Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Review: The Village Pump Folk Festival 2013

I just had an amazing weekend at the best little festival in England. The Village Pump Folk Festival which is held right here in Westbury. This is what happened. My best friends Jacky and Bill who i have known since 1970 arrived on Wednesday afternoon and we had a great evening and went for an Indian meal and then had a session at my house with Smithy on guitar. I threw him out at about midnight. Next morning i had to go to Kent on family business and Jacky and Bill went to the festival which is only five minutes away by car and they put up my tent for me and met Hannah and Sam and their kids George and Ellen and their friends. I got back from Kent on Friday about 8.00 and got a taxi up there. It is a beautiful site right under the famous White Horse. It makes me quite proud of our little town of Westbury. I met Jacky straight away and Mark and Angela and had a pint in the bar. Then we went and met up the whole gang who were up near the main stage. I can't remember watching any bands on Friday night but it sounded quite pleasant from where we were sitting. I think it was Martyn Joseph followed by Little Johnny England but i was having fun chatting to my friends and Hannah & Sam’s son George kept climbing all over me. What a great little character he is. What really makes a festival is being with your friends and catching up on things and chilling out. Jacky and i went to the ceilidh in the club house for a while and watched the country dancing going on. Everybody seemed to be having a great time. Eventually we all went back to camp and sat around drinking and listening to Van Morrison on Sam's smart phone. I think that was the music highlight for me of the whole evening .In the end i crawled into my sleeping bag about 2.30 in the morning absolutely shattered. Next morning i crawled out of my rancid sleeping bag all bleary eyed and goopy and Jacky and Bill drove me back home. We bought some food at the Co-Op and Jacky cooked breakfast and we had a shower and felt all bright eyed and bushy tailed again. It is brilliant having a festival right on your doorstep. I might write to Michael Eavis and tell him to move Glastonbury a bit nearer to my house. About mid-day we went back on site and met up with the gang back at base camp and after a couple of wines i was ready for another festival day. We wandered down and i met a man with an owl which was quite interesting and Smithy arrived and Margaret and Wayne and Dave and Carol. Dave is a huge fan of the Proclaimers. A duo called Megson were on. I watched some of their set and thought they were rather good. After that it was Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman. Kathryn is really beautiful and a fantastic singer. I think she used to be in a band called the Equation with Kate Rusby. I really enjoyed listening to them. After that it was a trio called Coope,Boyes and Simpson but they weren't my cup of tea. It might be alright on a trawler sailing out of Lowestoft or something. I bet some people liked them so it is churlish of me to complain. Smithy and i went for a walk around the other stages and on the club stage they were having an open mic session and some bloke sang a great version of House At Pooh Corner which i really enjoyed. On the way back there was a stall doing henna tattoos. "Lets get tattooed", i said to Smithy.He wouldn't but i had a yin &Yang tattoo done. "Try not to get it wet for 24 hours", the lady warned. "Don't worry", i said. When we rejoined our mates i kept my arm in the air in case George smudged it. The next act was one of my favourite singers Nic Jones. He performs these days in The Nic Jones Trio. His album Penguin Eggs is easily in my favourite top ten albums of all time. He had a terrible car accident about thirty years ago and is lucky to be alive. His wife has nursed him back to being able to perform again but he can't play the guitar anymore. His son Joseph plays in the trio with him and he is quite brilliant on guitar. Belinda O'Hooley completes the trio on accordian and keyboards. Their set was really great and very emotional. My particular favourite songs were Barrack Street, Canadio-o,the Little Pot Stove and The Seven Yellow Gypsies. I enjoyed every single song though. Afterwards i bought an album called Game Set Match and Nic signed it for me and agreed to a photo which was very gracious of him. I also bought some sweets off his grandson which i gave to George and his friends. The album i bought is really good as well. I urge you to check out Nic Jones because he is great and being discovered by a whole new generation of music fans. During Nic's set it began to rain and i had to run and collect our possessions and got drenched to the skin. Then my mate Dave arrived from Nottingham. I have known him since the early 70's as well so it was great to see him as well. Our gang was now complete. We all put on plastic blue ponchos which was quite amusing. About an hour later i suddenly remembered my tattoo. I pulled up the sleeve of my poncho. "Oh no, !".My arm had turned into a blue inky mess. That should give everyone at work a good laugh when i go back to work tomorrow. Nevermind. The highlight of the evening performances for me was Eric Bibb. He is another in a long line of great American blues guitarists and singers to find recognition in Europe. I think he lives in Sweden now. He played a beautiful mix of soulful folk blues. He really is great. I see in the programme that his music is described as 'New World Blues' which is just about right. After that the gang went back to camp and sat around in Sam and Hannah's gazebo telling jokes and drinking wine till the early hours. When i finally got into my tent i lay down in a lake and got soaked to the skin. When Jacky and Bill had put my tent up they had forgotten to fasten the square bit on the top. Margaret and Wayne had a spare room in their tent so i collapsed in there and fell asleep despite being drenched. Next morning when i awoke about 10.15 Jacky and Bill had already gone to my house. They had tried to wake me up to no avail. Dave drove me back to mine and Jacky made breakfast for all four of us which was great and we sat in my yard chatting and listening to music. Then i cut some sunflowers from my garden and we went up to the cemetary to visit Kim. It is a beautiful spot up there and you can actually see the festival in the distance. The highlight of the afternoon session for me was seeing Keith Christmas perform in the Clubhouse .I have been a fan of his since we saw him at the folk club in Trowbridge and he recorded a live album there. He is a great guitarist with some fine songs as well. My favourite songs of his set were Travelling Down and Good For Me but i enjoyed every song and the skill displayed on the instrumental Play In A Day was quite mesmerising. I shouted out a request for Duty Days and he never played so at the end i left in a huff which is quite childish of me because the acts only get an hour and they must practice for weeks to perfect the set so they can't perform everything. He was great anyway. I wanted to see the Merv Grist Players next because Mervyn is a local genius but i couldn't get back in the club house because it was absolutely packed in there. Next year i think they should put Merv on the main stage. I had been looking forward to seeing Kate Rusby for months ever since i bought a ticket. I have been a fan of the Barnsley Nightingale ever since i first heard her on the Mike Harding Show on the radio and bought her album Sleepless. A framed signed poster of Kate hangs proudly on my wall at home. She is wonderful and played a brilliant set of songs from her album Twenty which celebrates her twenty years as a performer. I didn't care that she didn't do my favourite songs Our Town and The Wild Geese. As well as the music i love the funny stories she tells between the songs. After Kate's brilliant set i wasn't all that fussed about seeing Steel Eye Span so we bought some vegeburgers and drifted back to camp. I had intended going back down to see the Tannahill Weavers because i had promised to get a signed cd for a friend but with seeing Dave set off on the long drive back to Nottingham and talking around the camp i completely forgot about it.I was really tired by then anyway. When we all eventually got in our various tents we carried on talking from tent to tent about what we wanted for breakfast. It was like a scene from The Waltons. Next morning we were up early and took our tents down and loaded up the car.We left by 8.30 and said goodbye to Hannah, Sam and family who were the only ones left .I hope they got all their stuff packed away before the thunderstorms which arrived later that day.Abot 11.30 Jacky & Bill set off on the long journey home. It was sad to see them go but i'll see them again at the end of October for Van Morrison at the Royal Albert Hall so i'm looking forward to that already. Anyway thank you very much indeed John Alderslade and all the organisers for a fantastic weekend and lets do it all again next year. THE END.

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