Port Eliot Festival, St. Germans, Cornwall
Thursday 30 July – Sunday 2 August, 2015
The days are getting longer, the birdsong is getting louder and the buds are on the trees. If there is any question that the seasons are on the change then today’s post will surely put paid to doubt. It’s time to make our first Port Eliot announcement of the year.
This will be our sixth year at the festival and, to be honest, aside from the names on the programme, nothing much has changed: we’ll be there in our usual, spectacular, location on the banks of the tidal River Tiddy; our main, tented, stage will be in the quarry; the bar, the food and an installation from the genius Folklore Tapes collective will be situated beside the boathouse. Even the fantastic Totnes based record store, Drift, are returning to set up shop for the second year running.
You see, we don’t feel we need to change anything, we found the formula pretty quickly and it’s simple; bring the (web)site to life. All we need to do is keep it fresh, fun and enlightening and hopefully you’ll agree that with this years programme, we’ve succeeded in doing that.
Alongside returning favourites like Chris Watson, Andrew Weatherall, Tim Dee and Kurt Jackson there are new faces, the writers Nina Lyon and Katharine Norbury for example. Plus, of course, the stalwarts, the Caught by the River hardcore, so to speak – John Andrews, Emma Warren, Rob St. John, Mathew Clayton and Roy Wilkinson.
And don’t forget, we are just a part of this unique and wonderful festival. For information on the rest of the programme and a look at previous years galleries pay a visit to the Port Eliot website, where you will also find the box office.
Archie Bronson Outfit.
After a reshuffle in sound and personnel, Domino Records mainstays Archie Bronson Outfit returned with 2014’s Wild Crush. Having scratched beneath the surface of their garage-blues-psych-kraut sound, they’re now darting through hidden depths and pastoral horizons.
Awesome Tapes From Africa.
Brian – Awesome Tapes from Africa – Shimkovitz has been discovering, collecting and sharing the myriad sounds of the African continent via a cassette archive since 2006. At Port Eliot we have him appearing twice: firstly chatting with Emma Warren about his travels in search of great, lost music and later, as darkness creeps in, taking it to the dancefloor. Expect a mind-boggling set of South African synth-pop, Somalian disco and dance music from Mogadishu.
Stealing Sheep release their eagerly awaited second LP Not Real on Heavenly Recordings in April. Not Real comes with the same sense of playfulness and imagination as Into The Diamond Sun, their debut from 2012, but, harmony vocals aside, the formula has not been repeated. Rob St. John saw them play recently and this is what he said in his review: “The stage set-up for the three-piece – cowbells, chimes, lapsteel, bells, an array of keyboards – looks a bit like the ‘miscellaneous’ section from an instrument shop, but the slightly ramshackle edge to the band’s live shows of a year or two ago has been replaced by something tighter, heavier, more together, more exciting. They’re nothing short of fantastic: trading smiles as their peals of highlife guitar, 808-precise runs of cowbell and toms and the subterranean synth lines evoke Julia Holter by way of ‘Stop Making Sense’ era Talking Heads, and the exuberant dub-post-punk of Explode Into Colours.”
Chris – one of the world’s leading recorders of wildlife and natural phenomena – has joined Caught by the River in Port Eliot for all but one of the years it’s been at Port Eliot. He makes records for Touch that edit his field recordings into a filmic narrative. In 1971 he was a founding member of the influential Sheffield-based experimental music group Cabaret Voltaire. Since then he has developed a particular and passionate interest in recording the wildlife sounds of animals, habitats and atmospheres from around the world. Details of Chris’s set for 2015 will be announced shortly.
The most consistently original DJ in the game. In fact the only thing predictable about Andrew is the utter brilliance of his sets at Port Eliot every year.
Know as Andrews of Arcadia to his friends; author, angler, raconteur and the kind of bloke you’d want on your side if you found yourself dealing with the extremes of nature. As well as chairing a couple of talks over the weekend John will also be acting MC.
In April, Patrick’s new book, Coastlines, will be published by Granta. It coincides with the 50th anniversary of the National Trust’s campaign to save the British coast. At Port Eliot, Patrick will be presenting Coastlines, taking us on a journey of local stories, natural history and the beauty encountered where land meets sea.
Caught by the River’s regular music book and radio critic is bringing his knowledge and experience to two talks over the weekend. Firstly as a guest of Marcus O’Dair, to talk about Robert Wyatt, an artist Andy worked very closely with when he ran the record label, Rykodisc. Andy will also be chair of the hour we are dedicating to Nick Drake, another subject very close to his heart (click here to read Andy’s review of Remembered For A While)
Mathew will be reading from his book (with illustrator Anthony Atkinson) Lundy, Rockall, Dogger, Fair Isle : A Celebration of the Islands Around Britain, which is published by Ebury in May.
Remembered For A While: A Nick Drake companion.
This promises to be very special: Cally Callomon and Gabrielle Drake, executors of the Estate of Nick Drake, present a talk with musical accompaniment, hosted by Andy Childs. Cally and Gabrielle (Nick’s sister) will be answering questions posed by Andy and the audience. The session will include a few live songs performed by Daisy Vaughan (plus special guests) and Nonny Denny, the latter concentrating on Molly Drake’s songs. Cally says: “We will hang the blanket Nick wore in the photos by Julian Lloyd and we will bring one of Nick’s original guitars down to display”.
Artist, monsterist, musicalist.
Tales of phantom black dogs with ‘eyes like saucers’ abound in the folklore of the British Isles. But what are these coal-coloured fiends: shaggy dog stories, harmless spooks, or the devil himself in dog form? Folklore Tapes investigates, in an audio-visual lecture combining storytelling, light puppetry and experiments in film and music.
Helmsman Alex Figueira, a Portuguese-Venezuelan producer and percussionist began the experiment in his home built analogue studio, the Barráco Sound Laboratory, further developing his ideas when joined by some old friends. A sound forged from elements of tropicalia, funk, radiophonic electronics, voodoo, African, Brazilian and Latin rhythms before being cast into a psychedelic maelstrom. Carrying an endless heavy groove, Fumaça Preta are a ferocious animal intent on simultaneously disrupting the musical co-ordinates and altering our state of consciousness.
After last years Y Dydd Olaf – a political dystopian concept album inspired by nuclear scientist Owain Owain’s obscure sci-fi novel of the same name – and supporting Gruff Rhys on his recent UK tour, Gwenno brings her visionary music combining Cornish and Welsh languages to Port Eliot.
The Harlequin Dynamite Marching Band.
A roving bunch of musicians (including one or more members of Stealing Sheep) packing a carnivalesque explosion of brass and drums. The Harlequins’ lineup, repertoire and existence has shifted and shuddered, expanded and become more vivid and distinctive, taking their unique blend of melodious, tribal, krunked out party grooves to venues and spaces all over Liverpool: they’ve done guerilla busking manoeuvres and crammed onto stage at various events in the city and beyond.
The Heavenly Jukebox.
A revolving bunch of music lovers affiliated to the Heavenly record label. Eclectic selections. Never dull.
Hooton Tennis Club.
On heavy rotation over at BBC6 music, the Merseysiders’ debut single Jasper on Heavenly Recordings was described by Alexis Petridis as “a lyrical eulogy to a late friend set to lovely, languid, vaguely Teenage Fanclubish music.”
Original Rockers, published by Faber next month, is Richard King’s account of the several years he spent working in a Bristol independent record shop in the early 90s is destined to become a classic of music writing.
Richard King, author of How Soon is Now, blends memoir and elegiac music writing on the likes of Captain Beefheart, CAN and Julian Cope, to create a book that recalls the debauched glory days of the independent record shop. Chaotic, amateurish and extravagantly dysfunctional, this is a book full of rare personalities and rum stories. It is a book about landscape, place and the personal; the first piece of writing to treat the environment of the record shop as a natural resource with its own peculiar rhythms and anecdotal histories.
Clive Langer and The Clang Group.
Clive is an actual legend. He started out in Liverpool art school band Deaf School in 1975 and then spent 35 years producing other people’s records (including Elvis Costello, Madness, Morrissey, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, The Teardrop Explodes and most recently his new Domino label mates The Amazing Snakeheads). He has now gone back to what he loved best and started a rock ‘n’ roll band. Band members included Roxy Music saxophonist Andy Mackay and original members of Deaf School.
The London Sound Survey.
Ian Rawes, the man behind the awesome London Sound Survey archive presenting and discussing the sounds and noises heard from a city in constant mutation.
John Lewis Stempel.
We came late to Meadowlands, John’s most recent book (just out in paperback). It took a read of an older one of his, the utterly brilliant The Wild Life: A Year of Living on Wild Food, sent to me (Jeff) as a gift by our DJ, Stephen ‘Spoonful’ Parker, to realise that was a huge oversight. We’re guessing that John will be reading from Meadowlands but really he can read whatever he likes as far as us fan boys are concerned.
Nina will be reading from her first book, a meditation on the Green Man, which is due to be published by Faber in March 2016.
Matthew & Me.
Titanic yet ethereal, Matthew And Me create alternative pop like no other band. Forming in the small Devon town of Totnes, Matthew & Me began life as a vehicle for Matthew Board to materialise songs he’d written. Over time Matthew And Me have become a unit known for the drama, intensity, sonic precision, and jubilation of their live performances. Often choosing settings reflective of their sound, they’ve performed in churches, glass houses, boats and underground caverns.
Described by the NME as having ‘Fairport Conventions’ folk with Fleetwood Mac’s pop sensibilities’ and championed by the likes of Bob Harris and John Kennedy, husband and wife duo Trevor Moss & Hannah-Lou have been tirelessly touring since their last album release in 2012. Having earned a reputation for getting off the beaten track with their own tours of tin tabernacles, village halls, social clubs and even by canal boat, the couple have also supported a host of musicians, from Damon Albarn, Richard Thompson and Beth Orton, to Ade Edmondson’s Bad Shepherds, Loudon Wainwright and legendary producer Ethan Johns. Their fourth album, produced by Ethan Johns is due for release this Summer.
Kate will read from her book The Fish Ladder: A Journey Upstream which was published earlier this year by Bloomsbury. “One of the many reasons to be excited about Katharine Norbury’s The Fish Ladder: a journey upstream is that so much of our literature about nature and landscape currently comes from male writers – and so it is particularly refreshing to hear a woman’s voice exploring and thinking about place, and in a different way…” – Melissa Harrison reviewed The Fish Ladder which was our book of the month for February.
Marcus is the author of Different Every Time: the Authorised Biography of Robert Wyatt. Published by Serpent’s Tail in 2014, it was a Radio 4 book of the week and a book of the year in the Guardian, the Independent, the Times, the Sunday Times, the Evening Standard and Uncut magazine. For this talk, about Wyatt and the experience of writing his authorised biography, Marcus will be joined by Robert’s friend (and Caught by the River contributor) Andy Childs. Chaired by Richard King.
Red River Dialect.
Red River Dialect formed in Falmouth, Cornwall in 2009. The band have recently completed a new record, titled Tender Gold & Gentle Blue on which they say “Cello, violin, piano, vibraphones and banjo weave around the acoustic guitar and vocals of songwriter David Morris, where previously electric guitars, bass, drums and amped fiddles were found.” Their previous recordings have drawn comparisons to Fairport Convention, Dirty Three, the Waterboys, Arbouretum, Nick Cave.
Rob St. John.
Rob St John is a musician and writer from East Lancashire, using guitars, harmoniums, analogue synth, field recordings and tape loops. This year he releases a split 10″ ‘Young Sun | Trouble Comes’ with Canadian band Woodpigeon (April); a book and CD of manipulated field recordings and film photography investigating pollution on London’s River Lea as part of the Surface Tension project (April); and 12″ LP of music, field and archive recordings for the Concrete Antenna project with Tommy Perman and Prof Simon Kirby, which will be installed in a tower at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop in Summer 2015.
As well as interviewing Brian Awesome Tapes, Emma will be giving a talk on the subject of her new column for Caught by the River: the act of dragging forgotten and pagan celebrations out from the margins, and dusting them off for modern use.
Dashing through northern pastures unsaddled and unblinkered Jane’s journey from teenage Liverpudlian shoegazer to conceptual pop mistress has seen her graze with pocketpunk, acid folk, indie-schmindie, darkambient drones, Hollywood soundtracks and girlgroop psych. The Silver Globe – Jane’s sixth solo album – is as multifaceted as it is beguiling. Part coming of age/part cautionary tale and part romantic peon, this synth ridden post-apocalyptic prog pop opus is based on tightly embroidered, non-linear recurring themes and inspired by esoteric stories, cosmic imagery and refiltered past experiences. This promises to be a musical alchemy of epic proportions.
Roy Wilkinson’s Pop & Nature Quiz.
For the second year running, Roy Wilkinson will be presenting a prize music-and-nature quiz. The author of the acclaimed rock/forestry memoir Do It For Your Mum will be posing musically-illustrated questions on moths and goths and why the elephant has become indigenous at Port Eliot. ATTENTION ALL ARTS INVESTORS! This year’s quiz will also incorporate the public launch of the Great Southwestern Intergenerational Cultural Outreach programme – a system of all-ages Slav-Northumbro-Devonian beton-iste expressionism that is sure to become have-to-must-die-for over coming decades. The quiz prizes will include a pair of tickets for next year’s Port Eliot Festival.
Resident DJ: Stephen ‘Spoonful’ Parker
MC’s John Andrews and Roy Wilkinson
DJ’s in the bar until late every night
The Drift Record Shop.