'Once upon a time in the west' is a new festival, that's been created by people with many years experience in festivals and music. This the first year is held at a secret location, which happened to be less than 10 miles from home, not that I knew when purchasing my ticket, which was to prove to be great value!
We arrived on site in scorching hot sunshine and were thankful for the short distance from the car park to camping. Tent up and a couple of the west country's finest to quell the thirst it was time to stroll into the festival, after its opening declaration from a bell ringing town cryer!
A quick walk around revealed the festival was small but with a well thought out layout. There are two stages, both in 'wild west' themed marquees, the biggest one with the bar inside too. There's a few choice vendors dotted around the perimeter and Hotel Bastardos (an open topped double decker bus wrapped around by a marquee) positioned at the furthest point from the camping, and where the after hours revellery takes place. The whole place is enclosed and the security low key, face painted and friendly.
Its a lovely simple festival set up of 2 stages a few steps apart and a bar in one of them. There's a bit of an overlap between acts but the good thing is you can see all the acts appearing over the weekend, the other good thing is all the acts are good quality festival acts, guaranteed to get your feet moving.
The White City Shakers are the act that start of the weekend singing New Orleans swing blues to a small audience who are up for a dance, and it's clear we are all happy to be here. Funke and the Two Tone Baby are next on the west stage, his busy energetic blues and clever use of loopback creates a big sound for just one man. Doozer helps Funke out by selling his wares as he has to be off site in a hurry, the Kent festival posse are in attendance this evening.
Gringo Ska in the Out stage tent were playing easy going instrumental ska and with it gave us our first warning of a storm ahead! As it approached Gaz Brookfield played a cracking heart felt set to an audience that soon swelled to listen to his west country loving songs and of his life’s experiences!
A quick two step over to Hobo Jones & The Junkyard Dogs, who take to the main stage as the sunset colours the skies above Out West. They play their lively crowd pleasing set of skunk rock, joined for a couple of singalongs by Doozer and for their finale of Drunken Sailor by Hobo Jones & The Junkyard Dogs.
Graveyard Johnnys are an attraction thumping out some loud 'rock n roll' on the smaller "OUT" stage, and it's possibly too small for their sound. But the audience are happy to get good n sweaty! Subgiant bring their own unique sound to a small tent in a Wiltshire field, creating a party vibe for 45 mins of bouncy glowstick shaking fun.
Music on the stages finished, the promised stormy weather has arrived, ah well it is the price to pay for a proper hot summer time, so we head off to Hotel Bastardos to join the night owls for late night cocktails and dancing.
Day two starts with it tipping down on and off from early in the morning but the small not overly trodden site is holding up fine. Food choices on site are limited but a large veggie cooked breakfast goes down well between showers, and ominous rumblings.
Howlin' Lord start up the music on the second day with New Orleans bluesy rock and beards. The weather is keeping folk in their tents, I guess, but those of us out seem full of beans for the music ahead. Welsh Chris and The Douche Bags, winners of the competition to play a slot at the Festival are up next, and it's a good time to sample some more of the choices from the bar as they play. There is a reasonable choice of locally sourced ales, cider, perry and even mead all at fair prices.
Ned The Kids Dylan takes up the baton now, after a brief stop due to a lightning break when it hits a nearby phone mast, forcing organisers to power down the site. This is the third time I've seen young Ned play and each time his showmanship is improving. He leaves the stage with a walk around mic, and requires some help to get over the barriers while Welsh Chris accompanies him on guest guitar.
Boot Hill All Stars have a lively time with a 'friendly' audience (helps if you're the ones who organised this weekend party). Their Fluffers arrive back on stage after dusting down the crowd and beach balls bounce around the tent too. The highlight is a Frome version of 'Jolene' which rings out with a dedication to those that didn't get to Glastonbury Festival this year.
Jack Cade & the Everyday Sinners are our next movers, with a 'Johnny Cash' sort of sound and deep voice juxtaposed with the higher tones of his co-singer, 'Dead Weight Walking' is a crowd favourite from their set.
Rusty Shackle get factions of the crowd dancing with their popular alt-folk style delivered with plenty of guitars, banjo, fiddle and trumpet.
Screamin' Miss Jackson & The Slap Ya' Mama Big Band are a bunch of fun characters (sharing some of howling lords line-up), and are crowd favourites happy to hear the band banter amongst themselves between their Ameri-folk songs. They seem to enjoy their OUTwest (right through til the end of the night) and we enjoy their performance.
Quinns Quinney, play next while we eat a Tuscan bean stew from Malinkey's and sample some of the Firestarter cider. They have a lively take on some modern classics and the medleys mixed with their West country wit and some cheesy classics have us smiling and singing along.
The John E Vistic Experience brings some of his loud and sweaty rock n roll to our ears and it's a real change to most of the rest of the line up, before King Porter Stomp fill the out stage with their tight brass ska and an interesting vocal delivery, and get everyone moving! Big Red Ass back over on 'West' stage get the hat wearers in the crowd doffing our various head gear and shouting back lyrics, good stuff.
We were nearing the end of the evening, and thankfully it had been dry and sunny for most of the day. Some are laid out in the grass, relaxing as we move our tiring legs over to Imperial Leisure, they get them moving rapidly again with rousing ska. More beach balls sail over the heads in the crowd as does the lively singer. Who opens their set spraying a bottle of 'unknown' sparkling wine over us but no one cares, and whilst the band get the crowd in the mood to party, the wine is shared around!
The Last band of the festival are Fromage en Feu, a classic European sound with accordions, double bass, woodwind and brass. We sway gently to them and as the amplified music gets turned off, they up sticks from the stage and continue to play into Sunday morning (and the lead musician's 40th birthday) amid the audience.
Time for one final cocktail and a dance at Hotel Bastardos to finish up a wonderful day/weekend. In summary, I've missed these small tight knit festivals, organised by people not businesses, where you can enjoy lots of music easily moving the short distances between stages.
Simple provision for the festival goers of just what we need with a relaxed laid back feel. The greatest thing about the festival is its value for money, which could not be better! A brilliant job OUTWest crew, lets have it again next year please!
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Once Upon a Time in the West (OUT West) 2018 review