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Weyfest -The Rural Life Centre – 5th & 6th Sept

Alphabet Backwards at Weyfest 2009
Alphabet Backwards at Weyfest 2009

As you ride the steam train that takes you from one stage to another,  past the rusting tractors and the baa-baa black sheep, the rickety barns and the gypsy caravans – you know you are at the golden end of summer and you have arrived at the (now famous) home grown organic fest that is Weyfest.  And when you add to this the excitement in the kids eyes when they see that ‘security’ is provided by Storm-troopers and Daleks you realise why this Hampshire Music Fest has been short listed for “Best Family Festival”.  What a great way to spend a weekend !

Sure, the big hitters were there in force on the main ‘Village Green’ stage  – Jethro Tull, Osibisa, Mungo Jerry, The Beat, Blodwyn Pig. But on the smaller ‘Old Kiln Stage’ and the on ‘Rustic Stage’ the truly precious nuggets of treasure were to be found.

Security by Stormtroopers
Security by Stormtroopers

My favourite for off-the-wall slightly kookie band of the year just has to be ‘Alphabet Backwards’. This dramatically optimistic poppy band made the festival goers bounce and clap and jump for joy. This band is so energetic it is not true!

Their insistent Acoustic / Alternative / Electronica numbers wormed their way into the minds and hearts of the crowd. Bob is like the musical equivalent of Tarantino on Korg keyboards, James is the lead singer on acoustic guitar and Steph provides backing vocals and cosmic energy. I would defy anyone not to be singing “Primark  Primark  Primark “ to themselves after seeing this bubbly, vivacious, cute and adorable band. [www.myspace.com/alphabetbackwards]

Another of my favourites, ‘Kindred Spirit’  with their electro-folk prog-roots, also put on a fine show. I was still humming ‘The Chain’ (Fleetwood Mac) days later, but I also loved their self-penned tunes like Meta-Mor-Phosis and Dragonfire.  Band leader Elaine Samuels has a sweet yet powerful ‘Country & Western’ type  voice, well suited to the very English misty, moody and magical themes. Annie Parker adds some smoke and fire on flute, whilst Gavin Jones creates drama and majesty on electric violin. Mike Hislop on bass and Alan Barwise on drums provide the rhythm to the polished, meticulously crafted songs from this band. [www.myspace.com/kindredspiritukband]

Dalek security looks on

Other highlights from the Old Kiln stage included a seven piece Moody Blues covers band called ‘Blue Onyx’ who played some of the lesser heard Moody numbers like “So deep Within You” , the 1968 single “Ride My See-Saw” , “Melancholy Man” and, naturally,  the big, well-known numbers like “I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)” and ‘Nights in White Satin” .

True festival highlight and nominated by me for the ‘wacky and out-there’ award must go to the bizarre and weirdly addictive 40’s style band ‘Otis B Driftwood’. This trio (of five) who played a selection of ridiculous BBC Home radio era jazz, Latin and big band sounds- wearing a load of different comedy hats – delighted and astonished the festival crowd.

Their whole set was riddled with delicate, well-meaning and subtly dry humour … the sight of an ‘invisible man’ singing nonsense into his mike accompanied by  a group of bow-tied, trussed-up octogenarians clowning about on double-doses of Sanatogen was truly mesmerising and memorable (you had to be there…)

Be sure to book up early for next years Weyfest … I guarantee that this fun filled family festival will put a glow in your heart and a smile upon your face …. and it will set you up for winter!

© Neil_Mach
September 2009



Otis B Driftwood and friends
Otis B Driftwood and friends

Ad Pontes Staines- music arts & going out IN STAINES

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