This September, Caught by the River and Faber Social will curate the Estuary Stage at the inaugural Festival No.6. The site for the festival is arguably Britain’s most unique setting – Portmeirion in North Wales (quick aside – a couple of weeks back, I was lucky enough to head to Portmeirion to help make an audioslide for the Guardian). Set up on an inlet on the River Dwyryd against a jaw-dropping vista, the Estuary Stage will present talks, readings and rock’n’roll over the three days of the festival from noon til 9pm.
After the jump, there’s a few words on some of the highlights from the Estuary Stage… there’s a load more acts to be announced soon too.
Rock’s premier outdoorsmen British Sea Power – a band who collectively reside between Sussex and Skye – will headline Friday night with songs about sea birds and artic ice shelves. Over their four albums on Rough Trade, British Sea Power are transformed into that all-too-rare thing – an utterly unique rock band. Their live show is guaranteed to be frenetic and bedecked in foliage.
Although the river Dwyryd should be serene, if the waves kick up Y Niwl are there to soundtrack the occasion. North Wales’ premier surf rock band, Y Niwl (translation – the Fog) sound like Dick Dale if he’d learnt board skills just off Anglesey.
Roy Wilkinson, former manager of/elder brother to one half of British Sea Power will be reading from his massively acclaimed book, Do It For Your Mum. Do It For Your Mum (described by the Guardian as “the funniest, fondest rock memoir I’ve ever read”) is a tale of family life and rock music in the early 21st century. The book is a work of a non-fiction – in fact, it’s a tale that would be difficult to invent. With musical accompaniment from special guests British Sea Power.
Jonny Trunk is a DJ, curator, writer and pop culture genius. His exemplary record label Trunk has released everything from the Wicker Man soundtrack to an album of announcements from the buffet car on the Midland Mainline train via music from Oliver Postage telly shows and long-lost Radiophonic Workshop recordings. Jonny is known to play early morning woozy acid-fried religious music to unsuspecting hungover people.
Jeb Loy Nichols is a country soul artist from the Mid West who resides on a farm in mid Wales. His recent album – the Jeb Loy Nichols Special, released on Decca Records – is the glorious culmination of a twenty-year career lived on the sidelines.
Toy started 2012 as many people’s best-kept secret. You could go to see them and still get a view, still comfortably drink a beer while they played. Then, a series of gigs in an East End pub changed all that. Within a fortnight, Toy’s euphoric mix of psychedelic rock , kosmiche music and classic songwriting was on everyone’s radar. Their debut album is due out in September – after that, they’ll be unstoppable.
Formerly of west Walian psyche-heads Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, Richard James has quietly recorded a series of mellifluous pastoral music. His latest, Pictures in the Morning, is his best yet, not least for the stunning ten-minute raga that’s equal parts Rhossili and Rishikesh.
Kenny Anderson – aka King Creosote – is a singer-songwriter from Fife who has recorded forty-one albums worth of material over the past fifteen years. Some of it released to friends on cassette. Diamond Mine, the last one (recorded with sometime Eno collaborator Jon Hopkins) was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. Kenny is coming to Portmeirion to dip into that back catalogue for a headline show on the Saturday night. Expect the odd Scottish drinking song.
The Pictish Trail is the work of one man – Johnny Lynch. Johnny co-runs the Fence label with Kenny Anderson and, when not releasing ground-breaking music or putting on DIY festivals in seaside towns, he records music that’s alternately heartbreaking and heartwarming and occasionally both at the same time. His second LP, the follow up to Secret Soundz Vol 1, will be released later this year.
The day when the three girls from Stealing Sheep met in a caff in Liverpool, there was clearly something in the tea. In the space of just eighteen months, they’ve released a clutch of singles, a mini-LP and have recorded a debut album that’s fully immersed in their adopted home city’s wondrous and cosmic musical heritage. Expect everything from Raincoats-style post-punk-pop to pagan folk.
Elsewhere across the weekend there will be talks from Rob Young, author of the critically lauded book Electric Eden; Richard King, author of How Soon Is Now, an Easy Riders, Raging Bulls for the British independent music scene, Middlesbrough based author Richard Milward, described by the Guardian as “the new laureate of teen sex, drugs and rock’n’roll”; award winning novelist Ross Raisin and biographer of Syd Barrett/expert on all things psychedelia Rob Chapman as well as a one-off pencils-at-the-ready session with Elliot Eastwick’s World Famous Nature Quiz, a seminar in praise of the world’s uglier endangered animals from Lucy Cooke and Television-go-Kraut live music from Charlie Boyer and a set by the mighty Savages.