Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Review: Village Pump Folk Festival 2015.

We had a great time at the Village Pump Folk Festival this year despite all the rain. This is what happened.
                                                                            My friends Jacky & Bill arrived at my house in Westbury on Wednesday and Thursday afternoon we loaded up the car and headed for the festival site which is only five minutes away. We collected our wrist-bands at the entrance and soon found Margaret, Wayne, Hannah, Sam, Ellen, Daisy and the one and only George. Hannah's brother Paul joined us on Saturday to complete our gang. As well as their tents they had also brought an event shelter which was great when it rained and was the envy of the camp-site. Lots of people asked where it came from and with a long table,lots of chairs and Sam's music machine we partied in there every night. The festival didn't officially start till Friday evening so after a couple of hours at the club house we chilled out most of the night back at camp. Outside the club-house though I got talking to a lady from Kent who was playing the violin in some band and it turned out that she is a good friend of Rob & Alison who were my mates on the litter-picking at Glastonbury. What a small world it is.

                                                                                       Friday morning I was rudely awaken by the sound of rain on my tent. Jacky, Bill & I went back to my house for breakfast and the rain got heavier. Apparently a months rain fell in one day on the Friday. We were in no mood to hurry back so we didn't return on-site till about 5.00. At about 7.00 I decided it was time to hear some live music so I wandered down to the White Horse Stage and caught some of  Jez Lowe  who I thought was really good. I discovered him years ago listening to Mike Harding's radio show.

Then on the main stage were a great band from Wales called Up The Creek. I suppose they could be described at Bluegrass music but they did some great cover versions of all sorts of genres of popular music. They are really nice people as well because we had a little chat with them later on. The Broonzies were on next and they are a super-group of legends from the folk world comprised of Jez Lowe, Rod Clements, Ian Thompson, Maggie Holland and Chris Parkinson. They were excellent. The last band I saw on the main stage on Friday night were Willie And The Bandits. I think they come from Cornwall and I find it very difficult to describe their music. Some of it sounded like progressive rock. I only listened to about twenty minutes of their set because I lost my friends after I went to get a pint. I found them again listening to Barbara Dickson at the White Horse Stage. I thought she was really good especially a song from the play Blood Brothers which she was in . After that the night was a bit of a blur. It stopped raining about 1.00 in the morning and we partied till about 2.30 listening to Van Morrison, Christy Moore and lots of other stuff.

                                                                             Saturday was the best day. It was sunny all day long. We went back to mine and after breakfast Jacky & Bill went up to the White Horse for a while and I went to bed for a couple of hours and walked back to the site in the afternoon. I found all the gang up by the main stage. It was incredible after all the rain how quickly the ground dried out and you could actually sit on the grass and listen to the music. I can't remember who we were listening to on Saturday afternoon because we spent a lot of time outside chatting and telling jokes. I know Saturday evening I saw Polly Barrett on the White Horse stage who I had never heard of before. She comes from Cork and I thought she was great.
The Carrivick Sisters were really good as well. On the main stage we caught some of the Roving Crows, Show Of Hands who were excellent and recorded their set for a live album available only to the festival goers and Edward 11 a great reggae and folk influenced band. The last band I saw on Saturday were Treacherous Orchestra who are a Scottish band hard to define. I thought they were great at first and there is no doubt they got the crowd dancing but after a while I started to get a bit bored. Like the Peatbog Faeries last year, without songs as such it starts to sound a bit samey to me. I went back to camp and found my friends. One of the great things about Saturday had been meeting up with some local friends such as Andy & Alex and quite a few others.

                                                                                 The rain returned on Sunday but I really enjoyed the day. Jacky & Bill love walking so on Sunday afternoon I took them to Lake Shearwater and we had a nice walk round it. It was raining but we had all the wet-weather gear so it didn't matter and stopped of on the way back to site at a nice pub called the Angel Inn. That's the great thing about the Village Pump Festival if you don't want to be on site all the time there are lots of nice places to visit nearby. I got back in time to catch the end of a performance by Keith Christmas. He is a great singer-songwriter and guitarist who I have seen a few times now. I think Keith was the first act ever booked for the Village Pump Folk Club at the Lamb Pub in Trowbridge in 1970 so it is great to see him still going strong. At the main stage I just had time to hear some of a great set by a Welsh band called Calan. Then I dashed back to the White Horse Stage because I wanted to see two legends of folk music Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick. I have been a fan of Dave's for about 45 years,ever since he joined Fairport Convention and he has survived some terrible health issues in recent years so it was great to see him still playing his violin and he still has his great sense of humour. I last saw Martin playing in a band called Imagined Village with his daughter Eliza at the Cheese and Grain in Frome a couple of years ago. I think their set was the musical highlight of the weekend for me.
 Later that evening we saw Jenna Witts followed by the Kelston Cobblers Club who were a last minute addition to the bill after the Strawbs had to pull out. They were great. Another great performance was The Oysterband  who really set the place alight. We went back to camp then to see what was going on but after a while me and Sam went out for another walk and caught some of Mad Dog McRea and finally ended up in the club house. I don't know who the band were but they were doing cover versions of all sorts of hits which had the place jumping. It was a great atmosphere.

                                                                                                                I crawled into my sleeping bag about 2.00 in the morning and next day we had the tents down and packed and left by about 9.00. It had been a brilliant weekend despite the rain. Thank you very much John Alderslade and all the team for all the hard work in creating such a great festival for us all to enjoy. Long may it continue. See you next year !

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Review: Emmylou Harris And Rodney Crowell, Colston Hall Bristol July 12th 2015.

It was 1975 when I first bought the album 'Pieces Of The Sky' by Emmylou Harris and fell in love with her pure crystalline voice. Another reason I liked her was she was really nice looking. (I got into Linda Ronstadt at about the same time for the same reason !) In all the 40 years since I had never seen Emmylou play live so I was really looking forward to Sunday's concert. I took my friend Jacquie along with me. I didn't know much at all about Rodney Crowell except that he wrote  'Till I Gain Control Again'  which is my favourite song on Van Morrison's Pay The Devil album. They had played in Spain the night before so they must have been tired but Emmylou, Rodney and their excellent band were all on fine form. Here is the setlist but please let me know if I have made any omissions or mistakes.
'Just Wanna See You So Bad'. ( Written by Lucinda Williams)
'Return Of The Grievous Angel'  ( I first heard this on a Gram Parson's album about 42 years ago which my friend Fred had. Gram co-wrote this song with Emmylou I think. Really nice pedal steel guitar on this one.)
'Pancho And Lefty'  ( Written by Townes Van Zandt)
'Till I Gain Control Again'  ( Sung by Rodney)
'If You Needed Me' ( Also written by Townes Van Zandt I think. Really nice accordion playing on this song)
'Invitation To The Blues' ( A Roger Miller song)
'Red Dirt Girl'  ( Emmylou at her best)
'The Houston Kid' ( Rodney sings one of his own songs)
'Love Hurts'  ( Brilliant classic song)
'Back When We Were Beautiful' ( Wonderful song from one of their duets albums)
'Bring It On Home To Memphis' ( Another great duet)
'Travelling Kind' ( I think they said this was written by Cory Chisel)
'You Can't Say We Didn't Try'  
'The Weight Of The World' ( Really nice keyboard playing on this song)
'Chase The Feeling' ( I think this is a Kris Kristofferson song)
'Dreaming My Dreams' 
'Tulsa Queen'
'Leaving Louisiana In The Broad Daylight' ( Accordion gives this song a nice Cajun feel)
'We Are Counting The Stars'
'Old Yellow Moon' ( One of the highlights for me, a really nice duet)
'Stars On The Water'
'Even Cowgirls Get The Blues' 
'Boulder To Birmingham' ( Fabulous song, my all time favourite Emmylou song which she wrote in the aftermath of the death of Gram Parsons)

                                                                         I think I might have missed a couple of songs where I didn't know the title of the song so didn't write anything down. A big hand for Emmylou, Rodney, their excellent band and especially the road crew for getting the show from Spain to Bristol. What a great night it was.


Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Review: Duke Special At Glastonbury 2015.

One of the highlights for me on Friday at Glastonbury was seeing Duke Special on the Acoustic Stage at 4.25. They had only allocated Duke a short slot of less than an hour but he certainly made the most of it. After Stornaway's performance it began to rain quite heavily so a lot of people took shelter in the huge marquee of the Acoustic Stage so I think Duke was fortunate to have a larger audience than he might have had otherwise and I think a lot of them would have left as fans because his set was great.
                                                                                                                                                    I have seen him twice before, In Bristol and at a friends party and have two of his albums but I wouldn't say I was an expert on his music. I promised a couple of friends who are big fans of Duke that I would write a review of his performance but it was nearly two weeks ago now so you will have to forgive any mistakes or things I have forgotten.The previous occasions I have seen Duke it was just himself and a piano but at Glastonbury he  also had a drummer and a guitarist with him.The drummer looked a really interesting character with the drums adorned with all sorts of strange gadgets on them.

                                                                                              The first song that Duke performed was Going In A Field  by the late great Ivor Cutler. It was originally on Ivor's 1967 album called Ludo.I think Duke must be a huge fan of Ivor because I have heard him sing other songs of his. I remember seeing Ivor myself at a festival in Cornwall called The Elephant Fayre back in the early 80's. That was followed by Nail On The Head from Dukes new album Look Out Machines which I haven't heard yet. The next song was called Hand Of Man and Duke said it was about a train. It is from the album Under The Dark Cloth. An album inspired by the work of pioneering American photographers. One of my own personal favourite songs of Duke followed, Last Night I Nearly Died, But I Woke Up Just In Time. I think Duke was driving home from a gig one night and fell asleep at the wheel which inspired the song. Another song from the new album was next and Duke said it was about Belfast and was called In A Dive.I must get that album because the songs sound great. Next up was Duke's version of Alabama Song also known as Whiskey Bar which was originally a poem by Bertold Brecht and set to music by Kurt Weill. It was originally sung by Lotte Lenya I think and has also been recorded by The Doors and David Bowie. Anyway I really liked Duke's version. Duke then made a little speech about the importance of everyone being creative in what ever way they can. I have certainly took it to heart because I haven't stopped writing since I got home from Glastonbury. Then he sang a song which I think is called Salvation Tambourine. I put in my notebook, " Fecking great", so it must have been good !.The great song Freewheel was next. Then there was a short silly fun song where the drummer came to the front of the stage and played a weird instrument that I suspect he made himself and Duke sang lyrics like 'Glastonbury, Glastonbury, we're so happy to be here' or something like that.

                                  Duke finished his set with the great Digging An Early Grave. At the end of the song he leaned the piano over further and further till it finally crashed to the floor sending his plastic bottle of wine flying. Then he jumped off the stage, climbed the barrier and threw himself into the audience who held him aloft and carried him around until finally returning him to the stage. What a great ending. The set wasn't really long enough but I thought it was brilliant and I'm sure Duke made quite a few new fans after that performance. Hopefully I might get the chance to see Duke again when I go to Belfast in August. I'll look forward to that.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Review: Glastonbury Festival 2015, Part 4

When my alarm clock woke me up at 5.00 Sunday morning the urge to just turn over and have another ten minutes sleep was almost overwhelming but I knew I couldn't risk it so I forced myself out of the sleeping bag  and pulled on my wellies. There was light rain on Sunday morning but I didn't mind that because I had my raincoat and I found the rain on my face quite refreshing. It helped to wake me up and the forecast said it would clear by mid-day. Sunday was to turn out to be one of the best days in all the 36 years I have been to Glastonbury.The best litter-picking team of all knew exactly what to do by now and the work went really smoothly. We reached The Glade by 10.30 and Jeremy got the word from HQ that we were to help out cleaning up the roadway known as the old railway track and proceed along there towards the Sacred Space. We knew something special was afoot because the road was closed to all traffic. Then we got the word that His Holiness The Dalai Lama was to speak in the Peace Garden at 11.00. This was brilliant that we had arrived here purely by chance (Or was it karma?) At the entrance to the field they were giving out pictures saying 'I LOVE TIBET' and pictures of The Dalai Lama. Jeremy let us have a quick break to listen while he awaited further instructions. I couldn't see because there was no stage there and the crowd was so big but I could hear what he had to say and he made a speech all about the importance of religious tolerance and other matters. You can't really call it a speech because he doesn't read from notes, he just says whatever comes into his head and he goes off on tangents but it all makes wonderful sense. One thing I like about the Dalai Lama is his great sense of humour and one thing he has in common with me is that he laughs at his own jokes. What a great man he is and there is not one jot of bitterness in him after having his country ransacked and forcing him into exile. That might be karma as well though because it has enabled him to take his message to the whole world. He makes the so-called world political leaders look quite pathetic in comparison.

 "They would have to to get The Pope here to top this", I said to Rob, "That wouldn't top this in my book", replied Rob and I had to agree with him. Having the Dalai Lama at Glastonbury is the ultimate. After he finished speaking I was so moved that I bought a TIBET hoody sweat shirt from a stall. It looks great and also kept me warm that night. I was to cross paths with his holiness again three hours later.
                                                                  There was some divine intervention as well because when the Dalai Lama appeared the rain stopped, the sun came out and it was a glorious afternoon. In more ways than one, I might add. After lunch I headed to the Pyramid Stage and caught some of 'Hozier's' set. I have his album at home and have only played it twice. I must give it another spin because he was really good. The previous year he had been on the Acoustic Stage and I hadn't bothered watching because I had never heard of him. Now here he is gracing the Pyramid Stage. What a difference a year makes at Glastonbury. I left after 'Take Me To Church' because we had arranged to meet up at Bread & Roses again. Wayne had his doubts about seeing Patti Smith but I insisted to him that she would be great but even I didn't realise how great her performance would be.

                                                                                    Unlike Kanye West Patti was blown away by appearing on the Pyramid Stage. I think this performance was to be the highlight of her whole illustrious career. Patti had been on tour for six weeks and her voice was shot away but she promised to give the audience every bit of voice she had left, which she did. She only did nine songs because she had given up part of her set for a very special reason. Those nine songs were amongst the best I have every heard on the Pyramid stage. They were, 'Privilege, (Set Me Free)','Redondo Beach','Ain't It Strange','Beneath The Southern Cross','Pissing In A River','People Have The Power','Land', 'Gloria', and 'My Generation'.Not only is Patti a great singer she is also a writer and Poet as well and in the middle of her set she read a poem she had written to celebrate the 80th birthday of the Dalai Lama. "That's nice of her", I thought to myself, not realising what was to happen next. Michael Eavis's daughter Emily led on the Dalai Lama to the cheers of about 80,000 people. He greeted Patti and all the members of her band. Then they wheeled on a birthday cake and the whole crowd sang 'Happy Birthday To You'. Then he spoke for a few minutes and joked that Patti had white hair but she moved with the energy of a teenager and he wished he had her energy. Then he talked about how friendship is the most important thing in the world because we are a social animal and friendship is based on truth and honesty which is very true.
 I think when he left the stage the whole audience felt better for being in his presence. Then Patti carried on with her set. It was great to hear her singing her version of Van Morrison's 'Gloria'. I have seen Van on this stage on Sunday afternoon seven times but not for ten years sadly. Patti finished with a frenzied version of The Who's 'My Generation'. During this she got over-excited and climbed down to be nearer the audience but when she tried to get back on the stage she fell over. She said, " I just fell on my f**king ass at Glastonbury and I don't give a f**king s**t". She said something else as well which was even more outrageous but I won't repeat it here. For me musically Patti stole the whole show at Glasto. She was great. After that we needed a drink and sat outside the bar opposite the Cider bus for a while before going our separate ways. 'Lionel Richie' was on next but for me that would have been a come-down after what I had just witnessed so I wended my weary way back to camp for a rest before the evening. Later on I didn't really care what I saw. The festival had already peaked for me but there was something I had been meaning to do since Tuesday but hadn't got around to and that was to go and visit Sophie in the Green Crafts field. So I went on a slow walk there. On the West Holts stage there was a band on called 'FKA Twigs' who I had never heard of but they sounded really good to me so I listened for a while. Finally, I reached Sophie's place but sadly it was all closed up. I had left it too late. On a stand outside though she had left some leaflets so I took one so I could contact her again.I hope Sophie is here next year.
This whole area was quite deserted. Everyone was down at the main arenas. On a small stage I saw a girl playing to an audience of about 3 people. I felt sorry for her so I listened for a bit and took a picture.
             I have known Donovan's music since 1965 but never seen him so I decided to check him out. That was a mistake. He began his set with about ten minutes tuning up and sound-checking. When he did sing some songs it was alright but in between the songs he kept talking all this quasi-celtic mystical bollix which got on my nerves. After I heard 'Catch The Wind' and 'Colours' I moved on because The Who were on the main stage. I hadn't seen The Who since 1974 when they were at the height of their powers and in those days I thought they were the best live band in the world. I watched at Glastonbury from the top of the hill where the whole view behind the Pyramid Stage looked spectacular. I did get a bit bored at certain points in their show but when they did songs like 'Behind Blue Eyes','Pinball Wizard' and 'Won't Get Fooled Again' I thought they were great. Roger Daltry's voice is more restrained these  days and Pete Townshend is the same as ever but overall I thought they were good. I think though over the 40 years since I last saw them my music tastes have changed. While watching The Who I got chatting to this nice police lady who was enjoying the festival as much as anyone else. The police had behaved themselves really well this year and there was no trouble whatsoever. If only every town in Britain was like Glastonbury.

Back at the camp-fire I felt quite sad that the festival was nearly over. As I gazed into the flames I reflected on all the great Glasto's I had been to before. With  Kim in 2005 we had stayed in the very same faithful little tent in Tom's Field that I was still using. "I'm not here all week any more mate", I said wistfully to the lad who had kept the fire going all week.  What nice people they were around that campfire.
                                        Next morning we had one more shift to do before we could head home. We were brilliant as usual and at the end we were drafted in to help Park and Greenfields team. We had one lucky break. The riggers were already dismantling Arcadia so we weren't allowed near that on health & safety grounds. Jeremy sent us in to clean up 'The Rabbit Hole'. This is a venue where normally people have to crawl in on their hands and knees to experience it but today we got in through a gap in the fence at the back. Inside there were lots of revellers who were still partying although it was 11.00 in the morning and the sun was blazing down. " Just ignore them, do the work and get out", advised Jeremy. It was mad in there. One person had appointed himself King of the Rabbit Hole and was wearing a crown. They obviously had no intentions of going home yet. I was glad to get out of there. It was weird.  Finally all the work was done for 2015 and we were all signed out. I walked back to camp with Rob and Alison. It was quite sad to say cheerio. I hope they come back again.

                                                                         Margaret and Wayne were waiting and itching to get home but I had one last thing to do before I took my tent down. I really wanted to say cheerio to Odele. I hadn't seen her since the party on Thursday night. I had just assumed that I would see her again but it hadn't happened. I ran across to where I knew her tent was, tripping over guy-ropes as I went but all I found was a sad little patch of faded grass where her tent used to be. She had already left town. Never mind, she only lives 20 miles from me so hopefully I won't have to wait another year before I see Odele again.

                                                                         We left Tom's Field at about 1.00 and amazingly I was turning the key in my front door in Westbury by 3.00. I had never known it so easy to get out of Glastonbury. Other years I have known it take 5 hours to get home. Meanwhile, back on Worthy Farm the real clean up was about to begin. An army of workers would move in and go over all 700 acres with a fine tooth comb. They even use huge metal detector machines to remove every piece of rubbish.It will take about 6 weeks before Daisy & Buttercup and all the other 398 dairy cows are released from the Mootel once more to munch their way across the lush pastures of Worthy Farm. I hope I am spared to return next year and as Van the Man might say, 'We'll walk down the avenue again and sing all the songs from way back when, and roam across the fields and stay out all night long and listen to the rock n roll because baby you know how it feels when the healing has begun'.
                          There is no need to say another word.
                                                             THE END.  


Monday, July 06, 2015

Review: Glastonbury Festival 2015, Part 3

It was Saturday morning at Glastonbury. Saturday is the peak day at Glastonbury. Everyone who was coming had arrived and nobody had gone home yet. It was the biggest shanty town in the northern hemisphere with about 160,000 people on site. The sun was shining and I was awake at 4.30 even before my alarm clock. Considering I had only four hours sleep I didn't feel too bad at all. I even had time for breakfast today before setting off for work. Our brave band of brothers and sisters had now bonded into a battle hardened fighting unit like the 101st Airborne Division and we tore into the work with gusto. It was a bit muddy at Arcadia after the previous days rain and those gas things had been trodden in and now the mud was drying in the sunshine they were quite difficult to dig out. That was a bit annoying but the morning went really quickly and we helped other teams who weren't as great as us. Rob and Alison sent me a photo they took during a break. (See Photo).

                                                                                         After work, on the way back to base I caught some of the Unthanks set on the Pyramid Stage. They had a full orchestra backing them led by Charles Hazlewood. They are Rachel and Becky Unthank and they combine Northumbrian folk music with other genres of music and the resulting sound is quite mesmerising and mysterious. I must get one of their albums. They couldn't have been that mesmerising though because I was hungry and left after about twenty minutes to get some lunch. The catering company that kept the workers fed was called 'International Eats' I think and as well as the food being really nice the staff were very pleasant. I asked one girl where she came from and she had come all the way from Estonia just to work at Glastonbury. Anyway, after a leisurely lunch I made my way back to the Pyramid Stage to see 'The Waterboys'.

 One of the reasons I wanted to see them was one of my Facebook friends Ralph Salmins plays drums in The Waterboys. He also used to play drums for Van Morrison which is how I first discovered him. The main reason I wanted to see them though is that they are brilliant. I have seen The Waterboys at Glasto going back to the 1980's but I think this incarnation of the band is as good as any that Mike Scott has assembled. I didn't have my notebook on me or I would have written down the set list. It has been nine days now so I can't remember all the songs but one was called 'The Nearest Thing To Hip' which I really liked. It seemed really 'Beat'  with its references to Sun Ra, Miles Davis, John Coltrane etc. The Waterboys were the perfect music for a sunny Saturday afternoon. I also really enjoyed 'Glastonbury Song' which is the best song ever written about this festival. During their set I noticed some loose change on the floor and picked up 90 pence in total. I found more money watching The Waterboys than I did in four days of litter-picking !

                                                                         I met up with my friends again at the Acoustic and enjoyed a set by a duo called 'The Lost Brothers'. I had never heard of them before. They were Irish and they did a great version of Corrina, Corrina, which I really enjoyed. Then I went back to the Pyramid to catch 'George Ezra'. I first realised how good George was when I saw him a year ago supporting Robert Plant. Of all the crop of young British male singers of the last few years such as Jake Bugg and Ed Sheeran I think George is the best. Only time will tell if he has another great album in him. After George it was the legend that is Burt Bacharach with his orchestra and singers but I couldn't be bothered listening and wandered back to camp.

                                                                         In the evening I really wanted to see the legendary 'Mavis Staples' in the bucolic surroundings of the Park Stage but I couldn't bear the thought of the long walk up there again. I was mentally and physically exhausted by now. I had also missed Gregory Porter who like Mavis has also recorded with Van Morrison recently. Instead I opted to see Nick Lowe, Paul Carrick and Andy Fairweather-Lowe. Nick is almost a Glastonbury tradition now. They were all in fine voice and as well as their own individual hits they also did great cover versions of other peoples songs such as 'Things' by Bobby Darin. It was a thoroughly enjoyable set. I needed a bit of a sit down because I was shattered and relaxed with Margaret & Wayne in the Theatre Bar before returning to see 'The Moody Blues'.

                                                                        It was seeing The Moody Blues at the Bath Blues Festival in 1970 that gave Michael Eavis the idea to have his own festival at Glastonbury in September that same year when 1,500 people attended. Little did he realise that 45 years later it would be the greatest festival in the world. I must say though at Glasto 2015 I was most disappointed. In the late sixties and early 70's I had lots of their albums. Unfortunately they started their set with four songs I had never heard of. Who wants to hear the Moody Blues new stuff?. Not me that's for sure. They should have started the set with some classics and put the new stuff in the middle and finished with more old classics. I lost interest and left. I regret that now because I have since learned that Michael Eavis joined them on stage and played tambourine during 'Question'. I think I was a bit hasty in leaving.

 I had heard a lot about the controversial decision to book 'Kanye West' to headline on Saturday night so I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and judge for myself. Considering it was Saturday night I thought the crowd was small compared to the Rolling Stones two years ago or even Metallica last year. I must say that after two songs (If you can call them songs) I had heard enough. I thought he was crap and not deserving of a headline slot at Glastonbury. The real star of Glastonbury is the audience and great performers understand this. Dolly Parton was a big success last year because she took the audience to her ample bosom. For Kanye West though it was just another gig and he obviously has no understanding of the history of this great festival. My view isn't an age thing because a lot of the youngsters in my team told me that they thought he was rubbish as well. Also, it's not a genre thing either. I saw Cypress Hill here years ago and thought they were good and my friend Fred gave me a hip-hop album called 'Dirty Acres' by The Cunning Linguists which I enjoyed. If they want to book this type of music why don't they get Eminem whose lyrics I find witty and intelligent.
                                                                                           When I got back to camp I felt quite deflated after the disappointment of the Moody Blues and Kanye 'Bleeding' West but my mates around the camp-fire soon cheered me up. I had lots of good chats with Peter and others round that camp-fire, chewing the fat and putting the world to rights.As I fell asleep that night I didn't realise it at the time but the next day Sunday was to be one of the most memorable days in the history of Glastonbury Festival. It was to be absolutely amazing..................

To be continued soon.........................

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Review: Glastonbury Festival 2015, Part 2

It was Friday morning at Glastonbury. I had been on Worthy Farm for five days now and finally I had to start work. Also today the music would begin so I knew it was going to be a long exciting day. The queue was too long to get breakfast so I just had a couple of cups of coffee to wake me up. Rain had been forecast so I packed my raincoat in my little back pack. I also pulled on my bright yellow veterans t-shirt to impress the other team members. I didn't wear it for long though, I'll tell you why in a minute. Finally at 5.30 I marched off down Muddy Lane to get to Arcadia. It was quite a long walk and I was knackered by the time I got there. Arcadia is this huge metal structure that looks like a great 3 legged spider. At night it breathes fire which can be seen all over the site and they have lots of performances on it. This morning though it was deserted except the field was covered in rubbish that we had to clear up. I was worried about being late but when I arrived there was just one couple there.They were called Rob and Alison from Chatham in Kent who were there with their daughter and her friend. I had a spare litter-picking stick which I gave to Alison. All of our team were great but it was them who I talked to most over the next four shifts. Gradually all our team arrived and our leader Jeremy arrived pushing the wheelbarrow laden with boxes of rubbish bags. Over the next four days I realised that our team was the best because we had the best leader. Jeremy knew how to motivate people without getting stressed about it. There were 48 of us I think and what I liked about our team was it covered all age groups from teenagers upwards. The previous year I was in a small team where I was the oldest by about 3 decades so I didn't feel out of place this year.

                                                                        After roll call we all helped ourselves to plastic bags from the wheelbarrow. Black bags for stuff that can't be recycled, blue bags for cans and plastic bottles etc, and white recyclable bags for organic waste like cardboard cups and plates and wooden knives and forks and food etc. 47% of all the waste at Glasto is recycled which is quite an achievement. Then we all formed a line in the corner by the ice-cream van and moved across the field picking up the rubbish. In previous years I had just used my gloves to pick stuff up with but this year I had a litter-picking grabber and I got on really well with it and my back didn't ache like in other years. In areas like Arcadia one of the things you get a lot of is nitrous-oxide containers and balloons. This seems to be the craze these days, squirting the gas into a balloon and inhaling it. It all seems a bit silly to me. Anyway, the gas cylinders are really valuable aluminium material so they went in the blue bag. The time went really quickly and by 9.00 we had Arcadia looking spick and span.
 The sun came out and it started to get really hot and I discovered the problem with my bright yellow veterans t-shirt. It attracted lots of tiny little black flies. I think they were trying to pollinate me. Luckily I had another t-shirt on underneath so I reversed them which solved the problem. After Arcadia we had a welcome break and then carried on towards The Glade. Some of the worse mess was around the litter bins where they had overflowed. There are 2,500 bins at Glasto but even that doesn't seem to be enough. Anyway, our great team soon cleared that mess up. The Glade is the oldest dance area at Glastonbury. I can remember it being there in the 1990's. It is nice and shady in there amongst the trees, hence, chillin' out in the Glade. Today it was relatively easy in that area and we were more or less done by 10.30 but that was too early to go home and Jeremy got instructions that we were to help out the Park team who were struggling. It was quite a gruelling walk up the hill but we didn't mind and we worked our way right up to the Glastonbury sign and were rewarded with the magnificent view. Finally Jeremy got the word from HQ that the work was all done for the day. Jeremy signed us out and gave us our meal tickets. Our first shift was over.

                                                                         When I got back to Tom's field I found  the queue for lunch was too long, it was going out the door. There were 1,800 hungry litter-pickers in our field. I decided not to bother, I had places to go and people to see so after a quick wash at the tap I headed back down the lane and bought a delicious vegetarian Cornish pasty. I didn't eat meat once at Glasto, the vegetarian food was that nice. Then I wandered on and I wanted to hear some music. It was a music festival after all. I went to the Leftfield stage because I had heard that there was a 'Pussy Riot' going on which sounded very exciting but when I got there all I found was some Russian women talking about what a bastard Vladimir Putin is (Joke!)  I got bored after about 20 minutes, I'm sure Vladimir isn't any worse than David Cameron. They are all as bad as each other in my opinion. I carried on to the Theatre field. I love the theatre bar where I stopped for a drink because you only have to sit outside it for a few minutes and something amazing will happen. Sure enough two men dressed as Arctic explorers came by and I had my picture taken with them. Then I saw this man who I had seen last year. He was dressed like a character from Dickens and plays an upright piano but it moves along by him cycling a device underneath. This year he had a girl who was about 8 years old standing in the piano dressed as a cat and singing a song called 'It Ain't Wot You Want, It's Wot You Get'. That is why you don't need drugs at Glasto, reality is amazing enough.

                                                                        I had arranged to meet Margaret and Wayne at the Acoustic Stage bar at 2.00 and as well as them it was great to see my niece Lee and her friends and Neil and his mate Dominic from Westbury. On the stage I saw a nice band called 'Red Sky July' who are a 3 piece band formed of ex members of Texas and Alisha's Attic. I thought they were really good playing Country/Americana type music. After that we watched 'Stornoway' who were great. As you know Stornoway is in Scotland but when the band were formed they had never been to Stornoway, they come from Oxford but they had heard Stornoway on the Shipping Forecast and liked the name.
 I'll tell you the real reason I spent so much time at the Acoustic Stage on Friday afternoon. It was because the predicted rain had started and I had stupidly left my raincoat in my tent so I was trapped in the Acoustic Stage. I didn't mind though because the music was great. I particularly enjoyed the set by 'Duke Special'. I have had the pleasure of meeting him on a couple of occasions and some of my friends are big fan's of his and I have promised them I'll write an individual review of his show. I'll do that after I have completed this mammoth review. After Duke I saw a bit of 'J.D.McPherson' which was really good but the rain was easing off and I was determined to get some dinner after missing breakfast and lunch. As I marched back up the lane I could hear 'Motorhead' singing The Ace Of Spades on the Pyramid Stage.

                                                                          After dinner I had a nap in my tent and woke up at 9.00 in time to see a magnificent show by 'Christy Moore' who headlined the Acoustic Stage. It was so great I wrote a whole review of his show and since I published it a few days ago Christy read it himself and sent me a nice message. If you scroll down you can read my Christy review if you want.I finally got in my tent at 12.30. It had been a fabulous day but Glastonbury 2015 was to get even better the following day........................

To be continued soon...............................

Friday, July 03, 2015

Review: Glastonbury Festival 2015, Part One.

The sound of rain on the window woke me up on Monday morning. It was that time of year again and I was off to Glastonbury. Even 36 years after my first Glastonbury I still get festival fever when it is time to head to the beautiful Vale Of Avalon. Margaret and Wayne picked me up at 10.00 and we set off. The gates didn't open for another two days but we were going early because we were site crew. They were stewards on the gates and I was recycling crew. The roads were clear and within an hour we were parked up behind the Oxfam compound which was Margaret & Wayne's home for the next week. As soon as we arrived the rain stopped and it didn't rain again for another four days. I arranged to meet them later and headed for the recyclers cabin outside Pedestrian Gate B where I was given my wrist bands and once again I was back on Worthy Farm my spiritual home. It was only a short walk to Tom's Field where I was camping. Tom was actually a horse that used to live in this field. At the office I got registered and given my veterans T-Shirt which is awarded to people who have done this job for 5 years so I was quite proud of that achievement.

                                                                        It didn't take me long to put up my little tent which has been my home at Glasto for over 10 years now. Then I set off on a long walk all over the vast site. It was really nice to stroll about with very few people around to disturb the tranquillity. The grass in front of the Pyramid Stage looked really green and lush. In a few days time it would have 130.000 people walking all over it. I met up with Margaret & Wayne again at the Bread And Roses Saloon in the evening and then we went to the backstage bar at the Acoustic Stage and had a few drinks in there. Later that night I just chilled out round the camp-fire back in Tom's Field. I made some really good friends around this fire over the next few days.

  I didn't have any work to do till Friday but Tuesday morning I was awake at 5.00 because I wanted to get in the habit of getting up early. It was a beautiful sunny day and the birds were singing in the trees as I strolled down what has become known at Glastonbury as 'Muddy Lane'. In the real world I would never dream of getting up at 5 o'clock in the morning and going for a five mile walk but that is exactly what I did. I walked all the way through the Park, past the Ribbon Tower right up to the Glastonbury sign and took in the incredible view over the site.Then I visited the Tipi Field and the Stone Circle and the Field Of Avalon. Kim used to love the Tiny Tea Tent which has been a fixture here since 1992 so I stopped here for a cup of tea for old times sake. I got chatting with a really nice lady called Sophie. She was based in the Green Crafts Field giving lessons in stained glass making. She was beautiful and really friendly. A lot of people who have never been to Glastonbury think it is all about the music and they miss the whole point. People love Glastonbury because they get a community spirit which is lacking in modern society. At Glasto people are really friendly and they talk to each other and communicate. Anyway, I thought Sophie was great,I asked a passer by to take our photo and I resolved to visit her again in Green Crafts.More about Sophie later in part four.

 Later backstage at the Acoustic Bar we bumped into an old friend Barbara and one amusing incident was that we met a man who was painting the base colours for the rubbish bins. He told us that when he got the job he didn't tell them that he was colour blind. They have fifteen artists following him painting designs on the bins and some of them are quite spectacular. They had asked him to paint some bins terracotta and he had painted them pea green because he couldn't tell the difference. After that I returned to Tom's field for lunch and was really pleased to see my friend Odele arriving. She is really nice. I met her here two years ago and we have met since at the Larmer Tree Festival and Glastonbury Abbey. Anyway, I asked Odele if she would be in my quiz team later and we arranged to meet at 8.00.

They had arranged a quiz for the workers in Tom's Bar. Around the campfire I had met this great guy from Bristol called Peter who has also been going to Glasto for over 30 years. Also in the team were Viv & Julie who were the best friends of Kim and I when we worked with them in 2005. Odele has been coming to Glastonbury since 2003 and the other member of the team was called Robin who was a friend of Odele's. All the questions were about the history of the festival and I knew with our combined knowledge we had a chance of winning. We were called 'The Glastafarians' and we smashed it !. We won easily. I was over the moon. I celebrated by getting really drunk but I didn't care. God knows what time I finally crawled into my tent. It had been a great day.

 I emerged from my tent all bleary eyed and goopy at 8,30 the next morning and decided to see how long it would take to walk to Arcadia which is where I would be working in two days time. It took about half an hour. The gates were now open and tens of thousands of  people were pouring into the site every hour. It was incredible how fast the camping areas were filling up. I had bought some postcards and sat outside a bar writing them. I sent an offensive one to my mate Smithy which must have given his postman a good laugh. One amusing incident took place then. Two young people dressed as condoms came along and they were handing out free condoms to anyone who wanted one to promote safe sex. They gave everyone on the next table to me a condom but when they got to my table they took one look at me and proceeded to the next table. I was most hurt. I felt like saying, "Hey, you ageist little pricks, are you under the impression that people of my age don't have sex?". I decided to let it lie but it would have been nice to be asked though. I went back to base for lunch. The food for the workers was delicious as usual by the way. When I was sitting by my tent two guys came along and asked if I would like a Glastonbury design stencilled on my tent. This is to encourage people to take their tents home because thousands of them get abandoned at Glastonbury every year which is a crying shame. Anyway, I think it looks great (See Photo).

 That evening I took my torch to the Stone Circle because I heard that they were going to create a huge torchlight CND sign in the field to celebrate the long association between Glastonbury and CND (Campaign For Nuclear Disarmament) but I didn't find it. Also I wanted to see a group of Mexicans called The Volodores doing a Meso-American ceremony with dancers on a thirty foot pole but sadly that was ending as I arrived. I did see a choir of about 100 people performing though. God knows where they came from. It was well worth the walk  because I witnessed one of the most amazing sunsets I have ever seen and I noticed a couple of security people guarding an entrance and when I asked what they were doing they told me they were stopping people from pissing in the stream by the dragon.Pissing in the hedges and streams is a real problem because if people do it then it ends up in the river and kills the fishes and plants and I was pleased to see a couple of people who did it being publicly humiliated by other festival goers.
 I went in and found this incredible stone dragon about 30 foot long sitting in the stream. Apparently it has been there since 1992 and I never knew it existed before. I sat outside a bar listening to a man playing an accordion and then walked to Shangri-La and the Unfairground which is really bizarre late at night. We call it 'The Naughty Corner' because all sorts of strange things go on in there. Finally I went home because I was exhausted. I told loads of jokes around the campfire and when I finally said that I had to get to bed one of my friends who had kept the fire going and made the benches etc said, "Don't worry folks, he's here all week", which was nice.

On Thursday I knew I had to be sensible because I was starting work the following day so I laid off the booze on Thursday. I spent a lot of time up the hippy end in Permaculture and Green Futures etc where there were lots of interesting displays to see. Wandering through a market area I got 'Chugged'. Chugging is where you get mugged by a charity. ( Thanks to Dave for explaining that term to me) I was looking at some T-Shirts on a stall and wondering if I should buy one as a present for my friend Jacquie. This very attractive girl approached me and said, "I see you are admiring our T-Shirts". I explained that I was thinking of buying one for a friend and asked how much they were. "Oh, they are free actually, we give them away to supporters of our charity". Ten minutes later I had signed away £4.00 a month to support the RSPB (Royal Society For The Protection Of Birds) I walked away clutching a t-shirt, a book about birds and a magazine and £48.00 per year worse off. I fall for it every time. I must support more charities than Bill Gates. I am the ragged trousers philanthropist. At a bookstall I bought a book about Van Morrison by Griel Marcus which I have owned before but never read and after I had a much needed shower and lunch I sat in the sunshine reading it because all the walking was tiring me out.

                                                                         After dinner that evening it was the Recyclers annual party. They had a really good live band on and there was a great atmosphere. I was sitting outside having a cigarette and who should come strolling along looking lovelier than ever in the evening sunshine but Odele. As we sat there chatting a scruffy old Jeep pulled up only yards from us and the greatest man in Great Britain emerged. It was Glastonbury Festival supremo Michael Eavis whose land we were privileged to be on. Michael always comes to the recyclers party to thank them for the hard work. I have met Michael several times before but this was an opportunity too good to miss. I whipped out my camera and asked Michael if we could have a quick photo and Odele took a photo of me and Michael and I did the same for her. He was very patient and courteous as usual. What a great man he is.

That night I was in my sleeping bag by 10.30 because I was worried about not getting up for work which would be a disaster. I had already been at Glastonbury for four amazing days which had passed in the blink of an eye. Tomorrow the music would begin. As I drifted off into restful slumbers little did I realise what destiny had in store. The real magic was about to begin..............

To be continued in Part 2 Coming Soon............