with each airing, with Jacquie and Kev alternativing for slower-paced then fast-paced verses.  This is the best I’ve heard them and they deserved the huge round of applause they received and should feel really pleased with the hard work they’ve put in to rehearsing – although seeing the smiles on their faces as they came off the stage I think they might have enjoyed themselves!

Right, Alan is back on the keyboard.  Gosh.  Okay. So there’s some biasedness maybe but we were all tremendously pleased with how everything had gone, and remain deeply humbled by how supportive everyone is.  We’ve sold in excess of 60 t-shirts I think, which will raise around £300 for the Lee Bonsall Memorial Fund, so thank you to everyone who bought one of our garish collection!  Just we had to set up, we had to pack down – I needed to change too – it was sweaty work banging on my box!

I re-emerged from the van in time to catch Bart (the lone Star Botherer) in the Cheezy Vinyl Bar on Murphy’s stage.  It wasn’t easy to get close to him but he was audible enough outside – Just Around the Corner and Hubball Shuffle made early appearances.  I conspired to miss his third song, but One Inch Death Punch did enjoy an airing with a slight lyric change in honour of Naomi which made me chuckle.  My National Trust saw the crowd in the tent nearly take the roof off it in their exclamations about the price of jam.

Star Wars Bride was a nice choice for a day where we’d seen a wedding, and Bad Guys will probably end up being the song that he can never do a set without playing.  It’s such an anthem, but it did leave time for Mid Life Crisis with Bart doing a sterling job of covering the vocal parts Dave normally does in this number.  I’m really rather excited about the promise of an album from them hopefully very soon.

I would apologise for being a bit slack on actually watching a lot of music – but I’m not sorry, we were having a great time catching up with folk we’d not seen much of over the winter break.  We enjoyed some Camachos (nachos with camembert) that were delivered by Joel, the cheeze mouse, then headed inside where countless shots were being consumed along with cider (and chips!).  Whilst I love live music, you know that you’re back in festival territory when you can just wile away the time in great company too.

On the main stage The Lagan were up next – I bloody love these guys, my notes are a bit scant as we were having a bit of a dance to them.  Raggle Taggle Gypsy certainly featured early in the set and Maid of the County Down.  We joined the band in raising a glass during Song for Jim, the invitation to raise one to somebody of your choosing which was quite sweet.  I couldn’t tell you many other songs other than Tell Me Ma, Same Shite Different Night and a rousing chorus of Shipping Out to Boston.

That’s not a reflection on the set – it was brilliant.  Probably more of a reflection on playing catch up having been pretty tee-total until our set!  The Jar Family were next on the main stage and my notes for them are even less useful – it just says “Ace” – which is true, but well, not the most enlightening piece of prose I’ve ever crafted!  They had an ecletic folk sound with all members taking stints as being ‘lead’ performer – it must be challenging to keep that much creativity in harmony but it works very well on stage!

One band we weren’t planning on missing was The Sweetchunks Band though who packed out the acoustic stage.  They opened by loudly proclaiming they were here to swear at the children before launching into Drunks on a Boat.  Next up a bluesed up rendition of Spice Girls hit Wannabe amused me plenty (particularly since I’d posted on our page we were doing a set of Spice Girls songs later as a blatantly transparent April Fools joke!).

Folk Star was next – a splendid re-write of the Nickelback song of a similar title, which morphs seemlessly into a raucous rendition of Paradise City.  Stuart introduced the next song as being about his best friend, who turned out to be Lonesome George – a tortoise from the Galápagos Islands who was the last of his subspecies and was never able to reproduce before his demise in 2012.  A sad tale, it was lightened somewhat by some of the tortoise mating calls that comprised part of the song.

The Greatest Love Song in the World.. Ever was next, with its epic key changes and empassioned lyrics it was as ever a highlight of the set.  This was followed up with Drunk in the West Country – an amusing re-write of Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA.  With the set winding to a close it was good to hear their version of Highway to the Dangerzone before inevitably we were treated to an encore which was – of course – the anthemic Bees.  There’s a rather scary video of Ella and I through some Snapchat filters that accompanied this!

Back in the main room Sheelanagig were weaving a beautifully eclectic folk / dance fusion around the room.  They kinda reminded me of Peatbog Faeries in that there wasn’t much by way of vocals, just fantastical layers of instrumentation which worked really well for this stage of the evening – where basically we were sitting and being silly hitting each other with cushions and trying to balance things on Andy’s head as he kept nodding off.  We also snagged an excellent chicken tikka wrap from the Indian takeaway on the site.

As the room was emptying out we found ourselves at a table with The Sweetchunks Band, Brian and Karen, Pete from Ghosts of Men and Jonny and Katie.  I’m not sure if I should upload the video of ‘Question Time hosted by Stuart Dimbleby’ or not – but we had a most surreal, disturbing and entertaining discussion whilst finishing up the last of our drinks and heading outside for a bit more socialising before finally collapsing in a heap in the van.

Another magical festival – everything about the organisation, set up, acts and people in attendance was top notch.  It was an honour and a privilege to play a small role in Dave and Caroline’s handfasting and a real buzz to play probably our best gig to date – I’m really looking forward to getting prepared for our next live outing at Ey Up Mi Duck in a few weeks time.  We’ve got a few more surprises in store for that too.  But Debbo, Phily and the team have surpassed themselves yet again – so yeah, no pressure for September’s gathering!

To top it all off after getting home on Sunday I had a preview copy of 3 Daft Monkeys soon-to-be-released album waiting for me to listen, so keep an eye out for a review of that as I get the chance to get up close and personal with it.  Early impressions are very good indeed, although the CD was corrupt so I’ve yet to hear the last three tracks (which Tim has kindly sent me via email – thanks Tim!).

I’ve also got Pretty Babs‘ album lined up in my ‘to review’ pile too which is also an absolute banger.  Exciting times, now I just need to find the time to do them both justice!

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