Saturday, August 30, 2008

Beating chords into ploughshares

Through the benevolent auspices of Our Glorious Leader (he was selling them some beer) we find ourselves at The Maverick Festival in darkest Suffolk, at Easton Farm Park, where barns have been hastily cleared of goats in order to make room for the bar (the ferret cages remain, inviolate), stages have been constructed and residents of nearby villages have been mollified, lest the influx of thirty and forty something fans of Country Music turn this corner of sleepy Suffolk into a raging maelstrom of hedonism, substance abuse and downright boot-scootin’. 

As it happens, all of this occurs, but that’s just the way when we in Songs from The Blue House get together. The rest of the festival is engaged in being terribly nice, kind, supportive and enthusiastically appreciative of the music on offer, those who aren’t engaged in driving small plastic tractors around the site that is, but that’s five year olds for you. We are joined on this occasion by Nick Zala, McFly’s pedal steel player of choice, as well as a returned but not terribly refreshed Turny Winn on banjo and so are almost at full strength for our foray into a festival of Americana. 

We’re not sure how we are going to fit in, even though we’ve deliberately upped the twang factor to the point where we are due to perform a song from way back in Mine and Gibbon’s past which starts with a three part vocal harmony, purely because it’s “a bit country”. As it turns out, we start and a lone voice from the crowd exclaims, “That’s harmonies!” possibly just to try and attract the attention of a passing tractor-bound four year old, but just maybe because he recognises what we’re trying to do. A lengthy introduction brings the cry “Get on with it!” “Have you been to Cropredy?” I ask. “Yes!”, comes the reply. Ah, a festival veteran. 

Speaking as one of the same, I must say I enjoyed the whole experience tremendously. An accessible bar, a coffee cart, a friendly atmosphere, and ex-Picturehouse bass player Andy hanging out in a VW camper van and wearing a Stetson, just chilling, vending soft drinks and V-dub minutiae. Who could ask for more? 

The crowd were great; enthusiastic, dancing, clapping, having a great time, as did we all. I’m glad I bought a new shirt for it. Checked, natch. And I dug out my old cowboy boots. No, really, they’re surprisingly comfortable….

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