Local festivals can be a bit hit and miss, believe me, we cover a LOT of them. They range from glorified back garden affairs right up to large scale events, catering for up to 25000 people and attracting some of the best names in the business. We’ve been covering a local event for the past 3 years which has grown year on year into THE local event to be seen at, the name of the event? Glas-Denbury Festival!
Whilst some might see it as a lame play on words, and whilst it’s not on the same scale as the monstrous corporate love-in that Michael Eavis and his army of staff put on every year, it IS a local, family friendly event, well laid out, perfectly sized, offering a wide range of local and national acts to appeal to everyone’s tastes (well, as many as possible!)
So, how did the 2016 event pan out, was it a wash out with people wading about, knee deep in mud, cursing the weather for causing them to spend a couple of days in a rain drenched field? or did the sun shine on everyone that attended? well my friends, read on to find out....
The festival opened it’s doors late on Friday afternoon to a healthy crowd that had congregated at the main entrance, eager to let their hair down after a week of work or school (if you’re fortunate enough to be so young!) It was a little overcast with a couple of dark clouds hanging overhead but rain wasn’t on the forecast, so fingers crossed it would hold out for the remainder of the weekend.
The site had adopted a slightly different layout from the previous year and after a quick walk around to get our bearings and check the lineup for each of the stages, we had to admit that it seemed easier to move around, you were able to walk around the field, taking in the sights and sounds as they occurred rather than running from one stage to another and back to where you started again. On the subject of ‘wandering around’, festivals really are a gold mine of opportunities to anyone with a camera around their neck, people will happily pose for the obligatory shot with their friends, men will more than happily raise their pints in the air and kids, well, they just do what they normally do and run around like dogs that have been penned up for far too long!
The array of flowered head-dresses, patchwork and tie-dye garments were more prominent this year and judging by the amount of people clad in them, they had clearly been drawn into the festival spirit, with the majority looking like bare-footed circus performers and vaudeville artists than average run of the mill members of the public.
The choice of food available over the weekend was impressive, nicely varied and again, something for everyone. It wasn’t long until we had sampled a burger and tempted by the local hog roast stall, we happily shared one for supper prior to heading home after a brilliant night of entertainment.
So, let’s rewinds things a little and talk about some of the acts that performed on the Friday night, I won’t sit and write about all of them as we weren’t able to catch everyone, the ones we did see blew us away and should be so proud of themselves, the ones we didn’t should also bathe in this glory.
Opening up the proceedings were a local Pop Rock trio from Teignmouth called Tiny Folds, they have amassed a HUGE following in their hometown and won over a ton of new fans when they were selected to play at the BBC Radio 1 Big Weekend at Powderham Castle near Exeter at the end of May.
They performed a number of rousing, crowd pleasing slabs of stadium sized rock that got the early Friday audience engaged and singing along in next to no time. If you like the sound of these guys they are releasing a new EP and will be backing this up by playing in Teignmouth on October 22nd at the newly refurbished Pavilions venue on the promenade, jot it in your diary now so you don’t forget!
Company B certainly lived up to their trademark of being a ‘rowdy’ jump jive band that did a sterling job of getting the audience up and jiving along to their sounds from the word go, they played a great mix of music which ranged form Louis Jordan, Louis Prima, Bull Moose Jackson, Wynonie Harris and Tiny Bradshaw.
It was great to see so many people up and moving and these guys really knew what buttons to press to make it all come together, I'm sure that they will be appearing at other festivals over the summer so keep an eye on the posters!
Andy Quick is somewhat of a local legend, he is in more bands than you and I have had hot dinners (he was at Glas-Denbury with his Flying Orchestra BTW) and despite this, he ALWAYS manages to deliver such a solid, professional performance. You almost start to think that the guy isn’t human, maybe he was abducted by aliens when really young and was programmed to entertain the masses once the mothership had safely deposited him back on earth.
This was probably not true but either way, he is something of a song-writing machine which, crossed with his good looks and ability to melt a thousand female hearts with his smoky soft Northern vocals, whilst every man in the room tries (but fails) to think how they could even start to compare to the talent that oozes from every pore of this man’s being. I'll stop now as no doubt Andy is blushing being the shy type that he really is!
Jay Tamkin was just striking up a tune in the Beach Bar so it was there we headed next to see him perform. Jay isn’t your average guitarist or singer/songwriter. He has toured the UK, USA and Europe consistently with his band, has received frequent airplay and guest spots on BBC Radio 2 and regional BBC stations around the country. Aside regular session work and playing with some of Jazz, Rock and Blues’ top names around, Jay also performs a unique solo act which allows him to incorporate and combine innovative ideas with well written songs that have been described as “a one man, 10 piece orchestra” and has gained interest from all sorts in the music industry as a result.
Having received a slew of positive praise from the likes of Classic Rock magazine and BBC radio presenters throughout the UK, we were excited to see Jay in action once again and I’ll admit now that he didn’t fail to deliver the goods. His playing is SO good, TOO good almost, the way he demands so much from that guitar but like a faithful dog to its owner, it manages to satisfy his stringent demands, the look on his face telling you that he is channelling his passion and energy though that fretboard and out of the speakers for everyone to enjoy. His set did a great job of preparing everyone for the remainder of the evening, which, by the way, just got better and better as time wore on.
It was great to see not one, but two acts on the bill that are normally tied to the more underground genre of ’Steam Punk’, I guess if you delve a little deeper, they also slot nicely into a niche slice of musical society know as ‘Chap Hop’ which has firmly found its feet after being championed by the next act and other luminaries such as Professor Elemental (more on him tomorrow!). Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer kicked off his career way back in 2007 when he decided to bring elements of his previous incarnations together and create a new genre. ‘A Piece of My Mind’, was his first ditty, released in Japan and its accompanying video and UK tour dates alerted the rest of the world to this new musical phenomenon which soon grew in stature from its humble beginnings to a dominant force across various aforementioned genres and styles. This musical journey has taken Mr B all over the world, from Surrey to Osaka, Banstead to Berlin, Middlesborough to Minneapolis, Norway to New York and the the Edinburgh Fringe to Glas-Denbury, bringing his beats, rhymes and impeccable manners.
His tracks performed this evening included topics such as cricket, pipe-smoking, high society and interfering with livestock, which of course, gained a huge cheer from the Glas-Denbury audience! If you’ve never checked out this guy before, please stop by a popular online video channel known as ‘YouTube’ where you will see that he has amassed millions of views from the generous amounts of material that he has been kind enough to upload for your viewing pleasure (I’m sure that even Mr B couldn’t have put it more eloquently if he had tried…)
Do you remember hits back in the 80’s such as ‘Everytime I Go Away’, ‘Wherever I Lay My Hat’ and ‘Don’t Dream it’s Over’? of course you do (well, you will if you’re aged over 40 like I am!), they were all by a super talented guy called Paul Young, well folks, he has a new band now called Los Pacaminos and they play the very best in Tex Mex Border music from the likes of The Texas Tornadoes, Ry Cooder, Los Lobos and even Roy Orbison.
There performance was a proper tequila fuelled Tex Mex Party night, the audience fell in line from the off and lapped up their unique style of music. The entire band were on top form and the pedal steel guitar player was literally out of this world!
Sam Fearon is a name that most are familiar with on the local scene, having headlined the acoustic stage last year (and performed at just about ever Glas-Denbury since its inception), it was great to have him and his loop pedal back for another fat dose of quality acoustic led tunes that kept the masses happy and moving along to his smooth grooves.
He always leads the party with his eclectic mix of songs, mixed in were a few cover versions to keep everyone happy, I was more than happy to sit and listen to his self penned songs too. I’m really surprised that nobody has signed Sam yet, he deserves to be rubbing shoulders with the high society of the singer songwriter world and who knows, maybe 2016 will be his year!
I was starting to think that there were no Electro Swing acts on the bill at this years event, my thoughts were quashed as soon as a London based duo called The Correspondents took to the Vaudeville stage at 10pm! These guys have gained a stellar reputation throughout the UK after performing at such events as WOMAD, Glastonbury, Bestival and Secret Garden Party, throwing in their unique blend of 20th century jazz and swing with the modern day examples of electro and drum n’ bass, it was the sort of mix that easily appealed to so many people at the same time, quite extraordinary!
Known as ‘the kings of Hip Hop swing’, they dazzled the audience with their catchy offerings and kept the entire room entertained with their magnetic stage presence and ability to get everyone involved and up and dancing in no time at all, I should also add that Mr Bruce was sporting a wonderful lycra onesie that really set him apart from the more conservatively dressed performers at the festival. They’ve appeared on the Telegraph’s Top Ten Glastonbury moments list twice in a row now and if you ever get the chance to catch them live, pull out all the stops to do so, you won’t be disappointed!
It was back to the main stage to catch the headline act, one that had played at last years event and had done such a grand job, they were invited back with open arms to close the event this evening. The Showhawk Duo are Jake Wright and Mikhail Asanovic, an acoustic trance duo hailing from Bristol who perform covers of dance classics using just acoustic guitars. If this sounds dull to you, just witness any of their live videos on YouTube, the crowd whooping, cheering and dancing along to the classic tunes from the likes of Faithless, Daft Punk, Tiesto, Sandstorm and SO many more, the list just went on and on, the crowd getting more and more involved as their set wore on.
At the end of their set, it was clear that they weren’t going anywhere fast and returned to the stage to play another track that went down a storm, what a way to end the opening night of Glas-Denbury 2016!
As we were leaving the site, we hoped that Saturday would be just as good (if not better), we were tired but has massive smiles on our faces after being entertained by some of the very best in the business, we’ll catch up in the morning and do it all over again!
Arriving on site just before the events kicked off, I was pleased to see that one of my photographers was heartily tucking into a ‘hog roast’ bap, I guess for him it would have been ‘brunch’ as I doubt he’d have been up long after running around on Friday night, snapping away like a crazed Paparazzi stalking a superstar, at least he wouldn’t be flagging so early in the day with some good grub in his belly!
The all important weather check was done and we were overjoyed to see a mix of broken cloud and SUN (you know, that big yellow thing that occasionally shows it’s face during what we Brits like to refer to as ‘Summer’), we applied our factor 50 (got to stay safe folks) and prepared our gear for another day of shooting at day two of Glas-Denbury 2016.
Our first stop was the Vaudeville stage where Jessica and the Rabbits were just kicking off their set, the seven piece band played a range of tracks from the likes of Aretha Franklin through to Dusty Springfield and Otis Redding. They did a tremendous job of providing the backdrop for everyone to kick off their shoes, let their hair down and indulge in the funky, soul drenched sounds that were emanating from the stage.
Being based in Plymouth means that if you weren’t fortunate enough to be at Glas-Denbury this year, you stand a much better chance of seeing them perform in and around the local area, just check their website for more information on dates and venues.
Staying with larger scale bands, we happened to be passing the main stage literally seconds after The Medicine Hat Band were kicking into their set with what I referred to as ‘Safe from Harm’, a track that massive Attack performed on their seminal album ‘Blue Lines’, I believe that it was actually a cover version of Billy Cobham’s ’Stratus’ (minus the 3 minute intro!) which went down a storm with the crowd that had crammed into the tent to watch them.
They followed this up with tracks covering a variety of genres including Americana. Blues, Soul, Reggae, Country-ish, old style RnB with a just a light peppering of jazz, there really was something for everyone! Another local band hailing from Ashburton, keep your eyes open for local events featuring this band, they really are one to watch out for!
Local singer songwriter Sadie Horler was doing a grand job of keeping the acoustic tent bobbing along nicely with her mix of self penned and cover versions including ‘Nothing Compares to You’ and ‘Fast Car’, both received very well from all in attendance. Sadie has just launched her new EP ‘Two for Joy’ and happily played tracks from it throughout her set, if you’d like to get hold of a copy, it’s available now from the usual digital outlets and if it’s a physical CD that you’re after, just contact her on her Facebook page and she’ll be more than happy to arrange to drop one in the post for you.
You can keep up to date with her whereabouts HERE and if you get the chance to pop along and catch her at any of her live performances, please do make the effort, you can sit back with a nice cold beer and let her music gently drift over you….
We were drawn to the main stage once again by a melee of sounds, a fusion of rap and brass, DJ mixing and some proper funky sounds, yes folks, the Plymouth based musical collective know as ANTIMATADOR were in the house and completely killing it! Playing tracks that covered genres including electronica, soul, hip-hop, rock, jazz and even a hint of drum n’ bass, these guys had the room bouncing along nicely in next to no time at all.
Sometimes, you need a band like this to lift everyone’s spirits, allowing them to let their hair down. ANTIMATADOR are an ideal festival band and on the occasions we’ve seen them, they have ALWAYS delivered the goods!
It was off to the Vaudeville stage next to catch the very entertaining and highly talented Professor Elemental, churning out upper class rap tracks covering a variety of subjects such as being British and the all important political subject of ‘Brexit’. He managed to keep his political views to himself but you certainly got the gist of which side of the fence he was on! He invited a posse of young backing dancers up on stage with him who did a great job of leaping about whilst he provided killer vocals over some super cool hip hop beats.
We caught up with him in the VIP bar after his set and I asked him what he thought of Glas-Denbury to which he replied, “It’s like a cross between a rave and a village fete!” to which I burst out laughing thinking of the vicar of Danbury cutting the ribbon to officially open the event, dressed in tie-dye baggy clothing prior to disappearing into the Cloud 9 dance tent and raving the night away!
The Sam Evans Band were just starting up on the main stage so it was off there to see how they were doing. Upon arrival, there wasn’t much room left on the stage or in the tent, I counted 7 people on stage, there might have even been 8 and the audience had swelled somewhat in preparation for this brilliant young singer songwriter who has come on leaps and bounds in the 5 years since he started out playing bars and venues throughout the UK.
Their perfect blend of blues, jazz, funk and soul really hammered home the fact that at last, summer had arrived and gave you something to be thankful for!
The Artisans Attic was really hotting up and we were really looking forward to the next 5 acts that were going to grace the tent with their presence. Up first was Dan Fraser, a local singer songwriter who has grown in both confidence and quality since I last saw him at another festival last year, he played a blinding set and was later accompanied by his able bodied assistant who did a great job on the cajon, allowing Dan to concentrate on his guitar and vocals.
Lee McCombe followed Dan and also did a sterling job of keeping the room happy with his smooth blend of acoustic numbers, he was accompanied by a young lady with the voice of an angel, together, they sounded incredible, certainly a highlight of my afternoon.
Kiera Osment is a name that I have heard bouncing around the local scene for a while now and it wasn’t until I saw her that I realised why she was somewhat of a hot topic of conversation, I was chuckling to myself thinking that she could have easily ben the love child of Lana Del Ray and Rae Morris, her skilled piano playing and sultry, dusky vocals carrying well through the tent, entertaining anyone who was fortunate enough to be sat in there whilst she performed.
Next up was the super talented and very lovely Mr Bert Miller, renowned for his work alongside his full band (The Animal Folk), it was a pleasure to see Bert playing solo, just him, his mannerisms and his acoustic guitar. If you were after a class act with a light sprinkling of humour, Bert is your man. His songs crooned over ex-lovers, living in Bristol and animals, an eclectic mix at any time of the day! Live, Bert is a sight to behold and he manages to create some of the most impressive facial expressions known to man, this was another highlight of the day for me and I believe that Bert has an album launch party taking place in October (he did give me the date but for the life of me I cannot remember, sometime in October I think!)
To top off this ‘quintet of quality’ was Torquay based singer songwriter Matt Sellors. I recall seeing Matt when he performed at Glas-Denbury back in 2014 fronting his band Yes Sir Boss and I was really looking forward to seeing him solo, armed with just a guitar and his voice. When Matt opens his mouth to sing, the most amazing sound comes out, so deep, colourful and rich, you almost can’t imagine how it happens but happens it does and boy does it sound GOOD! He kept the tent on their toes with his soulful blend of acoustic led numbers which really fitted the early evening sunset perfectly! I saw that Matt has just come back from playing live on BBC Radio London, big things are just around the corner for this very talented individual, mark my words!
Just about to kick off on the main stage were an act called Rayguns Look Real Enough, we saw last year and they brought the house down (literally), they are a duo who perform a dazzling mix of comedy, musical mash-ups and all out craziness for the entirety of their set.
I was looking at the audience and it was clear to see which had never seen these guys before, their mouths aghast, their eyes wide open, trying to take in the spectacle of a man jumping about like a banshee, dressed in an open fronted tiger suit whilst the guitarist was pumping out hit after hit for the 'tiger' to sing/shout and scream over, all whilst navigating the stage with his trustee tambourine! A firm favourite of mine and certainly an act to guarantee to get the party started at ANY festival wherever it may be!
Following this crazed duo were four guys from Sunderland who go by the name The Big Sets, maybe the name originates from the surfing scene of which they are very accustomed to having moved form Sunderland to Newquay where they catch waves by day and play their amazing blend of blues rock by night.
They had the main stage rocking just minutes after kicking into their set of blues drenched numbers, the guitarist and harmonica player doing a brilliant job of keeping the excitement levels at fever pitch throughout. At one stage, the harmonica player launched himself over the barrier into the audience where he stumbled but managed to compose himself in order to belt out an amazing solo prior to climbing back on stage to continue the set. By the end of the set, the room was warmed up nicely for the next act that were going to take things down a peg or two musically but keep the audience at fever pitch as the evening progressed.
Up next were Lionstar, a 6 piece reggae/World/Fusion band who hypnotised the room with their blend of heavy bass lines, killer beats and rhythmic guitar that you just couldn’t help bobbing along to! These guys are the real deal and having supported the likes of UB40, Aswad, Soul II Soul and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry (to name just a few) found it easy to get the crowd onside and join them in their quest to get everyone skanking along without a care in the world!
There are so many reggae style bands out there these days, normally stumbled upon at festivals but these guys, they are the REAL DEAL and are well worth checking out if you missed them here.
We had a final walk around the festival ground to grab some final shots before the daylight departed for the night, it was great to see so many kids still out, playing football, running around and generally having the time of their lives prior to their parents rounding them up and attempting to get them into a tent to spend a few hours of sleep prior to waking at dawn and repeating the process all over again! We saw a fire display, whirling flames, firesticks and all sorts of things that you shouldn’t try at home unless you are a trained professional, we are neither so it was safe to say that we kept our distance whilst the experts wowed the audience that had congregated to see them perform their daring stunts.
The bar was busier than ever and despite the final act having packed up for the night, people still managed to have a great time, laughing, joking and getting excited about the headline act that was about to take to the main stage to close Glas-Denbury 2016….Doctor and the Medics
We saw Doctor and the Medics close the event back in 2014 and what a job they did, shortly after joining the stage, the lead singer explained that a while ago, the band was dead, nobody wanted to hear them and as a result, they decided to hang up their boots. After a few offers of standalone shows, they were offered the chance to play at a festival where all the bands performed cover versions of classic songs, they were more than happy to consider this and from that day onward, this is exactly what they have done, performing hits from the 80’s to people all over the country. Granted, a lot of these songs were not their own, I guess you could argue that their biggest hit (Spirit in the Sky) was in fact a cover version of Norman Greenbaum’s 1969 classic so playing a few more covers wasn’t going to hurt anyone!
They steamed onto the stage and kicked straight into a high octane version of ‘You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)’ by 80’s legends Dead or Alive, this was followed by a barrage of party anthems that guaranteed to keep the tent rocking until the bitter end. I read that in 2015 the band released ‘Spirit In The Sky’ (29th Anniversary Remix Package) because they wouldn’t wait for it’s 30th Anniversary. The song hit #1 in the United States.
All that was left to do now was to party the remainder of the night away, people were tired, tired but happy after spending nearly 2 days in the Devon countryside, the weather had behaved itself and as a result, there was no mud to be seen anywhere on the site, a rare sight for a UK Summer festival! Credit has to go out to Emma and her team of assistants who work relentlessly for so long, booking bands, caterers and arranging the tents for the various stages, this all needs to be done in plenty of time ahead of the event and it;s so easy to just think that the final product is pulled together in no time at all, this is very much NOT the case!
Glas-Denbury has grown in popularity since it started some years ago, I’ll admit that the quality of bands this year was so high, I find it hard to believe how they can improve upon them for 2017 but no doubt they'll do all that they can to ensure a stellar lineup for all who are fortunate enough to be in attendance. I’m going to leave you with a statement that I found on the main website….
“It’s actually impossible to please everyone as we all know, but we will strive to ensure that whoever you are, whatever time you go and whichever stages you choose to see, you will come away with a sense of happiness and fulfilment and a smile on your face, possibly having been introduced to something new!“
We couldn’t agree more, we’ll see you in 2017!