Friday, August 22, 2014

Once upon a time...

With this blog fast approaching its eighth birthday, which is old for such things and solo-written ones in particular, it has set me thinking.
I started to attend festivals because of it. I needed stuff to write about. At that point I realised that I needed pictures too, and I wasn't going to rely on promotional ones, so I therefore I needed to take my own. I bought a Fuji F20 compact - I still have it and I still use it - and off we both went to Latitude Festival 2007.  To be quite honest, while the camping and stuff was well in hand, I hadn't quite thought out the music side of things properly. I didn't keep track of what I had seen and it proved very difficult to piece it together afterwards. OK - you learn from mistakes like that. You also learn a lot more from just being there, trying to do what you want to do, and talking to people. The best thing about going to a festival alone is that it forces you to talk to strangers; they are the only friends you have. On the other hand you have no obligation to pander their particular agenda or they to yours for that matter.
By 2008 I had basic control of most of that and, in 2009, made my first foray to End Of The Road Festival in Dorset. This became a favourite and not just because it is only 35 miles drive from home. It was love at first sight. By this time I had started to do advance planning, almost military style, of what I wanted to see and how to go about it. As usual there are plenty of last-minute changes and even SNAFU events.
The result of one of them turned out like this. I got to see an act I had never heard of and hadn't planned to see. Afterwards 
I said they could be big. My interlocutor said that that they would be forgotten within a year.
Klara (R) and Johanna Söderberg, First Aid Kit, on the Tipi Stage, End of The Road 2009. Five years (and three albums) later this is the first time I have used this photograph. There were perhaps 150 people watching them play then. Here they are last Sunday - playing to ten thousand, maybe even more than that, at Green Man Festival 2014.

Any which way it was comfortably the biggest crowd of the festival. Tickets for the UK dates of the forthcoming autumn headline tour are all but gone too. Less than fifty remain for the gig at The Royal Albert Hall, London, on 24 September. By the time you read this they will probably all be gone.
That applies to End Of The Road Festival 2014 too - the final tickets went this afternoon.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Green Man 2014 - Mountain Stage - Saturday

My approach to choosing acts to see at festivals is, as you may have gathered, somewhat esoteric. I rarely consider main stage headlines when determining ticket purchase and have a penchant for the small stages and artists at the bottom of the running order...
Well that was true of my first trip to Green Man Festival too. I did however do something I have never done before (I'm not really sure why, it was not a prefigured plan) - that was to see all nine acts on the main 'Mountain Stage' on Saturday in entirety.

The mountain in question is Pen Cerrig-calch, just in case you were wondering.

As this is Wales, who better to open proceedings than Georgia Ruth, the winner of the 2013 Welsh Music Prize, complete with a very modern version of the instrument most widely associated with Wales?
The songs taken from her 2013 LP 'Week of Pines' were as good as I expected; so too were the several new ones that were interspersed between them. She introduced each song bilingually - alternating between Welsh first and English first.

I was not so familiar with the work of all the acts and the next, Zachary Cale, is a case in point but I imagine you can see why I found it arresting.
It was about this time that the idea of seeing the whole caboodle occurred to me. It wasn't just about the music it was about the stage too. Like the 'Garden Stage' at End of The Road, but for different reasons, it is something special. In between times I still managed a few forays to the smaller stages, food stalls and the bar. Next to play Mutual Benefit. It is not a band, it is a fluid collective, except when it is only Jason Lee. Last Saturday it involved a handful of collaborators. My arrival, just as they started, limited my options somewhat.
The really important thing was now I was where I wanted to be for the rest of the afternoon and evening. I already had designs on this.
I make no secret of the fact that the 2014 LP Burn Your Fire For No Witness is headed towards my end of year list. It is not uplifting in a conventional sense.  Live is no different; she has a penchant for playing, when not singing, with her back turned to the audience and that tension is no bad thing either. Taut and compelling in equal measure this is music that requires one to pay full attention.
She was followed by another US female artist that I have wanted to see live for some time now. To my eternal shame I have missed this opportunity at a festival that I have attended at least once.
That artist is Neko Case. It was a splendid juxtaposition. Gone was the tension to be replaced by free-wheeling carelessness; some of the band asides were probably as good, and as well judged, as anything to be heard in the comedy tent. It was also the last date of a fifteen-month world tour. That is stamina.
And there was banjo, and pedal steel - heaven is a sunny Saturday afternoon in south Wales.
(And an interesting contrast with 'Saturday Night in Toledo Ohio'.)

Hamilton Leithauser has worked with more well known acts than I have the time or inclination to mention. I had never really considered what he might have to offer when he was the centre of attention until it was there for me to watch. His début solo album 'Black Hours' might have changed that in time.  Seeing him perform live just expedited the process.
This is one reason, beyond the enjoyment I get from live music, that festivals serve to inform and educate me.
So here I am, as he leaves the stage, 7¼ hours after Georgia Ruth had taken to it, and it is still only early evening. 'Are We There' is the title of the 2014 album by the next artist on that stage.
Sharon Van Etten.
Towards the end of her set she was joined by Hamilton Leithauser for a duet.
And so here they are.
First support was 'The War on Drugs' and, for some reason I seem to have taken something of a time-out on photography here and I can't, for the life of me, remember why that was because I can clearly recall watching and listening. Be that as it may, I seemed to be back for headline act 'Mercury Rev'.
This is an act that I had long managed to avoid seeing live and this time I was determined not only to fail to do so again but also to do it justice. I'm not going to hide my lamp under a bushel here; this was everything I could have hoped for and more. A band that was clearly relishing the moment as much as was the audience. This next might seem a strange choice of picture but it is the one I wanted to use just now. 

Festivals are not all about crowd instinct. Think about that.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Green Man 2014 - expect the unexpected

So here I am. Back home and finally awake again.
My first trip to Green Man Festival is replete with memories, thoughts and photos. I haven't even looked through all of the pictures that I took but here are a few, of very different aspects, that I have...

Don't bet against kids. Martha Tilston sound checking. Chai Wallahs stage Sunday morning.
The last time that I saw her play live was at the early 18th century Rook Lane Chapel here in Frome. The folk that invested in that would certainly not have approved of mysticism...

...or pagan imagery for that matter. There is a remedy for all of this.

First Aid Kit. Mountain Stage, Sunday.
This was a world away from the first time that I saw First Aid Kit live - that was in the (then particularly) tiny Tipi stage at End Of The Road Festival 2009.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Green Man 2014 - a preview.

Green Man 2014 is now sold out. I am in anticipation of my first ever visit and to be quite honest the line up looks as though it might present one of the most clashes between stages that I have ever tried to square.
I can even get a readable image of the list into a single screen-full that you can read but still be prepared to scroll and/or zoom.

I'll be busy.
Would I like to chose a pre-festival must see list? Quite frankly, no!
I wouldn't want to do it for just one stage let alone the combination of them. One thing that makes things easier in some ways is that there are quite a few acts that I have seen before. That of course doesn't mean I don't want to see them again, because for the most part I do, but they are something of a known quantity live. On the other hand there is almost no overlap with Truck Festival 2014, which I went to last month or End of the Road 2014 in a fortnight's time

Here as a compromise is a short list, in alphabetical order, of eight acts that I have never seen live before but are on my "list of ones to see". None are appearing at EOTR 2014 unless I'm mistaken. It covers all stages and many of them have appeared in these posts before:
The links were chosen on the basis of what attracted me to seeing them live although this is likely not where I first got that information. I deliberately have not included amongst them anything that I have written. In the case of Joanna Gruesome the link was chosen on the basis of its explanation of the bands formation. It maybe quite the urban myth but who wants the truth to get in the way of a good tale?
There's some variety of music in the list, I think.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

New Music 2014 - Part 28 - Deena - Rock River

For the most part I find new music for myself, one way or another, but this is one of the rare exceptions.
In keeping with my policy of not reviewing that which I don't care for, you never hear about many of them. I imagine that, had she not sent me a message, I might never have got to hear of Deena and her latest album 'Rock River', or not for some time at the very least. That would have been a shame, and for several different reasons.

The first reason is that I really like it. The second is, to me at least, more interesting. That is to do with what I would have thought, had I heard it for the very first time without any background or context whatsoever.
The answer to that is very simple: New York.

I can't pinpoint exactly what the combination of circumstances is but the album has this written through it in the manner of a stick of rock (a seaside candy, probably peculiar to Britain). Although  usually sold in length, typically 6 - 8 inches it can easily be made into slices...
Blackpool, a seaside resort in Lancashire became famous as an affordable vacation destination for the previously home-bound factory workers in the north west of England from the arrival of the railway in the mid-nineteenth century until cheap flights to Spain became available in the 1970s and then Florida some years later, is perhaps its true home. 
I used to listen to more music like this, or perhaps now I simply listen to more other music too, and it reminded me that I like it. I suspect however that this, to invoke another British food analogy, is something of a Marmite thing - that is to say adore or despise. I like Marmite too.
It is perhaps a consequence of a combination of the way it has with words, literate and self-referencing or reflective. The first feelings I had while listening were of Latitude Festival circa 2007 - 9. Then I tried to work out why. This, although done fitfully I have to admit, has taken a couple of weeks. Here are two LP points of reference that I have come up with and I did see both these artists live at Latitude in that period.

  • Jaymay  ---  Autumn Fallin' (2008)
  • Chairlift  ---   Does You Inspire You (2008)

It would be wrong of me not to mention Regina Spektor here and I her saw her live in this period too. You will suspect that I regard Deena Shoshkes as being in good company and if that means a few people buy some music that they might not otherwise have considered than that is all I can wish for.

I want to listen to her earlier albums now, particularly this one, and so can you:


Monday, August 04, 2014

New Music 2014 - Part 27 - The Honeyfire

Unless you have been listening to BCfm tonight you may not know about this.
North Somerset three-piece Wolfhound is no more. No line up changes, just a new name, The Honeyfire and an album of the same name to be released by Jelli Records on 11 December 2014 in the UK and is available to pre-order today.

Not much more to say about this right now except that the new material sounds good. I'll try and sort out those links but, for now, here is the album artwork...

...and the track listing.
  • Road Signs
  • Delusion
  • Dreams
  • Parallel
  • Unheard Voice
  • Wolves
  • Can't You See
  • Underwater
  • Blind Eye
  • Noah
You can't stream songs from the forthcoming album yet but in the meantime try this one, Starlight, released in January 2014. This is the last release by exactly the same trio that changed its collective name from Wolfhound to The Honeyfire yesterday.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

New Music 2014 - Part 26 - Ward Thomas live in Frome

I have been intending to write about the UK grown country music of twin sisters Ward Thomas (Catherine and Lizzy) for a little while now but the stuff around Truck Festival and those forthcoming has got in the way until now. Right now. The début album 'From Where We Stand' was released on 21 July. 

Their UK headline tour in support of it started here in Frome tonight. I have just got back home. Frome is not Nashville and this, in the Cheese and Grain, was not The Grand Ole Opry but whoever set up the lighting tonight thought that it was and all credit to them. The set was wonderful. Yes, this is country music and yes, I did write that. Do not adjust your eyes and ears.
In that vein, with the harsh lighting, here they are. Live. In Frome. Tonight.

Before going further:
Support artist was Jess Roberts, about which I know next to nothing except to say that I would like to hear more. Once again a demonstration of my conviction that support artists really do matter. 



The real question is why are Ward Thomas being hailed as the act that, finally, will make UK country music something that inspires more than snide remarks and muffled giggles? More than that, be taken seriously in America too.
If this were Wikipedia it would require me to provide a reference. I hope that the comments of The Times Culture Supplement will suffice. It is not the clearest of images to read but here it is. The interesting thing I think, is not only that it was written and appeared when it did, but in so much detail. A short note in an "also consider" column would have been the best to be expected until fairly recently.

I have to say that any misgivings I had evaporated in seconds.

Friday, August 01, 2014

August and onward.

A one day festival (Behind The Castle) in June. A two day festival (Truck) in July. 
That was just the warm up. In two weeks time I shall be resident in Powys, Wales at Green Man Festival and it will be my first ever visit, which is exciting. Two weeks later comes my annual pilgrimage, since 2009 at least, to End Of The Road (EOTR). There are so many more... this weekend is the 50th Cambridge Folk Festival  and 21-5th August is the 50th Towersey Folk Festival. In an ideal world I would have quite happily gone to all of these and many more too. I have to say that one that has piqued my interest for a couple of years now, although it is in distant south Suffolk, is Maverick Festival. I could list many more that have caught my eye but seven links in the first paragraph is way more than enough. It is time to focus on those that I am going to and what I might wish from them.
It might be leavened with shorter posts on new music.

I'm thinking that this post is something I shall add to over the weekend and it will be thoughts about the acts that I want to see most at Green Man or EOTR and why. 
Reviews such as this certainly don't hurt. Ezra Furman is playing EOTR. Never seen him live nor heard his music that I am aware of.
I'll tell you one, from EOTR, that is right at the top of my list - Richard Thompson. I don't need to justify that.

In my eight years of festival attendance the changing balance is to be struck between artists that I have heard before and those new to me. As my recent posts concerning Truck 2014 may have made clear, my liking for seeing new artists, or ones that are merely new to me live or otherwise, remains undiminished. There is now a new category too - artists in new acts/guises. Maybe that is where, probably tomorrow, I shall start this discussion. I have two in particular in mind right now and, echoing the recent comments of Robin Seamer at Breaking More Waves, I have also been thinking about those end-of -year lists too. I rather suspect that the début albums by both will feature on mine.
Here is an observation that is just mine: in 2007 I started my end of year reviews with EPs and mini albums because that was easy. The weren't many and fewer still that I felt worthy of mention and I said then that I had felt it was a dying format. I suspect that in fact I had caught it just reviving from its death throes. It is true that much of this has to due with the ascendency of digital music but that is only part of the Lazarus story. Even in 2007 EPs were starting to appear on vinyl, 7", 10" and 12", and the story continues to grow to the present. This is a more recent, but you would not guess it, example of a single:

It was released physically only on cassette tape.

I could tell you about more worthwhile EPs from the first six months of 2014 than from 2007-9 in total. I don't think, for one moment, that this is simply because I am better informed, although I am. It is much more significant than that.

What this post does lack is photographs but that is an interesting demonstration of a cascade of consequence.
When I started to blog a problem soon became apparent - I needed more original stuff to write about. The obvious answer to that was to go to festivals. Festivals are about live music, which is an intrinsically visual medium too, so I needed pictures of what I saw and heard. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Truck Festival 2014 - a miscellany.

I wasn't intending to blog this evening but so what. I'm still thinking about Truck and in two weeks I shall be off to the orthogonal word of festivals once again, so I had best keep up.
After two posts comprising the goings-on at one small stage, this is going to be a bit different. I did visit the main stage, quite often actually, and the Veterans and Virgins Stage too. I visited the Shed Stage, if only once and briefly.

It is a fairly modern agricultural shed, and it certainly smells the part, but has a certain charm I suppose. At times it was, I am told, more crowded than a veal crate, but with willing humans. To the point that security, which generally has very little to do at Truck, had to restrict entry on valid grounds. It would certainly be more atmospheric when it was dark outside.
On the other hand, and on the main stage, I saw two bands that I first saw at End of The Road Festival 2013 (EOTR) on the Thursday on a small stage. I was very impressed then and remain so now. Both are Truck-friendly, guitar-wielding types and they went down very well with a sizeable crowd basking in the scorching sunshine on Friday.
North Wales five-piece Catfish and The Bottlemen, Truck Stage on Friday afternoon.
They nailed this and that will give them much to savour - the début LP 'The Balcony' is released in the UK on September 15 and in North America in early 2015.
A little later, so Friday early evening, came a band well accustomed to playing in such adorable weather - Los Angeles duo Deap Vally.  I purchased the 2013 début LP Sistrionix (on vinyl) after seeing them live at EOTR. This bought back a comment from then, which is that "nobody takes pictures of drummers". This is often because they are hidden right at the back of the stage, I guess.
 Since Julie Edwards was not so hidden, and the light was terrific, here she is.
Whilst I am on the subject of Deap Vally, what the hell?  This is both of them.

A little later that evening I headed, on a strong recommendation and one that proved to be absolutely spot on, to the Veterans and Virgins stage to see an artist that I had never seen before and was only very faintly aware of and quite probably neither are you. Let's put it this way, she is from a musical family.
Mary Epworth.
Her music is percussive and heartfelt, based around anything from UK folk to south-eastern European rhythm via prog and psych rock, including Greek influences; bouzouki infiltrated UK folk from Asia Minor, via Greece, in the 20th century so why not? Her only LP to date is 'Dream Life' (2012).
If that description sounds like a recipe for a train wreck then, given the degree of control exercised here, it is most certainly not. Live however, it is quite the thrilling ride. One of the best acts at Truck Festival 2014.
To summarise the last four posts Truck is a great festival for (especially) new music, is well run, very friendly and remarkably good value for money. This last point applies not just to the tickets but on-site catering and bars. The drinks were marginally cheaper, like for like, than the equivalent in any worthwhile pub my home town of Frome, Somerset.

And so to finish as I started with another picture of the first act that I saw - Heavy Heart.
In a curious twist of fâte my post today included the début album 'Not Kings' from the first act I saw at Truck Festival 2013, Candy Says, on 180g 12" vinyl. Some things are well worth the wait.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Truck Festival 2014 - settled in The Saloon

It happens that this last weekend I ended up too busy to complete the post about my time spent in The Saloon at Truck Festival the previous one.  I wasn't even involved with music, though plenty more has now come my way, by hook and by crook. I'm always on the lookout for new music but I am certainly never going to complain when it comes to me from its author (so more for later in the week).
It is a hard life but by Friday evening at Truck Festival I was comfortable in the saloon. I returned later Friday evening to see a band that, until I was in The Saloon last year, I was completely unaware of:

The Redlands Palomino Company and now the 2014 LP 'Carelessly Broken'.
I had heard the album, it was released in April and I purchased it, but live it is something else. In this case I will serve my blog with pictures taken live and refer you to this review of the album; we don't need to trample on each others feet, there is plenty of music to go round. It was probably just Saturday but whatever; it was time to catch The Dreaming Spires on the small stage.

I find it next to impossible to tear myself away any time pedal steel is involved.

Right. We are now into Saturday proper and that was to provide surprises all of its own.  I can't be two places at once and saw Italian duo M+A on the main stage instead, so the first Saloon act I saw was  the second to play and that was The Buffalo Skinners.
More a Truck-typical guitar band than most on this smallest of stages is, however, not a half-hearted compliment. It was good, very good, and beyond that it is the variety, across any and all stages, that is one of the strongest points of Truck Festival. It may not be huge, might not have the biggest of head-liners but ultimately it is the strength in depth and the values that matter.
After this, I have to admit, I took a sizeable time-out to visit the other stages and have something to eat. Before returning in the evening I headed back to see another artist of whom I was hitherto quite unaware - Nova Scotian Gabriel Minnikin - and that decision was repaid many times over. In the space of a half-hour set.
Takamine 12-string backed only by pedal steel and occasional harmonica. Guitar porn.

In the evening I headed back in good time to see My Darling Clementine as I had heard many good reports. I made sure to arrive in time in order to get a good spot and hopefully some pictures.
 I accomplished that mission and caught The Saloon at the quietest I saw it all weekend.
    
Every band needs a tour manager and front-of-house presence and My Darling Clementine certainly has one.  I was sitting by the bar, making sure my camera settings were good before the set (I had made that mistake earlier in the afternoon) when she introduced herself - she is their daughter and is not yet in her teens.  This might have caught me off guard had I not, a couple of years ago and also at a festival, met Ned The Kids' Dylan for the first time in somewhat similar circumstances although in this case he was the artist and his parents tour managers and all the rest.
The set was top drawer. Music and asides combined beautifully.

Next up was Hans Chew and while I was aware of his music I wasn't quite expecting this.

If I had to select one picture that I took in The Saloon, that really sums the whole stage up...
This is it.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Truck Festival 2014 - life, live in The Saloon

This time last Friday evening I was exactly in the place I'm about to write about. By the end of a festival weekend there is often something of a desire to spend a weekend at home (writing about it). To be honest, however, I'd quite happily be back there or somewhere similar right now.
Almost all of the time that I wasn't watching electric guitar bands on the main stage, or the equivalent delights of the Barn stage, this is likely where I was to be found instead. It has already featured in my posts about Truck Festival 2014 and certainly did so heavily in those of Truck Festival 2013. It was a new feature then. I know what I like when I come across it and my only concern was whether it could live up to my memories of it last year.
I'm not one to be shy of seeking out new music, especially in genres that I like - and so very much including folk, roots and Americana - yet last year it served up several acts the knowledge of which I was quite naïve. It was certainly no less so this year but I made it something of a mission to explore and, if possible, photograph. I'm not sure how well I succeeded in the latter but I thoroughly enjoyed trying. The music was amazing. All of it.

The action started a couple of hours after that on the other stages: at 2:20pm Friday with Delta Mainline. A big sound on a small stage, and a guitar band (vide infra) to boot, that hails from Edinburgh.
Three things to note here:
  • The Saloon is just a tin shed (as many of the prototypes no doubt were) but sheds and music have a certain affinity - particularly this one!
  • It is one stage on which a wide-angle lens is as useful as a telephoto one, and I'm still missing a band member here.
  • The Dreaming Spires' drum-kit is generic, for all to use, although the band did perform there twice over the weekend too.
This is one from the outside, looking in. The Saloon has doors that open both ways and that, for important reasons, one can see both over and under.
Otis Gibbs - Saturday afternoon.
   
By mid-afternoon I felt like I was part of the furniture, often sat on the floor, and either nobody seemed to notice or they didn't care. That is a good place in which to be.
The August List. The duo have yet to release an album, but it is in the works. Watch this space!
After this I wandered back out into the summer sunlight for a few hours, only to return without remembering to change my camera settings for the evening gloom back in The Saloon. As luck would have it the next act was 'Rutland troubadour' Paul McClure. My bacon was saved because his tales between songs are as long as, if maybe not actually longer than, the songs themselves. As for the song and what it is about, Lord only knows. 
We are up to early Friday evening now.
Putting this supposed précis together is actually taking longer than listening to the original performance. Do I regret starting this - post or even festival-going? Hell no.
Maybe I shall split the post into a Saturday portion and a Sunday one but, either way, I'm not going to finish it on Friday.
And not to be finished on Saturday either, but for different reasons. Riding the iron horses...

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Truck Festival 2014 - Guitar bands, and all that...

I think that it is fair to say that Truck Festival leans towards guitar bands, especially electric ones. This is exemplified by the head-liners; The Cribs (Friday) did the honours and White Lies (Saturday). That is just fine by me and I shall return to that later. I have never really been one to choose my festival choices by dint of the headline acts --- Arcade Fire at Latitude 2007 being a huge exception and sine qua non the reason for my festival going renaissance.
The point here is that, being typically Richard, I didn't actually see any of either set last weekend and purely out of choice. I have seen both on the main stage at Latitude Festival in the past, enjoyed them hugely, but I just felt it was time to turn my attention to music on other stages. It wasn't something I had planned in advance. It just turned out that way.
The first message here, I suppose, is that it would be wrong to consider Truck Festival to be hidebound in that regard. I am of the opinion that much of the best that the vibrant festival scene has to offer is to be found by looking at the artist list entirely the other way about: as though in a mirror, starting with the first artist on the least significant stage.

"Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end; then stop."

That sound advice, as well as being in this case an apposite Oxonian reference, is truer of festivals than Lewis Carroll could possibly have known when writing in the third quarter of the nineteenth century.  The Cheshire Cat and The Mad Hatter's* tea-party aside --- Truck and all other festivals have robust policies that militate against the use of illegal substances --- but to be fair they weren't proscribed when he was writing.
That, however, is history. There is speculation, of course: maybe Fleetwood Mac will headline Glastonbury 2015, maybe they won't. That is a discussion for another day. This is all about the music that actually happened on a farm in Oxfordshire last weekend.


I'll tell you something about this.  The little digital thermometer on my camera strap was reading 39ºC (102ºF) inside the Market Stage early on Saturday afternoon and I was wilting whilst just watching.
Guitar banditry this most certainly is not. 

   
Accompanied only by sparse, but therefore also very effective, keys and acoustic guitar - Ella Martini.

Recording status: unsigned.
Category: urban (the kind of urbs that Romans, and us too, would aspire to).

*The Mad Hatter was actually a victim of hydragyria, mercury poisoning, and as a result of the felt making process. That affliction was also well attested in Roman times but as a result of the use of mercury in other applications.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Truck Festival 2014

This weekend gone I headed off into the Oxfordshire countryside for two days of music at Truck Festival 2014. Now I have had a little time to reflect on it and also look at the pictures it is time to start writing. First of all a picture that I didn't take myself, and some thanks to the weather gods...

It was a weekend in which much of the UK experienced some unusually violent summer storms. Viewed over the camper-van area and car park on Saturday afternoon this one just missed us but visited hailstones 2cm in diameter on Oxford, which is barely ten miles away. For the most part however, it was hot and sunny.
I'm always keen to catch the opening acts on as many stages as I can and this was no exception. I will add a link as soon as I can (there are many bands called Heavy Heart worldwide) but this one from South London, with its New Wave echoes, was a good first act to see.
Note added 29 July:
Heavy Heart can be found here - many thanks to the band for providing confirmation of this.
The Veterans and Virgins Stage, early Friday afternoon.
I visited all five stages at some time or other but little from the Barn Stage will feature as I spent almost no time there for one reason or another.
The smallest is The Saloon Stage and I spent a great deal of time there, as I did last year. On Friday the artist list was curated by Clubhouse Records and on the Saturday by At The Helm Records and was home to more great acoustic, roots and Americana music, both home grown and imported, than you could shake a stick at. As often as not it was packed to bursting. Very much from across 'The Pond' comes this artist.
Otis Gibbs - Saloon Stage, Friday afternoon.