Sunday, 12 July 2015

Wistful 2015

Wistful Festival

Raising money for the Lee Bonsall Memorial Fund.

In May last year I first encountered the phenomenon that is Ferocious Dog. It was only a few songs into their set before I was in the mosh pit having the time of my life with people who, although I didn't know at the time, would soon become friends. And it was one of the fans (the Hell Hounds) who was responsible for organising this cracking little one day festival to raise money for a cause close to our hearts, the Lee Bonsall Memorial Fund. The fund supports local charities while raising awareness of the dangers of PTSD in ex service personnel, all in memory of Lee; son of lead singer Ken and brother of fiddle player Dan.

Although a one day affair, the clans started arriving at the campsite the day before and a pleasant jam around the fire went on until a bit of rain sent us off to bed. Saturday dawned fine revealing a campsite in a beautiful location overlooking the Derwent Valley with basic shower and toilet facilities plus the lovely Nana's Kitchen catering tent serving good food, teas, cakes and soft drinks and a huge barn furnished with a stage at one end and a bar selling ciders and meads along one side (more of that later). Just add a bunch of nutters and a frankly amazing lineup of bands and you have the recipe for the corking day this turned out to be.

Paige Seabridge
Ellie Keegan
The first two acts were both young female singer songwriters already establishing themselves in the local music scene with great original material and the odd well-judged cover. Ellie Keegan opened the festival with her astonishly powerful voice and a little stomp box to go with skillful guitar. Then Paige Seabridge followed with her slightly folkier sound and more great songs.

The first full band of the day were Black Thorn, another group of talented youngsters banging out some great folky rock and even braving a version of Ferocious Dog's own 'Hell Hounds' which got a few the dancers chancing an early mini-mosh. Their own material is superb with 'Psychic Sally' being one of my favourites and I liked the novel rhythm section with guitarist on kick drum and bassist on high hat. The smoke machine in the kick drum puffing smoke out of the top with every kick was a novel touch and it even managed a perfect smoke ring a couple of times.

Andrew 'El Barto' Hawkins
Andrew "El Barto" Hawkins is writer, singer and guitarist with The Star Botherers who I've covered before so won't trouble you again here. Suffice to say the songs went down well as always with the crowd filling in some of the lines normally delivered by absent bassist Dave Drury.

2nd Gear
Indie rock guitar 4 piece 2nd Gear picked up the pace with a heavier and rockier set of great, but not particularly memorable, tunes before making way for one of the highlights of the day.

New Groove Formation
It surprised me to learn how many people were seeing festival stalwarts New Groove Formation for the first time here and once again I was hearing people after the festival saying they were their favourites. This is certainly one of our favourite acts and we'd only seen them the week before at another charity do near Bedford playing to a rather reserved, image conscious audience in a pub with hardly any decent beer. Today's crowd couldn't have been more different and the place was soon a whirling mass of bodies. Singers Quinny and Karl both left the stage at times to join the dancers and added to the massive party atmosphere they generated. Another great performance from Nicky and Dawn on the brass section and a whole new bunch of fans for the band. Sorry about the photo but I was dancing too much to manage anything better.

Brad Dear Band
OK, so now the party was really getting warmed up and not only due to the great music. It's time to relate the effects of the evil mead being served up at the bar. As Brad Dear took to the stage with his band there was already at least one person sleeping off an all-to-easily-consumed excess of the fermented honey conconctions.

Karen had nipped off for a quick break after New Groove and came back to find a bunch of us whirling like mad things with beards dyed orange and a distinct lack of decorum. I've rarely got so wellied so quickly and it was only the timely intervention of my much better half and gallons of water that stopped me going the same way as Dean and sleeping the rest of the afternoon away. Thus I feel unable to comment with any authority on Brad's set but I know we were all having a bloody good time. The perveyors of the mead on the other hand have taken this reputation and run with it. They have now rebranded as MeadEvil and can be found at future festivals if you dare.

Doozer McDooze
Next up was our mate Doozer. What can I say? Another hard-working man and guitar battering audiences into submission up and down the country with strum and stomp. Infectious, good-time, sing-along songs delivered with punky attitude that you can't help loving. "I Don't Wanna Go Home" is one of the feel-good songs of the festival season.

The Fanzines
I really didn't see much of New Buffalo or Sam Jones I'm sorry to say but I was very keen to see The Fanzines as I knew they were doing one of the tracks on the Bostin' Days album raising money for the Devon Air Ambulance. Their interpretation of '100 Years of Solitude' is superb and went down very well as did the rest of their punk and ska covers. Personally I like more original material but this is great festival music and kept the assembled masses in a sweaty, moshy frenzy.

The penultimate band, local rockers Parasight, went by in a bit of a mead-induced dancing blur so once again I'm poorly qualified to comment. I recall extremely competent, heavyish rock with some excellent lead guitar soloing (which I'm very partial to). I promise to pay more attention next time. Honest!

Seven Little Sisters
Seven Little Sisters headlined the night with a mad mix of bluegrass, bluesy country and rocky nuttiness and, hang on, is that a punky feel as well?! A heady amalgam that took the dancing crowd on into the night in a brilliant finale to the music. The hoedown went on for as long as the licence would allow. When it was over and we started to file out sweatily into the night to find a bit of a downpour and I think most were happy to slink off to tents and vans and drift off to sleep chatting to friends or family about a truly superb day.

Sometimes it just takes someone pretty amazing to create something rather special and worthwhile all at the same time. These things don't happen by magic and I know Lisa and Paul went through a fair bit of stress to pull it off. All I can say is thanks. It was utterly gorgeous and apparently raised a respectable 640 quid or so for an excellent cause.

Please check out Alan's review and Snotface's photos:

No comments:

Post a Comment