To Maverick, where after a slow burn period of development and progressive maturity, in its fourth year the festival has ripened into a splendid day (or weekend) out, certainly not harmed by the bright clear weather and the inclusion on the bill of Songs from The Blue House, our status as early adopters enabling us to compare the site and sounds of this weekend’s occasion with previous years’ events. The dank and be-cobwebbed barn of our first performance is now the welcoming and brightly lit cafeteria and children's soft play area and the scuffed-concrete floored and stoat-friendly bar is now the Peacock Café (later to be graced by original 60’s protest singer and Woodstock veteran Melanie, who is probably wondering where all these royalty cheques have started coming from since The Wurzels started appearing on repeats of the 1976 Top of the Pops). The food and merch stalls have subtly improved in breadth and character – not that I don’t miss Andy Pearson’s Funky Dub Bar – but what remains is the genial rustic vibe. For now though, an impressively seven-handed* SftBH are tucked away between the face painting stall and the guitar set-up tent, being marshaled into position by Stephen ‘Foz’ Foster of the British Broadcasting Corporation in order that he may broadcast our music over the airwaves to the greater Suffolk and beyond. “They’re going to travel” he mutters to on-the-road side kick Dave Butcher, an unflappable, charming and resourceful engineer with whom we have happily crossed faders before. “They” are back in the studio. Through rough interpretation of the jargon of broadcast terminology we ascertain that this apparently gnomic statement means that someone is going to read out an update on the state of the roads and so we have a few more minutes to sort ourselves out for our big moment on the air. This is proving to be mildly problematic in that since we were originally going to be a slimmed down, totally acoustic line up (in line with the founding tenets of the band), the delay in transmission means that we now have a whole group to include within the audio spectrum including a keyboard player ('TT') and Gibbon on bass, both of whom require the modern devilry of electrickery in order to make themselves heard. “Can we get some power round here?” someone asks. “Not easily” replies Butch. So that’s not a ‘no’ then? A stallholder appears from somewhere nearby offering power and Dave soon appears with an extension lead. Our Glorious Leader emerges from the musical instrument stall next door with a ten watt bass amplifier, Foz is bending into position in order to transform the microphone he will be using for his live links to the studio into the ambient mic picking up the banjo and James’s acoustic guitar. He fiddles with a headphone. Nods. “I’m here at The Maverick Festival with Songs from The Blue House…”
Later, opening the main stage, we are ushered into position, line checked and able to kick off with a song from our second album with everything already in the monitors. We announce that Turny Winn is going to do a song and reflect that here, of all places, we don’t really need to marvel at the incidence of a singing banjo player (we will in fact be followed by a man who plays one behind his head, while clog-dancing) and when the result of the songwriting competition is announced with the judges’ entreaty that “…as with most things in life, three and a half minutes is just about perfect” Gibbon sonorously adds from the back of the stage “…aside, perhaps, from very life itself?”. The Fragrant and Charming La Mulley misses a cue for a flute solo – “I’ve been in the studio - there it just appears in your headphones at just the right moment” she explains.
We have a great, rousing, good-sounding gig. Later James confirms a conversation with a breathless audience member. “I’m from the south of The States” she explains “And I miss it so much. Your music just reminded me of home and I’m going to go to the CD stall and buy your albums!” Lady and Gentlemen, our work here is done.
*yeah, yeah, yeah, not literally - I mean that there are one over the half dozen of us.