I cannot think of a better way to start the Christmas holidays than by having a day out at the beautifully understated party hosted by Banbury based folk-rock band Leatherat. For the past few years the event has been held at the ‘Mill Arts Centre‘ in Banbury but this year saw a move to the Bo Peep farm at Adderbury.
The change of venue was a gamble by the band as the farm is a little way out of town and the format was changed to make it an all day event running from 4pm to 1am with no less than nine bands on two stages in a larger venue. The event was to be held in a large marquee, thankfully heated as this was just a few days before Christmas. The farm operates as a caravan and camping site so camping was available for those hardy souls brave enough to use it. We decided to take our camper van as it meant we wouldn’t have to worry about transport or taxi’s to local hotels. This worked out really well as it was pretty mild for the time of year. A fair number of people did the same and a few hardy souls even camped in tents.
The venue marquee is set up for wedding parties so at one end there were a number of large round tables for those who needed to rest their weary feet or to eat the delicious and very reasonably priced food laid on.
Music kicked off at 4pm with the irrepressible folk-punk singer Doozer McDooze. It was fairly quiet when Doozer started but as always his amusing politically charged observations on life soon dragged people from their vans and the shuttle bus from Banbury disgorged a steady stream of people so as Doozer played the crowd grew. For those who don’t know Doozer’s music he plays an acoustic folk-punk style in the mould of Billy Bragg. His energy, enthusiasm and sheer likability makes him an extremely popular artist on the festival circuit.
As the day progressed the flow of music barely stopped as the focus switched from one stage to the other. There was never more than a few minutes between sets and without exception the artists on show were excellent. The second stage was laid on and managed by the tour-de-force that is Gail Something-Else and first up on that stage was folk duo ‘Gawkey‘ featuring Matt Morton on guitar and vocal and Nigel Walker on fiddle. The pair play Celtic influenced folk music and were very well appreciated by the growing crowd. I was fascinated by Matt’s guitar work as I think he uses an unusual tuning which leads to some really interesting chord shapes.
Next up on the main stage were rock/blues trio Get Loose who played a blinding set of British Blues Rock including a couple of covers of songs by the likes of Cream. Folk The System were next on the Something -Else stage. I had been looking forward to hearing these guys since I heard they had reformed and I was not disappointed. Their folk-punk sound had everyone on their feet as they played a blinding set.
Something Nasty In The Woodshed have established a formidable reputation country wide as purveyors of high octane folk rock. Blending self-penned and traditional songs and music, the focus is on entertainment delivering their unique blend of bagpipe driven rock with energy and humour. Being Scottish the bagpipes won my wife over from the moment they hit the stage and they soon had her scuttling off to the merchandise stand to purchase their CD. I must say you haven’t lived until you have heard ‘I fought the law’ played on bagpipes.
Pure Evil were next up, to say that they are uncategorisable is something of an understatement. If you have to categorise your music just file under ‘Bloody Brilliant’. The trio feature guitar, double bass and percussion, throw in a few sound effects and a fusion of a wide variety of styles and you hit on a fun filled, up-beat treat for the ears and feet.
Les Carter’s (Carter USM) Abdoujaparov were next on the main stage. Les, Dom and Nick were joined on stage by Gail and Doozer and they were simply sublime. The music is a raucous, fast and fun blend of folk, punk and country. The lyrics are rude, tender, funny and frequently a little disturbing. I have seen the band a couple of times in the past few months and they are fast becoming my favourite band. They were no less than absolutely superb here. What is absolutely clear is that everyone on the stage is having a great time, they are there to have fun playing a great set and by doing so they make sure you have a great time too.
Punk influenced folk rockers Bleeding Hearts wrapped up the performances on the Something-Else stage. Even without their unavoidably absent drummer the band put on a fantastic set of high energy self penned tunes. Bleeding Hearts have a bucketful of musical emotion, great big tunes and a lot to say. They combine big guitars and kick-ass riffin’ with powerful rhythms and strong multi-harmony vocals shouted and sung with raw passion. I hope to see them again very soon.
At last we arrive at the final band of the day, our hosts Leatherat and as was entirely fitting they saw the day out in fine style. Leatherat are one of those mainstays of the grass roots music and festival scene in the UK. Their blend of folk-rock has won them a loyal following over the years. the current line-up is in my opinion their best ever. A band who always have a great time on stage they hit us with a fantastic set. The majority of tunes were from their most recent release ‘Snake Eyes’ but it was nice to see that they are now digging deeper into their back catalogue to play some of their classic songs. I have never seen leatherat play a poor stand they certainly did not disappoint here. They had every single person in the venue of their feet as they brought the day to a very impressive climax.
In conclusion this was a brilliant day, the organisation, line-up, performances and variety were perfect. We had a great time at just £15 for the days entertainment it was fantastic value too. I can’t wait to do it all again next year.