Faversham is a cracking little market town and 'medieval gem’ in the heart of Kent. (Sort of right of London and down a bit as you look at a map. (Assuming you still own a map) sat proudly on the old Roman road of Watling Street, or in modern day language The A2! For the past few years, during the first weekend of September and in celebration of the beer making plant of hops, Faversham comes alive with music of all genre, poets, comedians, food stalls, fine weather and a million plastic beer cups.
|Lonnie Donegan Snr.|
It was mentioned over a pint with, Festival music organiser and general all round good bloke, Terry Carter, that Lonnie Jnr. would go well at the Festival. Having agreed to slum it and forego our usual rider of freshly painted magenta dressing room walls, four bowls of exotic fruit, sixteen cans of soft drinks, sixteen cans of organic beer, four comfy chairs, fresh cut flowers, two tubes of M&Ms with the red ones taken out, our own sound engineer flown in from Botswana and a tub of Greek yoghurt, Mr Donegan relented to the thumb screws and under some duress, agreed to get of bed on the Saturday and had me sign the contact with my blood...... well a Bic brio, but blood always sounds so much more rock and roll.
This, my dear reader, is when the fun started. First was Mr Carter from Carters Alibi. A blues band lovingly well know for playing, not very well known songs or well known songs in a not very well know way! “As you are going to be at Faversham in September,” Started Terry “could you play percussion with us please?”
I could see no problem, so long as there was time to get between stages. Agreed. Sorted. Done. Two gigs. Then “Oh, we are also playing on Sunday..... twice! Once at the Old Wine Vaults, then later on the Main stage.!” Four gigs!
Now I am a fair bloke BUT! Drum kits were supplied and I was on percussion duties, so I would have to sort a total strike at one gig, transfer congas, bongos, chimes, cowbells, blocks, timbale, cream buns, numerous shakie things, cymbals and, at the last count, fourteen million stands, to another stage! “Dear Santa, can I have a rack system please?”
The Sunday before Faversham, I was approached by Dave Austin, a bass player type from the local band Keval. “I hear that you are at the Hop Festival next weekend!..... We need a drummer, could you sit in with us?” Now that's five gigs!!!
After looking at times and logistics, it would be possible as Keval were on a couple of bands before Lonnie Donegan Jnr. I would have time to do the set with Carter's Alibi, pop over to the Preston Street Stage set for Keval and be ready for Mr Donegan. Phew! Somehow I agreed to this madness! In for a penny..
Saturday morning arrived, Sarah and I set off with my drum kit and my percussion rig stuffed, like level seven Tetris, in the back of Morrison (my van).
Drum tech, manager, Moneypenny, agent, life saver
So then, T minus one hour. I am set and ready. Sarah had checked that I had everything and spent a fair amount of time going too and from Morrison to get “just one more thing please!” Priceless.
|Terry Carter. Liking my shirt|
|Me and one of the day's heroes, John Martin|
in full Zydeco vest mode
The kit was a blue PDP on kind loan from Terry Carter. Now is it just me, or are there gremlins at festivals that eat cymbal felts, wing nuts and cymbal sleeves! And once your back is turned they sneak up and tighten every wingnut, bolt, cymbal stand and pedal release beyond the strength of Iron Man's second and more powerful cousin Iron Pain In the Bloody Arse Man!?
I don't mind things being secure, but when you have a hernia trying to unfasten a bass drum pedal the joke's well and truly OVER!
|On stage with Keval|
Keval went well. Nice chaps too. Thanks for the gig. My sore, pulled inner thigh muscles not throbbing just nicely thank you!
Next up for me was Lonnie Donegan Jnr. I came off from Keval and I was called over by my good friend Clive Sullivan. “Problems with the kit?”
“PROBLEM???Do bears poo in the woods?!”
Clive had brilliantly done a reckie and found a way to get Morrison to an alley way across the road from the stage and get my own kit up. What a top chap.
This could be a problem though as all stages were “backline supplied” plus with only a 15 minute change over it would be damn near impossible. There was one more band on, then Lonnie!!
I drove Morrison around Faversham to the alley and backed up. John Martin and Steve Ellis were there. We then, one piece at a time, made our way time after time through the crowd with the gear. I think five trips took half an hour. I apologize now for any knocked legs, trodden on toes, jogged pints (in plastic cups) and bruised backs of children's heads.
We unpacked the kit (my trusty old 1985 Gretsch that I have had since new.) and set it up, in call out order, along the side of the building next to the stage. (I bet Carl Brazil would have loved this gig. We must swap one one day!!!) The on stage band finished and we went for it. Once the drummer had cleared, I handed the PDP down to Steve and John, then my gear came up in clock work order. Mat, with Baskey Mat Markers.. Worth their weight in gold, especially in these time tight situations. Kit up, stands up and with a big sigh of relief, my Paiste Alphas on and looking shining and ready for action in the late afternoon sun. I have had the Alphas a couple of years now and they are just the bee's knees. I can tickle them and they respond or I can knock seven bells out of then and they never choke. Glorious I tell you, glorious! Well, did we do it in fifteen minutes? Nope. We did it in TEN!!! I took off my two gig old, hideous shirt and smartened up for Mr Donegan. By now a really big crowd had formed and even though accustomed to longer sound and line checks, Lonnie Jnr was Martin acoustic and banjo ready! It was like a skiffle home coming! The place took off. People of all ages were singing, dancing and having a great time. Even laughing at the “policeman in a dustbin” joke. Funny since 1959! The slots were a strict 45 minutes so we couldn't do any more but if we could have, we could have just played and played. It was a real buzz. Brilliant end to a first day. Topped off only by Sarah and I going off with John and Steve and their respected others Fiona and Mandy for a curry. Perfect.
I will be returning to Kent with Lonnie Donegan Jnr on October 4th Whitstable and October 26th Chatham's Brook Theatre. Details of these and other UK dates HERE (add Web Link) We are doing full theatre shows so time for a load more tunes. It is a cracking band and Lonnie Jnr is doing his dad proud.Do come along Tickets from the respective box offices.
Home to bed... back tomorrow.
Sunday morning greeted me with aches and pains! I had over done the dad dancing while brandishing a tambourine or two so I suppose I was getting my punishment.
|Then Dave Tetmar realizes he's asked me to play with his band!|
|Shaking things down with Carter's Alibi|
Transferring all of my nonsense from the pub to the main stage was epic! A three hundred yard plod through thousands of people with a conga bag on my back while leaning over to waist height pushing a flight case was a challenge. I won't go into any detail about the sights I saw at this level but some people really can't own, or refuse to use a mirror! Jeepers! The good side of the trip was the brilliant Unison Bendz were hammering out pub rock classics from the main stage. This band is quite brilliant. A relatively new concern but singer and leader Dave Mac' is pushing boundaries and they are establishing themselves as a band to go and see.
The short set with Terry Carter went well and I was introduced to Rosco Levee. A singer songwriter from Kent. Now I must have had my head in the local River Medway sand or mud because I have never come across Rosco, but the thronging audience numbers started to wake me up to the idea that they could be good!
|Ok, so I was over doing it!|
Rosco Levee and the Southern Slide were introduced to a massive cheer and it all kicked off. Within four bars I knew this band had it all! Feel, energy, stage presence and believe me, a future. It was amazing. If you mixed up the feel of the Allman Brothers with a helping of Lynyrd Skynyrd, topped off with the rockier edge of catchy Eagles' songs, powerful lead vocals and harmonies. Not to mention grinding Hammond and perfectly tasteful slide guitar, I may be half way to describing the band's brilliance. Sadly I got carried away towards the end of the set and caught a conga rim with my right hand just below my pinky! The pain went up my arm like an electric shock, past my neck and into my jaw bone. I thought all my teeth were going to fall out and I almost wet myself!!! Still, worth it for the experience. Rosco and the lads enjoyed my playing and have invite me to join them on larger gigs. In these situations, I have learned, they go out as a nine piece band, brass, backing singers, the whole nine yards. And now me makes it ten! Bring-it-ON!
|Rosco Levee and The Southern Slide|
Please check out Rosco's website. The album "Final Approach To Home" is available HERE It's fantastic. Go on Treat yourselves!
An amazing festival, great music, the legendary Lyn Sullivan popping from stage to stage with comic verse, the Ukaholics, great food, real ale and so much more. Please, please committee next year again please!