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Wednesday, 13 December 2017

A PROG CURRY - A CHRISTMAS WALKABOUT & IQ AT ISLINGTON

Well, would you believe it, on Friday the 8th December I finally made it along to the Prog Curry, a monthly event organised by the wonderful Robin Smith where a gathering of like-minded (ish) friends meet up at The Parcel Yard Pub in Kings Cross Station for an ale or two before making the short walk over to The Indian Lounge.
If you are into Prog, Curries, a beer or two and are on Facebook then have a look for the Prog Curry page.

The Prog Curry Crew in The Indian Lounge

Prog Curry Selfie - Courtesy of Robin Smith
On Saturday it was back to London again for the Fellowship Of The Stick's annual London Christmas Walkabout (Pub crawl to anyone else) before setting off to The Islington Assembly Rooms to see the IQ Christmas concert, as follows:-

The Fellowship Christmas Bash 2017



Oh good grief there are elves on the train
that means it must be
that time of year once again
Peter, Kevin, Grant and Chris
An annual event on the calendar
not to be missed

Elves on the march - Courtesy of A.W. Smith
The Fellowship were out in force this day
merriment and laughter would no doubt hold sway
firstly it was off to the Bree Louise
fine ales and pies were sure to please
and they did, and we also did see
the lads and lasses of the NYPD
with our Hazel now in tow
it was soon time to drink up
yes drink up and go
a short bus ride took us to Islington
to the Brewhouse and Kitchen
to meet up with Mark, Alex & Tim

A.W-S himself
Presents from Alex, a wee Damson Gin
and presents from Kevin some splendid Christmas socks
and a little CD by our own TV's Roger Marsh's Tinderbox
then there was the Charles Lamb and the Plaquemine Loch
The Island Queen, The Earl of Essex, would this fun never stop?
A Christmas sing song in the garden
and we were off once more
one last pub on the route this time it was the York
then another short bus ride for scampi & chips as you do
before a magnificent gig from the mighty IQ

IQ in full flow

Mike Holmes, what an angel.

IQ take a bow
What a great outing, what a magnificent day
the FOTS 2017 Christmas bash
was one of the best ever
that's what I say.

Well it certainly was, IQ  treated us to The Darkest Hour, Guiding Light, Harvest Of Souls, Failsafe and The Wake - among many other outstanding treats and of course with the traditional Christmas hats in evidence and Mike Holmes with his outstretched Angels wings, magnificent.

On Sunday the 10th December I was supposed to going back to London once again for the Touchstone & IO Earth Christmas gig, but I woke up to this:-

Pretty but it killed off my Sunday gigging!

GM December 2017

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

THE GREAT BRITISH FOLK FESTIVAL - SKEGNESS DECEMBER 2017

So for myself and Chris this was our second visit to the Great British Folk Festival at Butlin's, Skegness, the year we were three, we had a Peter with us as well and those good old Corona shirts got a good airing once again!

So Folk, well it was by no means the "Finger in the ear" sort of folk although there was of course a good smattering of the more 'traditional' folk but by and large, once again it was a fantastic festival with a good eclectic mix of music, in fact it's often hard these days to tell where one genre ends and another begins!

The line up was pretty awesome:-


FRIDAY 1st December

Friday saw us arrive in good time to check in, unpack and make our way to the introducing stage to catch, Brad Dear, Solasta, Galley Beggar and the start of Honey and the Bear before dinner.

Brad Dear

Solasta

Galley Beggar

Honey and the Bear
After a magnificent Butlin's dinner it was off to Centre Stage to catch Winter Wilson then into Reds for a bit of Eddi Reader before racing back to Centre Stage to catch a great set from Magna Carta before scooting back to Reds for an amazing dance along set from Sheelanagig, it's the first time I've ever seen a Waltz Pit!

Winter Wilson

Eddi Reader

Magna Carta

Sheelanagig
And so that was Friday, what a splendid evening of great and varied music it had been.

SATURDAY 2nd December
For the first time (Apparently) in this festivals history they ran an acoustic afternoon in JAKS, confusingly the acts that did perform were not all as per the program but what the heck, it was a great afternoon with John Williams (Folk on the farm), Edwina Hayes, Louise Jordan, Steve Jackson and Jack Parker.

John Williams

Edwina Hayes

Louise Jordan

Steve Jackson

Jack Parker
Late Saturday afternoon saw us heading once more to the introducing stage to catch Alden, Patterson & Dashwood before a complete and wonderful surprise for us, Daria Kulesh had been drafted in to replace the poorly Emi McDade.

A, P & D

The wonderful Daria Kulesh
After Daria's superb set (Yes I am biased, she's a friend), it was time for dinner and then a quick sortie back to the chalet to rest before the evening's entertainment.

Shooting out on my own I was fortunate to catch Joshua Burnell on the introducing stage and then one of the performances of the festival, Martyn Joseph, a fantastic and memorable gig, Chris and Peter arrived at the end and we all caught the start of the Hothouse Flowers before dashing up to Centre Stage to see the legendary Fairport Convention who also delivered an awesome performance, we finished off with Rusty Shackle in Reds, another wonderful upbeat electric folk / dance experience.

Joshua Burnell

Martyn Joseph

Hothouse Flowers

Fairport Convention

Rusty Shackle
SUNDAY 3rd December
So, what does once do on a Sunday morning in Skegness when the music doesn't start until the afternoon? Well, in fact the music started at 10:00 am with a live band playing for the Tourdion French Dancing, which was a must to see!


The band
Sunday afternoon saw us flitting between Centre Stage and Reds to catch some excellent sets from Roger Davies, Gilmore and Roberts, St Agnes Fountain, Peter Knight and John Spiers and then Skinner and Twitch and one of the discoveries of the festival, Idle Empire on the introducing stage.

Roger Davies

Gilmore and Roberts

St Agnes Fountain

Peter Knight & John Spiers

Skinner and Twtich

Idle Empire
Phew, what a day it had been so far and there was still the last night to go!

Once again flitting between the venues we caught most of the sets from TradArr, Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman, Dervish, Bella Hardy, the completely over the top mayhem of Tankus the Henge before the closing few numbers from Clearwater.

Kathryn & Sean

TradArr

Dervish

Bella Hardy

Tankus the Henge

Clearwater Creedence Revival
That's all folks, although it wasn't all folk!
Another brilliant festival and so good to see so many friends with similar eclectic tastes in music as we'd seen them at such places as HRH Prog, Skeggy Rock & Blues, Cambridge Rock Festival + Linton too!



That's all Folks

Where does Folk end and New Roots begin?
Or blues, Americana, Jazz, Rock or Swing?
Is a singer / songwriter Folk?
it depends on their style
I guess or I hope
for the boundaries are blurred
and the genres mix well
is this Nu Folk or old
time will perhaps tell
there was no stereotypical
'Finger in the ear'
but then again I concede
it's what some like to hear
but the Great British Folk Festival
at Butlin's Skegness
was a quite awesome festival
one of the best
the mix of music was eclectic
across the whole Folk sphere
with a few Christmas songs too
for this time of year
there were new artists and legends
all great to see
we had a brilliant time
Peter, Chris and me
and there were many there 
including some that we knew
who do the Rock and Blues and CRF too
so don't be put off by labels
don't pigeonhole a band
for if you like good live music
then it's not good, it's grand.

Grant Meaby
December 2017



Wednesday, 22 November 2017

HRH PROG VI and a bit before!

OK, so this blog is primarily about the HRH Prog VI Weekend at Camp HRH, Hafan-y-Mor in North Wales but, and there are a couple of 'buts', for us the adventure started the day before in Shrewsbury and, after reading the remarkable Buzz Elliott's review of HRH Prog VI I wondered should I bother as I found that not only is it a great review but I agreed with just about everything Buzz said (More from Buzz later).

Buzz Elliott - Solo artist, Hammerhead Guitarist, HRH Punter
So, without further ado, as I mentioned, for three of The Fellowship our adventure started on the Wednesday as we set off for an overnight stop at  historic Shrewsbury, staying in the Weatherspoon's Shrewsbury Hotel and exploring some of the very excellent and historic pubs that Shreswbury has to offer.

The Shrewsbury Hotel

Shrewsbury Revisited

Twisted oaken beams
medieval dreams
narrow cobbled streets
warming pubs in which to meet
the Anchor and the Salopian
history written in the very walls
Shrewsbury has it all and more

The Anchor

The Salopian
This night in the old town
there was a seething crowd
street music playing loud
as they waited in anticipation
for the switching on of this year's
Christmas illuminations
whilst we three
Chris, Tim & me
sought refuge in the Loggerheads
officially a pub since the 1700's
but with a history
which goes back at least a century

The Loggerheads
When at last we departed
the lights were shining bright
the crowd had dispersed
as we slowly made our way back
to the hotel, via the King's Head
for a hot curry and a sleep
before the next stage of our adventure
as we ventured
over the mountains
to camp HRH in North Wales.

The King's Head
Thursday morning saw us up bright and early and after a good Weatherspoon's breakfast we were on the road to Wales and up, up, over the mountains towards the North Wales coast and camp HRH.

Over the mountains we go!



Camp HRH really is set within a beautiful landscape, although large it is a well ordered, tidy and comfortable site with sea and mountain views (Depending where you are on site of course), plenty of wildlife, woods and of course venues, bars and eateries!

Our accommodation this time round was a modern static caravan / mobile home which actually had very efficient central heating, a must for this time of the year!

Camp FoTs at HRH
Thursday's music was all in Arena 1 (The main venue), kicking off with the very excellent IO Earth who seem to have now settled down into a stable line up that have really gelled, a great way to kick off the festival.

IO Earth
I was quite a surprise to me that it seemed that many of the punters didn't know of Krankschaft (Misspelled as Krankshaft in the program) or any of their history, formed way back in time by the late genius Robert Calvert, Krankschaft also provide the backbone of Nik Turner's Inner City Unit and they treated us to some space rock of the highest calibre and to my utmost joy, played one of my all time favourite songs, 'Moon'.

Krankschaft on the main stage
Next up were the Mostly Awesome Mostly Autumn with a stunning set drawing from their extensive catalogue of fine albums.

Mostly Autumn
Still managing to stay awake and alert at what was by now the witching hour we made our way down to the oddly named Bonga Wonga venue for the Thursday night after party to find that Krankschaft were playing and they treated us to a slightly different set from that on the main stage by playing the whole of the new album from start to finish, followed by a couple of old classics like, yes, you guessed it, 'Moon'.

Kranking up the after party several notches!
Friday was of course a day of choices, with great artists and bands on all afternoon and evening in Arena's 1 & 2, you just couldn't see them all, so we opted for KYROS (formerly known as Synaesthesia) and their melodic prog metal rather than Edgar Broughton who was doing a solo acoustic set I've seen a few times now.

Kyros pulled a good crowd, deservedly so.
After catching a little of Third Quadrant's more traditional prog it was over to the main arena for the Heather Findlay Band who we just happen to adore!

Heather Findlay
Staying in the main arena next up were the mighty Hawklords who are currently touring as a four piece (Less vocalist Ron Tree, M.I.A. somewhere in the cosmos) and who I'd seen only a couple of weeks ago, once again a great performance which had the crowd rocking away.

Hawklords
Caravan were up next proving that age is not a problem when it comes to making great music and they are still able to play the old classics to perfection, a classic performance all round from Caravan.

Caravan
Caravan were followed by one of the bands of the festival, the Von Hetzen Brothers (From where I was sitting I didn't manage to get any shots of them sadly) but they turned in a truly magnificent performance and yes, they do indeed live up to all the hype there has been about them in the various music press!

Headlining the main arena on Friday night were Uriah Heep, one may jave been forgiven for thinking, how on earth were they going to follow the VHB's, needn't have worried, again the Heep just about blew everyone before (& after) off the stage with a truly immense set featuring many old classics and several new songs from the latter period and from the new album coming out early in 2018.
 
Mick Box of Uriah Heep showing us how it should be done!
That was almost it for us on Friday, a quick dash over to arena 2 to catch a bit of Threshold before a well earned sleep to prepare for Saturday!

As I mentioned, the site really is in quite a stunning setting, an early morning walk was called for:-

Up comes the sun over the sea
Looking at Saturday's line up there was one hard and several easy decisions to be made, Arena 1, Touchstone had sadly had to pull out due to circumstances beyond their control (Which may or may not have become public by now), Magenta (A band we love) clashed with The Fierce and the Dead in arena 2, Focus we've seen so many times, Carl Palmers ELP Legacy, again who I've seen twice already and Magnum, who I never really got into and sadly not as good as they used to be, so, it was Arena 2 all the way down the line on Saturday, kicking off with the more classic rock rather than prog of Multistory.

Multistory
Multistory were followed by The Tirith, more prog orientated with a hint of space rock thrown in for good measure.

The Tirith

Next up were the more classically female fronted prog of The Far Meadow:-

The Far Meadow
Now we come to one of the bands I had certainly been waiting all weekend for, The Fierce And The Dead, it was great to catch up with Matt and the lads before they went on and wow, how on earth do you describe the music of TFATD, so, blindly stealing the words of Buzz Elliott from his review:-
"The band are hard to pigeon-hole as they fall somewhere between prog & heavy punk but it is not quite that simple, sometimes they remind me of listening to bands such as CAN due to the long hypnotic instrumental sections, they can jump from the mellow tones of say Stereolab to the harsh angst-ridden noise of Rage against the machine in a split second and then back again, main-man Matt also has a kind of magnetic charisma making him a really likeable guy & cool to watch, the rest of the band form a rock solid platform of instrumental sound-scapes for Matt to weave his magic over & it appears as if only two thirds of what he actually does is planned, the rest is in the lap of the Gods! .........definitely one of the most exciting and memorable experiences of the weekend!"

The Fierce and The Dead
For me, TFATD were another of the bands of the festival, a great set and to finish with Hawkwind's Brainstorm in memory of Dik Mik was a stroke of pure genius and just so fitting.

I only caught a couple of numbers from Kepler Ten as one has to eat sometimnes, at least I had a lunch date:-

My lunch not yours!

Next up were Ghost Community who I'd seen in August at Cambridge Rock Festival and was very glad to have the chance to see them again, a good set all round.

Ghost Community
Next up were one of my favourite bands, Cairo, playing mainly songs from the debut 'Say' album but with a great new song thrown in for good measure, despite some obvious technical issues (The remarkable self unplugging cable) which led to a bit of of a start stop start again Cairo managed to deliver an excellent set and to keep a healthy crowd despite competing with Magnum who were rocking Arena 1 at the same time.

Captain Blue himself, Rob Cottingham of Cairo
The enchanting Rachel, Cairo
How on earth do you draw a festival like HRH Prog to a suitable close, well, you have to have a remarkable artist with a great band behind him, as was most definitely the case when we had none other than Alan Reed and the Daughters of Expediency to bring us to a fabulous musical climax.

Alan Reed (& Mark Spencer) going for it.
Nice suite by the way Mark.

Another HRH Prog had come to an end, another fine HRH Prog at that, not a duff band among those we saw, next years HRH Prog 7 will again be in November as this seems to tie in better with many band's touring schedules, will we be back? We've already booked.
Cheers m'dears, until the next one.
Grant - November 2017