Raheills, nr. Moffat
8th – 11th June 2017
The sun tried in vain to crack through the clouds as large raindrops splashed on the Tinky minibus windscreen as we rambled and bumped along the rolling Scottish countryside on our way to Moffat. Nestled amongst the trees alongside a picturesque river deep in the Raehills is the beautiful location of this outstanding boutique festival, one of Scotland’s proudest and most stunning.
We raced through the mud to the Furry Chillum tent just in time to catch the Tinky Disco perform an energetic and tight early evening set to an exuberant and bouncing crowd, a perfect treat to kick start Friday night festivities, performing old classics alongside some quality new material, and yet again proving never to disappoint.
The crew pitched up their weekend HQ on a beautiful spot overlooking the festival below and quickly got into the swing of things, fresh faced and excited to be checking out the offerings of this particular festival. We wandered back down through the festival, slipping and sliding through the swampy mud like a bunch of big kids, all the while absorbing the flavours, colours and sounds on offer, in this visual and oral rainbow of delights.
There was a seemingly endless offering of food stalls to tantalise every hungry tastebud, with old favourites such as Mutleys Crepes and Bangin Beans to Asian fare and Greek street-food amongst the plethora of choices. Alongside these lay a multitude of clothes stalls catering for every hippy’s wardrobe, and enthral the glitteriest of disco diva. Further still, spilling down the muddy passage was an eclectic choice of crafts and arts, such as an interesting and very popular stone-masonry workshop, a hoola hoop tent, and group tarot card readings. They thoughtfully even provided a convenience store for all those last minute items that were forgotten in the rush to get there.
Liquid refreshments were bountiful, supplied by festival veterans Williams Brother’s Brewery, with the sweeter tastebud opting for Thistley Cross, whose strawberry and ginger ciders were a particular personal favourite, alongside a heavenly and reasonably priced cocktail bar.
Smug and happy at being spoilt for choice I spent some time wandering around, absorbing it in all its splendour whilst pouring over the weekend’s lineup, divided up over 11 stages, and conveniently summarised on the side of the reuseable plastic pints.
I made my way to Rabbie’s Tavern to watch Steel Valley Saints at 9.30pm. This is a North Lanarkshire band who describe themselves as “Clyde Valley roots with gypsy elegance”. The bluesy- soulful vocals were breath-taking, and I especially loved the acapella with deep impressive harmonies. The tent warmed up with their upbeat, dirty vocals and the energy continued to flow and build through the tartan taverna. They burst out a crowd favourite “What Is This” which caused an excited uproar and only enhanced the Friday night bounce.
By 10pm, there was a bangin’ jam session alive and kicking around the camp fire, complete with Bodhrans, Tingsha Bells and Djembes, providing a rather eclectic but very enthusiastic cheer. Kilted highlanders danced around the flames giving a smidgen of ironic Scottish tribalism to the party.
Heading back to Rabbie’s Tavern, I caught the end of an acoustic set by Gordy Duncan Jr, of Girobabies, and there was an unforgettable moment when a girl in the audience jumped onstage to sing a duet of Blueberry Hill near the close of his set, what an incredible moment, it was absolutely stunning and sent shivers up a multitude of backs as jaws dropped… the guitar playing, the harmonies, the soulful voices… absolutely smashing.
Then the main stage filled up quickly for Friday night’s headliners Alabama 3 who didn’t fail to impress and entertain with their blinding set played out spectacularly to an enthusiastic audience, enhanced by a spectacular fire and light display around the stage. This psychedelic country dub band burst full of festival spirit as they bounced, high energy throughout their classics as the crowd cheered and danced along. A great band for a headliner indeed.
Spud’s Eden (part 1)
After a very dry few months in Scotland the upcoming Eden Festival was the much talked about festival of the year. Waiting with anticipation and excitement, we were only days away from the Eden opening its gates to all the Edenians. Unfortunately, the heavens decided to open their gates as well. With many a day of constant rain, there was a possibility of the madness at Eden turning into the Mudness of Eden. This was very apparent when arriving on site. With 1000″s off revelers feet stomping away to music and through roads throughout the festival being in continuous use, the mud soup , that at times looked like pools of Hot Chocolate was soon to to everywhere. The incredible thing was, that it did not deter people from doing what they came here to do. Have a festival !!! The same joy, happiness and good vibe was still in abundance. We all endured but never gave up, in true Eden spirit we all continued like it was a hot summers day.
With so many diverse bands, acts and entertainment on offer , Eden never fails to deliver. With acts such as Diddley Squat, Cat Power, Alabama 3, Miracle Glass Company, Nawapyiko, Alice Russell, Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5, The Langan Band and the unforgetable Boney M performing over 3 nights was just the tip of the ice berg . With so much more going on under the canopies of Rabbies Tavern, The Furry Chillium Tent, The Lost Disco, Ghilli Dhu tents we were spoiled for choice. Having to pick and choose the different acts between the Mumbles, we set out to catch up with as many off the acts as we could. Rushing from tent to tent via a river of fun mud I finally got to witness the awesomeness that is Alabama 3. Founded in Brixton London in 1995. Alabama 3 have fused together Rock, Blues, Electronic, Country , Spoken Words with a twist of Gospel to create this very unique sound. They presented themselves well and delivered to us the magic that they are renowned for. Even the trickles of rain and stuck in the mud feet could not dampen this moment, as i look around and saw the crowd going balistic it puts a smile on my face. Its always a joy to witness so much togetherness. Thankfully we have events like Eden that allow us all to experience this together…
Earlier in the day / evening I caught up with Tinky Disco at The Furry Chillum Tent, another Edinburgh band that is climbing the musical ladder at Eden, performing again this year the band had knocked it up a notch since last year and were kicking ass with there funky disco dance tunes. Some well written and well put together songs that had everyone up and strutting their moves. Tom Spirals and his Ska Ya Man outfit are just powering through each year and gathering so much positive feedback that I expected nothing more than what we got, excellence !!!! Another journey through the wonderful world of Ska Ya Man. Day time activities are a major part of Eden Festival, especially for the kids and parents. Workshops, games, entertainment and a huge amount of free mud to run around in I am sure was a kids idea of heaven.
The rain poured on throughout the night and by Saturday afternoon it was becoming increasingly more difficult to navigate throughout the site – perhaps some straw bales and grates would have been a good idea to try to stave off the ever rising swamp. A few wellies and tents were certainly lost in the sludge. However the heavy rains failed to have any real impact on the high spirits of the happy campers who continued to party on and dance throughout the weekend.
Tucking into a White Russian lunch, I slowly blew away the previous night’s cobwebs whilst listening on to festival special guest Mr Motivator, despite not quite having enough energy to participate in his interactive show. I then carried on to stumble upon a real treat, the soft haunting and melancholic vocals of Emma Gillespie and her trio bluegrass band whose enigmatic fiddle and soft vocals belted out a superb cover of Spooky. Excellent harmonies and softly soulful, they sounded spectacular, and finished with a cracking song about a mouse, check it out!
The Well Happy Band lived up to their namesake and spilled out a cheerful oral smile to a full tent of muddy, messy and high spirited revellers who jumped around to the perfect vibe, providing a backing stomp – the band from Paisley, who are affiliated to the Yellow Movement of the Dijon tribe, describe their music style as simply ‘Happy’, burst out a jivey, funky and upbeat set.
Back to the Chillum tent, I stumbled by surprise upon one of my personal highlights of the weekend – a refreshing, young and original, and extremely talented 7 piece band called Harry and the Hendersons. The band describe themselves as progressive frog rock, and with a plethora of musical instruments and dream-like harmonies which would rival the beach boys, beautifully composed lyrics and an ooze of talent, charisma and energy, this is definitely a band to watch. With the lead singer reminiscent of a young Curt Cobain, sitting cross legged on the floor, bountiful of charisma and oozing an incredible relaxed vibe, he looked utterly unfazed, surrounded by his bandmates sporting long flowing 60s locks, yeah, these guys really have nailed it. They absolutely smashed a cover of The Beatles classic “with little help from my friends”, splashing an entirely sunshine moment over the entire festival.
I managed to grab a few minutes backstage with vocalist Vincent Deghan, after their gig:
Me: That was one of the highlights of my weekend, well done guys, superb raw talent. So are you Harry by any chance?
Vincent: No… but there is a Harry! (looking round for the elusive namesake)
Me: So where are you from? / How long have you been together?
V: We formed in 2012, we’ve been going about 5 years now, we’re mostly all from Glasgow and are based there.
Me: You played a cracking song, Matchstick Men, and mentioned this is your new single?
V: Yes, it’s our first single and it will be out next week.
Me: And any albums to follow?
V: Yes, our first album will be out later in the year, we’ll be posting details once it’s ready, watch this space, we’re very excited about it.
Me: Are you currently signed to a label?
V: Not as yet, it’s been a lot of work doing it ourselves but we’re getting there and it’s going well!
Me: Who would you say were your musical influences?
V: I’d say we have lots of influences, jazz, blues, folk – all of us write songs for the band, and each of us are influenced by different styles and artists from Joni Mitchell to Frank Zappa.
Me: So where can we see you next?
V: We are playing Butefest & Clam Jam festival, amongst others.
Me: Nice one, I’ll look out for you, it was a pleasure to hear!
Catch the guys at McSorleys in Glasgow, 17th June. The Thunderdome tent saw a plethora of talent throughout the weekend, from the bangin tunes of the She-Bang Rave Unit on Saturday night, to the Samedia legend Chris Knight playing very funky soul / electro-swing set on Sunday night, and the fantastically talented Rebecca Vasmant spinning her choiciest tunes, all within the settings of haystacks and boxing rings, quite superb.
Spud’s Eden (part 2)
As the odd cloud parted and a glimpse of blue sky appeared a great cheer came over the compound and revelers thanked the heavens. Passing through multi coloured punters, fresh from the annual Eden paint fight the smell of tempting foods filled the air and then I slipped on felt the mud soup run up my arm but thankfully my beer was intact, good times. Hearing from a distance the sound of Miracle Glass Company starting their set I was compelled to join in. A musical throw back, this bands has a 60s and 70s rocky pyschedelic feel to them. With their new single Trouble doing well they through out a tight and well executed set of bouncing tunes, a great treat for all who fought off the rain. I then played witness to “Alice Russell and her big hearted band. Finding her feet in Gospel music, this daughter of a organist has become a renowned soul singer in her own right. With her well polished band and her deep soulful voice, the muddy blues were soon lifted up and put to one side as the show on offer was marvelled at by a well happy crowd. Clean riffs, crisp guitar chords and smooth lyrics found their to everyones soulful side. A pure pleasure enjoyed by all….
With Samedia Shebeen , Rebecca Vasmant, DJ Divine, Shakti Mamma Disco and Mungo”s Hi Fi spreading their mixture of Dance, Latino, Funk, Disco and Dub there were sure to be some sore wet feet over the further coming days. Sheltering in Rabbies Tavern on Sunday evening i was transfixed by a lovely looking group of young musicains , who turned out to be”Eriska” a band crafted in the art of Folk Music with a touch off new age dance. With Flute, Fiddle, Accordian, Drums, Bass, and Guitar with a splash of keyboards they delivered a tight set of jiggy country folk dancing songs. Well done “Eriska” you had the place rocking. The deep down excitment of Boney M was becoming to much and it was not long before the sound of the icon tunes they produced would soon be released upon a eagerly awaiting crowd. With huge tiger like roar the stage was lilt up and the emerging figures of Boney M glided onto the stage. Firing head long into hits like Daddy Cool (so good they played it twice), Rivers of Babylon , Sunny, Rasputin, this mix off R&B, Euro Disco and Reggae was a banging hit with the Edenians . The whole main satge area was rockin and swinging and as looked around the smiles on faces were as big as the bands hits … Pure genius to have such a band close the weekends entertainment.. Good memories…
Teri : Sunday for me, was rounded off nicely with Mungo’s Hifi, bringing down the Gillie Dhu tent to a mobbed and bouncing crowd in true decadent style, before I fell in the mud and decided to finally throw in the party towel! Best quote from a wee reveller with a gleeful sparkle in his eyes and grubby cheeks, when asked what the best bit of the festival was for him – “The Mud!!!!!!” Only fault I could find was manoeuvring through the swamp, some hay bales would perhaps have helped . But otherwise an amazingly well organised, colourful and splendid festival, an absolute asset to Scotland’s music and culture scene. Wish I could relive it all over again!
Teri Welsh & Raymondo Speedie
Anne Mcintosh, John Gordon & Spud