As is tradition May is a busy month in The Ocelot for me, as it is festival preview time, and the wily old cat once again asked me to pick my musical recommendations for the best of in the region.
Here we are again, the dawning of a new festival season. Can’t believe that has come round so damn quickly! Still, that means that once again I get to cast my eyes over the festivals we have taking place in and around our patch of England as part of the annual, super bumper Ocelot Festival guide.
Once again we are blessed with a wealth of festivals to get wet and muddy at, both large national and smaller locally based events. And as always, amongst the falafel stands, bars serving warm flat beer and aging hippies who should know better, there is some amazing music going on, and the following is my pick of the festivals and artists you should be heading for.
Early birds worth taking a chance on the weather include Lechlade Festival, Wood, Wychwood and The Oxford Punt. Lechlade have somehow bagged two-chord super band Status Quo who have to be worth seeing how just so you have seen them. Down the bill you should also catch the soulful but poppy acoustica of Alex Rainsford and the fat grooves and energy of Funke & The Two Tone Baby. Pick of the line-up at Wood would be locals The Dreaming Spires and Co-Pilgrim, two of the best Americana outfits around, as well as the social folk of Gill Sandell & Chris T-T whilst my choice at Wychwood this year wouldn’t be any of the retro dinosaurs but rather the folk-pop of Lucy Rose or the dream, atmospheric music of Wiltshire’s Henry Green. The Oxford Punt is full to the brim of the cream of Oxford talent. I urge you strongly to go to that one in particular and check out what is right under your noses.
Moving through to June you find the brilliantly named Bloke Fest which is a festival of manliness rather than music. But my picks for the month here would be the brilliant against the odds Calnefest and Devizes Festival. The draws for me at Calnefest would be Swindon Ska maestro’s SN Dubstation, rock monsters All Ears Avow and the gothic folk loveliness of George Wilding whilst the Devizes high point is easily the punk ‘n’ roll of The Computers and scuzzy blues of Bite The Buffalo. Also worth a mention is the legendary Dr Feelgood at Wallingford Blues and Beer Festival.
July and August are rammed full of options for you. 2000 Trees has one of the best line-ups in the country again. I can’t pick a highlight because the whole thing is one. Just go, regardless. Blissfields has some cracking stuff going on including festival legends Public Service Broadcasting, The Horrors and John Grant. Cornbury have bagged Tom Jones whilst Truck has possibly their best line up ever that includes Augustines, Pulled Apart By Horses, Honeyblood and Brawlers who are all brilliant! Swindon Shuffle is headlined by the fanastic dream-pop band Colour The Atlas. Bellowhead and Stornoway are the must see bands at Towersey and Reading is it’s usual mix of establish stars and upcoming acts. Look at the smaller stages and lower down the bill for the best bits (including a Frank Turner solo show). Rounding off the season is End of the Road, again with a stellar line up.
So, get away from your computers and tablets this summer, and get out and experience some live music and the Great British Weather!