year two of Ramblin' Man Fair is a huge success with a great atmosphere & brilliant performances

Ramblin' Man Fair 2016 review

published: Tue 26th Jul 2016

around the festival site

Saturday 23rd to Sunday 24th July 2016
Mote Park, Mote Avenue, Maidstone, Kent, ME15 7SU, England MAP
£130 weekend
last updated: Tue 14th Jun 2016

Following some great performances yesterday from legendary acts such as Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy and Europe; today at Ramblin' Man Fair is time for the younger generation to take centre stage. With a headline set to come from big fan favourites Black Stone Cherry and a plethora of other top acts Sunday is teed up to bring a spectacular end to the second addition of the Mote Park event.

On the 'Rising' stage Wicked Stone grab the attention of a large amount of those entering the festival with a really good set. The atmosphere at this event has been very friendly and positive the whole weekend and the appreciation shown by those in attendance for this set is a great testament to the clientele of Ramblin' Man Fair.

Beginning festivities on the main stage today are a great two-piece from Australia via London in The Graveltones. I've caught these guys on a number of small stages in recent years and wondered how they would fare on a grander scale. The answer is rather quite well. I'm sure the band wins them a number of new fans with their gritty rock and roll blast with 'Forget About The Trouble' and 'Catch Me On The Fly' making their mark.

Up next is a rather special attraction as The Kentucky Headhunters mark their first ever festival appearance in the UK despite being in existence for some forty odd years having formed in 1968 under the moniker Itchy Brother. What follows is a master class in southern/country rock. If people in attendance were unaware of the family connection with Black Stone Cherry (BSC drummer John Fred Young's father and uncle are Headhunters) they soon were when our evening's headliners put in an early appearance joining the Headhunters for a set closing rendition of The Beatles 'Hey Jude'.

By now the Sunday is in full swing and the arena has filled up nicely once again. It's certainly not a sold out festival – far from it but it is busy without being crowded, which is nice as our next act take to the main stage. That act is The Answer who seem to have been around for a long time having been tipped for huge success back around 2009. That success has never really found them however and with mediocre performances like today's it's sadly clear why. There certainly was and arguably still is potential in this band but they need to step it up a couple of notches.

There is a southern rock feel to festivities today with The Kentucky Headhunters having already graced the main stage and Black Stone Cherry yet to perform. Another such act is The Cadillac Three who deliver one of the sets of the weekend next. Taking the main stage by storm with a selection of tracks from their debut album including 'I'm Southern' and 'The South' The Cadillac Three are a band who could well be appearing much higher up bills such as this if their upcoming second album can build on their debut.

It'll take a lot to top that but next on main stage are a band that have a history of upstaging bigger bands and that's Australians Airbourne. With a hard rocking high energy set they once again steal the show with songs such as 'Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast' and 'Chewin' The Fat' getting the crowd riled up before front man Joel O'Keeffe does his usual crazy climb of the stage and trip through the crowd during 'Girls In Black'.

Airbourne will soon have a new album out and we get a new track, the title track, tonight. 'Breaking Outta Hell' is more of the same from the band who owes much to AC/DC but if it's not broke then don't fix it! Finishing their set with 'Live It Up' and 'Runnin' Wild' their performance is short but ever so sweet and is one of the highlights of the weekend. Surely it's time this band stepped up festival bills like our headliners tonight have!

There are four stages at this festival but thus far I've yet to find my way to the third stage. This is the only tented stage at the festival and yesterday bore the name the 'Outlaw Country' stage and featured performances from the likes of Hayseed Dixie. Today it's dubbed the 'Blues' stage and features sets from the likes of Walter Trout, and Warren Haynes, both of whom I'm able to catch a song of tonight, and both of whom attract decent sized crowds.

Two more bands that attract decent sized crowds this evening are the two bands closing out the 'Prog In The Park' stage in the form of Hawkwind, and Procol Harum. Again I'm able to catch snippets of their sets either side of a main stage sub-headline performance from Thunder. Thunder suffer from post Airbourne syndrome to start off but eventually get the crowd moving, sadly their set finishes soon after with 'Dirty Love' cutting them off at they hit their stride.

With the festival drawing to a close I should mention some of the other activities on offer over the weekend. There is a Wall of Death stunt show in the main portion of the arena and an art show up near the 'Prog In The Park' stage. There are a number of typical festival stalls around this area too. This all means that there is enough on site to keep you busy for the two days. Facility wise the toilets are in good nick and as mentioned yesterday the food appears good quality albeit at typical festival prices.

Year two of Ramblin' Man Fair has certainly been a huge success as far as those in attendance are concerned with a great atmosphere and some brilliant musical performances. There is still time however for one last band, and the honour of closing the event goes to Kentucky's Black Stone Cherry who have literally flown over for the day just to play this show.

Still criminally small in their own country, they have been taken to heart by hard rock fans in the UK and now have two successful arena tours under their belts. They have also twice headlined the second stage over at Donington Park. Tonight though they are the headline act on the main stage and it's obvious the meaning this has to the band. Unfortunately they suffer from some bad luck and a lot of their gear hasn't arrived in time for the show including their backdrop, meaning it's a pretty bare stage that they take to.

This doesn't mean much however because for both the band and their passionate fans it's all about the music. From the opening of 'Me And Mary Jane' onwards the band and crowd are fully into it. 'Blind Man' and 'Rain Wizard' quickly follow before the band introduces some new songs and a couple of covers into their regular set list. A Highlight tonight is new track 'Soul Machine' which sounds absolutely massive.

The Kentucky Headhunters are introduced again at the end of 'Things My Father Said' in a rather touching moment, one of many that make this feel more like a family members graduation than a gig. For Black Stone Cherry fans tonight is certainly an “I was there” moment.

The main set is closed with 'In My Dreams', 'White Trash Millionaire' and 'Blame It On The Boom Boom' before the band return and close out Ramblin' Man Fair 2016 with 'The Rambler', 'Lonely Train' and a quick run through of 'Ace Of Spades'. The perfect set to close a great weekend of music which has celebrated the past and looked to the future. Same time, same place next year? Why the devil not!

review by: Paul Barnes

photos by: Denis Gorbatov

Saturday 23rd to Sunday 24th July 2016
Mote Park, Mote Avenue, Maidstone, Kent, ME15 7SU, England MAP
£130 weekend
last updated: Tue 14th Jun 2016

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