2006 day by day Festival Diary

FRIDAY 26th May

The 18th Black Horse Music Festival got off to a wonderful start at Telham on Friday on time on the 26th of in spite of a week's torrential rain. The huge crowd were snug in a dry marquee listening to some great music. They were packed in and were enthralled by the master of the wailing blues guitar, Rob Tognoni. This was not a time to miss the first support act. He was magnificent and had the crowd cheering and yelling for more but this was a night packed with good music and no time for encores no matter how much the demanding throng yelled and whistled for more.

Nelson King and his band overcame their disappointment and soon they tuned into his brand of blues. The fact he sold many CDs to new fans speaks volumes. Following a short break, legends of a British Rock n Roll era entered the evening's evolving memories with a formidable 90 minute set of rapidly performed songs delivered with a minimum of fuss and a maximum amount of outrageous impact. Exactly what you would expect from The Wilko Johnson band. The trio were tight and confident with wonderfully justifiable arrogance. The moves, shuffle and strummed licks were still in Wilko's armoury. Norman Watt Roy on bass writhed out the beat and sweated gallons, nobody puts more into a performance. Monti on drums smiled, at the back, as together they enthralled the large crowd. He smiled as much as the other two grimaced, but then, like the paying customers he could see every move of the pair of musicians with him. They have been performing together for 18 years; plenty of time for Wilko to develop his shuffle and Norman to refine his eel-like writhing. All three were once " Blockheads". It is no wonder they are so tight.

Almost five hours of music came to an end and we went home on the "free" bus to Battle Station and then on via British Rail's late trains anticipating an exciting day of folk and Glenn Tilbrook & The Fluffers on Saturday. "

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The second day at "the biggest little festival in Britain" saw ten acts on the main stage and half a dozen acts elsewhere plus numerous acts of consideration due to some appalling weather. Thanks to every one. No cars at any time were stuck in the mud, as they were at nearby events. At times the festival's surrounding area was a scene from the opening of a Charles Dickens's novel, all murky mist and gloomy shadows. However Pip and Ian and Jo were in the bright lights of the stage as the festival got off on time with an afternoon of varied folk music.

The Great Escape, Paul & Jo then Hettie Dengate played to the crowd, dry if not warm, in the marquee. They had the audience "warmed up" by the time Ron Trueman Border sang his powerful self- penned songs. Emma Heath has a powerful evocative voice and with dramatic percussive embellishments from her partner, Mark Davies, the Shropshire based duo wowed new fans. Meanwhile others in the pub enjoyed The Acoustic Astronauts (who were not literally acoustic) , The Flying Chaucers, a balalaika band and other musicians.

The kids enjoyed Punch and Judy, some amazing stories delivered dramatically by Ben Fairlight and balloons, hundreds of balloons, face painting and juggling.

The Mountain Firework Company filled the main stage and with double bass, banjo, mandolin, guitars, fiddle, harmonica and drums, the six piece outfit brought back-porch, down home, gentle country folk to an audience who were not aware of the cloud that had descended outside.

Wild Willy Barrett and Sleeping Dogz closed the afternoon with great skill and humour, I saw people crying with laughter. The four CD's he brought to sell were quickly snapped up as a souvenir of an afternoon of over four hours of music. Meanwhile the music continued with a great session in the bar of the Black Horse. They were still playing as bands sound checked in the huge marquee for an evening that was to be a delight.

Solo singer songwriter, Tim Hoyte in the centre of the big stage held the audience. Jez Lowe and The Bad Pennies played a fine set. His songs are heard in folk clubs every week in every town in Britain. It was good to hear them from the man who created them.

Glenn Tilbrook & The Fluffers sang some "Squeeze" songs and some new songs and performed some acrobatics that brought their "show" to a climax in a crescendo of applause with the crowd still wanting more. They had seen Glen Tilbrook 'swilling lager from a can' having as much fun as festival goers - all singing favourites "Pulling Muscles from a Shell", and "Up the Junction". The band formed a human pyramid while still performing as they played the obligatory and expected encore. As the band left the stage laughing, one of their crew said to Glenn "You're making it up as you go along". It had been a spontaneous set of outrageous fun. It had not actually rained all day and the forecast for tomorrow is "Sunshine" Hooray!!

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SUNDAY 28th May

Our prayers have been answered - it is not raining. In fact the sun is shining.

Today festival goers enjoyed an afternoon of world music. Trevor Watts, a saxophonist and one of the pioneers of progressive jazz teamed up with percussionist Jamie Harris for their last performance before returning to Mexico for more dates. Their set had influences from around the globe. Their music was jazz based and as more rhythmic overtones were introduced the audience swayed then danced to Jamie's beat.

Meanwhile, Hohoza from Zimbabwe should have been holding a workshop but were stuck in traffic on the M25. They arrived in time to take to the stage in keeping with the festival's schedule and the marquee throbbed to the beat of their songs. The dancing queens danced as did the audience who laughed with them at some of the band's antics, performed to a song regarding the mating of the birds in the trees at spring time.

Emma and The Professor entertained many people at their work shop and an impromptu performance in the bar throughout the afternoon. Hohodza gave their workshop to a packed house in one of the festival's smaller marquees after their set. Ben Fairlight captivated the minds of children with his performed stories during the afternoon and the sunshine warmed everyone. This was a day any festival goer would appreciate.

The evening's bands were all greeted and sound checked during the small amount of time between sessions before Tabs Acoustic walked onto the big stage in front of a full marquee. These fine musicians, guitarist Roger Flack, violinist Gary Blakeley and bass player Roger Carey played a perfect set to get this diverse " Celtic" night on its path of excellence. Gary's playing has been praised by Peter Knight of Steeleye Span, Barry Dransfield and every other lover of fiddle playing, with an ear for great technique, confidence and creative flair. Qualities in abundance possessed by the two Rogers also. The tent was full at the start of the evening because nobody wanted to miss this set of tunes and special songs.

Shooglenifty, a Scots band with members from Australia, then played their arrangements of foot tapping tunes that had the fans cheering. The band has evolved into a tight outfit of musicians with a huge following.

The lights came up on 'Goth' looking Blue Horses and the drums were pounded as guitar riffs worked an expectant audience nearly into a frenzy before petite Celtic charmer and Welsh "loverrly" Liz Prendergast, sang, charmed the fans with her Welsh accent and wowed them with some high energy fiddle and guitar playing. How they cheered when she played a wired, electric, Celtic harp. The stage was filled with light as they turned up the adrenalin for an audience that had enjoyed authentic Celtic music and were now confronted by a "rock band" who played the approved instruments for the genre, but had broken away from any restriction of tradition and firmly slammed the door behind them. They were free to take the music down any 'rocky' path they cared to choose. Our audience went with them and once again a day at the festival had pleased many people.

All of the bands won tonight - and so had the people at day three of The Black Horse Music Festival 2006.

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MONDAY 29th May

Day Four - The final countdown in the final downpour!

This year's crop of young indie bands selected to perform Bank Holiday Monday afternoon, the last afternoon with a chance of enjoying the final throes of May, before June and summer arrive, were greeted at the festival site by a torrential downpour on a very wet day for an area declared to be having a "drought". The anticipation was greater than the precipitation. This area is flooded with talented and creative musicians. To our surprise and relief the rain stopped.

A very new band, Angie's Variables, described as " a five piece pop punk band" played their youthful set, that had that recently created, un-over-worked quality that is fresh but not under rehearsed to an audience of hundreds that would have been greater had only the weather been fair. They are a product of the local RHYTHMIX project and are not the first very young band encouraged by them to grace the Monday afternoon session of The Black Horse Music Festival.

Fleeing From Finales and Fracture followed. FFF is a formidable band from Bexhill. If you met Sam Little in the street you would not think "potential pop star" but see him on stage and he has charisma and talent. He is the band's keyboard player and lead singer and his passion for what he does shines with a warmth like the sunshine we craved. The band is a unit and they put in a good united performance. The rain stopped before Eastbourne's Fracture closed the first half of the afternoon with a tight set of songs with melody and well worked arrangements. These boys are going places. That's true. They are getting bookings galore and had to rush off to another gig this evening for another lucky audience fifty miles away. The Red Shift played interesting, amusing Pop that owes a lot to rude boy aggression and the resurgence of ska's influence in a current trend.

Signed band, Noxious played out the afternoon and nobody left the marquee even when white clouds and blue sky allowed the sun through. The variety of weather this afternoon was as great as the variety of music played. It was the conversation subject, stealing the attention away from some great bands. No wonder other nations laugh at our fixation with our climate. Well they don't have to live with it!

Tonight party goers wanting a good time filled a packed marquee. They came to celebrate the festival's final fun filled evening at this year's farewell party even though there is not even a hint today that this year may be our last.

The Rhythm Doctors played many familiar songs and rock anthems. The throng sang and danced along. Tall, lean, Ian in his white suit towered above those partying in front of the stage and had the attention of all as they sang with him. The band played like it was the end of a great evening not the beginning. Julian Dunkley then took us on a journey through the selection of a well-stacked sixties' jukebox and only had time to give us a small sample of the Tar Babies repertoire in the hour the next band had on stage. They reproduced the authentic sound of an era of pop that changed the music we hear every day from orchestras and bands to groups.

The evening closed to the authentic sound of The sensational sixties Foundations. They sang their hits Build Me Up Buttercup, In The Bad Bad Old Days and others, including Baby, Now That I've Found You. That was their biggest British hit and was in the charts for sixteen weeks in 1967, their only single to reach that coveted number one spot. Build Me Up … only got to second spot over here but has sold millions of copies worldwide. The crowd that had braved the weather loved what the band was doing on stage and the band loved our crowd, arms swaying, and singing along below them. The perfect combination to get the best from musicians.

IT WAS A PARTY TO REMEMBER and a festival to cherish.

See you all here at the same time, same place next year. Friday May 25th, Saturday May 26th, Sunday May 27th and Bank Holiday Monday May 28th 2007.

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Pictures on this page Courtesy of Spotty Badger Productions ©

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