Tuesday, 9 July 2013

ghost riders in the sty

Back before the blues were blue
When the good old songs were new
Songs that may no longer please us
'Bout the d*rkies, about Jesus
Mississippi Minstrels, the colour of molasses
Strummin' on their banjos to entertain their masses
Some said garbage, some said art
You couldn't call it soul
You had to call it heart

By the time we got to Maverick, we were about, well . . . a thousand strong.

There's a limit on the numbers anyway, so by Saturday afternoon they'd reached the two thousand limit. Okay, hardly Woodstock but what a great little festival. Mrs Dave and I spent a couple of hours loading up the van with beer and wine and clothes (like raincoats) just in case the BBC had got it wrong. They hadn't. What wonderful weather.

Home from home, I guess
The Californian bands like I See Hawks in L.A. (more of later*) felt at home. With temperatures soaring somewhere into the thirties we slathered sun cream onto ourselves (okay, I forgot to put any on my neck and chest - hence the glow), drank beer and enjoyed some great music. An Americana festival seems to open itself up for abuse but do those critics really know what they're talking about? No, not really. Any time the words "folk" or "country" are mentioned it seems that the floodgates have been opened for abuse. But . . . but . . .

A weekend being entertained by some of the most talented youngsters around helps to keep you grounded. These aren't singing along to cds of warbly (so called) R&B artists**. These are genuinely talented musicians who have grown up with this music pounding through their veins - one pair of twins I swear must have grown up around a kitchen table with their families sharing songtime and swapping "old time" tunes instead of eating.

We were - as often happens - totally gobsmacked by how great the home-grown talent is. Despite the many Canadians and Californians there, there are so many wonderfully talented young British acts on show. And so many young female bands. I'll leave you to peruse the lists if you're interested but I
I wonder if she owns a pub . . ?
was very taken with the Carrivick Sisters. Dan Raza & the Shrouds and The Vagaband (from Norwich) were bloody great. Despite the (rather immature) humour of Neil Innes and others, young bands like these just blew us away. It's not just the quality of musicianship that amazed us but the quality of song-writing that is beginning to seep through. More on this at a later time . . . but please get out and go to one of the many festivals that are around. There are so many artists in the States that are leading the way in forging ahead with a career and one of my next posts will explore this more (it was going to be this one but after a great weekend away and a day at work, I just need to sleep).

The festival is held at a farm.  Whilst some of the music is played openly on a field, much is played in the barn, a cafe, in a small room for buskers (lots of them) and various other stuff going on. In all, a typical small British festival doing what we do best. That's right, a family festival with great music.

I'll talk more of this next post but we do need to support live music. There were loads of people older than me there this weekend - and many of them may not particularly be into the music whereas I am. And I mean that there are people as both audience AND performer.

There weren't many twangy guitars there this weekend - far too many pedal steels and banjos for me.  However one flashy git managed to twangle all over the place - his performance of Ghost Riders in the Sky left several of us feeling queasy. And not in a good way. Remember, just because you can flash all over the place doesn't mean you have to. When soloing, less is always more.

It wasn't a great advertisement for electric guitars (so many mandolins, pedal steels and banjos this year) but one or two young female bands managed to show us the way forward here. The Good Lovelies particularly.

Anyway, we got home and managed to have the first barbecue of the year - thanks to our so-called British Summer - and all seems well, at last. Now I realise I'm tired and want to write at length at another time about our talented youth. So, another time, then. Here's the food from yesterday:

* much, much later
** do we have to argue about what now passes as "R&B"? Also, so many Assemblies with sing-along-to X-Factor. Is this talent?


Martyn Cornell said...

Do I get a point for spotting a McGarrigle lyric without having to Google it?

My daughter is now old enough for me to try to gently nudge her musical tastes away from One Direction and towards something more wholegrain ... perhaps young folkies will be the way to do it. Will check out The Good Lovelies ...

Dave Leeke said...

Hi Martyn,

A bonus point, in fact. I forgot it was a McGarrigle lyric as I normally hear the Maria Muldaur version on my iPod.

The Good Lovelies were excellent (that's one of them in the picture). Mind you, Mrs Dave took a fancy to the very handsome young Dan Raza. There seem to be lots of talented young guys around too.

I don't suggest I See Hawks in L.A. though.