Tuesday, 16 September 2014


Under normal circumstances we would have been at Balstock for the whole weekend including Friday night but these were not ‘normal’ circumstances, Friday night was a very special occasion, it was our good friend Jo’s “Don’t mention the ‘F’ word” party (F in this case being the big Five-0) and it took place way out ‘In the sticks’ in Toddington in the Social Club with a rather good covers band, ‘Deaf Shepherd’ providing the music for the 150 or so family & friends who gathered there to eat too much, drink too much and dance the night away.

Deaf Shepherd - Very entertaining band
Jo’s party was a splendid ‘do’ and we were very pleased we were able to go (Thanks to Smiffy electing to drive) and if there was anything worth missing Friday night’s Balstock for then this was it.

Most of Saturday was spent at The White Lion where Folkstock were running the stage for the day with the lovely Helen Meissner and the Folkstock crew doing an excellent job and putting on some of the finest folk singers, duo’s and bands around the (Predominately) local circuit.

The day's running order

 There were many acts that I for one had either heard of but never seen and several who were completely new to me. Folk is a genre that I have always loved but I have never been comfortable with the finger up the arse pretentious attitude of many of the folk clubs I have visited in the past.
Please don’t get me wrong, I fully support respecting the artist and not talking loudly or walking in front of stage when they’re on and all of that, it’s no less than any performing artist deserves but it’s the “You cannot get up and get a drink while they’re on” “You have to sit in silence” and the “If it’s not folk it isn’t music” attitude that gets me, besides I have never looked good with a beard or wearing sandals, brown corduroy trousers and a baggy knitted jumper!

I am very happy to say that the good folk of Folkstock are NOTHING like that and this day fully restored not only my love of folk music but showed everyone just how it can be done when it’s done well.

So a few pictures of who we saw to start with:-

The lovely Cara Beard

Daniel Nestlerode - Who'd have thought one man and a mandolin could be so brilliant!

Faye Brotherhood, lovely quirks songs about battles and death among other things

Flaming June, simply outstanding!
A lovely set from Kaity Rae
 We took an excursion out to The Boot to see the wonderful completely bonkers Disco Zhivago, that they are damn fine musicians and so involved with the local scene was evident from the audience who read like a Who’s Who of North Herts, Bed’s and Cambridge music, I’d hate to even try to guess how many bands were represented and Charlie and the boys did not disappoint, a damn fine set which was much enjoyed by all.

Disco Zhivago at their splendid bonkers best, we love this band.
Ratpigeon were up next, this is a band I’ve not seen for several years and they have of course evolved and moved on and their somewhat previously off kilter rather risque songs have been toned down(Only slightly) but in favour of upping the musical delivery and they certainly delivered a fine rocking set.

The splendid Ratpigeon in full flow
We had to stay for Speedshot who blasted their way through the new album ‘Spit’ in style and tore The Boot ‘a new one’ as they say, Danny got into trouble with the venue when he left the flat floor stage in favour of the bar but what the hell, that’s rock and roll, I was totally blown away by Speedshot yet again, a band to watch and watch out for.

Speedshot give it their all
A short stroll down the road to the main stage to catch local Ska legends The Defeketers before heading back to The White Line to complete the evening with yet more fine folk in the form of Kelly Oliver, Said the Maiden and Black *Scarr, all of whom were absolutely superb.

The legendary Defekters rocked the main stage

It was then time to head back to the White Lion to spend a folky evening with:-
Garry Smith

The wonderful Kelly Oliver

Awesome set from Said the Maiden

And to round off the evening:-

The highly entertaining Black *Scarr

 All in all a very fine Balstock Saturday.

Sunday saw a more sedate start to the proceedings as I availed myself of a very nice lunch of ham, egg and chips with a mug of tea at the Baldock café before wandering up to the White Lion with Chris to see what was happening there. Owing to a somewhat late kick off we managed to catch part the first act before setting off to The Broken Drum for Arc Angel, the Joan ov Arc acoustic off-spin and delightful beyond all expectations it was too and also spontaneously turned into one of those never to be repeated events when Dutch Band, Ritn Ditn complete with entourage and sporting customised clogs descended upon the pub to sing along and tap out the rhythms on the old wooden floor!

Arc Angels phew! What a set.
 After a splendid proper start to the afternoon we joined The Smiths, not the band, but Paul & Lynne to wander down to The Rose and Crown to see Lynne’s son Ben Bubear fronting the most excellent of covers bands, One Leather Glove, not only did they rock the place with some well chosen rock anthems they also slipped in the odd cheeky self-penned number too and damn fine they were.

One Leather Glove, so much more than just a covers band
Early evening saw us ensconced in front of the main stage for the previously mentioned Ritn Ditn who put on the finest show of party rock I have ever had the privilege of watching, imagine ACDC after a night on the happy juice and you might just get the picture, the ironing board thingy has to be seen to be believed!

Dutch loony Rockers, RITN DITN

Topping the bill and bringing the main stage to a close were Joan ov Arc, this all girl rock band are just that, first and foremost a rock band and it is no surprise that they are now enjoying international fame as they not only deserve it but have worked very hard over the years to achieve it and well done them, this night they even had special guest John Altman (Nasty Nick from Eastenders) to sing a couple of songs with then, and yes, he really can sing, and the finale with John and Ritn Ditn and the Blalstock maestro himself, G, on stage with the girls was a splendid way to end the day. Despite the fact that some of the other venues were going on until closing time we decided to call it a day after Joan ov Arc because, quite simply, nothing else would have been that good.

The always brilliant, Joan ov Arc
The whole festival is all about supporting the local community, all the artists and volunteers work for free and this year’s nominated charity is “Up on Downs” which supports families with Down’s Syndrome children, I hope you all dug deep, we did, it cost us a small fortune but what the heck, it was worth every single penny.

Now I don't have time to research, copy and post all the links to the various bands and artists web pages or facebook pages but please do go and check them out and check out BALSTOCK too, make a date for next year, it will be so worth it.

Cheers me dears for now.
Grant September 2014 Wordz n pic's above all rights reserved Grant Meaby 2014


  1. Another one of those magical weekends with big big thanks to Gee and all his Red shirted volunteers for the massive effort of putting on Balstock. If you didn't go please make sure you do next year, you won'the regret it!