Festival In Review: The Great British Folk Festival 2015 (Day 3) – Butlins Resort, Skegness – Dec 4/5/6

Line up: Band From County Hell /Dan Webster / Blazin’ Fiddles / Clutching At Straws / Steeleye Span / Fotheringjay
Venue: Butlins Resort (Skegness)
Date: Dec 4/5/6
Review By: Sarah Houben
Photos By: Ian S. Russell (MORE HERE)

Day 2 (Following on from Day 1: Read About Day 1 HERE) / DAY 2 HERE

First Up today we have: The Band From County Hell - Photo Credit: Ian S. Russell

First Up today we have: The Band From County Hell – Photo Credit: Ian S. Russell

The Band from County Hell – Reds – http://www.bfch.co.uk/
Last year’s Sundays Introducing Stage winners opened the final festival days for us. Already the dress style of The Band from County Hell, with a mix of Celtic and (steam) punk elements promised that this was going to be a lively act. BfCH started with an instrumental act before lead vocalist Joolz McLelland welcomed the audience to their celtic

Dan Webster / Photo Credit: Ian S. Russell

Dan Webster / Photo Credit: Ian S. Russell

folk rock performance. For the next songs she played the bodhrán and shared the vocals with her husband Jock McLelland, whilst Ben McLelland, Mark Mclaughlan, Phil Harris and Russ Smith formed the rest of the band with fiddle and tin whistle, percussion, guitar and bass. Small dance choreos complemented the cheerful music, whilst the band performed a selection of originals from their six albums. The song “Pussycat”, once written by Joolz for her son Ben, was fittingly led by her vocals as well as a strong fiddle tune performed by the aforementioned son. Listening to the music of the Lincolnshire based band, it is evident why they say that they are influenced by The Pogues and alike. Songs like “Never Gonna drink that Stuff” soon had people dancing and singing along, before the final song of the set, “Shifts and Changes”, had people clapping along.

Dan Webster – Introducing Stage – https://www.facebook.com/danwebstermusic/
Aiming for a spot on next year’s Red stage, Dan Webster was up next for us. Performing on the introducing stage, Dan Webster showed his skills as a seasoned singer-song writer, whilst being accompanied by his fellow musicians Rachel Brown, Mark Waters, Yom Hardy and Ali Lawrence on cello, percussions, bass and guitar. Being more in the style of a “troubadour”, the folk music had people sitting and listening to the lyrics. In between songs, Dan chatted to the audience about the disadvantages of shower opportunities at festivals (recommending not showering in order to get the proper festival feeling) and successfully asked for a beer in exchange for one of his cds. One of the songs, which stayed in mind due to its lyrics, was the break-up song “Caroline”, despite the set ending on more cheerful notes.


Blazing Fiddles - Photo Credit: Ian S. Russell

Blazing Fiddles – Photo Credit: Ian S. Russell

Blazin’ Fiddles – Reds – http://www.blazinfiddles.com/
The Blazin’ Fiddles proved to be a contrast to the aforementioned act, as their energetic music used no lyrics, relying merely on the power of the instruments: four fiddles, played by Jenna Reid, Kristan Harvey, Bruce Macgregor, Rua Macmillan, accompanied by guitar, played by Anna Massie, and keyboard, played by Angus Lyon. With the band performing songs from their new album “North”, the lively fiddle music from the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, soon had people clapping along

Clutching at Straws – Reds – http://www.clutchingatstraws.com/
In the evening, the doors reopened to the indie folk trio Clutching at Straws. James Baskett (bass, cello, vocals), Jake Mahal (percussion) and Thomas Simm (vocals, guitar, keys) started their set with a slower tune but the pace of their music soon quickened. The songs they performed partially hailed from their new album “Bamboo Bridge”, of which the raised money goes to an isolated community in the Philippines. In between songs, the band members explained their ties to charity work and Jake’s developmental work in the Philippines, putting the content of the songs into context. Thus, even if the music didn’t have everyone up and dancing, the great music, as well as the written lyrics, such as in “This Table Changes Everything”, made seeing Clutching at Straws more than worthwhile.

Photo Credit: Ian S. Russell

Photo Credit: Ian S. Russell

Steeleye Span – Reds – http://steeleyespan.org.uk/
The second headliner of the festival was Steeleye Span. Formed already in 1969 this group is one of the major folk-rock bands around. The 6-piece band of virtuous musician led by the voice of Maddy Prior performed on the Reds stage in front of a full and cheerful audience. Starting with ballades, telling entertaining stories of love, knights, gardeners and spies, the set initially had people calmly and intensely listening. Before long however, the rock-music side became more apparent and had people up and dancing. Especially the songs from their album “Wintersmith”, which Steeleay Span had written in cooperation with Terry Prachett, proved to have very catchy and lively tunes. Based on Pratchett’s Wintersmith novels, they told tales of ancient rituals and folk dances, with “Crown of Ice” being a personal favorite.

Fotheringay- Centre Stage – http://www.fotheringay.com
We didn’t stay to see the entire Steeleye Span set, as we wanted to at least get a glimpse of Fotheringjay, which was playing at the same time on the Center stage. Also going back a long way, this 1970 formed band was on their reunion tour. The songs we caught were quite laidback and we’ll be checking some more of their folk-rock music. Listening to them, definitely was a good end to the festival.

Closing The Festival: Fotheringjay - Photo Credit: Ian S. Russell

Closing The Festival: Fotheringjay – Photo Credit: Ian S. Russell



Festival In Review: The Great British Folk Festival 2015 (Day 2) – Butlins Resort, Skegness – Dec 4/5/6


Line up: CoCo & The Butterfields / Brian Eastwood & Friends / Guilded Thieves / Demon Barbers
Venue: Butlins Resort (Skegness)
Date: Dec 4/5/6
Review By: Sarah Houben
Photos By: Ian S. Russell (MORE HERE)

Day 2 (Following on from Day 1: Read About Day 1 HERE)


Festival Day 2: First band up, CoCo And The Butterfields

Festival Day 2: First band up, CoCo And The Butterfields

Coco and the Butterfields – Reds – http://cocoandthebutterfields.com/
The second festival day began with the winning band of last year’s Saturday Introducing Stage – Coco and the Butterfields. Even though it was early in the day the band of buskers from Canterbury played in front of a full audience. Performing a mix of originals and covers, their energetic folk-pop-rap sound soon had people dancing. The five piece band of double bass, banjo, violin, guitar and – surprisingly – beat-box was supported by a saxophone and a trumpet. Their great music was rounded off by an entertaining narration as well as small but lively dance choreos. Their original song “Warrior” started as a quieter piece, with the narration going on whilst the music played, but its speed soon picked up and had people dancing and singing along. After the set, people stood cheering for an encore until the musicians came back onto the stage. After asking the festival organizers if they were allowed an encore (which they were), they soon had audience back dancing and the floor of Reds shaking with their last song – an unique cover of “Jump”.

Gilded Thieves – Introducing Stage – http://www.gildedthieves.co.uk/biography.php

Gilded Thieves - Photo Credit: Ian S. Russell

Gilded Thieves – Photo Credit: Ian S. Russell

Hoping to win this year’s Saturday introducing stage were Gilded Thieves. The band from Newcastle performed folksy ballades with great female and male vocals by Laura Alexa and David Fitzgerald, guitar and banjo by John Dalziel and a supporting violin and friend of the band, who was simply introduced as Cathy. This set was calmer and more traditional, especially compared to Coco and the Butterfields. However it was nice to take a break from jumping and to simply sit down and enjoy the music.

Brian Eastwood and friends (open mic session) – Jaks
Saturday also was the first day of the Open mic session in the pub Jaks. We managed to catch the last song by Malcom and Steven, which was a lively jig.

Next up was Ade Saunders. He started with political comments and, fittingly, Billy Bragg covers before ending his set on a softer note, with a love song for a woman he had fallen in love with 30 years ago.

Niel Auton, as Ade before him, also chose a guitar for his set. His cover of “Leaving on a Jet Plane” had the pub guests singing along. The same was true for his interpretation of “Falling in love with you” and “Country Road”.

In between acts, the audience was invited to fill the gaps by coming to the stage and telling jokes or playing a short song – and people were willing to do so, so that entertainment was on near to all the time.

The last artist we saw here was John Ravenscrogt, who actively encouraged everyone to accompany him and his guitar during “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”. Due to the laid back and cheerful atmosphere in the pub, everyone was happy to oblige him and sang along.

The Demon Barbers - Photo Credit: Ian S. Russell

The Demon Barbers – Photo Credit: Ian S. Russell

Demon Barbers – Centre Stage – http://www.thedemonbarbers.co.uk/
The last performing band of the evening for us was the Demon Barbers. Performing songs from their new album with the very fitting name “Disco At the Tavern”. The electric folk-rock group did not only have highly energetic music but also an incredibly entertaining performance. Therefore the band was not “only” made out of the six musicians – Damien Barber with vocals and English concertina, Bryony Griffith with vocals and fiddle, Ben Griffith at the drums, Matt Crum at the keyboard, Angus Milne at the bass as well as Will Hampson at the melodeon. In addition, five dancers in neon coloured clothing filled the stage at all time with impressive performances of Morris, Clog and Rapper sword as well as an occasional Hip Hop interlude. All in all, one could not wish for a better way to end the evening than dancing in the crowd to the music of the Demon Barbers.

Festival In Review: The Great British Folk Festival 2015 (Day 1) – Butlins Resort, Skegness – Dec 4/5/6


Line up: The Kings Of The South Sea / False Lights / Billy Bragg / CC Smugglers
Venue: Butlins Resort (Skegness)
Date: Dec 4/5/6
Review By: Sarah Houben
Photos By: Ian S. Russell (MORE HERE)

Kings Of The South Sea

First Band of the festival: The Kings Of The South Sea

So, unlike the vast majority of festivals, and events we cover here at Scorpio, as this event takes place in a nice little holiday camp, our team have decided to cover a few addtional elements as-well as the music – it’s all part of the nice festival package offered by the Butlins team after all! Feel free to skip the next few headlines if your simply interested in the music!

Taking place at Butlin’s in Skegness, the Great British Festival was one of those rare festivals, where one sleeps in a proper bed. We had the good luck of being giving gold accommodation, which means an apartment with a kitchenette including microwave and dishwasher and a spacious living room with TV and DVD player. Certainly enjoyable but not really necessary, considering that most of the time was spent at the actual festival, not in front of the TV (even if we do admit to having watched a bit of TV, just for the sake of using it).


False Lights

Would it be worthwhile paying for the dining plan at Butlins? After testing the food options during the festival, we decided yes. Even if self-catering is pretty easy due to the kitchenettes in the accommodations, the breakfast and dinner options (about
£ 10 respectively £ 20 per person if not booked as part of a plan) are worth tryinf. For breakfast there were several buffet options ranging from fruits and cereals to rolls and different toppings as well as several counters, where one could choose from different hot breakfast options or ask for breakfast butties. Several coffee, tea and juice-dispensing machines helped quench thirst and delivered the first caffeine shot of the day.

At dinnertime, the sandwich grill was turned into a burger or steak grill – of which both can be recommended. Further along one could try different curries, have a roast dinner or indulge in fish and chips – vegetarian options were available too. Special notice should be given to the pasta bar, where one could choose from a variety of pasta and sauces, which were prepared on the spot and served with as much parmesan as one could wish for. If there still was enough space left over after dinner, one could fill up on warm desserts such as crumble, gooey toffee cake or opt for cold options such as ice cream or cake.

Other Entertainment
The few hours of the day, during which no live acts were performing, were easily filled.

A large indoor pool (Open Saturday & Sunday) with several water slides and different swimming pools could be used. Water features such as a wave pool, water fountains and a current pool provided entertainment. Drowning in the pool was impossible, as at times more life-guards than visitors were present in the pool area. Merely the water temperature was a bit too cold, which made staying in the water for an extended period of time a bit complicated. Warmer rooms could probably be found in the spa – spa treatments and entry to the spa however had to be book additionally.

Time could also be quite leisurely spent in the arcade hall. The 2p-machines had to surrender several dinosaur-, lolly- and rubber duck-prices to us during the 4 days. Another place to spend money was the market in the Skyline tent. Vendors sold clothing, wooden carvings, teddy bears, jewellery, CDs and much more.

A different experience in the Skyline was the South American Wine Tasing. This wine tasting was hosted on Saturday by Pete Kelly from the wine brand “Concha Y Toro”. Pete’s expertise in the Chilean wine meant that even the people, who did not necessarily like wine, found something after their taste – As our editor can attest to, Knowing nothing much about wine but having Pete pick out a very enjoyable sample for him.

The Live Music! – Day 1

Kings of the South Seas – Introducing Stage – http://kingsofthesouthseas.com/
The Great British Folk Festival started off with nautical folk sounds for us. Kings of the South Seas performed songs of their eponymous debut album on the Introducing stage. Their music is inspired by the British Whalers in the 19th Century, thus telling stories of 2 mile long sea snakes, cannibal kings and the daily life on a whaling ship. Each song was accompanied by a detailed explanation of its background and what old music it was based on. The trio, baritone voiced singer Ben Nicholls, guitarist Richard Warren and percussionist Evan Jenkins brought the sea ballades to life again, whilst the audience sat and listened carefully. The last song – the romping shanty “King of the Cannibal Islands” – ended the set with more lively tones, making it impossible not to romp along.

False Lights – Centre Stage – http://falselights.co.uk/
After Kings Of The South Seas, It was time to check out another stage, so the team headed to check out the False Lights featuring Jim Moray and Sam Carter. The Centre stage area was already packed, when we got there and the band obviously already had a solid fan base in the audience. The Radiohead to Fairport convention inspired folk rock band had people dancing and clapping along from the beginning of the set. Guitars, percussions and violin where mainly used, whilst during the “Wife of Ushers Well” keyboard and sample backing tracks provided a slightly more modern touch. The performed songs came from their album “Salvor” and most of them, despite having rock tunes, were actually older hymns or poems. “Oh Death” was the fastest song, sort of merging blues elements into the rock song based on a Tennyson poem.

People were soon dancing and singing along “Oh death, spare me up for another year”. The set calmed down when a purely acoustic, PA-free piece, “How can I keep from singing” was performed, during which the 5 band members managed to fill the concert hall using merely their voices and an accordion – something which sounded like a folly idea when announced but which worked out amazingly well. The set ended with a quick and more traditional dancing song, which had everyone on their feet dancing again. The amount of applause afterwards was more than well earned.


False Lights: Performing “How can I keep from singing” – Unplugged

Billy Bragg – Reds – http://www.billybragg.co.uk/


Headliner: Billy Bragg

Next up was the festival’s headliner – singer-songwriter, punk rocker and folk musician Billy Bragg. His appearance on the Reds stage was enough to get the crowd cheering and people were singing along and dancing from the first song. Between the songs Billy alternated between talking pleasantries and politics. Thus after “The Milkman of Human Kindness” he chatted about how he liked folk music audience, as they know how to keep topical songs alive. From there, after a slightly alternated version of the folk ballade “John Barleycorn (must die)”, he started speaking about the tragic events at the Bataclan in Paris. Due to the British victim and merchandise person at the Bataclan, Nick Alexander, he put special emphasis on the importance of merchandise people at concerts. Donations were collected towards a memorial fund and the Red Cross.

Before performing “Distant Shore” Billy spoke about the current refugee crisis and how help is needed, ere he moved on to the definition of a hipster beard. . Despite Billy talking about serious topics, the atmosphere at the concert stayed positive and seemed to become more energetic from song to song, with people singing louder each time. For the fifth song of his set, Billy welcomed CJ Hillman to the stage, who accompanied Billy and his guitar by playing the pedal steel guitar. Even if usually associated with country music, the instrument proved to be a great accompaniment of punk folk, as we could hear in for example “The Warmest Room”.

Afterwards Billy explained that Americana music is “folk for people who like the Smiths”, before immediately moved on to talking about the 2nd death of a transgender woman in jail last week and how “jail is the punishment, not what happens in there”. This lead to him performing the song “Sexuality”. He followed up by singing “Why we build the Wall” by Anais Mitchell, which linked perfectly to him talking about Donald Trump’s ideas of building a border along Mexico.

The rest of the set was filled with banter about Billy’s new book “A Lover Sings: Selected Lyrics”, DIY men (accompanied by the “Handyman Blues”) as well as talk about current British politics and the doings of Jeremy Corbyn. Fittingly his set ended with an energetic version of “New England”, which had people singing along with their fists in the air and left many a person from the audience (amongst others the photographer) still singing that song hours later. The subsequent cheering of the audience was nearly unnecessary to show greatly Billy Bragg’s performance had been enjoyed.


CC Smugglers – Redshttp://www.ccsmugglers.co.uk/

It was certain that the next band on Reds would have to work hard to live up to the high standards of the Billy Bragg set. The CC Smugglers succeeded. The 6-piece band from Bedfordshire kept the high spirits of their audience up by performing their good times “New Roots” music, to which one simply had to dance. Inspired by Americana, Western Swing and Folk it was mainly built up of guitar bass, percussions, piano, fiddle and vocals, with the occasional addition of harmonica, banjo and accordion. In addition to the music, inviting the audience to the band’s post-set Christmas party certainly also didn’t hurt the good mood.

Singer Richie Prynne new how to use his charm to keep the audience captivated in between songs, cleverly promoting their album “Write What You Know”. During their lively songs he and the band showed their impressive dance skills and choreos and with their song “Lydia” for a “gorgeous drunken girl” in the audienDSC_0369ce, they had the audience singing along. The set ended with “Working Man”, after which the band had the audience shouting for more. Thus, thanks to the CC Smugglers, the evening ended with more lively tunes and a lot of dancing.

The Acoustic Rooms – Joseph Knight / David McCrea / Gavin Chappel-Bates / Thrasonic – 21 / 09 / 15


Line up: Joseph Knight / David McCrea / Gavin Chappel-Bates / Thrasonic
Venue: Rescue Rooms (Nottingham)
Date: 21 / 09 / 15
Review By: Ember Jayde Phillip

The night started off with a passionate and energetic set from Joseph Knight including a mixture of pop / rock covers such as ‘Lately’ by Ed Sheeran and ‘I Miss You’ by Blink 182, mixed in with a selection of his own songs too. I felt through the whole set he projected a lot of enthusiasm and my mood was instantly uplifted. I’d also like to give a cheeky little mention to his single ‘Keep Your Head Up’ set for release on the 23rd October.

Second up at Nottinghams well established Acoustic Rooms,  was Nottingham based David McCrea, who was incredibly bouncy, and appeared very hyper, which he managed to inject into his playing as pure energy and enjoyment. A very enjoyable set!

Gavin Chappel-Bates was on third – A Cambridge based singer / song-writer who was stopping by while on tour, and instantly engaged my full attention, drawing me in – I felt as though he could have held a much bigger crowds attention. He had me wanting to sing along, and was very friendly after his set, coming over and talking to us a little. I was that captivated by his performance that I listened to his CD’s on the way home the next day, I particularly enjoy We Are The Ones. – A full review of said CD will be posted shortly.

The final act up to play were Old friends of ours (Having played our own events multiple-times) were Thrasonic, a blues rock group based in Nottingham, Playing a special stripped down acoustic set. The four members right from the start of their set appeared to have an amazing connection to one another, the crowd and to the music they played, making me feel that they truly do belong on stage in front of people. I quite enjoyed it, and will be looking out for another set by them. I thought the vocals were rather husky and reminded me a little of Sebastian Bach (skid row), but I felt that they fit perfectly with the rest of the band.

This was my first visit to the Acoustic Rooms (Held every Monday night at The Rescue Rooms), Over all I really enjoyed my first visit to the acoustic rooms, and I look forward to going again, and taking friends to enjoy along side me.


Stewart Lee

Sleaford Mods, Boredoms and Shirley Collins amongst the first wave of artists announced for ATP 2.0 curated by Stewart Lee.

Scorpio Promotions are excited to confirm that Nottingham’s disaffected duo Sleaford Mods, Japanese noise legends Boredoms, and British folk icon Shirley Collins accompanied by Ian Kearey are set to play next year’s festival. They are joined by Welsh experimental group Datblygu; John Kirkpatrick with Trembling Bells performing No Roses; Jazz trio The Necks; The Raincoats; Wild Billy Childish with The Dear Watsons; Bardo Pond; The Heads; Richard Youngs; The Ex; Shonen Knife; The Bevis Frond; Stewart Lee; Trash Kit; Evan Parker with J​ohn Edwards,​ J​ohn Russell & Han Bennink; Shopping; and The Nightingales as the first wave of acts confirmed for All Tomorrow’s Parties 2.0 curated by Stewart Lee.

Ordinarily overseen by musicians, 2016’s All Tomorrow’s Parties line-up is hand-picked by acclaimed comedian, writer and renowned music enthusiast Stewart Lee, who joins the few alternative cultural figures who’ve curated the festival in the past including the Simpsons’ Matt Groening (2010) and visual artists Jake and Dinos Chapman (2015). Stewart Lee will also be performing stand-up comedy, interpreting John Cage and hosting panels over the festival weekend.

All Tomorrow’s Parties 2.0 curated by Stewart Lee tickets are on sale now: https://www.atpfestival.com/events/atp042016/tickets