OUT In The West is a friendly festival that has an easy to enjoy set up and great quality music

Once Upon a Time in The West Festival 2015 review

published: Wed 22nd Jul 2015

around the festival site

Thursday 16th to Sunday 19th July 2015
secret outdoor location, Bath/Frome/West Wilts area, Wiltshire, England
£55 for a weekend ticket
last updated: Mon 15th Jun 2015

Saturday starts with a nice mix of sun 'n' cloud but the van warms up quickly at this time of the year, so its off to the arena for a breakfast and chat with a micro pub owner over a nice pint of Funky Monkey from Milk Street Brewery in Frome.

Then it's on to The Showhawk Duo, a pair of guitarist that bring tunes of all sorts to their instruments, 90's club dance tunes being their taste on the 'Once Upon A Time' from weekend's title and of their youth. An acoustic trance montage includes Faithless' 'Insomnia' possibly the one they're most known for covering. A classical leap to 'Adadjio On Strings' and finishing with 'Bohemian Rhapsody' and a mix of the can-can and the Lone Ranger theme as an encore.

Time for some lunch, food wise around the small site, there's Nana's Kitchen with veg curry for £6 to soup 'n' roll for a reasonable £3, Jonesy's Texan Brisket offers pulled meats an brisket served in various forms and prices up to a very filling taster plate for £7.50, and Malinkey's serving a full English from £5 and sausage/bacon/egg baps from £3.50 and giant Yorkshire puddings with various fillings at £5 or £7. All of these places were of good quality and portion size in my experience and never had long queues when I needed to eat.

Hodmadoddery, another guitar duo, but at the other end of the scale to Showhawk Duo, skillfully playing traditional folk songs for example Ewan MacColl's 'Shoals Of Herring'.

The United Stoats of America are 9 guys on stage aging from about 70 on percussion box in drag to a 7-ish year old on mandolin. They played a U2 cover 'Still Haven't Found', Johnny Cash's 'Folsum Prison Blues' and the fiddle player takes to the audience for a favourite of mine, The Waterboys' 'Fisherman's Blues'.

Whilst I'm stood at one of the open ended urinals (which really help reduce queues for the cubicle-loos, as there were rarely any.) I see a full New Orleans funeral parade enter the arena, about a dozen in full costumes and a coffin! They busk outside of the book-cycle double decker bus, where you can buy a book for a chosen donation and sip tea upstairs on its open top deck whilst reading or just taking in the west country view. There are a couple more stalls this year, a small healing/massage area and some circus skills activities from L.A. Studios. The funeral ensemble where called 'Key Lime Pi' I believe by the way.

Junior Bill's sound draws me in to the larger tent, a light weight reggae sound with a Hammondesque organ heavy beat, from Cardiff, these four young guys put on a tight performance with some help from a Portuguese rapper on some of the tracks gave an extra level 'All Downhill From Here' was the one that stuck out for me.

Now mid afternoon and lots of fancy dress is coming out, from hints of ladies day as seems to be at these smaller festivals also people taking up the out west theme with cowboys, native Americans and can-can girls around. There's also a few "dark" faeries too.

A couple of refreshing Mendips Moments iced creams from Lucille's Caravan, which also serves thick shakes and coke floats, next to which is the Best Little Coffee Box In The World, I'm not a coffee drinker but I'm informed that its very good, as was the ice cream.

A brief chat with a gentleman, randomly about Rourke's Drift and its on to The Tatsmiths. A up beat folk five piece outfit sing of boat living and trad tunes. Ushti Baba fill the stage with a Ukrainian/Balkan gypsy blast, with a beatbox and belly/fan dancer, they're a lively entertaining bunch and a highlight of the weekend.

Quinns Quinney please their crowd with fun songs like 'Urban Spaceman' and a fast paced version of 'Rock Island Line'. Playing the usual sorts instruments, but with a watering cans, kickdrum suitcase and kazoo for good measure. finishing up with Fun medleys of Prince of Bel Air and hints of Spice Girls, a version of 'Hit My Baby One More Time' and 'Toxic' and cautionary tales of how animals should cross the A35!

The Carny Villains have a great dirty edge that's nicely bouncy too and Cut Capers fizz with a lively brass section , busy dual vocals and a happy crowd.

Poor Old Dogs have an alt country feel for me, yet quite raw too, 'Chains In The River', a new first time song was performed it's a great song about losing love and moving on. Also how long curly hair and Twitching curtains making them nervous!

Johnny Cage & the Voodoogroove carry a swampy grimmy rock blues buzz about them. A string breakage leads to a drum solo and keyboard jam. 'Devil's Stereo' and certainly to my hazy memory, what sounded like the theme from The Wire, 'Way Down In The Hole' - anyway they were certainly a change in tempo and a noise that I really enjoyed.

Curtis Eller's American Circus brings his Americana folk to the stage, with some interesting song narratives of new York butchers, battlefield amputations and holding grudges. He seemed a bit unhappy or disjointed with the slightly small audience, which was unfounded as those in the tent were enjoying the show, maybe he's used to a different type of crowd. He impressed my camping neighbour enough though, for him to buy the entire back catalogue, I found out the next day.

Los Albertos ask us how it feels to be in a field in Somerset on a Sunday afternoon. Well its been great, all be it Saturday and Wiltshire, and it has been a brilliant weekend again. The small site improvements mainly in the extra food vendors on site and the separation of the main marquee and stage have helped.

The Hot Tin Roofs were expected to be our last act of the weekend, brilliant 50's swing/ early rock n roll. I catch up, at the last minute, with a couple of local friends while my partner Ruth dances away. I've met a few friends over the weekend and I'm really glad that this festival is getting local as well as national support, hopefully meaning its longer term future.

One last pint before bed and we're treated to a set from behind to wire from Poor Old Dogs, who we saw earlier in the day, this set got a bit more blue but the later night audience enjoyed it and its intimate nature, we then had DJ Dapper Dan spin a couple of tunes and before I know it (or not wanting a great time to end just yet!) hey one more beer leads to us staying out a tad longer, but it was worth it as we're treated to a quiet 'after 12' set from No Shit Simone and La Flunch Nonchalant with some dirty bluegrass and beer slurping through the chicken wire and the we were off to have a brief listen to a late night DJ at Malinkey's.

Sunday wake up's are an easy going affair at OUTwest, there's no live music on as it's the day to go home. However it doesn't feel like you're being pushed off the site. We pack up the van around 11 and some around us are doing the same. We chat to neighbours who are hoping to pop over to the Lamar Tree on the way home to continue their weekend. Back to work for me on Monday so its back to the real world, well until next weekend.

Ruth and I have had a great second OUT In The West festival, many more to come I hope, it's a mere 8 miles from my door so it couldn't be much more convenient. It's not just that, it really is a friendly festival that has an easy to enjoy set up and great quality music and organisation. There were plenty of regularly cleaned toilets and water points. The security and stewards were nothing but friendly and smiling towards us also. So all in all a fabulous weekend again and thank you Flounder, Pink Morph, Steve, and your team/crew for all the hard work. long may the story continue!

review by: Simon Gillespie

photos by: Ruth Wordley

Thursday 16th to Sunday 19th July 2015
secret outdoor location, Bath/Frome/West Wilts area, Wiltshire, England
£55 for a weekend ticket
last updated: Mon 15th Jun 2015

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