Sunday, 17 April 2016

Festivals 2016! Mud! Rip-off prices! Well, hopefully not.

Which local festivals do best by local acts? Two are absolute stand outs. 

Nile tearing it up at MoJazz 
Here comes summer (although not as I write), and the promise of shimmering music in the sunshine, in good company. And new discoveries: acts you might have heard of but hadn't caught up with yet, playing to you live. Doesn't that sound nice? 

Festivals can mean different things: the term has stretched from the idea of a day or three of music in a field somewhere. Now it's one-dayers, sometimes inside, sometimes all night. Or it's mega operations - holiday camps with drugs - where tens of thousands of punters shell out fortunes to trudge through mud and pay over the odds for designer food. I'm not exactly broken up that Wireless have swerved Perry Park again. But I am dead chuffed that Moseley Folk has headed back closer to its folk roots. 

Tenbury and Notts takeovers

There's a lot going on. Including a virtually 100% Birmingham line-up, with – depending on your taste - some very hot bands... that's taking place 50 miles out of town. In fact there are two such festivals - the other one is 50 miles away in exactly the other direction.  That's not counting Lunar who are a mere 9 miles away to the south. 

Swingamajig underneath the arches
The gathering that kicks off the season for me isn't even taking place in a field in the sunshine. That's because May 1st is just a trifle optimistic on weather terms. A lot of the featured music needs the dark and the heat of a feverish crowd. But it is shot through with a Small Festival ethos, partly because the co-organisers are the excellent team behind Shambala. Swingamajig is a high-stepping spree of Electro-Swing, spreading across and through the Rainbow Venues, running for 28 hours solid from 2pm on Sunday May 1st. You then have a full Bank Holiday to recover. Scroll down to the bottom of this post for a lot more audio information from organiser Tom Hyland.

Shambala itself remains shrouded in exotic mystery, and that's part of the deal. They're a late August bash. Aficionados swear by it. They've only recently been persuaded to reveal part of their line-up. But there's a solid Brum connection – including a Swingamajig tent/event. 

In fact Swingamajig are everywhere this summer, as the Moseley/Lunar complex continues to grow apace. June 3 to 5 sees a larger event at Lunar in Tanworth In Arden, just south of the city, with Swingamajig, Leftfoot and This is Tmrw all representing local DJ talent. Lots of big big festival type names headline, and locals like Victories at Sea, Black Mekon, Flamingo Flame, Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam, Boat to Row, Rhino and the Ranters - who are everywhere this summer - Bentley Rhythm Ace, Katherine Priddy and Andy Wickett

You never know just who else might show up....

Three weeks later, you can head down to Tenbury Wells for their one-day old and new school festival on Saturday 18th. Steve Gibbons headlines, with Quill, Steve Ajao, ADO, and Good Night Lenin all representing Birmingham, along with local boy Robbie Blunt, and a string of interesting new acts on the second stage. 

This is a benefit event for Teenage Cancer Trust, supported by some remarkable names. Rumours always seem to swirl around who else might be appearing. It's interesting to see such a diverse line-up, especially with ADO and Goodnight Lenin working in a lot of new material in public for the first time.

Which brings us to Moseley. The organisers have come up with two festivals and an extra gig squeezed in between after Mostly Jazz wraps up. MoJazz has the usual selection of interesting names from a few decades back: Funkadelic, De La Soul, Average White Band, and from half a damn century ago, Booker T, back for another shot. For me the exciting local names include ADO (again), and Call Me Unique, who switches to MoJazz after a MoFo slot a couple of years back. There's a set from Stone Foundation too, which is a good call. You still have to  scratch around for a bit of Jazz. But Jazzlines and the Birmingham Jazz Orchestra are there to represent. 

A week later, there's a sweet gig, on the left-over stage. So sweet, in fact, that they're repeating the day, and that second day is nearly sold out already. Ocean Colour Scene play Moseley Shoals and more, with The Twang supporting, and a promising underbill.

Folk me! Proper folk at MoFo!

Then things calm down a bit while monster festivals hoover up all the big acts and people's money. When we get to the very beginning of September, I'm really rather excited. Moseley Folk have some very solid and rather more contemporary headliners, and this year offer a lot more Folk and a lot less Indie. Not only that, they back it up with local names like ex-Nizlopi Luke Concannon, the first Brum appearance of the Fair Rain (once the Old Dance School), and welcome slots for Dan Whitehouse, the Chris Cleverly band and Rhino and the Ranters. Add to that an acoustic tent picked by the folks at the Kitchen Garden Cafe. With one or two further acts to be announced, I'm a happy bunny.  


I don't have details of what Kitchen Garden Cafe will be laying on for MoFo, and of course festival line-ups change and grow. So if I've missed you, please update me!

Tenbury Festival
Mostly Jazz
Moseley Folk

Check Brum Radio for features on all of the above as the summer progresses, with some live coverage too. 

Here's John Fell talking Lunar Festival (and a bit of MoJazz and MoFolk) with me.

And here's Tom Hyland talking Swingamajig with me.


Tue 19th, 4pm: In The Studio: David Campbell
Wed 20th, 11pm: Acoustic Night at the Jam House
Repeated Sat 23rd, 11am. Fri 22nd, 3 pm: Muso Takeover: Ruby Turner

After airing, these can be found on Brum Radio's Mixcloud page.

All Radio To Go shows are listed here


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