So, it was that time of year again, local festivals were happening all over the place and we were invited back to cover one of the best local events called Glas-Denbury.
Glas-Denbury festival was born in 2012, starting out as a small affair for residents of Denbury in South Devon to let their hair down and party whilst enjoying some great musical acts and locally sourced produce. Being a UK festival, one always has to consider the weather, too wet and the event becomes a washout, too hot and you have to deal with young revelers who haven’t ‘creamed up’ and are passing out all over the place, the perfect weather would be a bit of sunshine with a nice gentle breeze and this is EXACTLY what we got this year!
The list of bands, acts and artists at this years festival was varied, there really was something for every taste and age group, making Glas-Denbury THE go to festival for families of all ages, indeed, we saw children enjoying the entertainment and elderly folk, sat outside the bar, sipping a pint whilst watching the world go by.
5 stages was a lot of ground to cover, we caught as much of the event as we possibly could but I’ll apologise up front to any bands or acts that we just didn’t have time to see.
Things started off slowly on the Friday but ended with a massive party in the Big Top!! There were 4 tents to visit each having at least 4 bands on throughout the evening.
Starting off in the The Dome I got chatting to a guy with a camera, he was one of the instructors at the JJ's Art Academy, they had put together 3 bands made up of students with their various talents and by looking at them, they all seemed a little nervous to start with but soon got into the spirit of the festival. The instructor even ended up playing drums himself in one of the bands, great stuff!
It was over to the Acoustic Tent next where I happened upon a group called Sound Launch, rather than a band, this is more a musical platform designed to support and help to develop performers and songwriters through the use of courses, workshops, gigs and recording sessions. It started off as a 5 piece and later broke away into solo artists and duets, collectively, they played for nearly 2 hours.
While I was waiting for the Medicine Hat Band to start in the Big Top, I walked over to the Cloud 9 tent that had just finished playing a large dose of drum n’ bass. The next act up was Jessica and the Rabbits. I recognised a couple of the members, the saxophonist and trumpet player, who also played for the Simmertones when we saw them earlier in the year at YellowFest, hosted at the Torquay United Football ground. Jessica sang a selection of soul and blues numbers which got the crowd up and moving, with her unique look, she was winning support throughout the tent.
The Medicine Hat Band finally kicked off in the Big Top, albeit 45 mins later than scheduled, but I guess that's showbiz! They soon got the crowd up off their feet with a mixture of their own material and some classic covers. The lead guitarist certainly seemed to be enjoying himself….
I arrived back at The Dome just as the JJ Art Academy was packing up. Next on the bill was The Madcap Ponderlings from Exeter. These guys looked like they have just arrived fresh from a circus performance, the lead singer and guitarist wore long red ring master coats. They were joined by a talented lady on accordion, a trumpeter with the weirdest trumpet I have ever seen, a guy on the organ and a drummer. They played a heady mix of vaudeville, macabre & carnivalesque rock, lyrically bizarre and satirical in equal measure...
Back to Cloud 9 to see Raspberry Fish enjoying themselves on stage whilst knocking out the audience with a tasty and varied mix of classic covers ranging from rock to punk and disco to funk. It's time to be reeled in by the Fish!
Things were starting to pick up a bit and decisions had to be made as to who I should go and see next, I decided to head back to the Acoustic Stage to watch Totnes based folk duo Harbottle & Jonas finishing off with their last song.
I decided to sit tight and wait for the legendary frontman of Bristol based act Yes Sir Boss Matt Sellors to take to the stage, okay, my legs were killing me and to be honest, I was glad of a sit down for 5 minutes! I watched him perform a couple of acoustic led songs before I had to be break away and head over to the Big Top.
The next act was one of the highlights of my evening. They’re called The Rocker Covers from Cheltenham. This 3 piece band can only be described as ‘Rockabilly on Steroids’, they immediately had the crowd singing away with their rockabilly styled revved-up versions of pop and rock classics. Kris belted out Green Day’s iconic ‘American Idiot’, A-Ha’s ‘Take On Me’, Dire Straits ‘Walk Of Life’ and many more. My favourite was a fab cover of The Housemartin's ‘Happy Hour’. I’ve never heard it performed like this before, amazing! Check them out on Spotify or Apple Music. Hopefully we’ll have the pleasure of seeing them again soon, fantastic set lads!!
Staying in the Big Top we saw that The Simmertones were due next. The last time we saw them was at YellowFest, unfortunately Glyn (lead singer) was ill, so Kevin (drummer from Land Of The Giants) offered to step in. It was good to see Glyn back to his old self as he belted out some proper Ska classics that caused the audience to bounce along to in time, I even felt my feet going!
The Showhawk Duo was a group I was introduced to a while ago, I had never seen them play before (other than on YouTube videos) so I was keen to attend the Acoustic Tent where they were due on any minute. These guys are AMAZING, just 2 guitarists (one classically trained, the other a rocker) who got together initially to play Acoustic Trance music. Jake and Mikhail have gone on to take many 90s dance anthems and play them on an acoustic and lead guitar, thats it, no drums, percussion, bass, just the 2 guitars! Their version of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is an absolute must to listen to as well as their 6 minute Daft Punk mega medley!
To draw the curtains on Friday night, we headed back to the Big Top tent where the one and only Land Of The Giants were tuning up. The last time we saw these guys was in Exeter earlier this year where they were supporting the super talented Coco and the Butterfields. As usual, they absolutely smashed it, I don't think little old Denbury knew what hit it! A great set and a tremendous way to wrap up day one of Glas-Denbury.
Moving on to Saturday, we arrived at 5pm, we would have liked to have been there a little earlier as there were acts that we had on our radar, (we’ll hopefully be catching up with these shortly in our ‘Introducing’ section).
The first act that we feasted our eyes upon was London based 2 piece Rayguns Look Real Enough, these guys normally work as a 3 piece but they were without their drummer today, leaving Ryan Beange (vocals/Tambourine/Tiger Suit) and Matt Blair (Lead Guitar/Vocals/Spiky Hair) to rock the roof off the Cloud 9 tent with their blend of comedy mash-ups with tracks such as ‘I Like to Move it’ (Madagascar movie), ‘Ride on Time’ (Black Box) and ‘Be Somebody’ (Kings of Leon). Ryan did a tremendous job of strutting about the stage in his tiger suit whilst Matt kept the audience on boil with his brilliant guitar work. As we were leaving the tent, they were just kicking into a great version of ‘Black Betty’ by Ram Jam, tremendous stuff and just the kind of act that you need at a festival to kick start the party….
Over at the Big Top tent, Billy and Will, 2 youngsters were having what I can only describe as a ‘Drum Off’, a bit like a ‘Dance Off’ but with each of them on a drum kit, doing a solo and then the other trying to out do them, they each received a tremendous cheer when their time was up, who won? What does it matter, they both kicked it, winning the support of the near capacity crowd. I expect that these talented youngsters will be forming bands very soon.
We ventured into the Big Top tent where The Tuesday Syndicate were in full flow, injecting some North Devon summer infused folk rock into the mix, Sam Mayo rocking so hard he broke a string and had to find an alternative guitar to play, that’s what I call showbiz!
We tried to cover all 4 of the main tents as best we could and upon venturing to the Dome tent, we happened across a Plymouth based singer called Zahra who was filling the place with her great voice, programmed beats and, accompanied by her guitarist, was pumping out some nice light electro-pop vibes, check out her website for FREE downloads and a link to her video for her exquisite track ‘Parade’.
We fancied a change for 20 minutes so we headed to the Vaudeville tent to catch Elfic the Juggler doing his thing, we arrived just as he was attempting juggling whilst sat on a ludicrously tall uni-cycle and the piece de la resistance was a very technical ‘under the leg‘ maneuver that would surely defy gravity….we waited with baited breath and sadly, he didn’t quite pull it off but was hugely entertaining all the same. We would return later on in the evening for his more ‘adult themed’ Flash Gordon show!
It was half past 6 and we were torn between Moriaty in the Big Top or Bert Miller in the Vaudeville tent, we thought we’d be crafty and see both so into the Big Top we ventured to catch the mighty Moriaty looking all virginal and pure dressed all in white, serving up a kick ass sized plate of beef for anyone who wanted to carve themselves a slice. These guys are PROPER dirty blues, if you saw them, well done, if you missed them, make sure that you catch them at a show in the future as they are an act that put the ‘P’ in ‘PARTY’ and really do deserve your attention. They played a track that was all about a serial killer (one for the kids) and Jordan even ventured out into the audience to play a song, causing the crowd to leap about like demented animals when the chorus kicked in. They were accompanied by a 3rd member at the end of their set for a killer cover version of ‘Johnny B Goode.’ Which again, had the audience jumping and bouncing about the place, Matt Partridge left on stage at the end, saluting the near capacity crowd, a job well done indeed!
We snuck out midway through Moriaty’s set to see what the ever unpredictable but always entertaining Bert Miller was up to in the Vaudeville tent. We caught him as he was introducing a song about a squirrel and then one about an Indian girl whom he had met in London (it didn’t work out), his lyrics and overall delivery are exquisite, again, if you get the chance to see Bert playing solo or with the aid of his backing band ‘The Animal Folk’, make EVERY effort to do so as you won’t be disappointed!
Tiny Folds are a 3 piece synth/alt/rock act hailing from Teignmouth, we had the pleasure of catching these guys briefly at Lemonfest at the end of May so we were especially excited to see them at Glas-Denbury. They played some great melodic indie rock infused tracks, I was impressed at some of the bass melodies that he had going on, we even took part in the sing-a-long that they kicked off, “No-One Knows How It Works, but it Just Does”….. see, we WERE there! If you head over to their website you can get your grubby mitts on a copy of their 3 track EP which is superb, go check them out, you can thank me later!
We had a wander about, decided we were hungry so had to choose from one of the many food vendors that were onsite, should we choose a crepe, would that be wrong as they are sweet and we should really do the main course before dessert, hang on, they do savoury crepes too, oh sod it, shall we just go and get noodles? Then again, there’s a sexy looking burrito bar next door to that…ARRRGGGGHHHH too many choices! We ended up chowing down on some noodles served up by a lovely lady who looked like she was from Thailand, and they were GOOD noodles, we’re definitely seeing her again if we cross paths at other festivals this year!
Suitably stuffed and ready for action, we decided to climb the 5 metre lookout tower in order for Julian to get some good aerial shots, it was a little shaky up there and with my love of heights (not…) it made for an unpleasant experience but hey, we’re professionals so it just HAD to be done.
We heard a rumpus kicking off in the Cloud 9 tent and saw that The Showhawk Duo were in there playing an ‘Ibiza Classics’ set which enticed people in their droves, when we got there, you could hardly move and we had to make good use of our press passes in order to get the other side of the barrier in order to snap some quality pics. What these two guys CAN'T do with two guitars isn't worth discussing, they blew the roof off the tent with their mix of dance classics performed on 2 acoustic guitars, if you've never had the opportunity to see what the fuss is about, visit YouTube and check out any of their live videos, they will mesmerise you!
I managed to catch up briefly with Matt Vinyl too who was taking over from them Showhawk boys, after reminiscing about the ‘good old days’, we left him to finish off setting up. The Cloud 9 tent appeared to be what the ‘Dance Tent’ was last year, though this year, it was more of a mix of acts and DJ’s rather than DJ’s only, from what I could see, it was a good decision as towards the end of the night, the place was full of younger people who preferred banging house classics to what I refer these days to ‘proper music’.....god I’m getting old!
Back up to the Big Top tent we strolled to see a familiar set of faces, it was none other than Shoot the Moon who we saw at the 2014 festival, they played some ace summery ska tracks that had the audience bobbing nicely along. I particularly enjoyed their cover version of ‘Eye of the Tiger’ by Survivor (from the Rocky movies), good stuff indeed.
A band that we’d not come across before is The Humanitarians, hailing from Torquay, this 4 piece play a mix of rock/indie/punk and know how to get the audience involved. We particularly liked their cover of Meghan Trainor’s ‘All About the Bass’, which, quite frankly pissed all over the original sickly sweet version performed by Ms Trainor herself, just our opinion folks, apologies if I have upset any long standing Meghan fans!
We saw Coco and the Butterfields last year in Exeter at The Phoenix Arts Centre and it was interesting to see how they would perform at a festival rather than on a big indoor stage. CATB are a 6 piece Folk/Hip Hop band, commonly referred to as ‘Fip Fok’, to look at them, you’ve got the standard ‘folky’ type instruments, double bass, banjo, acoustic guitar and fiddle, throw in a saxophone and a human beatbox and you’re on a whole new level my friends! This band were the mutts nuts and after their soundcheck, took the audience to a place that most had probably never ventured before. We were saying how the human beatbox is something that mesmerizes me to this very day, have a go yourself, try making some drum noises and see how you get on…..did you just spit everywhere and not sound very good? Us too! Best leave it to the professionals eh?
We caught the tail end of Matt Owens’ set in the Acoustic Tent, such a talented guy, we were hoping to see more of him but you know what it’s like, we were already running around like headless chickens! He was playing tracks from his acoustic album ‘Songs for an Empty Room’ which were simply sublime, he ended with a cover of Townes Van Zandt’s classic ‘Pancho & Lefty’ which left me dumb-struck, amazing guy!
We took a stroll over to the Dome tent to catch a couple of tracks from The Stone Angels who are an alternative rock duo from Torbay, I personally loved ‘Take Me’, with it’s fab guitar line and driving beat. If you want more, you can check out their EP which is available from their website right now.
It was nearing the end of the festival now so we were keen to catch as much of what was left on offer prior to putting our feet up for a well earned rest. We headed back to the Acoustic Tent to see The Thatchers, we had to do a double take as all day we had been reading the sign as ‘The That Cherios’….confused?! I can categorically state that it WAS The Thatchers and they are a 3 piece acoustic act comprising of a dreadlocked man on cajon (box) and vocals, a lady on vocals and an un-dreadlocked man on acoustic guitar/vocals, they played a great mix of tracks including a fab cover of the Creedance Clearwater Revival classic ‘Bad Moon Rising’ and ended with a proper ‘hoedown’ version of Mumford & Sons ‘Little Lion Man’ which had the audience slapping their thighs and swinging each other around the place, a brilliant end to a brilliant set!
Kicking things up a notch in the Dome Tent were Bristol based 4 piece Saint of Me, think of a rocked up version of London Grammar and you’re on the right tracks. They formed in 2014 and have done a sterling job of creating light, summery funky pop which had the audience dancing along in no time at all. They looked dapper in their fur coats (possibly faux fur) though it was disappointing to see that the drummer had not joined in on the fashion, it was rather warm and being a drummer, things can get a little hot back there so we’ll forgive him, just this once!
The Totnes based singer-songwriter Sam Fearon was given the job of closing the acoustic tent and he did a wonderful job of mixing up some classic covers such as Billy Joel’s ‘Always a Woman’ with some of his self-penned numbers, one that made me smile was a track called ‘Someday’ which was written about his mum pissing him off, by the sounds of the lyrics, justifiably so! Sam is a great live act and to have to follow Matt Owens is a mammoth task but he managed to pull it off and ensure that the crowd were kept entertained until he came off stage. Sadly, we weren’t able to stay for the entire set as we had to go and grab some pics of Tankus the Henge in the Big Top, I do hope he played his fab cover of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstition’ which went down a storm when he played it at last years’ Glas-Denbury Festival….
So, over to the Big Top to see what the festival headliners were upto….
Tankus the Henge are an act that I have heard of many times but have never got round to seeing, how excited was I when I heard that they would be drawing the curtains on Glas-Denbury 2015? They class themselves as a ‘Carnival Rock n’ Roll’ and from the first song to the last had the crowd dancing about like loons. The frontman Jaz Delorean was whizzing about the stage, jumping around on his piano and generally orchestrating his bunch of merry men. Influenced heavily by the visual circus style of Gogol Bordello and the classic song writing abilities of The Beatles and Radiohead, this 12 legged powerhouse really turned it up to 11 ensuring that everyone had big smiles on their faces by the time they exited the tent. It’s sometimes a gamble as to who and what you have to end a festival, I think that ‘Tankus’ were THE band to do this and boy, did they do it in style!
So there you have it folks, our write up of Glas-Denbury 2015, we hope you enjoyed reading it as much as we did compiling it. As I said at the start of the piece, apologies to the acts and artists who we didn’t catch, we tried our very best to see as much as we could but even fine tuned, experts in the field of photography and writing need a few breaks to feed their souls and make sure that they're on top form!
A HUGE thank you to Emma and the team who worked tirelessly for months on end to pull the event together, I guess they’ll be having a few well-earned nights off prior to starting to plan the 2016 event!
Steve Muscutt musicmuso.com
Bruce Benson 241photography.co.uk
Julian Baird Photography julianbaird.com
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