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Deer Shed Festival 2015 Review (Part 1)

 
By on Tuesday, 28th July 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

Like the cohorts of children that carouse within its boundaries, Deer Shed Festival grows up perceptibly every year. This time the powers that be had the astute notion to shift the whole affair a week later in the calendar to encompass the school holidays, thus making it much easier for parents with school-age kids to arrive early in the day. A happy by-product was that the festival sold out for the first time. Result!

So by Friday lunchtime, the site was mostly full: an impressive achievement considering the stresses involved in corralling over-excited children. Having said all that, over a Deer Shed weekend one inevitably misses several sets of essential music due to the inconvenient timing of a child needing a toilet stop, meal break, or perhaps having fallen in the lake.

First on the list of oh-no-is-that-the-time-I’m-going-to-miss-them-now sets was Diagrams, who played at the deeply unsociable hour of half past 5 in the afternoon. Luckily, however, our group had decided to camp next to the eponymous Shed itself, which location, apart from having grass rendered pungently musky by the recently vacated permanent residents, had a direct line-of-hearing from the main stage. So I can confidently say that Diagrams’ set was a triumph, Sam Genders’ tales of adulthood working just as well as festival pieces they do being mused over headphones. The songs were a bit beefier played by a live band, which did them no harm at all, and their breezily jaunty rhythms were a perfect way to kick the weekend off.

Black Rivers, a band for one obvious reason particularly close to TGTF’s heart, were up next, and thankfully experienced in person. They really are very much like Doves, except the bass player is now right-handed. So you know what to expect – a touch of bagginess, tinges of electronica, lots of lovely melodies, and they played one or two Doves tunes. You know the one… oh, the name escapes me now…

Parents hoping for their kids to have an undisturbed night’s sleep would have done well to avoid Du Blonde’s ferocious set: all red lipstick, skin-tight leggings and diva attitude, it’s enough to give even big kids some weird, if not unpleasant, dreams. To be fair, in addition to the noisy stuff, Beth Jean Houghton‘s ballads are arguably even stronger pieces of music, so she’s got the bases covered. As reinventions go, this one has been particularly successful. For any fan of the assertive young lady musician – and even though it’s a cliché I have to make a comparison to PJ Harvey – Ms Blonde is officially the Real Deal.

And so we turn leftwards to Billy Bragg. Granted, some people like him, in the same way as some people like cold showers or running marathons. Worthy causes, but are they truly enjoyable leisure activities? Or is the best part about it the smug sense of satisfaction afterwards, personified by being able to wear the t-shirt for the next 5 years? Personally, I can’t stand the chap, what with his clangy Telecaster and unreconstructed Red Wedge politics. And while Bragg is a fair booking at a bigger event, where those of us who gladly left politics lectures behind in our teens can wander off in search of more welcoming, funky fare, to plonk him at the very head of the bill, with nothing else available on any of the other three stages for the best part of two hours, is bad planning at best, and deliberately divisive at worst. None of our group, including one or two whose politics may coincide with that which Bragg espouses, were remotely bothered about his music. Just as we’d been released from the shackles of childcare, there was nothing to party to. Bummer. So a long wait by the bar until…

…the true headliners of the night appeared. Holy Moly & The Crackers are a band whom it’s impossible to dislike, and easy to love. Lead singer and violinist Ruth has beauty in her soul and her voice, the music is a clever combination of traditional English folk and off-beat Baltic rhythms, and it worked perfectly in a packed Obelisk tent, the crowd united by a love of inclusive music and the basic instinct to have a boogie. After an hour of breathtaking hoe-downs, everyone seemed in agreement – that’s how you do a headliner.

Tomorrow at Deer Shed 2015: it’s the turn of the kids!

 

Preview: Deer Shed Festival 2015

 
By on Wednesday, 15th April 2015 at 11:00 am
 

British Summer Time is here! And naturally one’s mind wanders to the sunlit uplands of the heady festival days just around the corner. You can almost smell them. One of TGTF’s favourite summer shindigs is Deer Shed Festival (24-26 July at Baldersby Park, Topcliffe, North Yorkshire), a parent-and-kid-friendly affair held in a beautiful corner of North Yorkshire. 2015 sees their 6th birthday; every year so far has seen a bigger and bolder event, and this one promises to be no different.

Let’s dispense with Friday first. The main stage on Friday night is the traditional slot where the organisers put their musical heroes (last year it was British Sea Power) and the trend continues in 2015 with Billy Bragg topping the bill. Whilst perhaps not quite the booty-shaking climax to the opening night that some might want, his latest studio collection ‘Tooth & Nail’ is an agreeable Americana-tinged affair that goes a bit easier than usual on his trademark socialist rhetoric, so he might manage to unite rather than divide the crowd. Stranger things have happened. For those who want a bit of genuine Americana rather than the lefty Cockney version, the Felice Brothers are up before Bragg, transforming North Yorkshire into a temporary outpost of the Catskills with their Dylan-esque ramshackle blues folk.

Elsewhere on Friday, sandwiching precocious obscurantist Kiran Leonard are two luminaries of the North-East scene. SLUG, aka sometime Field Music bassist Ian Black, brings his impossible-to-pigeonhole noise to the Lodge stage, backed by his old band. Headlining said stage is Du Blonde, the new project from Deer Shed alumnus Beth Jeans Houghton. Shooting for the same spiky-guitar-femme niche as PJ Harvey, Du Blonde’s début single ‘Black Flag’ is a riot of aggressively-picked bass guitar, mentalist drumming and Houghton’s seductive, teasing vocals. Regular readers will know how highly we rate the clever pop of Diagrams, and how much this blog owes to Doves, two of whom pop up on the In The Dock stage in their new incarnation Black Rivers… not to mention the wonderfully catchy Dan Croll. In summary, the lineup of Friday at Deer Shed looks like a very fine thing indeed.

Saturday is the busy day at Deer Shed. We’ll get to the music in due course, but let’s take a minute to have a look at what else is on offer. The singular genius of Deer Shed is that the grown-ups have plenty of time to take in some quality music because there’s so much going on to keep the kids amused in the meantime. For instance, the Science tent goes from strength to strength, its offerings best summed up in tantalising one-word titbits: Wrekshop, Robogals, Madlab, Meccano, CHaOS, soldering, Ableton, Starlab, forensics, Mindflex, rockets, cannon, helicopters, circuits, stargazing, trebuchet, Minecraft. Plenty of opportunities for one’s offspring to shoot themselves off into the perhaps-not-quite-metaphorical stratosphere of practical science.

The workshop offerings are also expanded further from last year. Little ones can make a plethora of cute and surprisingly durable novelties – pet clouds, bird puppets, juggling balls, flying finger puppets, pipe-cleaner insects, balloon bassoons (whatever they are?!), air guitars, shakers (I can personally vouch for the utility and longevity of Deer Shed shakers, particularly in the hands of 1-year-olds), and the perennial favourite of clay modelling. Kids looking for more of a thrill aren’t left out – they can try their hand at That Game On Broomsticks (you know the one!), magic, den building, bushcraft, DJing, ukulele, punk poetry, capoeira, both Bollywood and street dance, hula, circus, slacklining, yoga, and finally, musical tots. Phew. Without exaggeration, Saturday’s activities for kids are worth the price of admission by themselves.

While the kids are off enjoying themselves, the serious business of musical appreciation will be happening at the other end of the field. The Lodge Stage goes Celtic for the day – Scotland is represented by The Pictish Trail and enduring nu-folk collaborator James Yorkston, and Ireland’s luminaries are songbird Lisa O’Neill, electronic duo All Tvvins and the intriguing Damien Dempsey. Apparently a household name in his native land, political singer/songwriter Dempsey has been musically active for 15 years and his recent “Best Of…” collection spans over 40 tracks: impressive for a man largely unheard of in the UK. Ireland likes their earnest troubadours (remember David Gray’s early days?), and Dempsey is cut from that very cloth. A casual rifle through his back catalogue reveals nothing that stands out from the morass apart from an unusual vocal delivery and the odd moment of fiddle-di-dee, but perhaps his live show will reveal his Celtic charms to a wider audience.

The bill-topping Main Stage trifecta are TGTF stalwarts Dutch Uncles, Villagers with their second appearance at Deer Shed, and John Grant (pictured at top) and his painfully elegant confessionals. Again, hardly the discotastic climax one may have wished for (TGTF’s prayers for Jarvis Cocker remain unanswered), and Grant has a hard task to follow given Johnny Marr’s rip-roaring set in 2014, but he’s a genuine talent, if not yet a household name. Best of luck, John. Perhaps the Obelisk stage might serve up some hoe-down goodness – and with Holy Moly and the Crackers, Buffalo Skinners, The Hummingbirds and the brilliant Teessiders Cattle and Cane on hand, that’s more than likely.

Sunday is traditionally wind-down day, but this is the first year that Sunday night camping is available, which I must confess feels a little against the relaxed Deer Shed ethos. However, surely those that stay will be treated to a handful of very exclusive sets in the evening. The highlight of Sunday afternoon afternoon headliners The Unthanks, who have revealed themselves to be amongst the country’s finest folk practitioners with their latest collection ‘Mount the Air’. Their last appearance at Deer Shed was a triumph and they’re sure to repeat that feat in 2015.

If there’s any event that proves having kids means having even more fun at festivals than you did before, then it’s this. They’ve not put a foot wrong in the last 5 years, and there’s every reason that 2015 should be bigger and better than ever. Tickets are selling fast, so get your skates on, and see you in Baldersby!

 

Update: The Great Escape 2013 reveals final band line-up

 
By on Friday, 19th April 2013 at 1:00 pm
 

It’s just under a month until Brighton’s bars, clubs and venues get invaded by a host of giddy A & R reps, jubilant journalists and the best new bands the scene can offer at the moment.

The Great Escape 2013 is promising to be the biggest event of its kind in the UK and is already known as the British version of SXSW. That’s an accolade that can’t be sniffed at in any way; they may not have Dave Grohl as a main speaker, but The Great Escape convention runs alongside the festival proper and will once again host a variety of insightful industry talks, panel debates, targeted networking sessions and keynote interviews for industry professionals and music business fans.

Two of the hottest acts pitching up on the South Coast are originally from the area and will definitely be putting on some of the best shows of the festival: Tall Ships‘ album ‘Everything Touching’ is one of my stand-outs of the last 6 months and after this 2013 BRIT Awards Critic’s Choice win, Tom Odell is tipped by everyone and their gran to be stratospheric.

New additions to the bill include one of my favourite interviewees in working at TGTF, the witty Hackney hailing wordsmith Mikill Pane, who will be playing Coalition on the Saturday. (Read the interview here.) You may have heard of his track ‘Little Lady’ with Ed Sheeran, which features on Ed’s No. 5 Collaborations Project. Nina Nesbitt will also be bringing some of her fanatic Nesbians to the Brighton shores.

Topping the bill though you’ve got Everything Everything, hot to trot boys Bastille, alongside the experience of Billy Bragg (pictured at top).

Tickets are still available for just £49.50. All those bands for less than £50? You’d be mad not to go. Get those wristbands now!

 

Update: Everything Everything added as Great Escape 2013 headliner, alongside Billy Bragg and Bastille

 
By on Wednesday, 27th March 2013 at 2:32 pm
 

Take a stroll down to the seaside and grab some Harry Ramsden’s, go on, treat yourself. The weather has been off its rocker in the first few months of the year, and well, it’s just time to chill out and have some you time next to the sea.

Oh, you don’t fancy relaxing? Well, hey, why not take in the Brighton seascape and the hottest new bands in the world too? That tickles your fancy, yeah? I thought so.

The line-up so far has been nothing short of phenomenal and to top it off, boy, have those fellas down at this year’s Great Escape got a treat for you. Fresh off the back of the release of ‘Arc’ (review here), Everything Everything are riding higher than Jonathan Higgs’ vocals and as a result of that will be headlining a Dome show Thursday night during the festival, alongside Billy Bragg and the continually omnipresent it seems Bastille, being supported by the much-fancied Kodaline. [Editor’s note: trust me, they’re worth fancying.]

For those unfamiliar with the concept of The Great Escape, here’s a whirlwind tour that should spell it out: imagine 30 venues dotted around the city, during the 16th to the 189th of May, with some of the bars leading out onto the seaside, while others are slap-bang on the eponymous Brighton Pier. Then throughout the day, rain or shine band after band playing in venues differing in size, charm and capacity.

For someone who has witnessed it, I can concur that it is a truly great site. The swathes of denim clad punters rushing from bar to bar to catch the ‘next big thing’ or a band with a funny name. Take your pick really, there’s a bit of everything. From Welsh pop-punkers the Blackout to Camden alt-indie quartet Tribes, there’s something for even the fussiest of indie tastesetters.

The Bastille Dome show may be long sold out, but 3-day-tickets and day tickets can all still be bought here.

 

A Very Musical Christmas #2: More Music Books

 
By on Thursday, 13th November 2008 at 9:37 pm
 

I don’t know about you, but I’m having a really hard time this Christmas finding books within budget for my friends and family… Following on from our previous post about musical gifts, those lovely people at Virgin Books have been in touch to offer you 35% off their range of music books and free postage and packing this Christmas – what more could you ask for?

To get the 35% off AND free P&P simply enter the code VIRGINXMAS into the coupon box at the end of the checkout.

Have a browse around on the links below, and maybe and buy something – they’re actually cheaper than Amazon at the moment on a fair few books, and there really is something for everyone, from your Dad (Meatloaf perhaps?) to your Gran (BB King?) via your older cousin who you always knew was a tad strange (David Bowie!)

(Please note: I don’t get any comission from these book sales, nor am I affiliated in any way with Virgin Books – I just thought you might be interested in some Christmas ideas!)

Fool the World: The Oral History of a Band Called Pixies How to Make it in the Music Business How to Make Music in Your Bedroom
Fool the World: The Oral History of a Band Called “Pixies”
RRP: £7.99
Offer price: : £5.99 Inc. P&P
How to Make it in the Music Business

RRP: £8.99
Offer price: : £6.74 Inc. P&P
How to Make Music in Your Bedroom

RRP: £7.99
Offer price: : £5.99 Inc. P&P
Music: The Business - The Essential Guide to the Law and the Deals Hallelujah!: The Extraordinary Story of Shaun Ryder and "Happy Mondays" Strange Fascination: David Bowie - The Definitive Story
Music: The Business
RRP: £25
Offer price: : £18.75 Inc. P&P
Hallelujah!: The Extraordinary Story of Shaun Ryder and “Happy Mondays”

RRP: £8.99
Offer price: : £6.74 Inc. P&P
Strange Fascination: David Bowie
RRP: £12.99
Offer price: : £9.74 Inc. P&P
The B. B. King Treasures "Cream": How Eric Clapton Took the World by Storm The Virgin Book of British Hit Singles
The B. B. King Treasures
RRP: £30
Offer price: : £22.50 Inc. P&P
“Cream”: How Eric Clapton Took the World by Storm

RRP: £9.99
Offer price: : £7.49 Inc. P&P
The Virgin Book of British Hit Singles

RRP: £20
Offer price: : £15 Inc. P&P
Billy Bragg: Still Suitable for Miners The Lost Beach Boy: The True Story of David Marks, One of the Founding Members of the "Beach Boys" Willie Nelson: The Outlaw
Billy Bragg: Still Suitable for Miners
RRP: £9.99
Offer price: : £7.49 Inc. P&P
The Lost Beach Boy: The True Story of David Marks, One of the Founding Members of the “Beach Boys”
RRP: £17.99
Offer price: : £13.49 Inc. P&P
Willie Nelson: The Outlaw
RRP: £9.99
Offer price: : £7.49 Inc. P&P
To Hell and Back: An Autobiography Anyway Anyhow Anywhere: The Complete Chronicle of the "Who" 1958-1978 Cash: A Tribute to Johnny Cash
To Hell and Back: An Autobiography
RRP: £9.99
Offer price: : £7.49 Inc. P&P
Anyway Anyhow Anywhere: The Complete Chronicle of the “Who” 1958-1978

RRP: £9.99
Offer price: : £7.49 Inc. P&P
Cash: A Tribute to Johnny Cash
RRP: £8.99
Offer price: : £6.74 Inc. P&P
Liverpool - Wondrous Place: From the Cavern to the Capital of Culture Changeling: The Autobiography of Mike Oldfield  
Liverpool – Wondrous Place: From the Cavern to the Capital of Culture
RRP: £9.99
Offer price: : £7.49 Inc. P&P
Changeling: The Autobiography of Mike Oldfield
RRP: £8.99
Offer price: : £6.74 Inc. P&P
 
 

iTunes Live Festival announced / Starts next week!

 
By on Tuesday, 12th February 2008 at 7:00 pm
 

Roisin MurphyiTunes have announced 10 days of gigs starting next Thursday as part of their iTunes Live series. All the gigs will be available to download from iTunes after the 10 day festival is over. Last year’s festival was a bit later in the year, but were a significant success – dare I say it, but this years gigs aren’t anywhere near as impressive – I mean, come on, Nizlopi headlining? Tony Christie? Really?

The gigs will take place from February 21 to March 2 at AIR Studios, Lyndhurst Hall, London. The artists will play acousticcally for what is sure to be some very special evenings. Tickets cannot be bought, and are only available from the iTunes Live website as part of a ballot..

Thursday 21st February – Jose Gonzalez, Charlene Soraia, Julian Velard and Stephanie Dosen
Friday 22nd February – Nizlopi, Soweto Kinch
Saturday 23rd February – Alphabeat, Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong
Sunday 24th February – Billy Bragg, KT Tunstall, Foy Vance, Leo Abrahams
Monday 25th February – Daniel Merriweather, Estelle, Tawiah
Tuesday 26th February – Charlie Winston, Natalie Clein, Tom Baxter
Wednesday 27th February – Laura Marling, Mystery Jets
Thursday 28th February – Jason Mraz, Ron Sexsmith
Friday 29th February – TBC
Saturday 1st March – Roisin Murphy, Tony Christie
Sunday 2nd March – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Spiritualized

Photo of Roisin Murphy is taken from her myspace.

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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