Wychwood offers a wealth of activities for kids alongside some diverse music

Wychwood Music Festival 2011 review

published: Fri 10th Jun 2011

around the festival site (1)

Friday 3rd to Sunday 5th June 2011
Cheltenham Racecourse, Prestbury Park, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England MAP
adult weekend £115, concession weekend £90, youth (10-15yrs) £55, child (5-9yrs) £15, under 5's
daily capacity: 7500
last updated: Fri 27th May 2011

After a late night and a very warm Friday, the only antidote is to use up all of the friable breakfast fodder. The breakfast of champions is consumed and a slow start to the day is exactly what is required. Lets face it, after bacon, eggs, sausages, beans and tomatoes, we can't move anywhere fast!

around the festival site (people)
We head into the main arena and the kids field. Happy kids means happy parents and Wychwood has oodles to offer children. Having two kids (one aged 5 and one aged 10), we split up and one of us takes our youngest to listen to a talk by Korky Paul, an amazing illustrator of the Winnie the Witch series of books (and an awful lot more besides). He keeps his audience captivated (no mean feat with some so small), while he explains how to draw, (perspectives, imagination and using the horizon line). All of the children in the audience are given a raffle ticket and the winners walk away with a unique caricature of themselves.

Our eldest is into diablo and devil sticks so we head over to the open sessions run by Circus Kaos. Steve Kaos and his helpers are brilliant at getting the kids involved in all manner of things. Fancy trying your hand at uni-cycling, juggling, poi, hula hooping, stilt walking, plate spinning? In fact, it wouldn't surprise me to walk into his area of the field and see him taming a lion. Our lad gets some tuition and meets the challenge of learning a new trick.

On the musical front, we thoroughly enjoy Eliza Carthy. Her ability to hush a crowd and get feet tapping and heads nodding for 'Blood on my Boots', and 'Wings' is great.

We also catch some of John Cooper Clarke while enjoying a cider perched by the Big Top. His punk rock poetry and uber cool status is typified by his rendition of the filthily sublime 'Evidently Chicken Town'.

around the festival site (people)
The traders at Wychwood look to be having a busy time of it as we wander looking for something to catch our eye late into the day. With several curry stalls, pies, pizza, Goan fish curry, mashed spud, pancakes, toasties, falafels, Ostrich burger, Indonesian, Welsh and Chinese food, the range available presents only one problem and that is which to go for. Even with three meals a day over the weekend, there are too many stalls to sample a meal from each. Pizza and toasties (accompanied by enormous milk shakes) are the favourites for our kids on the whole over the weekend. A bear stall has imaginatively put posters about to encourage us to try their wares, and we're not disappointed.

Having been to Wychwood before, we've seen Robyn Hitchcock over the years in a few different guises. This year, he and his backing band play the 'Clear Spot' album by Captain Beefheart. Now I must confess I've never knowingly heard this album before but for me, this is the best Wychwood performance of Robyn Hitchcock I've seen. His engagement with the crown is amusing in an off the wall kind of way. Between songs, his voice reminds be of Bill Nighy playing Dylan in The Magic Roundabout (maaaan). This is the LP version of the album so we're treated to a joint imagining of the vinyl being flipped during the set too. Very entertaining and impressed enough to buy the album that he's covering for the day too.

Neville Staple
One of the highlights of the weekend for me is catching Neville Staple, former Specials front man and his versions of 'Monkey Man', 'Message to Rudy', 'Ghost Town' and 'Pressure Drop'. I'm not going to try and guess his age and even with the power of the Internet at my fingertips, I really don't want to know. His energy and stage presence would shame many teenagers and he must have struck a chord with our eldest who shot off to the merchandise tent to meet the man himself and get his programme signed.

The Bluetones, announced recently that this autumn will see their farewell tour and another band whose hits aren't immediately obvious. I recognise quite a few, find them entertaining and really enjoy their big hit 'Slight Return'. The sound of the dohl drum smashing and crashing can be heard from afar and it pulls me into the big top like the Millennium Falcon to the Death Star. Kismet's set comes to a close as I get closer and those leaving tell me what I've missed. A mental note is made not to miss them next time but I reassure myself that you can't do it all.

Headline act The Waterboys are another one whose set I couldn't even hesitate to guess at (other than 'The Whole of The Moon'), which they do play. I hear influences to or from The Levellers in 'Fisherman's Blues' and really love 'You're a Big Girl Now'. They play other songs that I didn't know were theirs, or perhaps in some cases aren't but they bring back memories anyway.

Our eldest is keen to see the headphone disco, so we queue to get in and after 20 minutes of dancing and singing, he's had enough and secretly we're glad to get back to the tent and get to sleep. It's been another busy day.

Kissmet
review by: James Tayler

photos by: Andy Pitt

Friday 3rd to Sunday 5th June 2011
Cheltenham Racecourse, Prestbury Park, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England MAP
adult weekend £115, concession weekend £90, youth (10-15yrs) £55, child (5-9yrs) £15, under 5's
daily capacity: 7500
last updated: Fri 27th May 2011


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