Gig - Maverick Festival (Saturday 2nd July 2011)
First time visitors to the Maverick Festival at Easton Farm Park - inexcusable really as it's just a few miles up the road. Americana in Suffolk, great weather and lovely venue. And many highlights.....
OK, so not strictly R&B. But plenty for a blues, country blues and roots fan to enjoy. The non music essentials were all there. Excellent local real ale at pub (or less) prices, nice selection of food stalls - duck sausage sandwich was a first! And no queueing for the loos.
There were four stages, so you had to pick and choose. Highlights included:-
Henry Brothers - despite hailing from Norfolk, these guys harmonise as well as the best from the USA. They like to sing about murder and other untimely deaths but as I said, they are from Norfolk.
Songs From The Blue House - rootsy folk/country. Fine songs and arrangements, seemingly purpose built for festivals such as Maverick. Easy listening without any hint of blandness. Catch them if you can.
Stompin' Dave Allen - American roots on banjo and guitar, although he also plays fiddle and piano. "Stompin" because he, erm, stomps whilst he's playing, adding a rhythm to the great playing. Likes a bit of behind your head Hendrix style picking, which is a bit surreal on a banjo. Highlight is "Duelling Banjos" performed in two parts by just one man on one banjo - whilst still 'stompin'.
Society - Country rock all the way from West Sussex. Definitely a cut above, with echoes of the Band, especially the vocal interplay. Even dress a bit like them (see photo, right)
Oh My Darling - Four women from Canada playing country music with some Appalachian thrown in. You can see why they are already picking up roots awards back in their homeland.
Blue Rodeo - Canadian country rock institution, for many it's a mystery why the band never got much beyond cult status in the US or Britain. Even after 30 years, here was a band still playing like they meant it. They have any number of great songs from which to choose, and played many of the big Canadian hits as well as a few extended jams, always melodic, never self indulgent. A real highlight of the day.
We also managed to catch sets, or part sets, from Sadie & the Hot Heads, Dead Rock West, Linda McRae, the Orbitsuns and the Vagaband, who brought Saturday to a close with a suitably lively blend of country, folk, rock, soul & swing (emphasis on the swing).
Last but not least, special mention to Otis Lee Crenshaw, Rich Hall's 'wayward uncle' and sometime country & western stalwart with a very particular take on life. Improvisation, the wonderful 'Don't Hurt Me' and hilarious ad libbing throughout.
There were plenty more we didn't get to see. Annoyingly missed Brooks Williams (my fault), who we know is a great picker and sometimes blues interpreter. The Rosellys and Roosevelt Bandwagon also played Saturday and I'm sure would have been worth a listen - maybe next time!
Congats to all involved at the Maverick. A masterclass in how to put on a friendly, well organised, perfectly sized festival where music is still the top attraction. Long may it continue.
Will hopefully be back next year, this time for all three days...
Read more about the Maverick festival.