RADFORD MILL FESTIVAL OF RHYTHM& BLUES 13.8.16 REVIEW
PREFACE: There are photographs up on our Facebook page. If anybody would like me to e-mail them copies, please just ask via firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you to all the wonderful people who came to support real, live band music once more. You helped us to make this, our second festival, even bigger and better than last year. We thought that we had been cursed because we experienced some setbacks on the way. It began with having to change the headline act at short notice, but as often happens on these occasions, we have to thank our lucky stars because Aynsley Lister, probably the hottest band on the UK and European circuit right now, just happened, by an exceptional chance, to be free. What a bonus this turned out to be.
Our bad luck didn’t stop there because due to an administrative oversight, we didn’t apply for the licence to run the festival in time. We only discovered this on the Thursday before the festival. This meant we could not operate our bar. Clearly we could not run a music festival without a bar, so we had to give the drinks away free of charge and rely on the goodwill of our customers to make a voluntary donation to the ‘Eco-friendly Farm’ at the Café bar. We also had to end by 11:00pm promptly and all of the bands had to start a half hour earlier than originally scheduled to accomplish this. The bands all took this change of plan in their stride and arrived in good time to complete the programme to the new schedule.
Our bad luck continued because the major routes to the farm from the west and east were overwhelmed by traffic congestion meaning that for many their journey to the site took much longer than planned. I took 2.5 hours to get there from Cheltenham, which would normally only take an hour and twenty minutes.
I woke up on the Saturday to find that our weather forecast of sunny weather with a light 3mph breeze had been revised to:- ‘there are rain clouds coming up the Bristol Channel’. I began to think that I must have been tempting providence in picking the 13TH. for the date of our festival. Indeed I arrived to find we had light rain, but it soon cleared up and things just started to get better and better.
We kicked off the music with the very talented Leo Brown who had been so very well received when he opened for us last year. This time he was joined by a harmonica player known simply as Biaz. Leo has a rich voice and great slide guitar style which was complemented superbly by Biaz’s extremely effective and empathetic harp style. They were a big hit with our audience and sold quite a few of their CDs; a perfect opening.
We had experienced another setback for our next scheduled artistes, ‘Blue Horizon’ because they had decided to disband; but again, our lucky stars came to our rescue as we were able to replace them with a very talented 4 piece band ‘The Shadow Blasters’. These 4 young musicians had recently moved from Wellington New Zealand to Bristol to try to carve out a living as a band. They were excellent playing a raw, punchy set of original material. William Jackman’s raunchy vocals were perfectly supported by the band behind him. Again their CDs were enthusiastically purchased by members of the appreciative audience. We then had a visit from the Licencing Inspector, escorted by a police man, to check that we weren’t breaching any of our restrictions. The PC was for his protection apparently, in case our audience turned on him. He obviously didn’t appreciate that our customers were all very respectful, musical cognoscenti who would never resort to such hooliganism.
Next up was a talented band from Devon, ‘Cavemouth’. Again the bad luck seemed to be dogging us because their Bass player could not get to the festival so they played as a trio. This was surprisingly effective; Duncan Hook on Sax was a perfect foil for Lex’s vocals and guitar work. Again they performed a number of originals and their own take on a few classics.
They were followed by Glas from South Wales. They are a very tight outfit and soon had the floor filled with dancers. Much of their appeal centres on the flamboyant lead guitar skills of James Oliver. They were very well received and sold a lot of their latest CD “Just a Stage We’re Going Through”.
Then we had one of the festival favourites up; “The Innes Sibun Band”. He had many of the audience in awe with his fantastic guitar playing. Innes really knows how to hold the attention of the audience. He received a well-deserved ovation at the end of his set. He was followed by another visit from the police to ensure that we fully understood that 11pm finish meant 11pm, not a minute longer.
Then we had one of my favourite bands, “The Mike Hoddinott’s Blues All Stars”. As their name suggests, every one of the members is a virtuosos on their instrument. They were fronted by the iconic bluesman, Pete Gage. He soon had the audience singing along reaching a crescendo with their version of The Animal’s classic “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”. The end of their set was greeted with a prolonged and much deserved ovation.
So we came to the finish of the evening. Aynsley Lister soon showed why he is probably the top rated blues performer in the UK. He had the audience in the palm of his hands from the striking of his very first note. He is such a good front man, engaging the enthusiastic crowd who had gathered in front of the band with his banter. Every band only had 1 hour to fill, but Aynsley seemed to have been playing for only 10 minutes before he had to finish, so engaging was his performance. He knew we had to end strictly at 11pm and timed his version of Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ to perfection. The audience sang the chorus with gusto and just would not stop clapping at the end of the performance. Alas their cries of ‘more, more’ could not be satisfied because of our licensing predicament. Many of them purchased advance copies of his new album “Eyes Wide Open”.
So we came to the end of our second festival and we have been overwhelmed by the number of people who have gone out of their way to tell us how much they enjoyed it and would be looking forward to next year.