The Skimmity Hitchers bring Dorset's great new little festival to a close

The Cursus Cider & Music Festival 2015 review

published: Wed 20th May 2015

The Skimmity Hitchers

Friday 15th to Sunday 17th May 2015
near Sixpenny Handley, Cranborne Chase, Dorset, England MAP
early bird £29
daily capacity: 400
last updated: Mon 11th May 2015

The third day and its overcast but dry again, a real blessing considering the amount of rain the previous Thursday and what had been forecast for the weekend. I Breakfast to a sound check by Funke and the Two Tone Baby, and then off to first set of the day.

Dusty Stray, an American (or possibly Canadian I guess, not so good with the accent) folk-noire artist who describes his interesting journey to get here. A clear songsmith, telling tales of strange reclusive author hermits, murderous young woman. Later joined on stage by a banjo player for 'A Winters Tale' a story of a young boy dying in the woods and in a song called 'Family Album' we're told the story of a man who made his children out of plaster. A dark yet oddly enjoyable set for a Sunday lunchtime.

 Funke and the Two Tone Baby is up now and its early I think for someone of his skill and energy and I'm one of a handful of people in the tent for the start of his time on stage. Although, once he fires up his guitar, harmonica and loop backs, people start come in. Amid those now entering the marquee are some hints of 'Ladies Day' from another festival from these here parts. 'I'm Not Well' and 'Treat Me Kind', from his forthcoming new album and older stuff like 'Bella's Kiss' flow out from this skillful and very hard working musician.

Another chance to see Surfin' Birds now due to an act not making it and a line-up reshuffle. They're a swampy rock n roll / 60's instrumental east coast band from Weymouth. 'South Coast Stomp' reminds of Surfari's 'Wipeout' tune and it's an interesting sound they make. Peerless Pirates, from land locked Oxfordshire, rouse us with 'For Queen And Country', their lively cover of Tenpole Tudor's 'Swords Of A Thousand Men, and a cheery version of 'Bring Out Your Dead' (or 'dad' as my pegs thought ). They go down like rum at a pirate convention. Countryman Sound System, a musical collective from the Bournemouth area spin up some dub/reggae with a live vocal, and although probably more used to club nights or a carnival rig set up their sound went down well in what we're told is their first trial at this in a field.

The Leylines: The Cursus Cider & Music Festival 2015

The Leylines are welcomed to stage, the Bridgwater 5 piece come not so fresh from last night's gig with Mad Dog Mcrea. No worries though as they sound great and straight away there are a few up and dancing. 'The Reason' and 'You've Changed' are a couple of highlights for me.

A quick stop for refreshments and over for Zimbaremabwe Mbira Vibes, and some smooth Caribbean sounds to see us toward the evening. Following them, The Jack Ratts are full on folk rock with some bluegrass for good measure. Their stand out tracks are 'The Fight', and 'All Away Joe'. Dub The Earth have a site/traveller sound to me, giving a mix of dub and punk attitude. It's mixed with some fast male vocal/rap on some of the tracks, and we have a polka to a song about whiskey!

Neck: The Cursus Cider & Music Festival 2015

Speaking of which, every day's St Patrick's day with our next band, London Irish act, Neck. With Leeson O'Keeffe, ex Popes member on lead vocal. And now, Ruts DC guitarist, Leigh Heggarty is back for the night. They rip through some traditional Irish reels, plenty of their own like 'Everybody's Welcome To The Hooley', 'The Star Of County Down' , and my favourite cover of the weekend, 'White Man in Hammersmith Palais' and finishing with the 'Irish Rover'.

Guns of Navarone (some of Pronghorn's 'other' band) fill the final slot and the smaller Skankin' Delights Stage to the brim, there's about 11 of them, for some ska's biggest and best hits like 'Al Capone', and 'Big Monkey Man', 'Night Boat To Cairo' and the like. A final stop at the bar to charge our cider jars (hard plastic reusable pints that you initially get charged 50p for, then name or somehow adorn and reuse all weekend) and its off to the Outcider marquee for The Skimmity Hitchers.

These cider loving Dorset lads have a great sense of humour, and deliver this through their reworked songs and between song banter and camaraderie with their loyal fan base. We're treated to songs like 'Black Rat', and 'Magners' whilst an audience member (well known to the band and many in the crowd) is escorted from the show for drinking from a can of lager! A young Scottish lady is invited on to the stage to dress in a badger suit and runs around the crowd for 'Badger Man'. Thanks are made to many who are involved in the putting on Cursus Cider and Music Festival and calls to see us there again. And then a rousing finale of 'F*ck Off Out Of My Field'!

The Skimmity Hitchers: The Cursus Cider & Music Festival 2015

A gentle wake on Monday morning reveals a blowy wet scene as people take down their camps from the weekend. The site looked quite tidy as we left, except for the usual piles of bagged rubbish and recycling (bags for both of which we were given on entry) we fire up the van and we're off home. Just as we do, a tractor drives by and a big smile accompanied with a wave from Mick the farm owner sends us on our way and feeling like we we re all made welcome here.

In short this has been a great little festival, which I feel will happen again in the future, at least I hope so. The sound quality I thought was excellent as were all the acts of the weekend, pulling from the experience of the 'Fuelled By Cider' and Outcider folk helped make this a successful event, that was full of quality people and smiles. Excellent ciders, ales and Cornish Korev lager, and a hearty menu of tasty food from the made in Dorset team, who also couldn't do enough for you. The cracker, by the way, was a tomato and herb one and though a bit dry did taste good! Thanks for a grand first festival of our year!


review by: Simon Gillespie

Friday 15th to Sunday 17th May 2015
near Sixpenny Handley, Cranborne Chase, Dorset, England MAP
early bird £29
daily capacity: 400
last updated: Mon 11th May 2015


latest on this festival

Cursus Festival 2019 Highlights
video of the day
last updated: Mon 19th Aug 2019
Cursus Festival 2019 Highlights
video of the day
last updated: Sat 29th Jun 2019