The Good Life Experience, Hawarden, Flintshire
Friday 15 – Sunday 17 September, 2017
It is with deep joy that we share the full lineup for our stage at this year’s Good Life Experience. Our final festival engagement of the summer is the brainchild of Charlie and Caroline Gladstone, Cerys Matthews and Steve ‘Abbo’ Abbot, and takes place on the Hawarden Estate, Flintshire, 15-17 September. The Caught by the River tent is back and better than ever for our third year on site, featuring a tip-top daily programme plus a book and record shop. You can get your tickets here (code CBTR entitles our readers to 10% off).
Hats off as always to Roy Wilkinson for the marvellous artist bios which here follow:
The Pictish Trail
The PT – aka Scotsman Johnny Lynch – has worked his joyous folk-synth schtick alongside fellow Jocko gems KT Tunstall, James Yorkston and Malcolm Middleton. He lives in a caravan on the Hebridean isle of Eigg and is so good that Green Man festival have had him back every single year, while Johnny’s own festival – Howlin’ Fling, on Eigg – has featured Beth Orton, Gruff Rhys, Cate le Bon and British Sea Power. Get ready for urgent, melody-driven music and the wild spirit of his 2010 album In Rooms, which featured 50 songs of 30 seconds each.
Born in 1940s Yorkshire, this legendary folk singer-songwriter has played alongside John Martyn, Roy Harper and Mick Ronson and released over 40 albums for labels including Harvest and Light In The Attic. Recently, Chapman has enjoyed live collaborations with Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, while his back catalogue is still attracting new ears – The Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner cites Chapman’s 1969 debut album Rainmaker as compulsory listening. And let’s not forget a wider roustabout lifetime that has seen him out and about alongside Nick Drake, Elton John and an American bear, the latter drunk on Guinness and farting like a trooper. Michael will also appear in conversation with Cerys Matthews on Saturday morning.
Hampshire woman, This Is The Kit member, and BBC 6 Music regular Rozi Plain has taken her mellifluous pop-folk on tour with Devendra Banhart, KT Tunstall and James Yorkston and she has played joyous festival sets from Glastonbury to Iceland Airways. Her albums have featured contributions from Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor and members of Francois & The Atlas Mountains.
The music of Kentucky singer/songwriter Joan Shelley rings with the raw beauty of Appalachian folk, adding in something of the bell-clear voice of Fairport Convention’s Sandy Denny. Joan’s new album, Wild Indifference, has been produced by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, a band she is touring with in the USA. And there will also be further Fairport connection, with Joan stepping out on tour with that group’s Richard Thompson. “A huge, resplendently pained serenity,” said Rolling Stone magazine of Ms Shelley.
Red River Dialect
This Cornish five-piece specialise in violin-powered folk music somewhere between The Waterboys and The Dirty Three. They’ve shared bills with Steve Gunn, Michael Chapman and Hiss Golden Messenger. The USA’s National Public Radio channel said they conjure “that moment when British bands like Fairport Convention were starting to play with the psychedelic textures of their homeland’s traditional folk music”.
Amber Arcades is the nom-de-rock of Dutch-born musician Annelotte de Graaf. She started writing songs in 2010 while temporarily living in Philadelphia. Back in the Netherlands in 2012 she released an EP of melancholic folk ballads. Then, in New York, she was backed by members of Real Estate and Quilt while making her debut album for Heavenly Recordings. The result is a dreamy, esoteric collection – ethereal melody floating over Krautrock-inspired drums and fuzzed-out organs. A new EP is due on Heavenly in June.
Straight out of Bahrain, this multi-instrumental quintet formed in the Persian Gulf in 2009. Now splitting time between the UK and home, they’re making a name with their exotic psychedelia. Their raison d’être is experimentation as they draw influences from across the world and utilise a collection of instruments from Nepal, Thailand, Turkey, Japan and Tanzania.
Straight outta North London, Girl Ray’s youthful Poppy, Iris and Sophie set their compositions somewhere between Carole King and C86 indie. They went to the same school as Ray Davies and have supported people including Slow Club, Ezra Furman and the world’s most outrageous Welshman, Meilyr Jones. We’re told they’ve been writing demos since their mid teens – about wanting to skateboard and how much they hate the school dinner ladies and Mick Jagger. Word indeed for giving it straight to Mainchance Mick – still shagging ’til he’s blue in the face and fathering kids in his 72nd year. But, hey, leave off the dinner ladies…
Halifax sisters Esme and Sid Hand-Halford – assisted by pal Henry Wade – have set the indie airwaves booming with a sun-kissed lo-fi sound, one that sometimes suggests California before their home ’hood of Calderdale. Expect echoes of the Pixies and the Breeders and a touch of The Beach Boys and Tracey Thorn’s Marine Girls from a trio still in their mid teens.
Mighty Mick is maybe the best singer / songwriter you’ve never heard of – if, indeed, you’ve never heard of him… Since forming soul-tinged indie greats The Pale Fountains in 1980 with his brother John, Michael has written numerous gorgeous songs – from Pale Fountains shoulda-been-hits like ‘(Don’t Let Your Love) Start A War’ through to his 1997 masterpiece The Magical World Of The Strands. In the 21st century Head has been abroad with his excellent Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band. When the NME called Michael “a lost genius and among the most gifted British songwriters of his generation”, this was the only the wildest of understatements.
Ted Kessler’s My Old Man with Frank Cottrell-Boyce and Anna Wood
Ted Kessler is a music journalist who has worked extensively for Q and the NME. In 2016 Canongate published his book My Old Man – featuring paternal reflections from people including Tilda Swinton, Rod Stewart and the sons and daughters of Leonard Cohen and Ian Dury. At Good Life Ted will look at fatherdom aided by author and screenwriter Frank Cottrell-Boyce (Brookside, 24 Hour Party People, the 2012 London Olympic opening ceremony) and writer and long-standing Caught by the River website contributor Anna Wood.
David Keenan is a writer, music journalist and music maniac. His acclaimed debut novel This Is Memorial Device is a compelling evocation of the driven dreamers who populated the bands of post-punk Britain. Irvine Welsh: “It captures the terrific, obsessive, ludicrous pomposity of every music fan’s youth in an utterly definitive way.” John Niven, author of Kill Your Friends: “Dream-shaped, intoxicating and brilliant. A hymn to small-town energy and intelligence. An anthem for ‘shroomed youth.” David will be talking about his novel in conversation with the writer, broadcaster and CBTR regular Emma Warren.
Author Adelle was born in 1976 and grew up in Tadcaster. With her debut novel Black Teeth And A Brilliant Smile – due to be published in June 2017 – she won the 2016 K Blundell Award For Fiction – the book being a slice of kitchen-sink noir taking in the life of Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar, who went from a council estate to writing the 1980s theatre and film smash Rita, Sue And Bob Too.
Martha Sprackland‘s debut pamphlet, Glass As Broken Glass, was published in January 2017 with Rack Press. Martha was twice a winner of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award and received an Eric Gregory Award in 2014. Previously founder-editor of Cake magazine and assistant poetry editor for Faber, she is currently an idle larkabout (finishing a first collection) and, with Will Burns, is poet-in-residence for Caught by the River.
Poet Polly is from Nottingham and her poetry pamphlet Bone Song was shortlisted for the Michael Marks Award in 2009, while her Shadow Dispatches collection was shortlisted for Lakeland Book of the Year in 2014. She has lived in East London and Cumbria and her 2017 collection, Basic Nest Architecture, was awarded New Writing North’s Andrew Waterhouse Prize for its insightful evocation of the natural environment.
Will Burns is poet-in-residence for Caught by the River. A regular reader of his work at festivals from Port Eliot to Glastonbury, End of the Road to Festival No. 6, his marvellous debut pamphlet, published through the prestigious Faber New Poets scheme in 2014, was hailed for its ‘quiet intelligence and subtle ways of seeing’, for a voice that is ‘rough but still tender, solitary, ruminating’. His equally brilliant second pamphlet was published by Clutag in 2016.
Jeb Loy Nichols
Raised in Missouri and now living in a remote small-holding in the Welsh hills, songwriter and novelist Jeb Loy Nichols has been called “the high priest of country cool” by Rolling Stone magazine. His 11 albums of gorgeous latter-day country soul have also included a blend of blues and roots reggae created with On-U Sound legend Adrian Sherwood. Jeb’s latest record, Country Hustle, was hailed as “The Right Now Sound For A New Millennium” by the website The Nashville Scene.
Paul Henry and Brian Briggs present: The Glass Aisle
Brian Briggs is renowned as the singer with plangent pop pastoralists Stornoway. At Good Life he will join acclaimed poet Paul Henry after the latter has read from his collections The Brittle Sea and Boy Running – work that had The Poetry Review describe Paul as “a major lyric poet.” Together, Paul and Brian will perform the music-set poem The Glass Aisle, which comes to life along the Monmouthshire And Brecon Canal in the Brecon Beacons. Expect a most especial guest appearance from radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi.
Anna has been a regular contributor to the Caught by the River website, and has also written for The Quietus and MOJO magazine, among others. Anna is currently midway through a creative-writing PhD at Goldsmiths’ College and at Good Life she will be reading examples of her short stories.
Tyler is a novelist, screenwriter and short-story writer from Vancouver in Canada. He has since settled in Mid Wales and worked for Theatr Powys. His 2010 debut novel Fireball was longlisted for Wales Book Of The Year. His 2014 short-story collection Burrard Inlet was nominated for numerous awards, with the story Sealskin winning the $10,000 Writers Trust Of Canada / McClelleand & Stewart Journey Prize.
Birmingham-born Zaffar Kunial’s poetry pamphlet was published by Faber & Faber as part of the Faber New Poets series. His poem ‘Us’ was collected in the Faber anthology The Map and the Clock, edited by Carol Ann Duffy and Gillian Clarke. In 2014 Zaffar was the Wordsworth Trust poet-in-residence in Grasmere. He lives in Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire.
Jeff Towns and Ceri Murphy present Allen Ginsberg: Wales A Visitation At 50!
A commemoration of poetry legend Alan Ginsberg’s visit to Wales in 1967. Actor / performer Ceri has given triumphant performances at Edinburgh Festival, while Jeff is renowned for festival book van, Dylans Mobile Bookstore. Expect compelling celebration of a poet who fired out big wild blasts on madness, Brando, the Bible and “alcohol and cock and endless balls”.
Heavenly Jukebox DJs play top quality tunes through to the small hours on both Friday night and Saturday night.
Master of Ceremonies for the weekend is the inimitable John Andrews.