Off The Tracks Late Festival celebrates its 21st birthday in style

Off The Tracks Late Festival 2009 review

published: Thu 10th Sep 2009


Friday 4th to Sunday 6th September 2009
Donington Park Farmhouse, Isley Walton, nr Castle Donington, Leicestershire, England MAP
£60 for w/e inc camping; children (12-16) £230 for w/e inc camping
last updated: Mon 7th Sep 2009

First of all let me congratulate all concerned for making it to the festival's 21st birthday - it surely is testament to the organizers that this festival has had continued success. A great mix of known acts and newer upcoming artists always helps to 'create a fabulous upbeat vibe'. Being on a regular campsite the facilities are great, proper toilets, showers, a laundry even, with hook ups for live in vehicles and caravans.

around the festival site
It is a family friendly event with plenty on offer for kids of all ages to enjoy. There was pottery painting, face painting and a childrens parade on Saturday for them to show off the costumes and such that they had created. There is 'The Energy Orchard' with a host of workshops and alternative treatments offered by qualified practitioners. Yoga, meditation, singing / satsang sessions as well as reflexology, shiatsu, metamorphic technique and reiki were all available throughout the weekend. For the other kind of (big) kids the real ale bar is of particular interest. Plenty of ales and ciders, all reasonably priced (£2.60-£3.00 ish), spoilt us for choice. The food available within the venue continues to expand with delights from a chip cob / roll to venison pie via curries and full English breakfasts.

There are 2 principle stages, the main one being a (carpeted) marquee and the second, the chill out barn which hosted a mixture of DJs and live acts. Besides these there's the indoor barn which, at midnight on Friday, showed films and on Saturday hosted the silent disco with 2 DJs (psytrance and psychedelia) – great to watch sans headphones! The outside bar had its own entertainment at times too with The Re-Entrants, two guys, two ukuleles and classic tunes we all know and love. Meanwhile in the main bar from midnight, improvised folk jam sessions held many enraptured till the wee small hours.

On Friday on the main stage were firstly a Monster Ceilidh described in the (free) programme as "The coolest ceilidh band in the world" followed by Shooglenifty, Celtic music stalwarts who had us dancing and prancing around with joyful abandon! Next up were the 'godfathers of world music' Osibisa who entertained us with their classic blends of energetic African rhythms and sunshine melodies. In the chill out barn firstly was DJ Matt playing an eclectic brew of sounds followed by Akahum at midnight and Mandragora with the first of their sets for the weekend on till

Saturday kicked off on the main stage with Tallulah Rendall Duo followed by Prego whose vibrant take on European roots music was sublime. Tight, joyful and hugely entertaining, spirits inside the marquee were lifted, especially with some of the slick dance moves! In the chill out stage today, firstly, were the highly recommended The Misers, closely followed by L-mo, a funky insightful trio.

Rory McLeod
Back on the main stage Rory McLeod performed next, entertaining with his bluesy, folk tinged songs of a life well travelled. In the chill out barn meanwhile, was The Hang Project, with one of the instruments of the weekend. A hang drum is a metal dome shaped instrument that sounds reminiscent of a steel drum but much softer. Accompanying this was a bass player and a guy playing what's known as a Cajon, a percussive box that's played whilst being sat upon.

The next act on the main stage, 6 Day Riot,has been described by the music press as "Sunny harmonies, calypso beats, buoyant melodies and quirky lyrics. Unashamedly poppy and irrepressibly charming". Can't say fairer than that! Then there followed in the barn an African drum workshop which was a great way of spending an hour. An extended 'tea-break' enjoying the late evening sunshine in the pleasant surrounds of the campsite meant Neverland's "thunderous, impressive rock'n'reel" set on the mainstage was only heard from afar, but as the sun went west we returned to the intimate courtyard venues for a closer experience.

Transglobal Underground
Disappointingly for roots reggae fans (of which I'm one) Golty Farabeau & Jahmalac from the Seychelles was a no show and replaced by the electronic sounds of Mandragora promoted from the barn stage for a repeat performance. The bluegrass/folk of Dog Days of Summer lured us to the chill out stage for a worthwhile diversion before the main event of the evening - the always popular and magnificently fused - Transglobal Underground - who had the whole tent dancing around like gibbons on a day trip! Great stuff.

As ever, after the last band plenty of opportunity to dance remained - in the chill out barn was Big Chill resident DJ AJ spinning global tunes followed by DJ Edgey playing dub-reggae into the small hours, while the barn stage hosted the quaint delights of the silent disco which proved a popular new addition with the OTT crowd. Devised originally as a way to extend the party into the night without disturbing the neighbours (a problem that doesn't exist at the OTT venue as far as I know) it appears the 'silent disco' concept has become a novel attraction in itself...

Sunday, awoke to the sound of a WWII Spitfire aircraft buzzing around the skies above the local Castle Donington race track. So enthralled with this spectacle (and a cup of strong coffee) was I that I missed the first act of the day, the local Melbourne Brass Band. Ah well, next time... Metheglin took to the stage next in place of Peter Conway and his band as they were stuck in traffic en route. Cheery, melodic tunes featuring (Northumbrian?) Pipes, a Hurdy-Gurdy, Mandolin and hand percussion. Lovely. Pete and his band arrived to do their set and went down a treat, whilst the last act of the afternoon of music, Ezio, finished the weekend off in some style. Two formidable guitarists and punchy lyrics sent us off with a spring in our step. Yet another great time, with both old and newcomers proclaiming they’ll be back for more in the spring. I for one will be joining them. Three cheers for Off The Tracks…hip-hip….hip-hip….hip-hip!
review by: Phil 'The Van' Lenthall

photos by: Phil Bull

Friday 4th to Sunday 6th September 2009
Donington Park Farmhouse, Isley Walton, nr Castle Donington, Leicestershire, England MAP
£60 for w/e inc camping; children (12-16) £230 for w/e inc camping
last updated: Mon 7th Sep 2009

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