A lovely  ‘proper’ festival, just 2-3,000 people, in a very beautiful rural location. Started as a travellers festival some years ago, but very open to everyone, and family friendly. Lots of drink etc but absolutely no problems – the local security reduced to wearing silly hats by Sunday. Very dog friendly too – hundreds, including a large number of Chihuahuas – I have no idea why. Perhaps there is a colony nearby. Farmer Phil himself, still very much a local farmer but dreaming of being Eavis, knows most of the crowd by name and says hi to all he doesn’t know. In fact I guess this is like Glasto before it became big. 

The legendary Fuzz Townsend lives nearby and comperes the main stage, made from a large cowshed, and there’s a great acoustic stage that still has a tree growing through its roof. Sunday starts with an excellent recycled fashion show run by Pie in the Sky from Brighton, and a kid’s fancy dress competition with the theme of pirates and fairies.  Actually most of the adults are dressed as one or the other or a striking mix of both.

A bill of very much ‘festival’/underground bands – lots of ska, folk, punk etc, many great crowd pleasers that I didn’t know before. Here are my favourites, in order of play, and one other….


Professor Elemental – possibly steampunk and definitely ‘chap-hop’, a genre he may have invented – great fun like a rapping version of It Ain’t Alf Hot Mum…

Babyhead – massive ska and reggae with brass, West Country festival legends, with great powerful lyrics

Vice Squad – still going strong, old school punk rock with style and panache, wonderful articulate singer in Beki Bondage, who formed the band in 1978. A passionate vegan and animal activist, she later tells me she keeps VS fully independent, doing all the hard management work as well as fronting…and still loves performing, which is obvious.

Headliners The Orb – cosmic excursions in dub and trance, a rhythmic trip that is way more than Little Fluffy Clouds and the Minnie Ripperton sampling  A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld. Includes a version of Fanfare for the Common Man, and amazing visuals

Saturday Highlight – the Blockheads – wonderfully tight and joyous jazz/funk/rock band, performing the hits and less-heard classics like If I was with a Woman, now very obviously about the pain of disability, and Itinerant Child, a poignant anthem to the old days of the Rainbow Convoys. Norman Watt-Roy was really enjoying himself, and Ian Dury’s friend and minder Derek ‘the Draw’ makes a perfectly acceptable substitute for his late lamented boss.

Saturday Lowlight – the Gonads – seemed like an average comedy punk band, some dodgy sexist lyrics, til the singer was revealed as Gary Bushell, rightwing Sun music journalist, and this was his ‘oi’ skinhead band from the 70s. Seems the organisers were as surprised as we were. He walked off halfway through the last song, called England’s Glory. No-one clapped. Would have been interesting to see him sharing a stage debate with Beki…


The Delray Rockets – Stray Cats homage from local Worcester boys, lovingly done with lots of attitude and energy

Flutatious – dreadful name but prog rock originals beautifully played, as applause rained down from the bar where the audience were forced to shelter from a deluge of real rain

Merry Hell – one of several conscious counterpoints to the Gonads, more country/folk/Latin than their name suggests, with entertaining and passionate anti war and human rights songs such as ‘the War Between Ourselves’. Highly recommended.

Tako Lako – yet another festival circuit well kept secret, sounding like a techno New Order with Ian Curtis still singing with them. Seems they are from Denmark, and tipped for good things, and finally…. closing the festival, Farmer Phil’s regulars Ferocious Dog, with a devoted fanbase, the Hellhounds, like that of the early days of the Levellers – with whom they share their sound, also the Pogues. 

I enjoyed it but wasn’t won over at first, the likes of Paddy works on the Railways and Mairi’s Wedding being well done but a bit predictable…then they played The Glass. It’s about a young man who hung himself some months after his wedding, as he could not escape the depression caused by his tours of Afghanistan – the son of Ken Bonsall, the mohicanned singer, and brother of Dan Booth, fiddler and songwriter. They follow it by Lee’s Tune, for him, and thank the fans for their support. 

Dan later tells me On the Rocks is his about past battle with crack, thankfully won. 

They are on tour in Oct/Nov, including Cambridge and Camden Barfly - Go and see this band – you will be moved, and dance your ass off. See this link and their website for more on Lee’s life 

Kevin Hand


Festival Website