Friday promise of Reggae brightens up the day at Larmer Tree

Larmer Tree Festival 2010 review

published: Wed 28th Jul 2010

Toots And The Maytals

Wednesday 14th to Sunday 18th July 2010
Larmer Tree Gardens, near Tollard Royal (about 16 miles W of Salisbury), on the Wilts./Dorset border, SP5 5PT, England MAP
£184 for 5 days, day tickets priced at £30 to £58 dependant on day
last updated: Mon 7th Jun 2010

After a pretty restless night of listening to the tent flapping, we finally get up and I set to work at leathering pegs back in. The wind is still trying to tease the tent back out again so we don the full waterproofs and wander back from the camp site to the main arena.

around the festival site
Larmer Tree has so much to offer kids. It's not an afterthought, their entertainment seems as important as the rest of the festival programme (sometimes more so). Be it craft (knitting, sewing, making masks), or circus skills (stilt walking, poi, juggling, tightrope, hula hoping or Diablo), nature trails, story telling, sticking, cutting, face painting. We're really not scratching the surface with this list and it's why most of the kids of Larmer Tree seem so happy!

We opt for a puppet show from the dragons of the Wye-Ten Puppet Theatre. Our youngest is transfixed, finding the puppets pretty and funny and the length of the shows is just right to hold her attention and get a point across.

We join the crafty mob on the Larmer Lawn to build a mural with a special message. The kids cut out a letter, which goes to build a message stating "If you can walk you can dance If you can talk you can sing". The impact of the final sign is going to be huge with different textures fabrics and colours selected by each of the participating children.

As we wander on, we stumble across a demonstration about to take place. Up against the wind and another shower, a team of experts are about to showcase their capoeira talents. Capoeira knits together dance, martial arts and music. The skill dexterity and agility required, together with the musicianship make for an impressive display. The Berimbau (which looks like a longbow), is played with different rhythms, each with it's own meaning.

The gourd hollowed out and held close resonates the sounds and a stone held against the string changes the pitch. There is no doubting the skill and intensity of this discipline.

Back to the garden stage and Skip 'Little Axe' McDonald's arrival is perfect. His sunny blues and gospel guitar seem to chase away the clouds and banish them for the rest of the weekend and the 3pm slot is perfect for a post lunch zone out from conversation and into the realms that this magical musician guides you into.

I head back to the tent to drop off some of the waterproofs and get some warmer evening wear and I'm chuffed to meet Hobo Jones & The Junkyard Dogs on the way back to the rest of the family. I get to them as they unleash their seamless medley of the Um Bongo song, the Dads Army Theme, and The Banana Splits theme. It's genius, pure and simple. A tea chest bass, washboard and guitar form the main part of the band, and the crowd are offered various 'percussive instruments' to join in. Rather than me ruin it for you, if you haven't seen them before, do yourself a favour and check them out!!

The Penny Black Remedy has a great sound. A kind of Eastern European ska like I've never heard before. Not Gogol Bordello, nor Ozomatli, but similar to both and bags of energy to get the crowd fired up and ready for an evening of fun and bouncing.

We head off to get something to eat with the Oysterband playing in the distance as we all tuck into our chosen meal. Pie Minister with mash and minty peas does it for me!

I have to mention at some point the Larmer Loos – I know it's not something we should really go into in detail but it's an important part of festivalling. The additional urinals keep the early morning queues down in the campsites and the loos seem spotless all weekend. The cleaning team do a great job and as each loo has a clear number it is easy to report a duff one to an attendant!

DJ Derek
DJ Derek back on the Garden Stage gets us ready for today's main event with his reggae-light tunes a good intro for the amazing Toots and the Maytals. One of my weekends highlights, it's such an honour to be in the company of reggae greats – Mr Toots Hibbert is even credited as one of the invertors of the word 'reggae'. Their set crashes through the greatest hits of their back catalogue with greats such as '54-46', ‘Monkey Man', and 'Sweet and Dandy' among my personal favourites.

DJ Derek rounds off the evening as we head back for an early night after getting badgered by the wind trying to eat our tent the night before.
review by: James Tayler

photos by: Andy Pitt

Wednesday 14th to Sunday 18th July 2010
Larmer Tree Gardens, near Tollard Royal (about 16 miles W of Salisbury), on the Wilts./Dorset border, SP5 5PT, England MAP
£184 for 5 days, day tickets priced at £30 to £58 dependant on day
last updated: Mon 7th Jun 2010


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