Tuesday, June 03, 2008

A Promissory Note

It was a last minute decision to trot over to the spa town but a decent one. Cheltenham’s Wychwood Festival on Sunday saw a mainly folky line-up but quality told. Each act I (and J) watched proved a delight. Rachel Unthank and the Winterset performed in the Big Top and had to compete with a heap of noise coming from the main stage. The affable northern lasses produced a gorgeous set though; the perfect unaccompanied singing, the exuberant clog-dancing, the unashamed respect for traditional songs, all impressed. A has recently penned a few words about Dengue Fever over at his place. This Los Angeles outfit play, rather remarkably and with commendable effervescence, classic sixties hits from Cambodia with a psychedelic grooviness that is wondrously catchy. The band really ‘got down’ on stage with much bounciness and liveliness to report. They were splendid. Kate Rusby fashioned a fine set too, full of tune and earthy good humour. She were gritty. The final act I witnessed was The Imagined Village, an amalgam of world vibes, traditional folk sensitivities and rootsy modern stuff. I must confess the concept left this punter a touch cold but the reality was stunning. The various singers and players, including Billy Bragg, Martin Carthy and Sheila Chandra, managed to kick up an almighty racket, involving sitars, ethnic drums, violoncello and much, much more, that succeeded in being evocative, passionate, thought-provoking and heartily toe-tappin’ simultaneously. The songs were soaringly beautiful and I’m tempted to go and buy the album as a result. I salute Wychwood. It has certainly whetted this appetite for this summer’s festival frolicking.

I offer two photographs. The captions read:

1. Those Unthanks glow in the dark.

2. Dengue Fever makes me want to rug out.

I have ordered the Paul Weller album, 22 Dreams, from Amazon. I’ll report back soon on this one. The reviews are glowing.

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