music overview Sunday

Wychwood 2008 review

published: Mon 9th Jun 2008

The Imagined Village

Friday 30th May to Sunday 1st June 2008
Cheltenham Racecourse, Prestbury Park, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England MAP
£100 w/e adults with camping; youth/concession £75; campervans £25
last updated: Fri 2nd May 2008

The cooler morning means a lie in before we stow the tent in the car, ready for tonight's departure and by the time we've had brunch, kedgeree from a wonderful fish stall, and in my case another delicious haloumi burger too, there's already been a few bands on, but we're too busy looking for bargains on the stalls and finding weird and wonderful objects to pore over.

Rachel Unthank & the Winterset

Jason Soudah from Japan via Cardiff presents his middle of the road rock which has a familiar feel to it, I listen to it for a while before wandering about the healing area and heading up to the Big Top for Rachel Unthank & The Winterset, I've noticed her name on a lot of festival line-ups this year, and was really pleased to hear her gentle songs, the packed big top was in silence as she and her sister are a balming treat, gentle folk songs about drink and violence are the order of the day, accompanied by fiddle and piano old folk songs that still hold true as a dark mirror of today's society. Then suddenly the spell is shattered as the noise of Emma Pollock's guitar and drums bleeds into the tent. A real shame, it spoils the moment of one of the highlights of the weekend.

I have some puppet pirates to see, so I wander up to the Meadow Workshop area, and stroke a baby dragon on the arm of a wandering pirate, as you do! The area is packed with kids, I can hear a banjo band playing in the Hawthorn cafe and nip in to look at the art gallery while giving them a listen. Outside the children are making mosaics, recycled sculptures, murals, clay and giant hands are the order of the day. In the Willow Workshop tent older festival goers are dancing to an arabic groove. In front of the tent kids are learning circus skills including a real trapeze. There's bubbles from Bubble Inc. and a tent full of little 'uns being told folk tales and all being quiet attentive toddlers, much like those around the little library area.

Isobel Heyworth is playing nearby and her songs are gentle and draws me in to the tent to hear more, she's just introducing 'Song With No Name' as I arrive and she spends a while unassumingly tuning her guitar before launching in with a voice which reminds me of Joni Mitchell. A rather unexpected surprise.

The Parade

A quick cuppa at the Tea Garden followed by an ostrich burger and back for the parade. There's loads of kids showing off all their hard creative work, turns out this festival has more under 12s brought to the festival per adult than any other UK festival.

I nip back to The Doghouse stage in The Wickwar for Ten Bears who play a fantastic set of head shakin' rock, and they really entertain the crowd. They give the sound engineers some headaches with the noise, and manage to play an encore through the crowds' appeals despite already over running.

Ten Bears

I solve the Kate Rusby or 3 Daft Monkeys dilemma, I'd been stressing over by missing both!

The next music act I see is The Imagined Village opening with John Copper's spoken memory of rural life this time with him appearing on screen too. With Billy Bragg dressed in a 'Marmite' cycling shirt they start off with slow numbers and build to frenetic finish, picking up two awards along the way. They pause to receive two of the three Hancock Awards from the 'Talk A While' web site and forum. They are handed the awards for Best Album, and Best Original Song which the band then do a scorching version of 'Cold Haily Rainy Night'.

The Imagined Village

The third award for Best Traditional Song will be presented to the giant head of Benjamin Zephaniah for 'Tam Lyn Retold' which is the song of the set, and the link between the old and new telling is explained. They finish with 'Hard Times of Old England Retold' and it's been a truly fantastic evening of re-presented folk and cultural heritage fusion.

I nip over to see The Travelling Band and their brand of Byrds harmonies, their unassuming humour, the musical interplay between guitars and keyboards are mesmerising. It's slightly off kilter performance, compared to the last time I saw them, some of them seemed a bit the worse for wear from being on site since Thursday. still, the guitars might not be as tight and the vocal harmonies weren't there tonight, but they still managed to pull off a vibrant performance, and when they had a big sing along at the end inviting other bands like Ten Bears on stage too, it was a perfect ending to the weekend.

The Travelling Band

Transglobal Underground had no such wobbles, big beats, and a world of rhythms, they got the crowd dancing, as we celebrated the end of another fantastic Wychwood festival. We were supposed to be going home at the start of their set, but we couldn't tear ourselves away because we were told that some of Imagined Village would be appearing, and before long The Young Coppers were there to fuse folk with hip hop (flip-flop?).

In my opinion Sunday was definitely the strongest day for music, or at least the music I most like. As we made our way out to the car park there were still far more people there than I'd ever seen on a Sunday before, and the weather was terific, Wychwood is definitely a scorcher of a festival.

Wychwood 2008

review by: Scott Williams

photos by: Karen Williams / Phil Bull / Andy Pitt

Friday 30th May to Sunday 1st June 2008
Cheltenham Racecourse, Prestbury Park, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England MAP
£100 w/e adults with camping; youth/concession £75; campervans £25
last updated: Fri 2nd May 2008

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