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Deer Shed Festival 2017: Day 3 Roundup

By on Tuesday, 15th August 2017 at 2:00 pm

Words and photos by Martin Sharman, formerly Head Photographer at TGTF

Sunday morning at Deer Shed Festival 2017 dawns brightly, and last night’s storm in a teacup is but a fading memory. Traditional Sunday morning activities are executed: the consumption of coffee and pork products in bread, playing in a giant cardboard city, perhaps a tutorial on how to write (hint: let your consciousness stream away, don’t edit as you go, grammar and spelling can go hang). There’s only a few hours left of the big activities like the science tent, so it’s time to get on it again. But by lunchtime, the kids had been offloaded onto some friendly passers-by, which meant a good opportunity to sit down in one place and let the main stage do its thing.

Flamingods at Deer Shed 2017

And what a thing it was. SXSW 2017 alums Flamingods bring Bahraini psychedelic shoegaze – not a genre you encounter every day – and it’s superb. Frontman Kamal Rasool plays a bizarre traditional guitar-ish instrument (not unlike the three-string cigar box guitars being sold by Chickenbone John elsewhere on site), there’s much instrument-swapping and the ever-present thwack of crazy drums. They end with an epic 10-minute jam, the sort you can sway around to seemingly for hours on end. The crowd is massed and appreciative, and it becomes clear that this particular Sunday isn’t the traditional Deer Shed warm down. It’s actually shaping up to be something very special indeed.

Teleman at Deer Shed 2017

Teleman have quietly matured into a band of great importance. In the early days, they could be a bit too aloof for their own good, but two albums in, today’s performance presents their delicate songs in a muscular, festival-ready form. Classics like ‘Cristina’ and ‘Dusseldorf’ carry mass appeal hidden in their precise arrangements, and they properly rock out towards the end. They’ve surely made a plethora of new fans here today.

And so we come to what is arguably, in this writer’s opinion, the finest bill-topper in Deer Shed history. Neil Hannon as The Divine Comedy marches on stage in full French Revolutionary regalia, as the note-perfect band launch into ‘Napoleon Complex’. And thus begins a masterclass in how to do witty, tuneful, intelligent – and most importantly, inclusive – social commentary through pop music. ‘A Woman of a Certain Age’ is a touching discourse on advancing years from a female perspective, and ‘Catherine The Great’ takes on a further poignancy when dedicated to his partner and fellow musician Cathy Davey. After a quick costume change, ‘The Complete Banker’ gently knives society’s favourite punching-bag profession to musical accompaniment that the Sherman brothers would be proud to claim for their own back catalogue, yet Hannon has the good grace to apologise to any bankers actually in the crowd.

Neil Hannon as The Divine Comedy at Deer Shed 2017

But they know what we’re all waiting for. Unafraid to delve into the earliest reaches of their back catalogue to please a crowd, we lap up ‘Generation Sex’, ‘Something for the Weekend’, and, gloriously, ‘National Express’. Moments when an entire crowd – and possibly an entire festival – are united around one band, one song, one line of lyrics, are rare indeed, and The Divine Comedy deliver. A brilliant moment of joy, togetherness and love amidst the turbulence of modern life. That’s what Deer Shed is all about.

Regardless of my personal views on one or two of the acts, it should not be inferred that this was anything other than yet another brilliant chapter in the Deer Shed story. Stuff that is taken for granted but really shouldn’t be – superb food, properly clean toilets, ample camping space, decent beer – was all present and correct. I’m very excited about what a little birdie whispered about a potential lady headliner for next year. And thus Deer Shed grows with the kids that revel within it – every year is different, bringing new challenges and fresh joys – and we love it all the same.


Cambridge Folk Festival 2017 Roundup

By on Monday, 14th August 2017 at 2:00 pm

Header photo of Frank Turner from the BBC

Folk music is far more than just songs that take things back to basics and raw. Folk music is an idea of community and appreciating all that life has to offer, the good and the bad. The Cambridge Folk Festival has been one of the world’s premier destinations to celebrate this genre, and while it’s not quite got the pull of, say, Newport Folk Festival, it does far more than hold its own.

Spread out over 4 days in the picturesque little hideaway of Cherry Hinton in Cambridge, a place itself you should visit, this year’s event was a testament as to why it’s a staple. Although rain may have given a fair go at trying to dampen the folk spirit, it did very little in the long run. Especially with this year being specially curated by ex-Bellowhead frontman Jon Boden, a first for the festival, which also meant every act he’d chosen (six in total) were joined on stage by the man himself. A whole lot of Boden is never a bad thing.

While Thursday and Friday didn’t bring names that are familiar to the outer realms, those in the know experienced the beauty of folk and the festival. Irishwoman Lisa Hannigan, who closed out the Friday, managed to perfectly encapsulate what makes folk so special. The vulnerability with which her words are conveyed brings much more depth to the meaning you can find, and it makes it all the sweeter when the music matches perfectly. Elsewhere, the likes of Indigo Girls made a triumphant return, while newcomers Ward Thomas gave the younger audience their time to shine.

The real charm of the little festival lies in the atmosphere. Even stepping outside of the modest arena, you can find some form of ear-catching sounds in the smaller tents dotted throughout the camping areas. Impromptu performances and general niceties are rife, and it’s a pleasant sight to behold, especially when you’re more used to festivals filled with intoxicated revellers.

The day on Saturday suffered the most, with torrential downpours throughout. We can be sure that folk music would prefer to be associated with sunny, summer afternoons, but unfortunately, it was grey skies and unstoppable rain. For those who made it inside the tents, all was well. For those less fortunate, well, they had backup plans. A sea of umbrellas and chairs filled the site, while the sweet sounds of the likes of Fara, a Scottish four-piece who stick very close to the fiery roots / folk sounds of their homeland rang throughout.

Closing the Saturday night, Frank Turner returned to Cambridge once again, as a late replacement for Olivia Newton-John. And what a replacement he was. Turner is an artist who bridges so many genres that you find him at Cambridge Folk Festival, as well as festivals such as Download and Glastonbury. Barraging through his biggest hits, as well as a few under the radar numbers, the crowd were consistently engaged, even if a bit damp. Giving shoutout to fans who had hit their fiftieth show of his, you know Turner respects everybody in the crowd. Without them, he’d still be opening the Thursday of the festival instead of headlining the Saturday.

Sunday managed to stave off any more downpours. But of course, spirits were far from dampened. At lunchtime, Chris T-T brought the works of AA Milne to life with perfect execution, a lovely warming treat after the previous day’s torrents. Jake Isaac proved why he’s such a hot name in the genre. With a fresh songwriter sound and foot-stompingly powerful tracks, Isaac was a key draw throughout the weekend, packing out the Stage 2 tent.

Jake Bugg‘s acoustic set was an easy highlight and a triumphant return for the young songwriter. Joined by only a piano and guitar, his tracks found a new level of depth and feeling, matching with his storied words perfectly. The tracks that harness love felt more raw than ever, while those that talk of his life and growing up put more poignancy in the words. We were even treated to some new tracks from his forthcoming album ‘Hearts That Strain’, out the 1st of September on Virgin EMI, and they feel like a return to Bugg of old.

Finishing the festival off, Hayseed Dixie did what they do best. They brought a raucous and fun filled time with their bluegrass covers of absolutely everything you can think of, from Queen to AC/DC, and their own stuff in-between. Proving that the folk festival isn’t a pretentious gathering but a fun celebration, having Hayseed close out was an inspired move, one that paid off exceptionally.

As the grass returns to its natural state and Cherry Hinton empties, there’s already a level of excitement for next year’s installment. Returning with another guest curator, you’d be silly to miss out on such a special event. There’s a reason it’s been going since 1965, and if the rains of this year can’t dampen anyone’s spirits, nothing will.


TGTF Spotify Playlist: July 2017

By on Tuesday, 1st August 2017 at 11:00 am

We’ve reached the end of another month, which, as astute readers will know, means a new Spotify playlist here at TGTF. Our July 2017 list features music from new albums by Dan CrollDeclan McKenna, alt-J and Public Service Broadcasting, as well as single releases from Aussies Alex Lahey and Juanita Stein, CYMBALS and The Killers, among many others. We’ve also discovered a couple of artists who are brand new to the TGTF ranks, including Siv Jacobsen, Fenne Lily and Katie Ellen.

Dive right into July’s playlist, and if you like what you hear, you can subscribe to follow our monthly Spotify updates. Just plug “spotify:user:tgtftunes” (no quotes) into the search bar, then click the Follow button. And don’t forget to spread the word on social media: you can connect with us on Facebook and Twitter too!


Live Gig Video: watch Kodaline perform single ‘Brother’ in Warsaw acoustically

By on Monday, 24th July 2017 at 4:00 pm

Last month, Dublin group Kodaline wowed their fans with a brand new single. ‘Brother’ was accompanied by a tearjerker of a video, and you can read my extended review and essay on the single through here. Still no word on what the name is of the upcoming album that this single is associated with, nor when the long player might see the light of day. Hopefully we’ll get those details soon.

In the meantime, you can console yourself with this acoustic performance of the single, filmed and performed on the streets of Warsaw, of all places. (Like, really? I guess it’s something off the beaten path from, say, London or Dublin, right?) And when I say on the streets, I mean literally on the streets: instead of being stood in one place, they’re singing and Mark Prendergast is playing his guitar as they’re walking through the town. Th performance is a reminder of just how tight their harmonies are. The band have announced a series of four live shows for the UK in mid-December, listed here. For more much of Kodaline here on TGTF, head this way.



Preview: Cambridge Folk Festival 2017

By on Wednesday, 21st June 2017 at 11:00 am

Fifty-two years is quite a long time for a festival to be running, but when it’s something as revered as The Cambridge Folk Festival (27-30 July at Cherry Hinton Hall in Cambridge), you can understand why. Always attracting the biggest and brightest of the folk world, this year is no different. Alongside the already announced top billing of Jake Bugg and Indigo Girls, there is also now the addition of unstoppable juggernaut of Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls.

Having taken place every year since 1965 at the beautiful Cherry Hinton Hall, it’s the world’s premier event for folk and acoustic music. Its history is steeped in some of the biggest legendary names in the genre from Emmylou Harris and Joan Baez through to Mumford and Sons, and even with Scottish rockers Idlewild. While these names from past events and the ones performing this year are all fantastic, the real magic lies in the social and ‘give it a go’ ethos of folk, with stages that give amateurs and audience members alike a chance to get their folk chops out.


Of course, the larger names at the top of the bill are the real draw for the majority of the crowd, and with one of the UK’s most prominent, and youngest songwriters keeping it acoustic, you can be sure that Jake Bugg will cement his place in folk history at this year’s Cambridge Folk Festival. Speaking of folk history, the seemingly always touring Frank Turner has played the festival multiple times now and always brings a good show. With his punk/folk hybrid sound a stark contrast to Bugg’s solo acoustic efforts, you get the best of both worlds. So it’s definitely worth hanging around for the entire festival.

Another name that you may want to check out is Benjamin Francis Leftwich, who’s so rooted in being himself and with his acoustic guitar that it’s hard to tell where either begins: utterly beautiful, and soul crushing songs. Perfect. There’s also the current hot artist in UK country, Ward Thomas. The London duo have been making some serious waves in their circles for some time, and those waves are suddenly getting bigger. You also can’t miss Hayseed Dixie, Americana at its finest. Interpretations and originals galore, they’re old hat at this now and will get you dancing, no worries.


If you want something even further off the beaten track check out Amelia Coburn, who, in a similar fashion, though less in your face to Hayseed Dixie performs interpretations of everything from Bowie to The Specials, and all with a ukulele! At only 19 and with a sense of music like this, she’ll be going places very soon.

Tickets have pretty much sold out for this year’s event, though there are a few tickets kicking around for each day, so head to the site now to get yours.


WIN / Weekend festival and camping tickets to Beat-Herder Festival 2017

By on Tuesday, 11th April 2017 at 11:00 am

It may be only April, but soon enough Beat-Herder 2017 will be upon us. For a third year running, TGTF have blagged a pair of weekend camping and parking tickets for a lucky TGTF reader and a guest to attend the event in July. It’s bound to be another 3 great days and nights in the Ribble Valley, and we’re so chuffed we can gift a pair of tickets to this fabulous event to a lucky winner. The value of this prize is an an incredible £303 before handling fees if you were to buy them today. Read on to learn more about Beat-Herder and how to enter our contest!

Beat-Herder Festival is an annual summer festival in the Ribble Valley, Sawley, Lancashire, and it’s always a good shout. In its 12th year in 2017, they’ve already released a star-studded bill that will only get better as we get closer to the event and the days get warmer. So far, Birmingham’s irrepressible Sleaford Mods (in a Northern England festival exclusive) and Danish electronic producer Trentmoller have been announced to performer on the main Beat-Herder stage on Saturday night, with reggae giants Toots and the Maytals to appear on Sunday night.

The Toil Trees stage, “the beating heart of the festival”, will host a great selection of famed acts in electronic and dance, including Jon Hopkins and and Skream doing DJ sets plus Mr Scruff. Other notable names scheduled to appear at Beat-Herder this year include American hip-hop pioneers The Sugarhill Gang plus Melle Mel and Scorpio, Lee “Scratch” Perry adding to the festival’s reggae theme of past years, Dub Pistols and Factory Floor. There’s loads more names listed on the lineup as of today to whet your musical appetite, check them all out through here.

How do you enter? I’m glad you asked. First, give us your full name and email address. We’ll need both to contact you if you win. Second, tell us which act on the line-up you’re most excited to see at Beat-Herder this summer, and why. (We’d like to be sure you’re keen enough on coming along.) I’ll read through all the entries and choose the best one. Third, please provide your Twitter handle, as you’ll need to be a follower of TGTF there to qualify for the contest. Easy peasy.

Be sure to get your entry in to us before noon BST Friday 14 April, when the contest closes. I will contact the winner by email shortly after. Be sure to check your email, as the winner will need to confirm his/her availability to attend. Good luck to everyone!

This contest is now closed. The winner will be contacted by email soon.


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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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