I went to The Smallhythe Beer and Music Festival yesterday and wanted to report on the food, the beer, and of course, the music. The gates were open at 11am, and it continued on till midnight or thereabouts, so my companion Laura and I didn't get there till about 2pm, which is probably just as well, since it was still pretty quiet when we arrived at Smallhythe Place, which was the home of Dame Ellen Terry, who was quite possibly Victorian and Edwardian England's most famous actress (click her name to be taken to the Wikipedia entry about her). Behind Smallhythe Place lies the Barn Theatre, which is the venue for many Shakespearian productions (I once saw a performance of The Merry Wives of Windsor there). At the Beer and Music fest, though, it was one of the two stages for the various bands and performers. The other was a marquee in the field behind it, and after getting ourselves a beer... oh, the beer. There were easily 30 beers and ciders to choose from, and I first tried one from Empire Brewing (based in Slaithwaite, Huddersfield) called Strikes Back... Empire Strikes Back, geddit?.. Then, I chose this little beauty.
|This is Breconshire Rambler's Ruin - great name, and at 5% ABV, quite apt.|
|Tener Duende givin' it what for.|
|I think it's referred to as "mugging gamely for the camera".|
|Clemie plays with fire.|
I had a lovely big sausage in a roll, Laura plumped for the burger... thick and juicy!
The next beer I tried was a brew called Nethergate Old Growler, a nice porter with a 5% ABV, and with this in hand, and Laura with her half-pint of Blushing Old Wife cider (cider with 10% raspberries - unusual, and strong, too - kinda made her a bit tipsy for a moment), we tottered to the barn to see the next band, The Dealers, a three-piece from Deal (where else?) who were so good, we hung around after the show to buy their CD Provenance.
So after we bought our CD, getting it signed by Pierre as we did so, we watched a band on the outside stage called Blair, who were a very tight combo that I unfortunately can find no info about. They played, let's face it, party music, with a bent towards reggae and Afro-Caribbean, and also some old-school hip-hop, but with some clever twists. At one point in their set they were joined by a young red-haired fella who could not have been more than 12 or so. They launched into a cover of Gorillaz' "Clint Eastwood", and the young boy knew the entire thing - and was it good! They then covered House Of Pain's "Jump Around" with the lad taking the lead. I was drinking a pint of Tasty Old Wife at the time, a cider with a honeyed sweetness tempered by a hint of smoke, and an ABV of 7.9%. Suffice to say I was now in a party mood.
Next we entered the barn again for a good 30 minutes of Shakespearian quotes and anecdotes, accompanied by a man playing dulcimer and singing some apropos 'hey-nonny-nonny's. Nice bit of culture.
The afternoon carried on with the self-titled "honorary Deptford Mexican and longtime perpetrator of goodtime gumbo grooves and Zydeco mayhem", Flaky Jake
whose set woulda made ya wanna slap ya mama, I guar-on-tee.
After another beer, Palmers Dorset Gold, I was ready for the next band in the barn, T-Chest Blues, whose Sun Records-inspired set (Mystery Train, Crawdad Hole, Bucket's Got A Hole In It, Folsom Prison Blues etc.) had everyone in the front row, pensioners included, up and shaking, despite Colin Gibson's repeated problems with his snare drum falling off its stand, eventually resulting in him kicking the stand away, and putting the drum on his lap. Never missed a beat, though.
|T-Chest Blues: Jon Hildreth, Diamond Jem Turpin, T-Chest Marco, Colin Gibson. Not sure of the identity of the other guitarist, but he's dang good!|
By now it was dark and a tad chilly, but that did not stop anyone from enjoying punk-funk purveyors Origami Dinosaur on the outside stage as the day's festivities drew to a close. Their eclectic set included covers of The Bees' "Chicken Payback" and Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Mellowship Slinky In B Major", to name just two. You can hear more of them on their MySpace page (just click the link).