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Black Deer steers family towards Country

13 Jul

Ignoring worries of line dancing and Dolly Parton on repeat, I left the cosy confines of my home with an open mind and an unnecessary amount of camping kit to attend the first Black Deer Festival.

The festival was held in the picturesque setting of Eridge Park, reputed as the oldest enclosed deer park in England. After voicing my concerns about stags massacring the tents, I was reassured that they had been moved for the weekend and were not, as I feared, being prepared for a live fire stage cooking demonstration.

Quicker and cheaper than a flight to Dallas – albeit a long walk from the car park – we were swiftly transported to a new world. The world of Americana and Country. Continue reading

C is for chocolate – day four of the Poetry Swindon Festival

5 Oct

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Day four of Poetry Swindon Festival
Events take place at Lower Shaw Farm

10:45. Arrival. Hellos, how are yous, coffee, rush (late) to poetry mosaic workshop with Lynette Thomas of Artkore. Manage to cobble together something that started out as ‘life is fun’ and ended up some dark comment about fashion models. Chronicler Pete later says it looks like a bunch of random words and magazine pictures. Other (more enlightened people) say ‘oo I like that one’. Admittedly their favourite thing might be a bunch of random words and magazine pictures.

The sun is shining, gracing us with its warm presence, autumn is only a state of mind. Behind us is the old cow shed converted to event room, and accommodation rooms. In front of us is the covered play area with mattresses and hammocks. All around are flowers, somewhere to sit and chat; ducks and chickens peck round. A fox gives them the willies. Continue reading

Dribble or drabble? Flashing at Poetry Swindon Festival

2 Oct

Dribbles and drabbles, flash*. Spot the difference between concise prose and sticking ‘poem’ on the end.

Yesterday (Thursday), Poetry Swindon Festival’s potentially hot debate – is prose poetry a thing? – was apparently thwarted by a squishy warm sofa with Jo ‘no’ Bell dividing and ruling, sat between Tania ‘yes’ Hershman and Luke ‘for sure’ Kennard. Next time: hard chairs. Continue reading

Age against the machine – The Levellers at Avebury Rocks

9 Jul

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I last saw The Levellers live in 1992. Now here was a band that walked the walk: named after an English civil war proto-communist sect, they despised The Man and his capitalist regime, and championed every man and woman’s right to grow dreadlocks and live in a camper van with a neckerchief-wearing mongrel.

Belting out their Number 51 sort-of-hit single One Way (“There’s only one way of life and that’s yer own, yer own, yer own …”), that night in Cardiff the band inspired a venue full of university students to smash the system.

So we did, and by the time the band’s poppy Beautiful Day had charted at the the dizzy heights of Number 13 in August 1997 we’d thrown out the Conservatives and elected Tony Blair and his New Labour party. Go us. Continue reading

Joss Stone and Paloma Faith among big names at Larmer Tree Festival

5 Jul

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Joss Stone and Paloma Faith are among the big names appearing at boutique festival Larmer Tree, which opens near Salisbury next week.

Grammy Award-winning soul diva Joss will be making a special guest appearance to perform with Yes Sir Boss on Thursday, July 12.

The You Had Me singer’s gravelly but lustrous vocals will bring an extra treat to an already great evening of entertainment on Thursday as she joins Yes Sir Boss – the newest signings to her own Stone’d Records label – on the main stage. Continue reading

Avebury will still Rock, despite weeks of rain

4 Jul

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Despite weeks of rain, organisers of the Avebury Rocks festival reassured music-lovers that the event will go ahead this weekend.

Rotary Club spokesman David Frampton and his team visited Avebury Sports Field this afternoon (Wednesday), and confirmed that the ground was dry enough to the stage to be erected and for an audience of up to 1,500 people to be granted access to the site on Saturday (July 7).

He confirmed that despite a summer marred by rain and cold weather, 900 tickets had been sold for the outdoor gig, and over 100 people had signed up for an associated 20-mile walk, which will include Wiltshire’s highest concert on top of Mark Hill, the joint-highest point in the county.

Mr Frampton was also able to confirm a last minute addition to the lineup. Swindon signing sensation Jess Hall and her band (pictured), whose track Play Shy has received Radio 1 airplay, will join a line-up that includes Mike Peters, lead singer from rock bands The Alarm and Big Country; Nick Harper local singer/song writer and son of legendary singer Roy; Cy Curnin and Jamie West-Oram of the rock band The Fixx; and acclaimed acoustic duo Swans in Flight. Continue reading

Onefest…a bit cold

17 Apr


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A very special performance by one of the world’s leading contemporary musicians was given to a small festival crowd in near-freezing conditions in a muddy field outside Marlborough at the weekend.

OneFest – billed as the UK’s first music festival of the year, and the successor to last year’s community pub-related HoneyFest – was headlined by Damon Albarn, the maestro behind Britpop champions Blur, cartoon band Gorillaz and more leftfield works like 2007’s Oriental pop-opera Monkey, Journey to the West. Continue reading