Feeling thoroughly blessed to be in a small way still part of the British Festival Scene, having in recent years covered: Download; 2000 Trees Festival; Wychwood; Lechlade Music Festival; presented Winners at Looe Music Festival; and being generally involved with The Phoenix Festival in Cirencester, and pleased to report that it is still vibrant out there with Enthusiastic Audiences / New Bands / Committed Organisers all playing their part to keep the scene Alive & Evolving. We also keep helping talented artists make progress – when Time & Money allow – through the things we’ve created: Streamix / Raven Black / Exposure Music Awards®
From left to right – Pancast at Phoenix, Crowds in Cirencester, V0iD Rock Lechlade, 2000 Trees Ash, Wychwood The Levellers
2000 Trees 2016
With my young assistant Ethan, we bound into 2000 Trees 2016, and immediately bump into one Ginger Wildheart of Hey Hello, beginning The Festival Season with his latest band entity, but also about to treat us to an intimate acoustic set on The Forest Stage, we shoot the breeze about all things Rock & Roll and how to deal with the consequences, he recommends a book called “Reinventing Yourself” Rock & Roll Wisdom Exudes from a fella who’s been there and done that, we thank him for the Years of Melody and move on. Way down in the Forest we see the lads from I, The Lion, loudest Rockers in ‘Nam, they seem well fired up on their late night set yesterday but only half way through their stash of cider which is poor form at this stage of 2KT, but with no further sets to play it’s clearly game on beer wise form here on in. They are listening to Artist Jamie Lenman, who apparently was supposed to headline a bigger stage but ended up here solo, which might explain why the wooded glade is bursting at the seams, he’s really quite good too, but ends his set confusingly with a rendition of ‘Neighbours’. The aforementioned Ginger then lights up the Forest with his cheeky acoustic charm using his stage tech as a guitar strap, I kid you not, we’re treated to an around the houses through the back door set of hidden gems from this Geordie in Wonderland, opening up with the poignant quasi positive ‘Toxins & Tea’ check The Lyrics Here, and leaving us hungry with the promise of something much louder from his new band later on! During Ginger’s Set one of our Fine Festival Founders Andy Rea taps me on the shoulder and shares his fond love of the Wildhearts, seems to have been one of the soundtracks of our respective lives, ‘Positive Melodic Anger’ over all things Sh*te and Pushing hard for the Positive, it’s music like that which has inspired the evolution of this impressive Award Winning Event, which it has been a pleasure to watch unfold. Talking of all things Positive our next discovery on one of the middle stages was TheRPMs, youthful Retro Tinged Rock, confidently delivered with bass player who plays somewhat like ‘The OX’ from The Who, very syncopated drumming, under the radar clever like Ringo, lovely innocent vocals which harmonise and just plain work, it’s sorta post The Hives but The Beatles meets The Stones, for the here and now, tasty. Obviously very pleased to be there, bursting in to a short rendition of The Pink Panther in honour of those in fancy dress in their crowd (a crowd which they owned), posing for selfies in which we would all feature. Next the windswept desolate yet powerful landscape of Arcane Roots on Main Stage, having previously avoided this band, thinking that their name sounded like a Bad Reggae Outfit, am relived to find they Rock Biffy Clyro style if a shade darker.
There are so many stages now here at 2KT we drift past ‘Recreations’, getting The Neu Stage enthused with some beautiful mashups, on the way to see Hey Hello Rock The Axiom, and they did. To be fair it took a while to adjust to the tangential contrast of this Friendly Female Fronted charm rubbing dangerously with nasty yet tuneful Riffage, but once you are down with the concept you settle in beautifully to the sheer joy of this multi level harmony of noise joy, with a lead guitarist so Rock & Roll it nearly hurts and rhythm section locked down Japanese style with some former cohorts of Sir Ginge Esq. It took me the whole of their set to figure out that our amazing front woman is none other than Catrin Wyn Southall formerly of the Band named SAL, who had won Exposure Music Awards® in 2009. Was great to see her again where she belongs on a big stage.
Right time for a Reward and some beers n schnizzle in the ‘VIP’, catching up with Lara of AIM & AIF, then on to see the boys from ASH, no official interview, but we managed to catch a word with Tim pre Show, he’s been over based in NYC for Years, so missed all the action here at 2KT, but seems impressed with what they’ve achieved, we leave him to his preparations and head stage front to get some good up close shots, then round the back just in time to catch a picture of them silhouetted against a dimming sky, and warming crowd, as they launched headlong into ‘Girl from Mars’, nice. All the Memories of those days gone when Music actually seemed to Matter came spilling back. Artists had ‘Fans for Life’, where milestone show stealing chart storming singles, like this one, were the reason to Buy The Album, and go to the very next show, rather than just a punctuation mark, to move onto the next temporary distraction. Getting a few more words with them after the show (Which had been end to end Blistering), they tell us they are in the process of regaining the rights to all their songs, ready for something quite special in 2017 – Watch This Space – And they sparkle with some magical Memories of Monmouth, where they had recorded their first two albums down at Rockfield, generally spending time in the local curry house the Misbah, playing spice off, and crashing the Owners Land Rovers into the Studio’s Farm Ponds, rawk. Knocking around with them in those days were my old Mate Richie Bevan and Producer Nick Brine, who now works occasionally with us lot on developing acts from the Exposure Music Awards®, tiz nice to square this circle after enjoying a great set from the ASH boys.
Being lightweights and having transport duties up to RAF Fairford Air Tattoo 2016 the next day we make our exit and ponder another cracking day of fine British Independent Music at 2000 Trees 2016 thank you folks you rock.
Lechlade Fest 2016
Decided to check out the smaller stages first arriving to the strains of ‘Zurich’, three piece melody fest of Oxfordshire, not sure of their choice of single, but their set closer was imbued with the kind of assured swagger which could take a young indie band places. Hopping over next to check out Artist Tom Ryder and his floaty nice tunage, with Radio Friendly Voice, one cool laid back fella, quite confident in his craft, and the sun comes out again somewhere in a field in England, so Festival Season Begins, and Meanwhile on Main stage ‘Leader’ offer up emotive Rock, all Tattoos & Hawaiian Shirts Akimbo, their early tunes were endearing, but we had to head off back to the SAM Radio Stage for V0iD. Firm Festival Favourite of this writer, Our Welsh Rockers offer us up a progression of their ever developing Stadium Rock on Club Money, their restless souls revived with new guitarist in tow, and sounding like he will mesh nicely with their Sound from their album #KeepFighting. I’ve seen them play on some big stages now including London’s IndigO2 Greenwich, and continue to wish them well for a Breakthrough. So we bid farewell to sunny Lechlade with its quintessentially English Riverside Location and head on into the Cotswold’s musical jungle for What Comes Next…
Phoenix Festival 2016
This August Bank Holiday Weekend of Sat 26th & Sun 27th the Phoenix Festival Cirencester returns with its 4th Festival Outing, still Free to Everyone to Enjoy, over the last few years they’ve been getting audiences of around 15,000 and some amazing Bands, with DJ Bandstand Area; Let’s Play Music Junior Stage; The Vaults Stage; and The Main Cozy Powell Stage, there will be plenty of musical action for everyone from local heroes Ethemia to National Award Winners 10th Electric.