Sunday Review 2017

Jun 13, 2017   //   by Michael Stevenson   //   News  //  No Comments

If Saturday had been conquered by hippies, Sunday at Gate To Southwell belonged to our much-loved foreign musical friends, chiefly the Californians, Canadians and Mallorcans. Big Top headliners Le Vent Du Nord blew in from Quebec celebrating fifteen years on the road together. Combining Canadian traditional music with their own, cinematically-French compositions (like ‘Little Dream Number Nine’) they warmed the Southwell crowd with fond memories of their brilliant 2012 performance. Their fellow countrymen, The East Pointers were equally impressive, provoking wild dancing in the aisles as they promoted “our first and therefore our best record” ‘Secret Victory’ and threw in a Prince Edward Island cover of David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ for good measure. Stirring stuff!

Sunday crowds also packed the Robin Hood Energy stage to get another dose of the extra-entertaining Ooks Of Hazzard. Their famous uke-powered takes on MGMT’s ‘Kids’ and Radiohead’s ‘Subterranean Homesick Alien’ and ‘Creep’ were real festival highlights alongside a gravelly Tom Waits-style down-at-heel ‘Nobody Loves You When You’re Down And Out’. A standing ovation again; everyone loves them. As live performers, BOC from Mallorca take some beating. Many of their tracks begin like weird Prog Folk symphonies but then – with guttural Latin cries of “uno dos tres cuatro!” they kick off into a remarkably diverse world of folk-meets-flamenco-meets-gypsy-meets-ska-meets-metal musics… Hard to define, impossible to avoid dancing madly to…they’re a festival force of nature.

Of course, there was plenty of homegrown talent too, from the beautifully intelligent jazz folk of the Bowbeaubelles (‘Blue Tree’ was a stand-out track here) and the socio-political songwriting of mohicaned Paul Carbuncle (who did a great version of Dick Gaughan’s ‘Tom Paine’s Bones’) through to the sweeter traditional acoustic sounds of Alder Patterson & Dashwood and Grimsby’s own purveyors of Deep South swamp blues, The Life And Times Of The Brothers Hogg. Not forgetting Megson’s warm, emotional set of contemporary folk songs and ballads drawn from their own landscape of Teesside. ‘Burn Away’ mourned the decline of the steel industry and its impact on the local community, while ‘The Longshot’ captured the intense frustrations and dashed hopes of football supporters generally, and long-suffering recently-relegated Middlesborough fans in particular.

Honourable mentions too for the feisty and funny, hard-living Americana of the excellent Dana Immanuel & The Stolen Band and particularly the extremely likeable and heavily-bearded James Edwyn & The Borrowed Band, who seem to have made Gate To Southwell their second home. Influenced by the likes of Guthrie, Dylan and even Ryan Adams, their cleverly constructed alt-country songs like ‘Maslow’, ‘There’s A Body In The Water’ and ‘On Meeting The Man In The Suit’ definitely make their debut collection ‘The Tower’ worth embracing.

As Sunday drew to a close there was time to reflect on the great collective efforts of everyone involved across four fine days – musicians, stewards, traders, dancers, crew, entertainers, bar staff, health professionals… – and also to remember festival founder and local musician Adey Button. There was an emotional gathering of family and friends in the Barleycorn Bar to mourn Adey’s passing and, more importantly, to celebrate his life and love of music; a fitting tribute to a great friend of the Gate To Southwell.

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Gate to Southwell Festival