Tag Archives: festival

Bearded Theory Review – An Eclectic Feast

If you caught my earlier piece about Bearded Theory festival you will be aware that I missed Thursdays music because of issues getting onto the site.  When we had torrential rain overnight and woke to rain and clouds that seemed to have settled about 6-feet above the van roof, I suspected that we were in for a pretty grim day.

I need not have worried, as things improved as lunchtime approached.  We set off for the arena looking forward to a day of music and catching up with friends.  As always, my first port of call is the Something Else Tea Tent.  No one is closer to new talent emerging on the grassroots scene than Gail, so it is always worth checking out what she has on offer.  Expect new talent, old favourites, and the odd main stage band dropping in to play an acoustic set.

I guess, in many ways, Les Carter epitomises all three of the above.  It was Les who provided my best moment of the entire weekend.  Get this, Les Carter, a man who headlined Glastonbury in 1992, playing an acoustic cover of Bobby Blue’s hit song, Dancing on a Saturday Night, in front of a couple of hundred people in the Something Else Tea Tent.  There it is, Bearded Theory, in a nutshell, you never know what you are going to get, it’s not unlike Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates.  I’m almost certain that Les enjoys performing on the Grass Roots scene more than he ever did getting banned from Glastonbury 🙂


Mind you, it’s not like we were stuck for bands elsewhere.  I thought Friday’s lineup was as excellent as it was eclectic.  I kicked off with a bit of high energy punk rock from a longtime friend of Bearded Theory.  John Robb and the Membranes played an insanely good set on the Woodland stage.  It was certainly Manchester’s day on that stage because I thought Manchester outfit Pins were absolutely sublime.  These girls rock and they have that outward confident swagger that suggests they are destined for big things.  Let’s face it, anyone who sends Iggy Pop a demo and asks him to do a voice over can hardly be accused of allowing themselves to be constrained by a lack of ambition.


Over on the main stage folk favourites, Show of Hands played their usual hugely entertaining show.  They may have been around for a while, but they are none the worse for their longevity.  My biggest surprise of the day came from Sleeper.  Of course, I know the name, but for a band who have eight top-40 singles and 3 top 10 albums to their name, I know little about them.  That’s about to change, I thought they were absolutely superb on the day.

I had a huge decision to make later on Friday evening.  Jesus Jones on the Woodland Stage or Jesus & Mary Chain and Blossoms on the main stage.  In the end, I decided on the latter, chiefly because I was a huge Jesus & Mary Chain fan back in the day, and because I wanted to photograph the rapidly progressing Blossoms.


In truth, Jesus & Mary Chain’s set largely passed me by.  I can’t put my finger on why, but I just couldn’t get into it.  Blossoms were a different story.  Being honest, I thought to book a band like Blossoms was a great decision by the festival.  Like many, I would be content to see the Levellers and New Model Army every year, but bands like Blossoms are the future.  Granted they don’t have the political edge of bands like those aforementioned, but they played a great set and I thought they were worthy headliners for a festival of this size.

That rounds up Friday for you folks, tune in later for Saturday & Sunday.


Tonefest Dorset: Festival photographs

If you were at Tonefest this weekend you may have spotted me lugging my cameras around.  The chances are I may have caught you on film (well digital) when you didn’t expect it.

Please have a browse, if you spot yourself and want a copy of the photograph just drop me a line through the contact button above.  you are welcome to a free high resolution copy.

Bearded Theory Sells Out!

Multi award-winning family-friendly festival, BEARDED THEORY have announced that, with just under a week to go until the gates open, the festival has completely sold out of tickets in every category.

Tickets are no longer available through any physical or online outlet, and organisers are urging anyone without a ticket not to travel to the festival, as none will be available at the gates.

Festival-goers from across the UK and further afield have bought tickets in their thousands for this year’s event.

Taking place this upcoming May Bank Holiday, between Thursday 26th and Sunday 29th May 2016 in the fabulous surroundings of South Derbyshire’s Catton Hall, is set to be the biggest and most diverse in Bearded Theory’s 9-year history.

Michael Eccleshall, spokesperson for Bearded Theory says, “All of us at Bearded Theory festival are delighted to announce that the festival has sold out for a fifth year in a row! This incredible achievement is a testament to the hard work of all our staff and volunteers, and once again shows the incredible loyalty that our ‘Birthday Party Gone Wrong’ has built up over the past nine years. We want to say a massive thank you to all those ticket holders who have supported us yet again – whether this is your first time or your ninth, we look forward to throwing open the gates and welcoming you all to Bearded Theory 2016 in just a few days time.”

Friday night’s headliners are the massively popular Folk-Rock festival specialists, Levellers. Returning to Bearded Theory after their triumphant performance closing the festival in 2013, they will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of the weekend.

Larmer Tree Memories-16

Saturday night’s headliners are Public Image Ltd. Their legendary frontman John Lydon will be bringing his customary swagger to the Stage, along with PiL’s incendiary back catalogue that includes classics such as ‘Death Disco’, ‘Public Image’ and ‘This Is Not A Love Song’.

Squeeze, one of the UK’s greatest New Wave / Post Punk bands, top the bill on Sunday night. Fronted by Glen Tilbrook and Chris Difford, hits including ‘Cool For Cats’, ‘Up The Junction’, and ‘Another Nail In My Heart’ are surely set to feature in this very special performance.

Terrorvision are one of Yorkshire’s best-loved musical exports. They will serve up not just a liberal helping of ‘Tequila’, but a healthy dose from their back catalogue of more than 20 UK Top 40 hits, including ‘Oblivion’, ‘Middleman’, and ‘Alice, What’s The Matter’.

Bearded Theory are also delighted to welcome back the incendiary political Ska-Punk band, The King Blues, at what will be their first festival performance since re-forming in late 2015.

Enter Shikari BMTH-3

From Billy BraggKilling Joke and Jack Savoretti, to Reverend & The MakersAsian Dub FoundationDub Pistols and Wilko Johnson, the rest of the line up includes an embarrassment of riches for music lovers across the musical spectrum. Just some of the many other highlights from across all five live stages include reggae legends Black UhuruCockney Rejects, folk-poet Beans On Toast, Bruce Foxton’s From The Jam, and million-selling acoustic duo Turin Brakes.

Bearded Theory’s much loved Magical Sounds Dance Tent returns once again with an awe-inspiring line-up. A full bill of over 30 live acts and DJs over the weekend, headlined by Strontium DogsJuno Reactor and OTT & The All Seeing I will inspire you to dance till you drop – even if it is only mid-afternoon!

The brand new Maui Waui tent is also set to be a riot of madcap, circus-inspired musical and theatrical mayhem. Boasting a full line up of incredible acts, from the notorious Electric Swing Circus via the Smerins Anti-Social Club to the fabulous Gypsy Hill, Maui Waui will be filled to the rafters with full-on fun, all weekend.

As you would expect from a festival described by The Daily Mirror as ‘One Of The Best Family Festivals’The Children’s Village is extensive. In addition to a large and well-equipped family camping zone, a ‘rogues hideout’ for teens, a full baby care tent and a huge variety of coordinated ‘Village Green’ style activities (all staff CRB-approved),

Bakewell’s independent Thornbridge Brewery will continue their successful relationship with Bearded Theory, once again running the on-site bars and bringing with them a wide selection of Ale’s and Ciders at exceptionally reasonable prices.

The festival also hosts a plethora of smaller stages and zones, including an extensive Crafts & Healing ‘Earth Area’, The Something’ Else Tea Tent and punk zone, ‘The Convoy Cabaret’

The wildly popular Sunday fancy dress theme for 2016 is … ‘Stars In Their Eyes’.

Bearded Theory’s official website is here:  The Festival also has a Facebook page is on Twitter as @beardedtheory

Something Else Somewhere Else – Photographs Saturday

Hi folks, I hope you are all having a great day.  I thought I would share a few of my photographs from Saturday at last weekends Something Else Somewhere Else festival.

I hope you enjoy them.

Something Else warm up

Something Else Season Warm-up – Review

Spring has arrived at last.  For those of us in the UK Spring has brought snow, sleet, hail high winds and rain.  Despite the unseasonal weather the arrival of spring has UK music fans licking their lips in anticipation of the music festival season to come.

Where others see the flowering of the first daffodils or the shift of the clocks to British Summer Time as the arrival of spring for me the seasons first festival is the only true indiction that spring has arrived.  Again for me the seasons first festival is the Something Else warm-up party held in the beautiful Forest of Dean.

The Something Else festivals have become a staple part of my festival season.  These provide an amazing sense of true grass-roots festivals, the artists mingle and camp with the fans.  Facilities are fairly basic but for me and many others the Something Else festivals offer something unique.  Each of the four festivals has a maximum capacity of 500 people and advertising is largely word of mouth.  As a result you can be sure that you will know, or at least recognise most of the people on site.  For me the Something Else festivals feel like coming home.

Something Else warm up

When you arrive at a Something Else festival you will quickly realise that everyone is smiling.  People are smiling even when it is cold and wet as it was last Friday.  You just know everyone is there to drink, party and listen to a great line-up of music.  You know that you are amongst friends, even if you have not met them yet.  The truly wonderful thing about grass roots festivals is that you know that you have stepped into a bubble where, at least for a few days, the outside world does not matter quite so much.

When you came to a Something Else festival leave your concerns and prejudices at home.  This is an all inclusive family.  Race, religion, nationality, sexuality, patriarchy, disability is immaterial.  The only thing that matters is whether or not you are a twat.  Don’t be a twat.  National flags are not even allows here, we are all one.

As we gathered round the camp-fire for Beardy Keith’s Uke Jam on Friday evening it was cold and drizzling but every face was lit with a smile as we sang, played and laughed together.  As we drifted off to the campsite later in the evening you could happily gather with friends around their fire and party all night.  Many did!

SE Warmup-7

Saturday was the day of organised musical entertainment that ran non-stop from 11 am. to midnight. We were blessed both with a quality line-up and with some beautiful sunny (though bitterly cold) weather.  We were even treated to the irrepressible Les Carter (Carter USM) playing a solo acoustic set, something he tells me he hasn’t done for years.

It is difficult to pick out musical highlights from the line-up because every act was superb in its own way.  Of course headliners 3 Daft Monkeys were brilliant as always. I also enjoyed Muddy Summers & The Dirty Field Whores who treated us with a listen to many of the songs on their excellent new album Seeing Red (& Black).  Perhaps my favorite set of the day was from my good friends Tobias Ben Jacob and Lukas Drinkwater.  These two guys get better every time I see them.  There is such a great synergy between Tobias and Lukas, their playing is top quality but it is the almost telepathic understanding they share on stage that really sets them apart.  This gives both the freedom to improvise and embellish their music in a way that always seems entirely appropriate.

As always it is always a wrench to have to head home after a festival though the consolation is knowing I am off to another festival tomorrow and my next Something Else festival is just a week away.

Life is good!

Weekly Photo Challenge – Gathering

This weeks photo challenge is to document a gathering.  I am perhaps a little predictable with this one as my favourite gatherings are live music events so here are some shots that share that theme.

Let me know what you think

Camp Bestival Lineup Taking Shape Already

Regular readers will no doubt recall my praise of Dorset’s Camp Bestival held at Lulworth Castle, just a few miles from home.

The sister festival to the Isle of Wights season closing festival, Camp Bestival is a great option for families with children.  As I have reported in the past Camp Bestival is not just a family friendly festival, it is a festival that is focused on children from the ground up.  There is an almost endless stream of activities to keep the little ones entertained throughout.

This year sees the return of Dick and Dom, Mr Tumble and Aliens Love Underpants on the main stage.  This years theme is outer space so dig out your space suit outfits to join the fun.

Camp Bestival batch 2-29

Camp Bestival

With Jess Glynne and Fatboy Slim already announced as Friday and Saturday night headliners, the headline line-up is complete with the mighty Tears for Fears headlining Sunday and closing the festival.

Camp Bestival curator Rob da Bank says: “Songs from the Big Chair was, and still is, one of my most treasured albums, and one which appears totally timeless. I still can’t figure out what most of the lyrics mean, but when the music and vocals are so strong it doesn’t matter. We took our kids on holiday last year and only had two CDs in the car, one of them was this and they cannot get enough of it, too… so, I know after five years of trying, Tears for Fears are going to be something very special at Camp Bestival for all ages.”

Tears for Fears commented on their first UK festival appearance in 26 yearsWe are so looking forward to playing our first UK festival since our last one in 1990 at Knebworth. I know we’re not the most prolific artists but we believe in quality over quantity. We’re looking forward to performing new & old songs as we will have finished our new album before we perform. The fact that it’s in the West Country where we began our journey makes it all the more gratifying. We look forward to seeing you at Camp Bestival”.

This years Camp Bestival takes place from 28 – 31 July.

To ease the burden on families Camp Bestival is offering a weekly payment plan: Details and tickets here.

Camp Bestival is on the internet on Facebook and Twitter


Jamie Cullum Larmer Tree Festival

Larmer Tree Festival: Jamie Cullum To Open

The Larmer Tree Festival has long been one of the first events that go into my calendar.  The festival is local to me, the range of music and comedy is eclectic to say the least and of course it takes place in the stunning setting of Larmer Tree gardens.

Another reason that the Larmer Tree sees me going back year after year is the fact that they always manage to pull a surprise or two out of the bag.

It seems that Larmer Tree Festival 2016 will be no exception.  It has become a tradition at Larmer Tree for the festival to open on Wednesday evening with a headliner that is likely to appeal to the local populous and perhaps to those for whom five days camping may be just a bit too much.

Since the Wednesday opener began Van Morrison, Jools Holland and laterally Sir Tom Jones have graced the Larmer lawn.  I confess I was hoping that this years opener would be someone other than Sir Tom and so it has proved.

This years Wednesday headliner will be Jamie Cullum.  Now I really did not see that one coming.  Having sold over 10-million album’s the pop-jazz crossover has a huge following and is sure to be a huge hit with those who like to spend their Wednesday opening night chilling out with a bottle of wine listening to smooth jazz.

In what will doubtless prove to be an interesting contrast of styles English/Italian singer songwriter Jack Savoretti who is a tremendous live act.  I listened to a fair bit of Savoretti last year on the run up to Beautiful Days Festival but it wasn’t until I saw him perform live that everything clicked into place.

Tickets for Larmer Tree 2016 are on sale here.

A Little More Bearded Theory

Well I’m still feeling rough today though a little better than yesterday.  I thought I would share a few more bearded Theory photos with you.  Enjoy  🙂

Neville Staple, Glastonbury

Glastonbury – Fun shots

I realise most normal people will be out enjoying themselves on a Friday evening, but I’m stuck at home with the dreaded large and feeling as rough as a badgers arse.

To cheer myself up a bit I have been trawling my photos again and chose these ones because I think they are fun.  I just love some of the facial expressions 🙂  I know I’m cruel.

You can’t help but wonder what Enter Shikari drummer Rob Rolfe just spotted in the crowd.  I also wonder if Lenny Henry and Neville Staple have ever been seen in the same room?